Архив постов: September 2023

Bocas Del Toro to Shelter Bay September 2023

September 28, 2023

The thing about being on a Nordhavn is that for the most part, Nordhavn owners seem to gravitate towards each other, so we end up meeting a lot of like minded cruisers. The latest people we have met are Tony and Laura who have recently bought a Nordhavn 57, and, quite coincidentally they are from our neighboring town in Florida. We met them in Bocas Del Toro, Panama and we spent a few days touring around Dolphin Bay together. While in Dolphin Bay, we went snorkeling. The coral as outstanding so we really wished we did not have to leave the following morning, but we had planned to  head East to Shelter Bay with our new cruising friends. They were happy to have us for company on the overnight trip, it was their first solo trip on the boat.

We spent Tuesday morning preparing for the passage. I made food which we could heat when necessary, we checked up on fuel supply, lifted the dinghy on board, stowed all unnecessary items, made sure all doors and drawers were latched. We lifted our anchors at 1pm and headed around Isla San Cristobal, then out through the gap between Isla Coronera and Isla Bastimentos. The seas were quite rough because the water gets squashed between the two islands and of course I was unprepared for this so the seasickness set in. Once we were outside the swell was quite big but coming on the beam (side of the boat) so it was quite comfortable. Too late for me, I was already feeling desperate to lie down and sleep which is exactly what I did. Until Frank shouted “fish ooooooon”. Suddenly it was all systems go, reduce speed, advise our buddy boat who was directly behind us that we are slowing down, get the gaff, run downstairs ready to bring the fish on board and of course, we were eager to see what we had caught and just hoped its not a barracuda. The fish did not put up much of a fight either which was a bit of a disappointment.  It was a tuna! We had never caught a tuna before. So much excitement on board. To be more precise, it was a Black Fin Tuna, and yielded 6 decent fillets. We had sashimi as a snack. I was a bit freaked about eating fish that raw and so fresh it was still warm. Similar to drinking milk even before it has been refrigerated. It did taste great tho. 

The night passage was uneventful, seas were beautifully calm with hardly any wind. Engine checks held no unexpected surprises. I Love this boat. There was no marine traffic out there, only Kariwa and the running lights of our buddy boat Laura Jayne about a half mile behind us. We had a great push from the current and were doing over 9kts practically the whole way. This resulted in us having to pull back and slow down to avoid arriving at the marina  before 7:30 am. As it got light we could see many many ships at anchor, awaiting a turn to transit the Panama Canal. Frank counted at least 50 ships on the radar screen.  We navigated our way between some of the ships and entered through the break water.

We contacted the marina once inside the breakwater and by the time we arrived at our slip, they had changed our designated slip at least 3 times. It was getting confusing. After all the confusion, we docked on a t-head, starboard side to, the best type of docking for us. Not long after we had tied up, the heavens opened and it poured with rain for about half an hour.

The reason for the backlog of ships outside the Panama Canal is because of a shortage of fresh water in Gatun Lake due to a few consecutive drought seasons. This has necessitated them to limit the number of daily transits as well as restrict the draught of ships able to transit. My take on all this… if somebody doesn’t figure out a way to pump water from the “down” lock to the “up” lock, or to pump sea water into the locks,  this while operation will eventually grind to a halt. I am sure somebody has thought if this already 🙂

Where we are now, and what is next.

September 15, 2023

September 2023

We are now in Bocas Del Toro, Panama. Bocas Del Toro is a beautiful archipelago on the North Caribbean coast of Panama. It consists of 9 islands and many many mangrove islands. The water is crystal clear most of the time. Sometimes after heavy, prolonged rain, it may be a bit murky for a few days but that soon clears. The water is not blue like Bahamas, but rather, looks like it has a green tinge to it. This is probably because it is surrounded by equatorial rain forests since Panama is only 9deg North of the equator. 

We spent over a month at the dock in Red Frog Resort Marina but decided to head out to anchor just over a week ago. The breezes at anchor are sublime. You don’t realize the importance of the breeze while at the dock. It keeps insects at bay, and of course the cooling affect is always welcome. It is very hot and very humid out here and there is no escaping the heat. One sometimes feels like a hot soggy mess and of course, for the ladies, our hair does not like such humidity.

We left Florida almost three months ago and are still enjoying meat which filled our freezer to the brim. We have not purchased any meat in Bocas yet. There is a shop that sells meat and fish which has been recommended so we will try it soon.  Fresh produce is available in abundance and is of a very high quality, mostly locally produced (in Panama, not Bocas) It does however, not keep for as long as produce bought in USA. This is a good thing in my opinion. We go to the mercado (market) every Tuesday because the supply boat brings fresh supplies every Tuesday morning. The supermarkets, of which there are many, are well stocked and you can get everything you need. It’s just a matter of homing in on the brands (or alternate items) that you prefer. It’s reasonably affordable. We still have stores of dry goods like pasta, rice, sugar, instant coffee for the Admiral (me), This brings me to another point, I like ordinary black tea which is not so popular here and it took me a while to figure out what is what on the tea shelves. Thank goodness for the pictures on the packaging which helped in identifying ginger, mint, camomile and the rest. The only nondescript packaging was labeled Tê Negro which is self explanatory. I have to use two bags to get a decent strong cuppa.

We have been to a few restaurants also. It is always nice to enjoy nice freshly prepared meals. We have found the offerings to be very good, and again, affordable. Many places have Happy Hour, or BOGO drinks during certain hours. That always helps.

Some mornings a local lady comes around in her cayuco (canoe) selling empanadas for $1 each. They are filled with chicken, cheese and vegetables, and are very tasty. As far as we are concerned, great value for money. So, by buying from her, we are helping to support the local economy which gives us the warm and fuzzys and helps her support her family. It’s a win win situation. 

And now for the what’s next… for now we are enjoying being in Bocas, and so will stay for a while longer. We will probably go down to Shelter Bay and a few other places further south to explore. We would like to go to the San Blas islands. However, now is not the right time because of the prevalence of electrical storms. We would like to avoid a lightning strike at all costs. We may go through the canal before the end of the year or early 2024. We have a wedding in South Africa at the end of January so everything has to hinge around that. No need to make a decision yet.

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