Category Archives: Panama

Pacific coast of Panama

Sailing to Punta Mala, Panama The trip from Las Perlas to Benao on the mainland is about 88 NM. Our plan was to round Punta Mala (Bad Point) in daylight hours because this is a major point for big ships heading to the Panama Canal and it can get congested. The currents are strong here and can cause unusual sea conditions.
puntamala1We had the anchor up by 5 minutes past midnight and had a great sail across to Punta Mala; we were often sailing at over 7 knots and peaked at 8.1. We were anchored in Benao by 2 pm. Two hours later we felt like we were on a roller coaster; the swells were huge! We had a wet motor ride across to Punta Guanico where we spent a quiet night.
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The next morning we motored up to Naranjo, a lovely little bay. Along the way we had the fishing line out. Richard caught a delicious Spanish mackerel off Punta Puerco but also lost his favourite lure when a huge dorado broke the 80 lb test line!

On January 4th we planned to sail to Isla Cebaco and we actually got to sail for a few hours. When we got there the bay we wanted to anchor in had moorings in the side we needed to anchor in because of the wind direction; the other side was open to the swell. So we headed over to Isla Santa Catalina. We found a great anchorage there and even had dolphins play around us as we set anchor.

Seagull at Bahia Honda, Panama Our next stop was Bahia Honda. We had heard lots of cruisers talking about how lovely it was there when we had sailed south in our last boat Sol Mate. We anchored off Isla Talon which has a small community on it. We went to shore to buy some bread and were met by the local police. He gave us a tour of the community but the 2 stores there did not have any bread; we thought we had more provisions on board Snowaway than was available there!

bahiahonda3
We were surprised that there were no other cruisers in the bay. We did have a few visits from locals; one came to sell us fruits and ask for batteries and cookies for his children.
One of our favourite times is watching the sunset and is one was beautiful.

Dorado, Panama On January 6th we motored over to Granito de Oro (Gold Nugget) off of Isla Coiba, a marine park. On the way over Richard caught a dorado, our first dorado in 5 years! It is nice to be back in the Pacific; we have caught more edible fish so far this season than in the last 5 years in the Caribbean! We picked up a mooring ball and snorkelled around the island. The water was pristine and the fish were plentiful. We were visited by park officials who told us the cost to stay the night on the mooring ball was: $20 for the boat, $10 per person and $30 for the ball. We decided to move to the bay near the park office and anchor for the night. Richard was taken by the park officers to the office were he was told that the cost to stay for a night in the park was $100. We had planned to stay for a couple of nights in Coiba but decided the cost was too steep.
granito_karenThe next morning we headed for Isla Cavada in the Islas Secas (Dry Islands).Again the bay we had planned on anchoring in had moorings so there was no room for us. We found a pleasant bay to anchor in and had a nice snorkel in that bay.
Next we were off to Isla Parida to prepare for the overnight to Costa Rica.
We have enjoyed the Pacific coast of Panama but we have found it a bit isolated. There are almost no cruisers and the local communities are small and isolated.

Las Perlas, Panama

Shells on Mogo Mogo, Las Perlas, Panama We left Panama City early on Christmas day to sail to Las Perlas Islands in Panama Bay. There are about 200 islands in the Perlas with very few people living there. It is a great cruising area and we planned on spending a few weeks here.
Of course there was little wind so we motored all the way; however we were not too disappointed as it gave us lots of time to enjoy the dolhins that came to visit. We saw more dolphins on that sail than we saw in the 5 years we were in the Caribbean!
mogomogoOur first night we anchored between Isla Chapera and Isla MogoMogo. This is where one season of Survivor was filmed. There was only one other boat anchored here so it was very peaceful. We saw lots of rays jumping out of the water, we walked the beaches and we enjoyed snorkelling along the shores. The tides a very large here, they can be up to 20 feet, so there is a lot of current. Snorkelling was easiest near slack tide!
Sunset over Espiritu Santo, Panama We motored a few hours south to Isla Espiritu Santo and anchored between it and Isla del Rey. There were a couple of boats there and a few more arrived over the next few days. Our time was spent swimming along the shores and walking the small beaches.
On December 30th we headed around the south end of Isla del Rey to anchor off of Rio Cacique. We took the digny up the river to see lots of birds and enjot the peace and quiet. When we got back to the boat, 3 boys paddled over to sell us some bananas and the biggest papaya we have ever seen!papaya
On New Years Eve we actually sailed, rather than motored, over to Isla San Jose and anchored off Ensenada Playa Grande. We spent New Years day walking the beach and snorkelling the several rocky areas of the bay. We enjoyed watching the wild pigs come down to the beach, I guess even pigs enjoy walking the beaches!
We left at midnight on January 1 to sail back to the mainland. Richard had to pull the anchor while dozens of fishing bats buzzed around his head!

