Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Colon to Bocas del Toro

We finally left the marina Friday, December 3rd, once again with the assistance of Randy from High States (Lynn was off shopping).  Mark and Deb on Sea Cycle came to help, but Dennis was ready to leave and we were just pulling out of the slip and got to wave to them.   Once again, Dennis did a great job of pulling out of the slip.  Like I said in one of the last blogs, we were in a slip right next to the wall in 7 1/2 feet of water, (we draw almost 6 feet) and I was a little concerned about the rocks behind us. My hero pulls through again!

We've decided that since there's some pretty big swells still 'out there', we'd head the 6 miles east to Naranjo Abajo, wait for the seas to calm down a bit, and then get underway to the Bocas on Sunday.  Yes, there were some pretty big swells outside the breakwater, but once we got down to Naranjo Abajo, we tucked in behind the island, anchored in 15 feet of water and put a stern anchor out.  Ah, peace and quiet and no roll!

Happy anniverysary - 23 years - and we're headed up to the Bocas area.  Guess there's no steak, lobster and champagne tonight!  Left about 9 in the morning and started out with a pretty good sail, making 6 knots.  Unfortunately, that didn't last a whole long time.  Once we passed the Chagres we ran into brown water and a debris field that lasted probably 25 to 30 miles.  With all the rain we've had, everything was floating out there.  Mostly, whole trees!  About 4 o'clock it was like a line in the sand, the debris was gone and we had blue water again.  Thankfully, we won't have to worry about that overnight, since we've ended up on a moonless night.  Didn't time that quite right.  Actually had a pretty good night of motorsailing, with each of us taking 2 hour watches.  The beanbag chair we brought back from Michigan (Kelly gave us Parker's old one, and he doesn't know we have it!) worked out great for the passage.  We can stick it in the corner and get real comfy, listen to the IPOD, and stand up every song or two to look around.  Absolutely nothing out there all night, which was kind of nice.  Our planned anchorage was Escudo de Veraguas.  The wind died and we had about 2 knots of current against us, so it was a slow passage.  Just as we were getting close to the anchorage the skies opened up and the island disappeared.  Slowed down, waited for the rain to stop and then pulled in.  It's a great anchorage in north, northwest or northeast winds.  The winds were supposed to be west/northwest, switching to north/northwest.  We would be protected from the seas!  Well, that certainly didn't happen.  Started off west/northwest and then actually switched to the west, then to the southwest.  Four foot seas at anchor were not fun, so our time was short there!!!  The first night was good, the second unbearable, so we picked up anchor and headed over to Bluefield Lagoon.  Anchored off of Playa Raya, since we'd been told that the anchorage at Punta Allegre would have many people visiting us.  This whole area is inhabitated by the Ngobe Indians, who are obviously very big into farming.  The anchorage was pretty rolly, so we put a bridle on, which Dennis adjusted many, many times.  On the way into the anchorage we caught a King Mackeral, which we don't eat.  Dennis tried to let it go and get his lure back, which didn't work, so we gaffed it, put it in the dinghy and gave it to the first canoe we saw. 

Spent another few days on the boat, then the rain and wind stopped so we took a dinghy ride into Punta Avispa.  Paid a dollar to get rid of garbage, take a walk around 'town', got a few photographs and some exercise.

Panama has experienced unbelievable rain.  The Canal was actually closed for 17 hours due to flooding.  We almost went and anchored in the Chagres and waited for the next weather window.  Thankfully, we continued on.  A boat coming down from the Bocas on the way to the San Blas decided to stop just inside the entrance to the Chagres.  When they closed the Canal, they opened the floodgates, and Cielo was blown out of the anchorage and onto the beach, where they still are 2 weeks later.  There were mudslides in Portabello and deaths.  A Canadian man, with his Panamanian wife, her son, daughter-in-law and grandchild, were caught in one of the many mudslides and only the husband survived.  Very, very sad.

After 4 days in Laguna de Bluefield, it's time to head up to the main area of Bocas Town and check in.  Hopefully the weather will get better!!!    ~~~_/)~~~

Pigs under the store and the local church.

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