28 March 2017
Panama City is quite large. A quick google check shows it has almost 1.3 million people. The currency here is the US Dollar or Panama Balboa, which are both equal. A taxi drive into the best grocery store passes high-rise office buildings and condos right up alongside shanty towns. There is the old Colonial town of Casco Viejo which is quite pleasant to walk around. This area has nice restaurants and tourist shops selling Panama Hats, of course. We have bus passes for the bus that passes by the marina and takes us into town for .25 cents. There is also Uber which is always much nicer than the taxi’s that are all over the place, and cost less.
One night, we heard there was a Beatles festival in the park downtown so we shared a cab with another couple and headed downtown. We finally found the park only to find the movie “Yellow Submarine” playing on a couple of portable movie screens. A security guard told us that there would be a band afterwards so we went for some ice cream and came back to check it out.
The band opened with a beatles song and then moved on to the Rolling Stones, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”. Turns out it was more of a British music festival as there were also songs by Adele, and other British bands…not so much the beatles. Kinda funny.
In two days we will be aboard our friends’ sailboat to make the crossing thru the Panama Canal as line handlers. A sailboat needs four line handlers aboard, plus the captain. In addition, there is a Panama Canal authority on board, an Advisor. It will be good practice before taking Uhuru through ☺
There are three sets of locks. From the Pacific side, there are the first two beginning at Miraflores. After the first two locks, there is Gatun Lake, which is about 20 miles across. It is not uncommon for a sailboat to spend the night here before completing the passage through the last set of locks in Gatun. The advisor does not spend the night on the boat, but gets picked up and then in the morning, another advisor is brought aboard.
Making the passage in one day would be great, but spending the night on Gatun Lake does sound like fun.
We are scheduled to make the crossing on April 2nd! There are webcams @ http://www.pancanal.com/eng/photo/camera-java.html. I will post the times that we are scheduled to go through the locks on the Uhuru FB page if you are interested in watching.
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.
Beating into the Gulf of Panama
08 March 2017
Bahia Honda, Panama
07 March 2017
Fastest stop ever.
Several people had stopped in Bahia Honda before. There was supposedly a 'tienda' to reprovision and a guy was reported to come to your boat delivering fresh fruit and vegetables, diesel, ice or other stuff if available. We unfortunately did not see 'Domingo' in the short 2 hours that we were there.
Now mind you, it took us over an hour to get inside the bay and around the little island where the town is located but what we found when we got there was less than we expected. Brian and I were hoping for some wi-fi because we've been without it for about a week now, but I wasn't holding out hope. There was a small 'internet café' that Brian checked out while I 'shopped' but he came back and said that it was pretty slow so we packed up our less than bountiful bootie and hauled ass. Our take from the grocery store was 10 bags of black tea, 1 can pork n beans, 1 roll of paper towels, 6 potatoes, and one whole chicken (semi frozen) chopped up in several pieces of equal size with no clear way to recognize what is what, Brian calls this lawn mower chicken. No fruit, no veggies, no diet cokes. I did come away with a picture of a cute little chicken running around, someone's future dinner no doubt.
Isla Parida, Panama!
05 March 2017
Isla Parida, Panama!
05 March 2017