Posted by: catamarantwooceans | May 3, 2016

Panama–the Recovery

23.4.16 – Saturday – Jeff came to the boat and put in a new, original Yanmar belt for the small alternator and the water pump. He declared the engine to be absolutely fine, promised to bring some more spare belts which he did later in the day.

24.4.16 – Sunday – Russell, the electrician, came at eleven a.m. worked his magic on the alternator, checked the house batteries under load and pronounced both to be in good condition. The funny behavior of the charge and the batteries voltage was traced to corroded terminals of the voltage sensing wires. He also took the cannibalized starboard alternator for rebuilding.

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We would be able to go tomorrow towards San Blas.

25.4.16 – Monday – We did some more shopping at the expensive and “Kosher” supermarket on the southern part of town and an aggravating visit to the harbor master’s office. It seems that every bureaucrat makes his own rules and you are never sure which of those you can simply ignore. The local pleasure maritime Jeffe (chief) said we had to come to his office and obtain a Zarpe (permit) to go to San Blas. That document required the involvement of two secretaries, at least four different forms and the payment of 1.5$. The Jeffe himself was not in attendance and he was supposed to sign the permit; after waiting more than 30 minutes I exploded and demanded that somebody else would sign it. A few worried phone calls later the permission was granted and we escaped to the boat. Mike, the marina manager, came up with a rumor that the Kuna people forced the state officials to leave their offices in Porvenir.  We’ll see about that when we get there.

The marina’s panga pulled our stern and turned us in the direction of the exit, we went over to the fuel dock to fill the port tank and then motored out of Bocas. Destination – Chagres river, 130 miles away. Quiet sailing at speeds varying between 4 and 6 knots and when the evening came and the wind died we motor-sailed. Before the moon went up a ship on a reciprocal course passed very close to our starboard. The 90 percent full moon came up to light the calm seas; we were doing 6 knots – it’s good to be out again!

26.4.16 – Tuesday – We motored all night, wind was less than 6 knots from astern. At 0530 I relieved Gil and at first light put the trolling line in the water; in less than ten minutes I had a small tuna on board. I let the line out again. Gil came back around 0800. I went inside for a while and when I came back to the cockpit I saw that the fishing line was pulled all the way out, the rod bending to the weight of the hooked fish. The moment I took the rod the line snapped. Frustration! I prepared another set and very shortly we had another fish, some kind of tuna, I presume.

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When I finished processing the catch we were only 5 miles to the Rio Chagres entrance. Got in, anchored at my usual spot, we had lunch and went for a nap.

When I woke up I lowered the SUP into the water and paddled in search of howler monkeys. I found a location where they were howling quite loudly and went back to take Gil with the dinghy and show him the natural wonders of the Rio. We heard the choir of the monkeys but saw none. Entering one of the narrow streams that join the main river we saw an ant eating animal climb down a tree and also some beautiful birds.

27.4.16 – Wednesday – At 0700 we started out of the river to go to Portobelo. The main reason for that choice of destination was due to our need to buy a local SIM card with a data plan plus a few necessities like green peppers, cilantro (coriander) and eggs. I took Gil to the Portobelo tourist sites – the San Lorenzo fort, the Cathedral with the black Christ – as well to the Chinese supermarkets. We got all we wanted except the data cards for Digicell. Solution to that came later.

At 1400 we motored to Linton bay; After anchoring we took the dinghy to the new marina to check its progress. There were quite a lot of yachts in the marina; also some on the hard, a proof that the travel lift was operational. We went to the office to get more information and found the dock manager, Mr. Adam Baitel, a member of the family which owns the Linton Island as well as the area where the marina is being developed. He invited us to come to the marina, citing the low price and the free water. The prices right now are very attractive: 0.47$ per foot for a mono, 0.63 for a catamaran, that would be 25$ for us. The monthly rate is 0.3$ and 0.4$ respectively.

We rushed back to Two Oceans, bringing her into a big berth. Gil went with Adam to a store where he got enough prepaid cards to enable using data. Adam is a fun guy and we had a nice conversation with him as the main talker.

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28.4.16 – Thursday – Out of Linton Bay marina early in the morning, we motor-sailed most of the way to Porvenir, getting there at 3 p.m. As we prepared to go ashore to the Kuna congress office to pay the entry fee, a man on a dinghy came from a yacht anchored nearby. “Would you have a gallon of engine oil you could give me? I’m stuck here for three days, unable to go out”. Without fully comprehending his problem, I promised I would come over after our shore visit.

