Adventure in PanamaApril 28, 2012
Provisioning and Departure: By Elliott Stark
The Pacific Provider is currently anchored in Coiba National Park in Panama, here is the story of how we got here…
The opportunity to join West Coast Fishing Club as General Manager and Assistant General Manager of the Pacific Provider was an incredible honor for myself and Alexandra. I am a Texas boy and she grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. I have never met fishing trip I didn’t like and Alex has never met a stranger. We had been living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, she was a mental health counselor and I was a marine biologist at The Billfish Foundation. We were in the process of planning a wedding for March 2013. Our lives were progressing nicely.
Life in many ways is interesting, full of charm. There are times when things arise that whether or not you could have ever imagined them, take you to places, make things possible in such a way, that you are powerless to resist. Opportunities of life-changing magnitude. For Alexandra and I the unfolding of the past five weeks has illustrated this clearly. When Brian Legge, Rick Grange, and Brian Grange offered us the chance to run the Panama operation, it was time to call family and friends, put our things in storage and head to the airport.
Arriving in Panama City, after a night downtown, it was off to the Provider. West Coast Fishing Club Panama greeted us warmly and we set out directly to make ready for Expedition Marlin 2012 in Coiba. Marlin fishing, by its very nature, is a whimsical beast. This is part of its charm. Some days you will raise three or four of the magnificent creatures, other days you will not see a thing. Hospitality and service on the other hand, can be harnessed directly and made to happen smoothly and efficiently. Our task was to marry the intrinsic variability of the bluewater experience with the lined-out, finely tuned, all-inclusive, precision that guests of the Pacific Provider deserve. Alex and I joined a crew that was dedicated and quite good at what they do.
There is quite a bit that goes into bringing the Ritz Carlton to an isolated Pacific island in northern Panama. For Alex and I the chance to make this happen was an incredible experience. An inventory of the provisions that we brought aboard provides context:
-100 cases of water
– Enough cases of beer to intoxicate the army of Luxembourg
– Crates and crates of wines, a list of which would make Robert Mondavi himself blush
– Quality meats, cheese, and produce of all sort
To the people who saw Alex and the Chefs walking out of the grocery stores, liquor suppliers, and wine merchants with the more than 50 freight carts we would bring aboard, it would have seemed equally likely that we were preparing for the apocalypse. In order to get the hundreds of cases of beverages aboard the Pacific Provider, we would load everything into the panga and zodiac. Were our guys to have been wearing eye patches and bandanas, it would have seemed as though pirates had ransacked CostCo. The result of this hustle and bustle is a simple, unqualified statement: If you come to the Provider, we have what you need.
To round out the provisions, Captains Junior and Jose and Deck Boss Blondie took a case of beer and some a bottle of rum to a shrimp boat that was dragging its nets in the Gulf of Panama a mile or so from the Pacific Provider. Upon their return they were boozeless, but brought with them 60 pounds of shrimp (some of which were seven inches long), four lobsters, and a crate of calamari. Panama is a wonderful place and both parties were happy with the trade.
The Provider took on 40,000 gallons of diesel, 25 five gallon buckets of motor oil, and twelve 55 gallon barrels of gasoline for the panga. Captain Nelson Castillo joined us to run the Pacific Provider on the 30 hour steam to Coiba and we were ready.
Ready to provide a unique brand of hospitality, ready for fishing, ready for adventure, and ready for the 2012 Expedition Marlin: Coiba. For Alex and I, and for all aboard the Pacific Provider, this was quite an honor.