Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rio Chagres

I think it's actually better to do a straight run between Bocas del Toro and the San Blas -- I hate these long days.  A nine hour day to Euero and a 12 hour day to the Rio Chagres.  The plan was to check out the swell going into the river, and if it didn't look good, we'd head in through the breakwater going into the Canal and drop the hook for the night.  Dennis was at the helm and thought we were good.  Well, it was okay as far as swell, but he kept getting too far to starboard and found 9.5'.  I was calling out the depth and begging him to go to port.  I was the one that took us in and out the last time, so I knew where we were supposed to be, and the least amount of water I found was 15'.  The good news is, we made it in safe and sound and dropped the hook just after 6 p.m.  I won't be saving that track on the GPS!  The way I feel right now ... I'm never leaving the river!!!

Had a relaxing day, doing some dinghy exploring, and then moving farther down the river.  We're amazed at the difference from the last time we were here.  We anchored here at the end of September, 2010, and then they had the tremendous amount of rain in December, where they closed the Canal for the first time since WWII, and opened the floodgates.  Cialo had pulled in, and with the force of the water coming down the river, their chain and anchor parted and they ended up on the beach.  Sadly, it's been written off, stripped, and just the hull remains on the shore.  Where before all the vegetation came right to the shore, there's now 8' banks on each side of the river, depending where the water flow was the strongest.

Calabash waiting to carve

Thought we had hit the motherlode of calabash!  When we were here in September, they were little baby calabash, and now they looked to be all grown up and big.  With a lot of perseverance we ended up with 5 of them that we cut in half to clean and make into bowls and lamps.  Hmmm ... why are there hard sea pods when before we just scooped stuff out?  Found out why after we spent all afternoon cleaning them and leaving them to dry.  I guess they were just a little too ripe, and instead of  hardening up they just shriveled up. :(   Dennis tossed them into the water and we sadly watched them head downstream.

When we anchored before, we were in fresh water halfway down the river.  The time of year definitely makes a difference.  We took the dinghy down to the dam to get fresh water for the jerry cans and do some laundry.  Then headed back up towards the entrance again for a couple of days to do more dinghy exploring and much needed work on he wood.  Hopefully, we'll find a calm anchorage in the San Blas to add the Cetol and gloss to the cockpit. 

No internet or phone service, and, as always, Globalstar is painstakingly frustrating, so it's time to head to Portobello, and then get back to the San Blas before Frank and Gretchen on Infinity head back home.

Once we have better internet I'll post before and after photos of the river.


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