Are we there yet? La Playita, Panama
11 March 2017
We finally made it to Panama City! Wow, we were doing some great sailoring on that passage. The passage from Isla Parida was 6 days and 5 nights, our longest passage yet.
We decided to pass on spending a night in Bahia Honda and to continue on, and then we changed our plans again to not stop in Benao (we can be in Panama City by Friday, HA!).
Benao is an anchorage, which offers protection from the northerlies, which can really beat you up going around Punta Mala. Punta Mala is a point similar to Point Conception in California. It is know for big winds and strong current.
The weather looked good to go around the point, but, as soon as we came around Punta Mala, the wind and the current picked up. We were watching the weather, but every time we loaded the forecast (every 4 hours) it would be different, always more wind.
There is a shipping lane around Punta Mala, so you are either hugging the coast or you are going out about 25 miles to avoid it. Our initial route would have kept us close to the shore around Punta Mala and west of the shipping lane but that didn’t work out. The current and winds were pushing us southeasterly into the shipping lane, until we finally had to tack southward to cross it. We lost around 40 miles before we finally beat it back up.
The winds and current continued for the next two days, and the wind forecast kept changing. We weren’t making much progress. After the third night of dealing with the current, wind (up to 20 knots) and swells that had built up to 10 feet into the night, we changed our route and headed East where the winds weren’t blowing quite so badly. We finally easted enough to escape the wind and swells and were able to motor sail the rest of the way into the Playita Marina.
We were as beat as our flag.