Posted by: catamarantwooceans | January 24, 2017

Out To Portobelo

8.1.17 – Sunday – Finally, after almost a week of maintenance work, I could go out to sea. I didn’t even take a forecast; I was going to Portobelo, 20 miles away, in whatever sea conditions Poseidon might provide. Well, he did rattle me a bit. It was washing machine ride all the way, wind 20 degrees off the port bow at 20-25 knots. With both engines in cruise power our speed was between 4 and 5 knots and sometimes, when a series of big waves made the boat seesaw wildly it went down to three.

As we got close to Portobelo bay I saw a big red yacht anchoring in Buenaventura bay, close to the south of the former. I always tell myself I need to go in there so why not now? I turned into the bay and dropped anchor at a seemingly very protected spot, letting out 45 meters of chain at 6 meters depth. After a quick lunch I went to my cabin for a nap. Forty five minutes later I heard man-made noises nearby and then knocking on the hull. I rushed outside and saw a dinghy with two men in it. “You are losing your anchor!” they shouted. I saw that I had dragged at least 200 meters without noticing a thing.

I started the engines, raised the anchor, and being unsure about the bottom and holding in that place, decided to go to Portobelo. Thank you Adriatica crew!

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Into the Portobelo bay I motored, arranging a second anchor in tandem to the main one; I want to be able to sleep soundly at night! In the bay I could see what hurricane “Otto”, which passed north of here on November the 22nd. According to the “Caribbean Compass” cruisers in Panama reported maximum sustained winds of 60 knots gusting to 75. “In Portobelo as many as 19 boats were damaged or or sank…. sustained winds of 80 knots were reported…boats in Linton Bay marina (where Two Oceans was at the time) were reported safe…In San Blas…40 knots and five meters seas”. Below is one that was out of luck.

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My friend Michael Ben Eli, who is supposed to join sent an e-mail:”Got stuck in LA with long delays because of a snow storm in NY and airports closing”. He’ll call tomorrow. I’ll stay here for at least one more day. It is gusting twenty five knots as I write this.

9.1.17 – Monday – I wanted to go ashore for internet and some shopping; I have yet to get chilly peppers to spice up my meals. The wind was still quite strong, making some chop in the bay. As I motored slowly towards Casa Vela, which is a combination of bar, sailmaker and dinghy dock, I saw a young man paddling a canoe in the same direction. He was almost stationary and I came to the rescue, giving him a rope to hold and hitch a ride. On the way we passed a sunken ketch and all around I could see more vessels in all sorts of devastation.

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                        A big Wharram cat thrown ashore

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                                    a ketch sunk

At Casa Vela I spoke to Re’al of Montreal, a Quebecois (he was adamant not to be called Canadian)  whose yacht was thrown to the shallows. He confirmed that the report in the “Caribbean Compass” was indeed true. Right by the Casa Vela I could see a big Wharram cat which ran aground on shore and was damaged extensively. I asked Ray, the owner of the place, whether he could re-stitch my trampoline, where quite a lot of the webbings connections came apart. He’ll come to take it “manana”. Casa Vela had good internet and finally I could publish two posts to the blog and download the weather forecast. Not so good and in addition, Michael Ben Eli would only be able to join on the 12th. We have to be back in Shelter Bay on the 16th, so there was no point in going to San Blas. we may make a new plan for him, perhaps coming for the leg to Ecuador.

10.1.17 – Tuesday – I took off the trampolines and as I finished folding them into a pack one could carry, Ray came by on his dinghy, great timing.

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He says the work on the trampolines would take 4-6 hours and that they would be ready on Friday.

11.1.17 – Wednesday – A lazy day; just a few small jobs on the boat, reading, waiting. An old Burl Ives song comes to mind:”Passing the time in Venezuela”.

12.1.17 – Thursday – More of the same except around noon I went ashore with the decision to exercise by taking a walk, which would hopefully be beneficial to my not yet cured lower back. I had in mind going for lunch to Captain Jack’s, a place I heard of but never visited.

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I joined a couple at one of the large wooden tables in the restaurant. An energetic young girl, not more than ten years of age in my estimation, came by to introduce me to the establishment. When I asked her permission to take her picture she was not shy at all and posed in a manner befitting a super-model.

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The restaurant has a lot of East Asian food on the menu, including Thai papaya salad and various curries. The couple I was sitting with, Dawn and Jonathan Pooley, are also yachties; they bought an Outremer 51 (WOW) in France and sailed over to Panama with the thought of going west to French Polynesia.

Back at the dinghy dock of Casa Vela I was told my trampoline would be ready in an hour. I used the time to go to the boat  and take my laundry to a place near the church which, like almost all the businesses in town, is run by a man of Chinese origin. I collected my trampolines plus two lengths of webbing to replace the old ones which run along both sides of the boat serving as attachment points for safety harnesses. Ray did a very good job for a reasonable price; he charges 30$ an hour.

13.1.17 – Friday – Installing the trampolines took most of the day. Portobelo is notorious for being a rainy place and many a time I had to retreat into the cabin to escape a shower. Checking the forecast I saw that there was going to be a let-up in the strong wind; I plan to go out and troll for fish.

14.1.17 – Saturday – Taking two anchors in tandem when you are single-handing and a 20 knots wind is blowing is not very easy but I managed it and turned to go out of the bay. With fishing being the main purpose, I used jib only and reefed to the first point it gave me 5.5 knots. I sailed to the west to go into deeper water and as I emerged out of the cover of the land the wind and seas became bigger, 30 knots plus and 3 meters waves. My thought, as I went out, was to go back to Portobelo after getting my fish; this did not happen and considering the frequent rains, I decided to go south to Isla Naranja about which the Bauhous guide says:” The anchorage has very good protection in all weather”.

Going south with the seas behind was fast and furious but as I turned into the anchorage in the lee of the island the wind went down by a factor of ten and the sea was completely flat. I tucked in close to shore and dropped anchor at 1.5 meter.

15.1.17 – Sunday – Woke up much later than usual, 0640, had breakfast and motored out using a single engine and the jib. At 1000 I was tied in the berth at the marina.


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