4th of July on Isla Gamez with KETCHING UP, WAHOO, and DELFIN SOLO

After saying goodbye to Bill and Ariana and bidding our fond adieu to Isla Ventana, Boca Chica, and Isla Brava, on July 4th we made our way over to Isla Gamez (again) where there was a big celebration scheduled. KETCHING UP, WAHOO, and DELFIN SOLO were already there and plans were being made on the VHF radio for a potluck picnic on the beach and evening fireworks show. WAHOO had gone up channel to Pedregal to check in, and while they were there they had gone into David and gotten a bunch of fireworks. Between all of the boats we purchased almost $400 worth of stuff ... fountains, roman candles, sky rockets, and mortars, to blow off that night!

By the time we upped anchor and made our way to Isla Gamez and dropped anchor there, the party on the beach was already under way. Everyone had contributed something to the potluck. There were hot dogs and beans, potato salad, corn-on-the-cob, guacamole, salsa, and lots of soft drinks and beer.

We were surprised and happy when, soon after our arrival, Max and Vittoria showed up in the Cala Mia launch with a bunch of their friends too, so by that point there were about 20 people partying on the beach and lolling around in the surf having a good time. Of course the most excited of the bunch were the boys, Griffin, Wils, and Cooper, from KETCHING UP. They kept eyeing the pile of fireworks on the beach with glee and asking when, oh when, would we be able to light them off!

As we all stuffed ourselves on the delicious food, we kept the boys diverted by building a fire. They, being boys, were of course enthralled with the whole thing, running around getting firewood and vying for being the one that would strike the match to light the fire. Cooper particularly spent a lot of the afternoon "tending" the fire ... seeing what would burn and what would not, and in general hovering around it as if it were some kind of magic thing!

As soon as it became dusk, as the sun had barely set, the boys could not be contained anymore. Of course, I, being somewhat of a little boy at heart was perhaps just as anxious to light off the fireworks. We started with a string or three of firecrackers. After trying to blow up coconuts, seashells, sticking them in the sand, throwing them in the air, and so on, I showed the boys how to put a hole in a can, stick a firecracker in it, and set it in a pan of water to send the can shooting high into the sky. They liked that!

Then we started lighting a few sky rockets. These were healthy sized rockets, the bodies being perhaps 5" long by 1" wide and they made a satisfying swoosh when the went up and a nice loud report when they exploded in a shower of sparks. We lit several off, trying various angles and approaches. One of the neatest ones was when we leaned the rocket way over so that it went shooting off almost horizontally over the water and exploded about 10 feet above the water, like an artillery shot. That got a round of "oohs" and "ahhs" from the crowd.

By the time it was fully dark, the show went on in earnest. One after another, we lit off an escalating series of bigger and bigger fireworks. One of my favorites were these 1" mortars that came bundled together in squares of from 18 up to 48 tubes. They would shoot balls high into the sky and then explode, and the one with 48 shells was spectacular as it had a built in grand finale with several shells that sent off multiple explosives at their peak. I remember standing under it as the shells exploded as the paper and gunpowder were raining down. There was some concern for the rubber dinghies all pulled up on the beach, but no harm was done :-)

Also very nice was the 2" 9-shot roman candle. "Boom .... whoosh ... Bang" each time it sent its payload high into the sky. Several fishing pangas and even a larger shrimp trawler came over and anchored and watched the show as it progressed. Crazy Americans! Here we were, 4000 miles from the U.S., in Panama, whooping it up and celebrating just like it was home!

There were a couple of the square mortar bundles that misfired which made it exciting when, in abeyance of the rules and common sense, we disassembled them to find and relight the fuses. Due to the fact that we had removed the outer wrapping, one of them (I think it had 36 mortars in it), kind of blew apart and exploded a shell or two simultaneously on the ground! He he he ... fortunately we were lighting them a good distance from the gathered "crowd". The girls all thought it was part of the show and we definitely got a big "ooh" out of that one!

We let the boys take turns lighting the fireworks off. They were very brave as they would light them and run skittering away. As each firework was expended, we took the smoking hulks over to the fire and tossed them in. The boys were almost as enthralled by the ever growing fire as they were by the fireworks. Later Ashley told me that we had spoiled them and that they would expect huge fireworks shows every 4th of July. Hey, what can you say, boys like fireworks!

After the last firework was spent, around 8:30 pm, everyone gathered around the fire to tend it and bathe in its light. The timing was perfect as it started to sprinkle, and, as we all scurried to the dinghies, it started to rain pretty hard. We all made it out to our boats safely in what was by then a driving rain, getting soaked along the way, but no-one's spirits were dampened by the trip. Everyone had had a great time and I don't think anyone will forget this Fourth of July!