Snowaway’s Panama Canal Transit

Line handlers for the Panama Canal TransitWe started our transit of the Panama Canal on December 22nd. Our line handlers, a wonderful family from the catamaran “Laeta Loco” Paul, Laura, Casey and Adam, arrived at 11 am and we departed the dock at 11:30. We were anchored in the “Flats” by 12:15 to wait for our advisor to arrive. Astro arrived just before 2 pm and we quickly pulled anchor and headed for the Gatun locks.
Baltic Pride, PanamaWe rafted to the port side of the catamaran “Dutch Treat” for the transit of the 3 Gatun Locks and behind the tanker Baltic Pride. That put us on the side of the locks where the water entered; that created a strong current and we were very busy managing the lines. No pictures were taken during our time in the Gatun locks as our advisor would not allow it.

At a mooring, Gatun LakesBy 4:30 pm we were through the Gatun locks and spent the night on a mooring ball with the cat “Domek” on the other side of the ball.
At 6:45 am on December 23rd Ricky, our advisor for the next section of the transit, arrived. We left the mooring within minutes of Ricky’s arrival and headed to Pedro Miguel lock. We had lots of discussion about how we would transit these 3 locks but we ended up again rafted to Dutch Treat as we headed to the Pacific Ocean.
Karen & Richard, Panama Canal Transit It was much easier going down, less current and there was no tanker in the locks with us just one other catamaran. It was almost relaxing as you can see we had time to enjoy entering the Pacific Ocean on Snowaway.

Paul and Adam, Panama

We dropped off our line handlers and the tires and ropes at the Balboa Yacht Club by 2 pm and we were anchored on the east side of the causeway by 3 pm.
We spent Christmas Eve anchored off Panama City restoring Snowaway to sailing condition so that we could head to Las Perlas.

Another walk in the woods

Cooper, Panama We have had a couple of days with almost no rain. We are just about done all our boat jobs and are looking forward to testing out the boat. Keith from Lyman Morse arrives on the 10th and the marine surveyor is coming out on the 12th. Hopefully we can resolve all the outstanding issues with our repairs and head off sailing shortly thereafter.

We took the dog of the executive chef from the marina’s restaurant for a few walks. Cooper seemed a bit bored and was happy to walk along with Richard.

Toucan, PanamaMonkey, PanamaWe were lucky to see another type of toucan, we believe it is a keel-billed toucan based on its colourful bill, and several howler monkeys on our walks. We have heard the howlers alot while we have been at the marina but this was the first sighting of them. It was fun to watch them eat and move amongst the trees.

A walk in the woods

Sloth, Panama We actually had a few hours without rain yesterday so we went for a walk towards the San Lorenzo National Park. We were thrilled to spot a sloth in a tree trying to get comfortable! We had seen one sloth last year but it was hard to get a picture of it. Apparently the sloths are a little more active right now as it is breeding season.
Toucan, Panama We spotted about half a dozen toucans flying about as well as lots of parrots.
We were only able to walk to the entrance of the park. The park has been closed because the road has collapse due to the all the rain!
The one other benefit of no rain was a beautiful sunset over the marina.
Sunset, Panama