bastimentos bat cave

Back At Boat Life: New Crew, Repairs & A Freaky Cave

The Boquete road trip is over and it’s as if we never left.  The elevation hasn’t even had time to wear off and we’re already back in the groove of boat life.

You know, boat life…where we fix the things that broke while sailing, maintain the ones still working and squeeze in as many ridiculous adventures in-between as we can.

Prepare to get dirty, wet and possibly a little creeped out.

Did you make it all the way to the end?  Did we lose anyone in the cave that couldn’t handle the bats, spiders and whatever crustacean that was lurking in the water?

I have mini panic attacks inside every time I see a spider, so that was really testing my comfort zone.  They say being surrounded by something you fear is the best way to get past the fear.  I can’t say I’m past my fear of spiders but I think we have a mutual respect.

spiders in bat cave

Isla Bastimentos Nivida Bat Cave

Isla Bastimentos Nivida Bat Cave

Boat Life…AKA Repairs in Exotic Locations

Boat maintenance is an ongoing love-hate affair.  Some days it feels like we’re drowning in boat work and the old saying “you know a boat is hole in the water you throw money into” is all too real.  Then there are days, like these, where it feels like the general maintenance that goes into owning and operating anything…a house, a car or even a bicycle.  I guess what’s surprising is how much maintenance can be required within such a small footprint.

Sailing Vessel Curiosity is our home, Minion the dinghy is our car and both take us around the world in a way unparalleled by any other mode of transportation.  Maintenance is to be expected and repairs are becoming as much a part of the ongoing adventure as the voyages.

Boat Life and maintenance

The Scheduled Maintenance

It’s been a year since our last oil change and our Yanmar 40 owner’s manuals suggest once per year.  No big deal and easier than an oil change on my old car.

The Unscheduled Maintenance, AKA Stuff That Broke

The support strut is a bit of a mystery and we’re not sure why it cracked.  Which is disconcerting.  Its always better when we can figure out why something broke so we can make sure it doesn’t happen again.  Thankfully it appears that the other side is still in ok shape (for now).

A small pin hole in the radiator hose made itself aware by leaving pink water in the engine compartment.  Thankfully the hole was close enough to the end of the hose Jason was able to simply cut the hose shorter and reattach it.  We now have spare hose on our boat parts list.

The composting toilet fan is the only electric part on the heads.  It’s a very simple muffin fan that we found needs replacing occasionally.  This time was understandable as we did have some good days crashing about at sea during our crossing to Panama. We carry a few spares and it’s a simple swap for any novice. The particular fan that broke is a secondary fan.  Since we have two composting heads that share the same exhaust hose we added an extra fan inside the vent hose near the outlet of the hull.  This way if both toilets are being used the extra fan will help guide any smells overboard.

The coffee grinder…this falls into the OMG, panic time, WTF are we going to do!  Not only for us, but our new crew member Dan.  His is 6’5 espresso needs are off the charts!  We didn’t want to make this another video about coffee so we spared you on the grinder breakdown drama.  But for our concerned, and future Panama bound viewers out there, coffee grinders are nonexistent in the Bocas Del Toro archipelago.  Carry a backup grinder (we suggest a good hand grinder) and know you’ll have to make a trip to Panama City to find a half decent burr grinder…which is where we eventually found a replacement for ours.

Isla Bastimentos Nivida Bat Cave

What a prankster our guide Fernando was, we almost didn’t want to take him home because he was seriously funny!  I made sure to drop a pin on our map near his house just in case you want to dinghy over to pick him up for a tour ($5 per person).

If you find yourself in the Bocas del Toro area, and you’re not on a boat, or just want to take one of the organized tours via a panga…you can arrange a trip from any of the marinas, resorts or tour stands on Bastimentos or Bocas Town.  Most were around $35 per person.

In total, our group of 5 saved a $150 by taking our capable dink Minion.  It made for a very unique experience.  That said, I’m sure we would’ve had a stellar time, and thought it was money well spent, if we’d taken one of the more pricey arranged tours.  Because it was a crazy-subterranean-river-cave-plunge-pool-good-time!

caymen in panama

Bastimentos Marine National Park

Isla Bastimentos Nivida Bat Cave

Isla Bastimentos Nivida Bat Cave

Quick Fun Fact About The Bats.  I did some research, with my good friend google, and found out these are spear nosed bats (appropriately named with their unique snouts).  They have a wingspan of one meter and are the second largest bats in the Americas. They are especially unique because they make a screech sound to call each other rather than sonar or echolocation.  Which its good to know they weren’t screeching at us…or were they?

