Bocas to Portobelo
03 April 2010 | Portobelo, Panama
(Picture: Our anchorage in Escudo de Veraguas)
After five days of rain, the weather finally cleared on Wednesday, March 24, and we brought Alaunt to the fuel dock at Bocas Marina. We took on 75 gallons of diesel and had to say goodbye to all our friends at the marina. This was very hard to do as we met so many nice people in the 7 months we've been here. Alaunt sailed out of Bocas del Toro, downwind with only the jib out, to Crawl Cay. We anchored between Crawl Cay and Isla Bastimentos to finish last minute projects for our passage. After securing things down below and on deck, entering coordinates in our GPS, scraping the propeller and bottom of the boat, plus various engine check outs, we dinghied over to the Crawl Cay Resort for a goodbye drink. Then we winched the dinghy up on deck and were ready to go.
At first light, on March 26, we left the Crawl Cay channel and sailed towards the Zapatilla Cays. Then the wind completely died. Our first passage to weather was motorsailing for 8 hours to Escudo de Veraguas. We had just dropped our anchor off a beautiful sandy, palm-lined beach, when Florentino Santiago paddled his dugout to Alaunt to collect the $10 park fee. He also asked for some rice, beans and salt to tide his family over until the supply boat came on Sunday.
We awoke to wind and clouds and hoped to finally go sailing. after weighing anchor, we were hit by a squall and the wind colmpletely died. We fought the wind direction and sail trim for a few hours until a steady wind came up, of course, directly in front of us. Ron tickled "Airey", our windvane, and we were sailing along quite nicely, slightly off the wind and almost on the right course. The highlight of our sail was being completely surrounded by a large pod of 20-30 dolphins. There were several babies, only 2-3 feet long, jumping and flipping out of the water. My first night watch was 6 to 9 PM. There were gentle seas, a nice breeze and a full moon sparkling over the water. Beautiful! After I went below, the wind strenghtened, Ron dropped the main and the big seas made it difficult to sleep or walk.
Sunday, March 28th, found us a couple of miles off shore at the Panama Canal. It was very cloudy and rainy so we could barely see the cranes and buildings at the docks in Colon. Ron, Capitan de Pollo de los grande barcos del Canal de Panama (Captain Chicken of the big boats in the Panama Canal) tacked around two huge freighters in the traffic channel. the wind strengthened to 15-20 knots and we pounded up the coastline to Portobelo. We finally set the anchor in 15 feet of water just off Fort Santiago. Dave rowed ashore for ice and we had our happy hour in the cockpit looking at the beautiful jungle hillsides of Portobelo.