On shore the young Kuna ladies took our money; twenty bucks for the boat and the same for each of us. When I asked them about the Panamanian authorities they replied that they were no longer there. There was a presence of the Police and the Coastguard.

Back at the boat I checked my engine oil inventory. I needed to keep close to a gallon for my own needs so I could give the man half a gallon of good, new oil plus half of used oil that I had. Dinghied to the man; his name was Bill, hailing from Florida. He told me he had a leak from the engine into the heat exchanger (??? internal crack in the block???) and that he just wanted to get out and sail to Cartagena, Colombia. I asked him why he did not think of going to Turtle Cay or Linton marinas and it turned out that although he had the Eric Bauhous guide he was not aware of their existence.

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I gave him what I had and wished him good luck; only later, as we motored out, it occurred to me he could have asked the Kuna people to arrange delivery of oil from Panama City.

We anchored in East Lemon cay and went snorkeling on the reef. With the late hour the colors and fish variety were disappointing. The wind turn to the southwest, right into the bay, so we relocated to the lee of the small island at the southwest of the group and had a quiet night.

29.4.16 – Friday – We followed what has become my standard short time circuit of San Blas. West Holandes and then east to the “Swimming-pool” area, where I always have good fishing. Not this time, though; a jack was returned to sea, a single snapper we could keep and later a nurse shark, which provided a photo-op and then broke the line.


30.4.16 – Saturday – I woke up early and decided to try my fishing luck again. Big strike of something that fought hard – a big sting-ray. After the picture was taken it took our line hook and sinker.


With no wind we motored to Coco Bandero, the place always enchanting. We swam, I paddled my SUP and we them watched a glorious sunset.

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While we were preparing our dinner, a few spotted Eagle-rays (or maybe it was just one) gave an appearance, fulfilling my promise to Gil to show him exactly that.

1.5.16 – Sunday – Needing to fill water and to communicate with the outer world we went to Nargana. Paco went out to the river to fill his tanks and it was not clear when he would be back; no cellular or Wi-Fi connection was available so we motored towards Rio Azucar for the water. I was a bit apprehensive about docking there with a single engine but with the light wind we were able to tie alongside a Colombian trader and fill up.

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A grumpy lady, carrying a small child, received the payment for the water (15$) and the docking (5$). In addition to the pic above, Gil took one of the local guy who brought the pipe to the boat.

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Out of Rio Azucar, we stopped at Cambobia for lunch and then prepared to go to Salardup, five miles away. “Shall we open up the sails?” I asked. “No, the wind is fickle and light, it isn’t worth it for such a short distance”. That sounded like a dare and anyway, I like sailing in light winds when not in a hurry, so I raised the main, opened the jib and off we went with no engine running. Gil lay in the cockpit and fell asleep. I decided to surprise him by anchoring under sail but he woke up as I was getting close to the anchorage. “You can still do it” he said. I did and awarded myself with a beer for the successful maneuver.

2.5.16 – Monday – Last day for Gil on the boat. We advanced towards Carti, stopping  for a swim in two of the small guest-house islands on the way. We visited Carti Sugdup where we were met by an old gentleman called John, who always greets me when I come there. He took us around the island, showing us the meeting house where the men delve in politics while the women take care of the economy.

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pic by Gil

There is a new “supermarket” on the southern side of the island with the best products I ever saw in that town. We bought some stuff for the next days and motored to anchor near the land terminal, ready for Gil’s departure.

3.5.16 – Tuesday – I took Gil ashore where we met Artemio, the driver who would take him to the airport and back to Civilization. Gil was on the boat for about three weeks; he came right on time to help me with all the problems that cropped up. Without him I would have had to tackle all those plus sailing single-handed from Jamaica to Panama – not a joyful combination. I promised to take him to nice places and I certainly did: Bocas, Chagres River and San Blas. As he left he voiced the possibility that whenever a crewman would be needed he would be willing to join. Thanks Gil!

Once Gil was on his way I sailed to Chichime to spend the night. My plan: day-sail back to Bocas in stages and be there when Jeff and Russell do some necessary repairs.

Until I get there – Adios from Miki, single handing again on Two Oceans.



  1. Very nice sunset picture. Missing Sun Blass…

  2. Hi miki happy to see that you manage to overcome all obstacles dont forget you are in paradise .whats the next step ?
    Yom haatzmaut samesch

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