Bastimentos Marine National Park

Isla Bastimentos Nivida Bat Cave

The New Crew

Dale and Justin are our first Patreon’s aboard and now we’ve welcomed Dan!  He is just a regular guy from Austin, Texas who is looking to live a more unsendentary lifestyle.  Maybe traveling about in a van, RV, boat, or who knows.  Only time will tell, but for now, we’re happy to have him coming along for some adventures with us.

Gear Used In This Video

Cameras Used to Capture The Adventure

Sailing Report

To see our full map with interactive pins, click here:

bastimentos bat cave map


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Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (24)

  • OMG! WTH??? That was fantastic! Wow, you guys! Seriously… I don’t know if I could have walked through that water in the bat cave. Thanks for sharing.

  • Yo-Yo

    You are all Fabulous. I love your YouTube series. Thank you for showing us how to live life. Nikki what is the name of those super sandals you are wearing for hiking and cave exploring in Panama?

  • marc & sean

    Yeah, no. I would’ve gladly volunteered to guard the boat. Question: Bat guano you were marching through/swimming in…..dangerous?

  • Hi guys, great video!! Great photography Jason! How do you do it?? The colors are just fabulous. All the best from Mallorca. Bernard

  • Roger B

    OK. Jason is the official tree monkey. I’m definitely not venturing into that cave. However, thank you for giving me the experience as if I were there in the bat cave.

  • Steven & Kelli King

    You people ROCK!
    You are simply fun to watch and you make it real, not overly edited and it is just plain fun to watch.
    Thanks, keep living your dreams and adventures.

  • Mary

    That was a little freaky with all the spiders and bats. Looks like everyone managed not to let it bother them. It is interesting that all of the laughter and noise did not disturb the bats and send them flying.

    Welcome Dan. I hope you don’t wait too long before your next vacation. 11 years is way too long!!

    Those spider crickets used to cover the basement floor where I grew up. They are strange looking insects.

    Loved the video!


    Excellent post. I enjoyed the video but at first was sondering about your choice of footwear. When you started walking in the cave and water it all made sense.

    Wonder who would have jumped the highest if a water snake came came swimming by?

  • Jeff

    I lived in the Canal Zone for 7 years and even though I made several trips here and there, including Boquete, I never knew about the volcano or the coffee plantations, or any caves. Thanks! Respect!

  • Doreen

    That was an adventure I would never dare take! Between the spiders, fear of bacteria in the cave water, the poisonous frog, Jason climbing a tree without shoes, my fear for you all grows every day! But I can’t take my eyes off of your videos either! LOL. Just stay safe and welcome to Dan! How many can you fit on the sailboat anyway?

  • Tracy H

    Okay, just wow. Kudos for braving the spiders, those nasty suckers are my downfall. But the bats were pretty amazing. What an adventure and a treasure of memories for you all. Welcome to your new crew member. Did you all get any inoculations before your travels? Can’t wait for another installment of your travels. Be safe.

  • Deborah Kerr

    Well that was different!! What fun you all had jumping in the water!! And it didn’t look like it was all too cold. Honestly, all I could think of while watching that video was, who was the 1st brave soul to traverse that cave and actually keep going when they had to walk through the water???? Do you know how far in you went – like a mile or 2??? Welcome to tall Dan 🙂

  • Marsha

    What about all the bat poo? I almost had to stop watching it, made me very uneasy. Have any of you ever gotten sick or a rash from any of your excursions? Hello, Dan. What a first adventure for him!

  • Pam

    You all are seriously awesome and brave. Thank you for going where I’ll never go so I can see new things

  • Lucille

    I would have preferred to stay on the boat for that excursion. The water looked too dirty and all of those spiders and other possible things in the water.

  • Tracy

    Only an Albertan would miss his beef! Loved the video, but not the spiders.

  • Mike

    What I really enjoy is seeing you all use the local guides for your trips and not a company. To me it’s so much more interesting and you’re helping them out as well. My wife and I will be in Panama for the month of February and look forward to doing some of the trips you have done.
    Keep having fun and stay safe.

  • Joyce Barnes

    What happened to the couple who were with you? Did we miss a video?

  • Ben & Sally

    Wow another great adventure, the cave was just awesome, scary but cool…Welcome Dan hope you enjoy your new experiences….Ben & Sally

  • T C Spencer

    Do the crew members pay you rent and pay their own expenses?

    • Curious Minion

      Crew members pay their own expenses but do not pay “rent”.

  • Harold “George” Hofmann Jr

    I never want you guys to become complacent so I’ll act like it’s my first exposure to your video blogs. Awesome subject, amazing technical work (even if a battery reached exhaustion and you had to go to backup equipment) the cast of characters was a separate production effort. The crew and guest were amazingly entertaining. The languages, where necessary, were translated perfectly. And the entire production kept me on the edge of my seat! All that being said; another choice delivery makes me proud to be a patron on such a wonderful production. Thank you. George


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