Posted by: catamarantwooceans | July 14, 2008

July 2008-Panama

July 1st

This was the “Rain Day”. It started sometime around four a.m and I, sound asleep, took my time waking up to close the hatch and had to continue my slumber on wet sheets. At 0730 it stopped and looking around I thought it was the end of it so I raised the anchor and motored out of San Blas. My destination, Miramar, lay 22 miles to the west. In the guide book it was described as a secure mangrove anchorage, out of which the traders servicing the San Blas area operate and where a cruising couple named Serge and Mimi made a home, have a restaurant and do maintenance work for yachts. I rather fancied an evening of somebody else cooking and doing the dishes. The guide goes on to say that the bay is very small:”not enough space to turn the boat or anchor(?) One will have to tie to the mangroves”. Looking closer at the chartlet’s grid it seemed that the size of the place was in the order of 40 meters or so. But people in San Blas told me that they saw a few yachts there, surely I’ll be able to squeeze in. On the way the rain returned with vengeance, limiting visibility to about 50 meters and making me think that in such conditions I will go on to Linton island, 15 miles further to the west and an easier place to negotiate. Getting closer to Miramar the skies cleared somewhat.

I called Serge on the phone and he said that with my draft – a meter deep – there was no problem coming in and that he will be there to help me. I imagined that I will drop anchor, back up towards the mangroves and throw the dinghy anchor, tied to a mooring line, into them, later adding ropes if necessary. Coming in I was astounded by the tiny size of it. I followed the instructions in the guide with Mimi, who was looking on from somewhere, helping on the VHF:”Turn now, keep close to the mangroves” while the depth meter showed anything between 2.5 to 0.7 meters, where we may have been going through soft mud. Inside I saw a wooden dock, not in the best state of repair, with a monohull tied to it. Serge was standing on it motioning for me to come alongside. I quickly put two fenders and Two Ocean came to a standstill in what may very well be the smallest harbour she ever visited.

In Miramar

In Miramar

In the evening I climbed the hill to Serge and Mimi’s place. Their house has two levels, the upper is the restaurant, complete with bar and billiards table and the lower is their home. They have another house near the water, where Serge’s 90 year old mother lives. Remember this is the wet, out of season period of the year, so I was the sole guest and sat at the table with the old lady and Serge, Mimi was indisposed for some reason. The menu: Fillet of Beef, French Fries and Guacamole, baguette and Dijon mustard on the table. Red Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon flowed freely, all for 9$. Serge, who was delighted with having somebody new present, spoke in torrential French that I had difficulty following, about a variety of subjects, the Environment, the Disintegration of the Family in France and of France itself. In the process he took of his shirt to show some scars that he had – all in all and even though the meat was a bit tough – an enjoyable evening.

July 2nd

I woke up early, as usual, but did not want to leave with the sun low and anyway it looked like the tide was in the low water phase. I also wanted to take Serge’s picture for the site. So I sat waiting, reading Jack London’s “The Sea Wolf” and waiting for Serge, from time to time glancing at the depth gauge, which acted a bit strangely, going up to 3.1 meters and then descending to 2.5 and up again to 2.7 all in the course of a single hour. It was 1015 when I finished the book, Serge did not show up and the depth stayed at 2.7 – I decided to go. Out there was light wind, but I was in no hurry and sailed pleasantly along. Ahead I could see black clouds on the horizon. Experience taught me that if I wait too long before I don the oilskins the rain comes quicker and I get soaked. If I put them on early – the rain does not come at all. So I put on my yellow oilies and the moment I zipped the jacket up the rain started. And it was heavy! At one point the visibility was no more than a boat’s length, I reduced speed, put the radar on trying to distinguish between land, clouds and boats and followed the GPS chart plotter to the Linton island anchorage. When I got there the visibility improved a bit, I dropped anchor and passed the time watching a DVD, “Amadeus” in Italian –
the music, of course, transcended the language barrier. Dinner of shark steak ( I still have some in the freezer) and mashed potatoes with fried onion and I called it a night.

July 3rd

I arranged with Jean Paul of Panamarina, where I decided to leave Two Oceans for two months, that I will come there at 0930. Panamarina is not a regular marina with docks and the like but they keep the boats on moorings with no connection to Terra Firma at all. I asked Jean Paul specifically about water and Internet connection and he assured me that they were both available. After tying up I went to the office to check in and found out that water can be had only at the dinghy dock and that Internet is not WiFi on the boat but with a cable at the restaurant – costing 2$ an hour. Images of Shelter Bay marina sprang into my mind, docks with water and electricity, WiFi etc, so I excused myself and sailed 24 miles to that place. More expensive but much more civilized. Today, then, was my last sailing day on this part of the voyage. I’ll add some pictures when I get back home, where the cellphone camera cable hides.

Back in September for more sailing and hopefully crossing to the Pacific!

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