Monday, December 13, 2010



Oct 28

In the past few months here in Panama there have been many changes to the Dept. of Immigration & the Department of Ship’s Registration which is where we get our Cruising Permit. Of coarse this has caused some confusion.

We personally now can stay in Panama for a maximum of six months, leave the country and then when we re-enter we receive an additional six months. The “yachts” however can stay for a total of twelve months before having to leave the country at a cost of $180.00 US. We renewed our Cruising permit in Porvenir in August where the Port Captain gave us an expiration date of December 31st 2010. Upon reaching Portobello we were told in fact the new law said the twelve months was in fact for a calendar year so it was recommended we go back to Porvenir and see if the Port Captain could change the date for us.
We needed to stop in Linton on our way back to San Blas to fill our jerry jugs with diesel and gasoline…This of course can only be done by dinghy and the jerry jugs are not light. Diesel is 3.25 a gallon and gas is 3.50 a gallon. The fuel arrives in 45 gallon drums by truck.

After three roily uncomfortable nights we dinghy around the bay with our handheld depth finder to find a calmer anchorage. We decide to move. We’re now in deeper water; 45 feet but with next weeks potential bad weather we are out of the swell.

Arriving in Porvenir the Port Captain was more than willing to change our expiration date at no additional fee. After updating our permit we head for Nalia, a mangrove lined bay where we hope we’ll catch ourselves some rain water. Nalia is off the beaten path; we’re the only boat here. The current is strong turning us 180 degrees. What a no-seeum night. We decide we’ll head out at first light.
We move on to West Hollandaise. The anchorage here is good for one boat and we're it. Rand checks the anchor and decides we are to close to the reef. By 1620hours the wind has changed and is hitting us from the SSW…No protection here. We’ve left the GPS on, and the alarm is set for 20 feet in case we drag. If bad weather comes in the night we’ll head due South, out to sea….

The next morning we have a flat calm but decide not to push our luck. After a nice snorkel we make the short hop to East Hollandaise.

We have met up with friends Allayne and Dennis on Audrey Paige. We have a nice reunion snorkelling. Then Five Islands arrive, on their way to Cartagena. Again the weather deteriorates…What’s new????

We have moved on to Chichime as the weather continues to deteriorate. We’ll be getting 25-35 knot winds due to Hurricane Otto.We regularly check out the weather on Presently there is a 20% chance of Tropical Cyclone Formation for us in the next 48 hours.
We truly like Chichime however boats anchoring on top of one another is a challenge. We always try and anchor away from everyone, out as far as possible due to running our Honda Generator. In one week we moved five times.

PROHIBITION HITS SAN BLAS…. Yes, the “Caciques” (high chiefs) that rule Kuna Yala have decided Kuna’s are not to buy or sell beer. Of course we did find beer for sale at Chichime for two dollars a tin; a little steep. Sounds like they buy the beer from the passing Colombian trade boats.

Dec. 13
A storm hits Chichime from Hurricane Otto bringing enormous ten foot seas that crash over the windward side of the islands. You can see on the chart above the enormous reef that gives us much needed protection. There in fact have been 19 named storms to date during this Atlantic hurricane season. In October alone there have been five tropical storms formed and all became hurricanes. This is 40 percent more than the average. Now you know why we have not been able to move very far.

Needing exercise we decide to go over to the Leeward side of Uchutupu Dummat and are amazed at how rough it is. A family’s home is lost as the water erodes the sand from its base.

Finally the weather breaks for a very small window of opportunity and our plan is as soon as the weather is okay to head to Bocas del Toro, but before we do this we want to re-provision for another three to four months. This means heading back to Shelter Bay Marina where provisioning is made so much easier with access to the town of Colon by the free shuttle bus. Of course it is much easier to load the groceries onto the boat from the dock.

0600hours we leave Chichime. Full main and foresail out. We are sailing at five knots due to choppy seas and current. The water is full of debris from the storms. At times we’re down to 2.5 knots so decide to start the motor, using everything we’ve got to get back to Linton before dark. We catch an 8 pound Mackarel. Arriving in Linton we are pleasantly surprised to see Moana I in the anchorage. We give them the Mackeral as we plan to leave tomorrow for Shelter Bay.

Nov. 12th By 0900hours we have the anchor up, main and foresail out. By 1200 hours we are flying…Having one of our best sails in a long time.
Reunion at Shelter Bay. It’s like old home week. It’s the first time we have seen good friends Cathy and Derek (Idyll Island) since a year ago October along with Eileen and Peter (Appleseeds) who went home for the summer.

BUT….IT’S RAINING; IT’S POURING!!!!and we have leaks. Note Rand is still smiling for now.


Alex Matsov said...

Hey, this is incredible! I really enjoyed reading this.

Steve Finnell said...

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OurBC said...

Just like doing a meter reconnect!