16 April 2018
Photo: Sloth, Punta Calebra
We found our way into La Playita Marina in the dark and tied up at approximately 21:15, there is a bit of surge on the docks but it is not too bad. After a quick tidy up we went on Pelizeno for dinner and drinks to celebrate the transit with Peter, Lisa and Martin.
The following day, 13th March, Brian concentrated on finding someone who knew about Iridium Go’s as we needed to get ours fixed. In the end we ordered a new one. He also finally managed to find someone who sold the right ATF for our gearbox, he has been looking everywhere for it in the Caribbean with no success. Wednesday was a big bulk shopping expedition for Gail in the morning with Peter, Lisa and Zenon while Brian did the oil change on the main engine gear box. The afternoon was spent with another trip to a different more upmarket supermarket, the Dol is now so loaded her waterline has been lowered. We used the local taxis to get to the shopping malls, not expensive and with the traffic congestion and erratic driving of the Panamanians it was a good option. There was always taxis available at the marina.
Thursday we tried the Hop on Hop off bus with Lisa and Zenon, not the best we have experienced but it did give us a feel for Panama City. There is a big contrast between the poorer areas of town and the flash high rise buildings and hotels of the new areas. Later in the afternoon Raftkin, Dave, Tracey, Hayley and Megan completed their canal transit and arrived in the marina. It was a celebratory dinner that evening with talk of our plans for cruising the Pacific and Brian acquiring a taste for Pina Colada.
The next few days were spent getting the boats ready for the crossing to the Galapagos Islands, refueling, including jerry cans for diesel and petrol, finalizing our Galapagos Autographe with our agent Bolivar, getting the Dol fumigated with a certificate and doing the last minute fresh fruit and vege shop.
Saturday we spent the morning at Allbrook mall, a huge shopping mall, primarily to find a new lens for our SLR camera. It was then back to the Dol to meet our Panama agent, Roy Bravo, who had all our documentation for clearing out of Panama and documentation we would need to clear into the Galapagos. Saturday evening we went into old Panama town with Lisa, Peter and Zenon, Pelizeno and Dave, Tracey, Hayley and Megan, Raftkin for dinner at CasoCasco. Drinks on the roof top terrace followed by dinner on the first floor which was international, each of the fours floor was a different cuisine. A great evening.
Sunday was a quiet day, Brian purchased a new toy in the morning and is now the proud owner of a paddle board. Mid-afternoon we visited Punta Calebra which is next door to the marina. Punta Calebra is run by the Smithsonian Institute and is a nature centre. Inside the park there are displays with sea turtles, frogs, coral and tropical fish. However the highlights for us where the giant iguana, he must have been over 2m long walking across the path having just caught something to eat, and the sloths hanging in the trees, awesome. That evening we all went to Balboa Yacht Club to clear out with immigration and to have dinner. Once again when we returned to La Playita marina in the dark, raccoons where walking around looking for food.
Monday it was time to leave La Playita, we had a nice gennaker sail for most of the 42 nm to the Las Perlas Islands, where we anchored at Isla Chapera. It is amazing the difference in the bird and sea life now we are in the Pacific compared to the Mediterranean and Caribbean. We saw dozens of what we called Pelican flying schools, groups of Pelicans flying in formation, there were also lots of birds working and boil ups, Pelizeno and Raftkin who were an hour behind us saw whales and dolphins, and all only 40nm from Panama City. Bring on the rest of the Pacific.
After a quiet night, Brian took his paddle board for a spin in the morning and then we motored down to Isla Canas for the night. There were plenty of jellyfish in the water which was not ideal for the children off Pelizeno and Raftkin who were hanging out for a swim, so we decided to move off the following morning to Canas Island. This anchorage was worse than Chapera, we think it is the king tides which is making water murky and bringing in so many jellyfish. However we had a lovely pot luck dinner evening on Pelizeno and moved a little further down the coast of Isla del Ray to Punta Gorda. This had a nice long golden sand beach and the water was clearer with not so many jellyfish, at least until the tide started to run again. The guys took advantage of the conditions and cleaned the hulls of the boats in preparation for our departure to the Galapagos. Brian used the “Dive No Tanks” system Pelizeno had and found it good. Hopefully our hull is now clean enough to get us into the Galapagos.
The children, including Isabel, Francis and Katherine from La Cigale, who had joined us, enjoyed the morning on the beach, burning of some of their endless energy. The following day Badjca arrived as again all the children were ashore and there was discussion going on between the skippers about leaving for the Galapagos later that day as a weather window appeared to have opened for us. In the end Pelizeno left at about 16:00 and the rest of us decided to leave the following morning.