Posted by: catamarantwooceans | January 21, 2015

In Panama With Gili & friends

14.1.15 – Wednesday – I pride myself on not making the same mistake twice but on that day I did and lived to regret it. I asked the marina to send their electrician, Pierrick, with whom I had a less than satisfying experience, to look at my autopilot system (I have two). The man took a very long time to research my it, took all the Raymarine instruments out of the panel, renewed some connections which he did not like and the final effect was that the old autopilot, which was the problem to begin with, was still in-operative. I asked how many hours he was going to bill me for and the answer was four. As evening came the instruments were still not properly installed and he promised to come early next morning to do it.

At 2230 Gili and our friends Mali and Boaz Waizer arrived. They have a Knysna 440 catamaran that they keep in Italy.

15.1.15 – Thursday – In the morning Pierrick came and said he was going to bill me another hour for finishing the job; this was too much for me, I told him to go away and did it myself in half an hour. The bill I received for the four hours was 260$; I spoke to the man in charge of maintenance in the marina, Edwin, arguing that a bill should take results into account. It was agreed that it would be settled when I come back in February.

The newcomers were not ready for the 0800 bus to town so we took a taxi to the supermarket later and bought what  seemed to me an enormous quantity of food. Under the impression of my enjoyable stay in Chagres river we decided to spend the night there.

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Chagres river was, as always, just great; a relaxing, pleasant stay.

16.1.15 – Friday – The forecast according to UGRIB was for Northeasterly, which would be straight on the nose, at 10 knots and less. We were prepared for higher wind velocity but did not imagine the sea state that came with it. Ugly short seas hit us from ahead; Gili and Mali were not feeling well at all (big understatement). It took five and a half hours of anguish in the ladies department until we entered the peaceful waters near Linton Island.

After a short time of recuperation, we took the dinghy to the island. I knew that seeing the resident monkeys there will do wonders for Gili. We walked on shore and found two of them on a tree, dangling from a branch over the water, dipping their paws and actually drinking the sea water.

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17.1.15 – Saturday – With 43 miles to go to Kuna Yala we set out a  bit after seven a.m. Forecast same as the day before, reality as the day before but this time we sailed in a heading that allowed pure sailing at 45 and then 60 degrees off the apparent wind. Again, the waves spoilt everything; we were really pounding ahead and the ladies did not appreciate the ride at all, spending most of the time supine in the cabin.

Getting closer to destination a big raincloud covered the sky and discharged its load. Despite wearing my oilskins I got completely soaked. The cloud took the wind away and sent it back from all the compass directions; I had to furl the jib and motor. The visibility was reduced to less than a hundred meters. Slowly the cloud passed, the rain ceased and the wind went further behind. Out of the murk appeared a monohull, hard on the wind with a pronounced list. We passed "port to port" quite close and waving to each other. Another one, a big schooner, was sailing on a divergent track to ours, with a reefed main, its jib and the foresail. We were at first reef and I couldn’t help but making a race of it.

We had the same speed more or less until they rolled the main jib (that’s the one on the main, taller back mast). The wind was now less than 20 and in my eagerness to pass I unfurled the jib to its full size. Cocokay was a beautiful sight to behold; although a modern cat person, I love watching those elegant, older designs. I took their picture prior to overtaking them.

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With the afternoon advancing and our ladies at the end of their tether with fatigue and sea-sickness, I decided to head to the closest refuge, Chichime, and go to the harbor master next day. We chose to anchor behind the south island at 1.5 meters on sea grass covered sand. The anchor held at the second try and we were finally at rest.

18.1.15 – Sunday – Unlike many yachties I know, I tend to take the local bureaucracy seriously, which is always a bit of a hassle. This morning I took boat and crew to Porvenir to check in. Senior Lopez and his entourage scanned my papers without a lot of interest; "It’s O.K, just come back when you go back to Colon" he said. "In principle, do I have to come and check in every time I arrive?" "No, if you have the Zarpe from Colon and the cruising permit you’re fine". Good to know!

Boaz wanted to see "how the local people live here" so we sailed to the Carti Islands, anchored near Sugdup and went ashore. Boaz and Mali, not having a lot of experience with third world countries, were very much surprised by what they considered the low standard of living on the island.

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I forgot to mention that on the two legs sailed that day we caught two fish. They were the type I used to call "juvenile Spanish mackerel" and then Sorrel mackerel. Doron sent me a final correction; they are called "Cero mackerel". We had them for dinner as ceviche and broiled. Yummy!

19.1.15 – Monday – Out of Carti, we sailed to Aridup, where good snorkeling was promised. That was perhaps right when the second edition of the Panama guide was published, not so nowadays. The reefs were in a bad shape and full of garbage; there were more types of beer and soft drink cans than species of fish. We sailed on to Salardup on the west of the Naguargandup group. It was really a beautiful location and I’m sure to come back and stay some more there.

Our joy was marred by a mishap with our cooking gas system. Yesterday the tank we used was depleted and we connected a new tank that I bought in Curacao. Some time in the afternoon it started malfunctioning, fires going out inexplicably. I fiddled with it some and dinner cooking went ahead smoothly. Today the situation worsened, no gas came out of the tank. After trying all the components of the system, the last thing left was knocking lightly on the regulator, releasing something within and returning it to normal operation. Clearly I would have to replace it, but that will not happen in San Blas.

20.1.15 – Tuesday – My 73rd birthday, frightful number but if I can still winch the mainsail up I’m O.K. In need of water we sailed to Nargana. Close hauled on flat water, main in first reef so as not to stress anyone or anything, we sailed at 7.5 knots. In the bay between Nargana and Corazon de Jesus we dropped our anchor. I went looking for the water man in the house I usually find him  and was led to a man named Paco, who was passing the time in a hammock in the yard. He went to fetch the guy who fills yachts up. He goes by the unpretentious name of Apollo. Next I took the ladies shopping. Our booty was comprised of one orange and all the crackers the Casa Montero tienda had.

Out of there on the way to Green island we were met by a cayuca from which two guys were displaying the catch of the day – lobsters.

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We bought all they had, seven specimen, for 15$. We anchored in the usual place behind the island. A feast will be held tonight on "Two Oceans".


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