Panama to Contadora Island

Sunday afternoon we had a few beers with Terry and Carol who were our neighbours in Shelter Bay Marina and are now in Balboa Yacht Club having just transited the Canal.    They are heading to Ecuador rather than the Galapagos but we hope to see them later on in the South Pacific.   We had a nice time catching up.

Monday morning we were up very early and slipped from our mooring ball at 7.07 am waving goodbye to Terry and Carol as we headed out towards the shipping lane…having delayed our departure a few minutes for a huge ship inbound.  

There were a lot of ships moving through so we stayed just outside of the channel and headed towards the ship anchorage….admiring the pelicans which make the channel markers their home.  

The AIS was pretty busy again too.     

We left the main shipping channel behind heading towards the ship anchorage and admired the views of Panama City in the distance.  

As we entered the anchorage the wind kicked in at 20 knots which was totally unexpected as the forecast was for 5-10 knots at best.   Fantastic…time to get the sails out!   So we sailed through the anchored ships – avoiding the occasional one that was actually under way – and eventually we cleared the area.  

The winds picked up a bit more so we reefed down to make it more comfortable for me to cook some breakfast and prepare dinner.  We were having a fantastic beam reach sail towards our first waypoint but sadly the wind eased…around noon….leaving us with only 10 knots of breeze in a hazy day with flat mirror-like seas.    Suddenly the wind swung behind the beam and we just enjoyed the slow trip watching the huge numbers of pelicans flying around us in formation.  

Then splash….and another splash…and we were watching rays jumping completely out of the water.   Was amazing but sadly you can’t anticipate where they will surface so photos were not possible.

By 2pm we had to motor sail as the wind continued to ease…and we wanted to get in before dark.   The water is very dark and not the deep blue we had been anticipating and the haze as we entered the anchorage meant it looked quite foreboding and gloomy.   We motored around looking for a suitable spot and found one in 25 feet of water at low tide – which will rise to 40 feet overnight.   We had had a lovely sail covering 39.2 miles in nine hours so a pretty slow run to Contadora but we need to conserve our diesel for the Galapagos run so sailed as long as we could despite the lack of speed.

We had a quiet night on board having a couple of cold ones in the cockpit celebrating our first successful Pacific passage.

Tuesday morning we got up early and  the anchorage looked much more attractive in the sun.  

We attacked the boat jobs with a vengeance.   Richard went into the water and started to clean the hull while I tackled down below cleaning everything as well as polishing the wood and the stainless.   Come around 3pm we had had enough so we got cleaned up and headed out in dink to explore.    The foreshore is very rocky and the erosion by the sea has created some great shapes. 

We worked our way around the corner of the island as there was a new yacht club there.   Well…we found it….and it was just a floating pontoon with steps.   We had taken our petrol cans with us just in case there was fuel available but the place was absolutely deserted and locked up.    Obviously not open for business just yet.

Coming back around the corner we went closer into shore and found a sandy spot where we could land the dinghy.   So dink was pulled up the beach and we wandered towards some parasols…and found a small boutique hotel bar on the beach.   

They even had wifi….so we had a couple of beers and asked the barmaid where we could get petrol.  She said her friend would bring it for us and, within 10 minutes, we had two gallons delivered.   Wow…was expensive and the gallons were a little short…but great service or what!    We enjoyed the views from the beach bar and watching the hummingbirds coming to the feeder….

We headed back to Morphie in dink after having a couple of cold ones and spent the evening in the cockpit watching all the comings and goings in the anchorage.  Annoyingly even with the long-range aerial we weren’t able to pick up the wifi from the boat.    Never mind….

Wednesday morning and we got busy again….Richard went back into the water to do some more cleaning while I carried on down below.   Then he surfaced – having been stung by a jelly fish, ouch!   So he called it a day in the water and instead got on with cleaning down the topsides, the rail and the steel.    Come 2pm we were both exhausted in the heat and had a break….before heading ashore later with the iPad so we could get online for the first time since Sunday night.   

We spent an hour or so online ticking off more jobs on the list before heading to the water and then spent a few hours bobbing and chatting to some people on holiday – but only after having put dink on his anchor so he didn’t get stranded high and dry as the tide went out.    We had a fun time.   

This morning, Thursday, and we are disappointed that there is no wind forecast at all for our next passage.   Although this place is beautiful we are keen to get going particularly now that we have pretty much finished all the boat jobs we had to do in preparation for our visit to the Galapagos Islands.   

I’ve just done the laundry and Richard has finished cleaning the bilges.   

We are anxious to be on the move so have decided to do a couple of stops further down the Las Perlas island chain which, at least, gets us closer to our next destination.

We don’t anticipate getting any internet from now until we arrive in the Galapagos.   The length of the passage will depend upon many factors not least wind strength, currents against us, and crossing the doldrums.  We think that we will cover 1,000 miles and that it might take us about 10 days but who knows?!?   Despite carrying a lot of fuel we can’t motor all the way so will have to just take what comes.    Oh yes, and on the way, we’ll cross the equator so will have to do a deal with Neptune to give us good passage….   All very exciting!

I can continue to blog using the satellite system but that means no decent pictures and we won’t be able to receive any emails etc…..but at least we can keep you posted.   And, of course, don’t forget to follow our progress on the tracker. 

Bye for now