Posted by: catamarantwooceans | November 15, 2015

Panama to Providencia

4.11.15 – Wednesday – Savoring the “no maintenance” atmosphere, we stayed in the Western Holandes until after lunch and then sailed to the Eastern Holandes, the place called “Swimming Pool”, for the night. We’ve been there quite a few times and always had great fishing there. On the other hand, we always regarded the place as having no good snorkeling area: for the first time ever we swam to the north of BBQ island and were surprised by the abundance and variety of fish. Back on the boat I put some bait in the water but no fish was interested.

5.11.15 – Thursday – Motored (again no wind) to Nargana to buy tomatoes and other veggies. The shops were practically empty; something to do with the holiday. We took on 50 gallons of water and motored to Salardup, 13 miles to the east. The upper cars of the mainsail gave trouble again, the one on top separated from the sail and got stuck up the mast. After anchoring I beamed Danny up to release it.

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We found that it lost all of its Delrin balls and was useless. I had a faint memory of having some spare to that system. Rummaged in my Sail Repair bag and came up with a new Facnor F-20 car and a special part for connecting the two upper cars to the headboard. Parts installed – sail seems to operate normally; I ponder why I never used it before and can’t remember.

6.11.15 – Friday – We motored to Porvenir to do the check-out procedure; destination – Providencia, which is a Colombian island off the coast of Nicaragua. Check-out completed, Gili and I took the dinghy to Nalunega, less than 10 minutes dinghy ride away, to see what we could have in the local fruit and veg shop. The only thing we came back with was a tray of two dozen beers. No tomatoes, no bread, NADA.  On the way back the dinghy sprang up a huge leak. We put it on the fore-deck and found that a big section of PVC delaminated from the aluminum bottom. We have Epoxy putty stick on board, which hardens after only one hour and quickly applied it to fix the leak. So far for “savoring the no maintenance atmosphere”.

At 1400 we started motoring out. Forecast – light winds  near the Panama coast and later easterlies 15-20 knots; excellent for our 327 degrees course. There was a mention of an area of 20-25 knots, but that was far to our east, nothing to worry about. (I’m sure you already guess).

7.11.15 – Saturday – Just after I came on watch at midnight the easterly wind appeared, reaching the promised 15 knots. I set the sails accordingly, keeping the main at first reef, being mindful of possible squalls. At 0300 Gili took over and I went to bed. A few minutes later she woke me up:” the wind is down, we are hardly moving”. I started an engine and we continued motor-sailing. I did not sleep long; Gili came again:” I’m sorry, but now it’s blowing 35 knots!”. The big wind stayed with us for 45 minutes or so, during which we reefed to the second position, having some trouble lowering the main. It went back to around 20 knots, producing a bit of a nasty sea, with waves hitting us every four seconds. This made Gili feel rather bad, Danny and I  didn’t like it either.

A dark but cloudless night fell. The seas calmed down and we were making good speed towards our destination. We tried to raise the main to first reef but something got stuck up the mast so we continued with second reef in the main and first in the jib.

8.11.15 – Sunday – As daylight came we could see the island of Providencia on the horizon. Danny put the trolling gear in the water. I did what I sometimes do and told him he will have a fish as we get close to the southwest tip of the island “and it’ll be a Mahi Mahi”. If nothing happens people forget; if a fish is caught – they admire your foresight and if it is the one you said it would be – thoughts of supernatural abilities come up. A picture is worth a thousand words…

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As we got closer to the island, I called port control. They alerted Mr. Bush, the agent I remembered from my previous visit here; he came on the radio and arranged a meeting on shore in the afternoon in which most of the formalities were concluded. Although a Sunday, some of the supermarkets opened after 5 p.m. and we found Tomatoes (and a lot of other stuff we needed).

We plan to stay here two more days and then continue to Grand Cayman. Will the wind co-operate?


9.11.15 – Monday – We went ashore in the morning to do more shopping and meet with Mr. Bush to get our passports back from immigrations.

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                        Bernardo Bush – agent extraordinaire

Next to Mr. Bush’s agency there is an internet café; I entered it to look at the weather. In the next few days it would be Northeasterly winds and the going north to Cayman would not be pleasant. Having anticipated that possibility I made an alternative plan and sat down with Gili and Danny for a brainstorming session. Our current plan of going the Cayman – Cuba – Bahamas – Florida route, put a lot of pressure on keeping to the planned flight dates and did not leave enough days to stay in places we reach. Another option is to go to Guanaja in the Honduran Bay of Islands, stopping on the way in the Vivorillos cays, then going to Cozumel and Isla Mujeres in Mexico. We could do the interesting trip to the Mayan site of Chichen Itza and Gili could easily change her flight to New York to go out of Cancun. Danny would continue with me to Fort Lauderdale and fly home from Miami.

Once the crew looked at the chart and saw the benefits of the new plan – not having to go against the wind, shorter legs, interesting places to visit and mostly – enough days on hand – they adopted it gladly.


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