The Plan...of course it's written in the sand at low tide....

The Plan...of course it's written in the sand at low tide....

Monday, January 18, 2010

Golfito to Panama City

December 30th, 2009....time to leave Costa Rica and head into Panama. We left Golfito with SV Obsession, Gilles and Rachel, around noon and had a wonderful sail through the bay. It was like old times in Monterey Bay, tacking back and forth and just enjoying sailing and the water. We had winds up until the evening and then eventually old Mr. Perkins (our engine) had to be turned on. It was a comfortable and uneventfull over-nighter and we arrived in Isla Games on New Years Day Eve. We welcomed in the new year eating coconut shrimp and enjoying dinner with Rachel and Gilles. The snorkeling wasn't so great so we just spent another restful day enjoying the island and the anchorage before heading to Boca Chica on Saturday.

Next stop Boca you can see by the pictures below, you have to be careful going into the channel but once there it's a pleasant anchorage. It was nice to get caught up on internet and we got to spend some time with Suzy and Jim from SV Sparta. They actually have two boats there and are building a houseboat on a floating dock. It was great to spend time with them. It was pretty windy and choppy coming over from Isla Gamez and windy while we were trying to anchor, but no swells!

Mac on the internet at the hotel on the island.....the howler monkeys on that island, by the way, were some of the loudest and most vocal we have heard. It was great fun listening to them every morning while we had coffee and tea, actually they also carried on several times during the day, all welcomed by us.

While in Boca Chica we hired a driver to take us to David (Da-veed) to go shopping for the day. We needed wood to build a small platform for under "Sparky", oil for the motor, money, groceries, beer, soda, etc. etc. Of course we had to stop at Price Smart (Central America's Costco). We enjoyed the drive through the country side on the 1 1/2 hour trip.

After leaving Boca Chica we headed over to the Islas Secas. There are several island, we anchored off one of the private ones where they had luxury tents for $300 a night. It was quiet and peaceful and the water was so clear and the color turquoise. After getting settled the first thing we did was jump in the water and go snorkeling. Unlike most places we snorkel, the best spots were scattered throughout the bay. The bottom was sandy and then you would come across some big pieces of coral and that's where we saw all the fish. The water was absolutely beautiful and the color unreal. We, of course, had to get one last snorkel in the following morning before we headed over to Bahia Honda. Pictured below: I tried to get a picture of how turquoise and beautiful the water never do nature justice.

Along the way from Islas Secas to Bahia Honda we had a passanger who needed a rest from flying. He/she landed on our solar panels and took a rest before taking off.
On the way into the bay Alan caught a nice big Dorado........

Next stop Bahia Honda. It was a beautiful little bay tucked way back with one of the flattest calmest anchorages we've been in. We got the hook down and our first visitor was Domingo (pictured below). He was the cutest old guy and what a talker and proudly wearing his "Total Yacht Works" hat. We gave him some of the Dorado Alan had caught on the way in and he seemed pleased. He knew enough English to ask for cookies for his grandchildren and we knew enough Spanish to pick up the jest of what he was saying. The next visitors were a family in a panga. They had fresh limes for us and they also got a big piece of Dorado and were all smiles when they left.

The next visitor was Kennedy, Domingo's son, and he was a talker also. Again between his sparse English and our little bit of Spanish we had quite the conversation. He had a big story about loosing all his fishing stuff when he lost "The Big One" so Alan was very generous and gave him all kinds of stuff including an older fishing pole and reel he wasn't using. (Later we heard he uses a similar fishing story on everyone....that's okay he'll probably get more use out of the stuff than we would.)

Next stop Cebaco Bay......they have a large boat there that acts as a restaurant and store and supplies the fishing boats with fuel and water. It was pretty windy so we elected to stay on the boat but we heard later their buffet dinner was very good.

The next night we stayed in Naranjo Bay. Again the anchorage was pretty rolly so we had a nice dinner, played a game of scrabble and went to bed early. On the way into Naranjo Al caught a nice yellow fin tuna.
Picture below: underway to Benao.

Sunday, January 10th, we arrived for what we had planned to be a one night stay at Ensenada Benao. It is a beautiful bay that draws the younger surfer crowd. We anchored well away from the surf and were surprised at how flat it was. Well the north winds picked up and we stayed 5 days there. There's always a positive side, however, and we were able to assist Hispaniola into the anchorage on the second night (nights landings are always a bit scarry). It was a pleasure to meet Kevin and Kathy and we all went ashore on Thursday to watch the surfers and have dinner (first time we felt safe enough to take the dinghy ashore). It was nice to get off the boat and walk along the beach. We had a long walk to the restaurant from where we landed the dinghy but that's okay, we all enjoyed to walk. Pictured below: front Alan and Mac back Kathy and Kevin SV Hispaniola.

Once we left Benao we had to go around Punta Mala, Panama's Point Conception (worst point on California coast to go around). We had winds upwards to 20 kts. and the seas were a bit choppy but it was pretty much an uneventful passage, uncomfortable, but uneventful. (Pictured below Hispaniola rounding Punta Mala)

28 hours later we got our first views of Panama City. It was a crazy night on watch. We have never seen so many "big boys"..... We were 2+ miles out of the shipping lane but all night long we watched as they passed us. We have an AIS unit which identifies each large vessel, their length, tonnage, width, where they are going, how fast they are going but most of important their CPA, Closest Point of Approach, and their TCPA, Time of Closet Point of Approach. The closest we got to one was 1 1/2 miles, but even that far away he looked pretty big. When we got to Panama City we found them all anchored waiting to go through the canal.

We arrived on Saturday and spent the first night in the Flamenco Anchorage Playita where we were able to hook up with friends Rachel and Gilles from SV Obsession. On Sunday we obtained a mooring ball at the Balboa Yatch Club and moved over. View above shows the mooring field to the right of the Bridge of Americas. We are on the far left side towards the front of the field of boats.

You can almost touch the boats as they pass us on their way to the locks. The Canal runs 24/7 so there is constant activity here.....what a change from being by ourselves anchored off a beautiful island.

Meet "Sparky"

Okay, okay, okay some cruisers call me crazy but I like doing my own laundry. While we were in Golfito at the duty free shops we purchased my new buddy "Sparky." He's the cutest little washing machine......he fits in the bathtub and I can do the laundry right where he lives. He's light enough so when we want to take a shower we lift him out into the aft cabin. We do look like a Chinese laundry while we have the wash out on lines all over the bow but talk about a nice wind blown dry.....we got it. I think Al was humoring me when he let me buy it, but he even thinks "Sparky" is working out nicely.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Enjoying Panama's Northern Islands

Having a great time enjoying Panama's Northern Islands. Last night we were at Isla Seca and the water was turquoise...the snorkeling was fantastic! Can't update blog with pictures since we don't have internet but you can follow our travels by going to "Where is the World is Effie" on the left hand side of the blog. Once you click on the link you will have a world map that let's you follow each stop we make on our way to Panama City.