04 April 2015 | Isla Taboga
Dan- hot and tropical
One thing we were absolutely not prepared for was finding Miami in Panama. I have not seen anything even remotely comparable in Central America.
On one side of us we have this very metropolitan city just bursting with loud energy and on the other a huge fleet of ships waiting their turn to go through the canal- and at night they are lit up like another city, with apologies to Jim Morrison, a city of lights.
Surrounding us is the voyager fleet, with its ebbs and flows, like the time the World Rally for Cruisers group hustled in, ignored everyone else and hustled out (around the world in 15 months? Nuts in my mind). The next rally group was the Blue Planet Odyssey; again ignoring the rest of us here and sticking to themselves. And while these groups blast through, the voyagers just come and go, like the tides we are part of the seascape.
And Tides they have here in abundance! A 6 meter swing is not that uncommon and when you think that through the amount of water flowing here it is no surprise that certain areas have been scoured down to hardpan and provide very poor holding while others, just 10s of meters away your anchor goes down and grabs like no place other.
I would like to think that my anchor spot selection was predicated on the holding, but I just got lucky. We hooked and grabbed the first reasonably clear spot and the big ol’ sleeping pill on the end of our rode did the rest.
Not all are so lucky- we saw one boat go walkabout, and the sad part of that was we were in no position to help. Everything turned out fine btw. But we did get to do one rescue of a dragger and that made up for the earlier miss.
The North winds here are boisterous to understate, and if you aren’t prepared for anchoring in an area with tide swings like here, certainly throwing in a gusty wind of 20-30 kts doesn’t help. Next little obstacle to a good night’s rest is the constant Pilot and supply boats that have no mufflers on their drystack exhausts and seem to make a sport out of rocking the anchorage worse than the dude before. One other little bonus, they are expanding the causeway leading out here and this requires dump truck load after dump truck load of large boulders to provide more land- and then the bucket loaders go to work on the pile- and all of that starting every morning at 7AM.
So the La Playita anchorage is rough, bouncy and noisy. Why use it? Believe it or not, it is the best anchorage around only because it has an actual dinghy dock, which only costs $5/day, though the water is $.05 gallon. Panama is not the best place for “cruisers” to hang out. No specific reason, just a tough place after having such a great experience farther North. (or West, whatever).