Kids Fleet, Portobello, Birthdays and Panama
01 February 2013 | Shelter Bay, Colon
Well, since our last post we have left the San Blas Islands and Chaotic Harmony is safely tucked away at the Shelter Bay Marina. It is a bit like
Darwin here except for the weather. Lots of sunshine and showers but without the killer humidity.
While we were at the San Blas we ran into the Kids Fleet of "ONE WORLD" (USA. Wes, Kim, Laily, Max, Ella and Solomon), "BLUE KAI", (USA.Danny,
Susan, Hannah and Rye) "FLOUR GIRL", (USVI. Kim, David and Zac), "SINAN" (USA. EJ, Shana, GiGi and Jason) "SWENJO" (CANADA.David, Natalie,
Maxim, Goyim and Noami) and "MAC-PELICAN" (AUST..Paul, Bernadette and Finnley) and have sailed on and off with the fleet since then making new
friends along the way. We also met up with "SYNERGY" (John and Cindy) and "SAPPHIRE M" (John and Marion) . So now for the first time since we left we all have friends on boats and will sail the Pacific with the majority of them. Keely has made good friends throughout as usual and especially with Hannah.
Even the radio skeds had a kids part. Everyone wanted to know where the kids fleet was. The kid boats so they could meet up and the childless so they could stay away or join us and meet the kids. It made for a really fun time. There is now a dedicated kids net so we can keep in tough at 0800 local on 8107MhZ.
From San Blas we made a quick 6 hour trip in blustery N trades to Isla Grande about 60nm to the west and promptly decided to leave first thing in the morning. Isla Grande isn't so grand. It is a tourist destination for the Panamanians and water taxis scoot past the boat at breakneck speeds. Next stop was Portobello with its forts, shops and history. We stayed a few days and soaked in the pirate atmosphere as it was here that all the South
American gold was shipped and it became a favorite sacking, pillaging and raping ground for English buccanneers and crown approved pirates. Rumour has it that pommy land would be broke many centuries ago if it was not for the murderous intent of these guys. We celebrated Australia Day here with a cold beer at 50c a can and thought about the state of Oz and if we should ever go back.
Actually we be back in Australia for Christmas 2013 and plan to make landfall in Sydney so we can watch the NY fireworks display from Sydney
Harbour before heading north up the East Coast and onto Queensland and make a decision to move ashore or go back into the deep blue.
On Gill's birthday we dressed ship and with our colours and all signal flags flying we sailed the 20nm to Colon which is the entrance to the Panama
Canal, arriving on time to have a birthday party here with LOTS of kids including ONE WORLD's tribe who spoiled him rotten. Gill had one present of chocolate and chips in the morning but is now the owner of a new speargun, wetsuit, gloves and Leatherman tool. We will fill out the remainder of the dive kit in Panama City in a few weeks as Gill is not only the Ships Master Diver but also an adept hand at spearing crays. With Gill now being 14 he becomes First Mate and will keep sea watches with Jo and I meaning more sleep for the big passage ahead.
There are about 10 Australian boats in the marina so it is interesting to once again hear the slang and vernacular of Aussies. The flags stayed up till the 30th as we also flew them for my birthday and it brightened up the marina to the extent that the manager wanted us to keep flying them. Keely has made many friends and is a good mate of Hannah on BLUE KAI.
Colon is interesting as the marina is on the site of an old US military and training base and there are dungeons (CIA training), ammunition, old
abandoned buildings and lots of cool things if you are a teen. Colon is where we will haul out and scrape the bum and repaint it (pun intended) We will haul out on the 4th February, scape and paint, do a bit of varnishing (if I can with kids and cat) replace the sonar transducer and install some new instruments that we have picked up. Back into the water on the 8th or 9th and our transit is booked for the 10th February. You can see us transit on the web at http://www.pancanal.com/eng/photo/camera-java.html
The transit times are not known but I think we should be entering Gatun Locks for the raise upto the lake at about 0500-1000 local time. You work it out as we are 5 hours behind GMT here and in Australia at present it is anywhere from 9 1/2 hours to 11 hours ahead of GMT. At 0500 in the morning here it is 1000 in London and around midnight in Australia heading into the next day. They are scheduling yachts for a 2 day traverse at the moment due to one of the locks being inoperable so if you miss the 10th we will traverse the Miraflore Locks on the 11th.
From Panama we will head to French Polynesia and drift across the Pacific to Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands and onto Sydney with enough time to
spare to let Santa know where we are.