Archive for December, 2009

The Perlas Islands of Panama

We have been in the Las Perlas Island for just over a week now and have moved two times.  It got rolly off Rios Cacique after three calm days there, so we moved up to behind Espiritu Santo on Sunday.  There we found clear water and good snorkeling with the incoming tides.  There is a nice reef and a few islets on the east side of the island that provided protected snorkeling in the southerly and then northerly swell.  Also lots of areas for Doreen to use her kayak in.  We spent four nice days there before moving north to Isla Contadora today, Thursday.  Here we plan to meet up with friends for Christmas.  We arrived early as the e-mail from the boat is kind of iffy now.  It depends on ham HF radio and with the low sunspot numbers, the propagation is not very good.  Friends on this island have a real internet connection to the outside world!  There is also phone service on this island. Planning the big day with our friends in Panama is therefore easier and since some of them are arriving from the city Doreen can ask for  needed supplies to be brought out with them.

The Passage to Panama

We made the passage from Cabo Pasado in Ecuador to the south end of Isla del Rey in the Perlas Islands of Panama in five days.  The first two days were wonderful sailing with westerly winds of 12-15 knots and since we were heading almost due north it made for a wonderful reach.  Then the wind failed us, probably as we entered the ITCZ.  We motored most of the third day although the winds did pick up for a few hours of sailing several times during the day.  The next day, Monday, we had no wind at all but come evening we encountered many squalls some with winds above 35 and LOTS of rain.  Lanikai finally got her much needed bath!  Mud flew out of all the lines and down the stays and finally washed off the deck with the many downpours that we passed thru.  Tuesday, our last day out, was mostly calm but the seas were lumpy from the night’s storms so going was slow.  Tuesday night we encountered a few more squalls but nothing like the night before.  We dropped the hook Wednesday morning off Rio Cacique at the south end of Isla del Rey.

Out of Bahia de Caraquez

On Wednesday afternoon the Immigration Officials arrived – rather late – but we did get all the paperwork done for our 3PM  departure time.  We followed Passages out of the bay as they had the pilot on board, but it did us little good as we touched bottom after rounding the first point!  Bill managed to get us back into the channel and we continued out.  Carlos the pilot came back to us in the panga and guided us thru the last turn out toward the deeper water.  It was very slow going as we then had the wind right on our nose and it was up to 20 knots over the boat.  Soon after the water started to deepen out Lanikai’s engine quit!  We made quick work of getting two sails up and tacked the rest of the way out of the bay. five hours later we dropped the hook, under sail as we could not get the engine going again, behind Cabo Pasado in the dark.  Bill spend the next morning replacing the fuel pump, cleaning out clogged fuel lines and changing the engine oil.  He also dove on the bottom to see if we did any damage to the rudder when we bounced off the sand bar the day before.  All was well.

Friday morning we finally got underway toward Panama and soon had enough wind to sail.

First Paperwork Done

Bill just returned from the Port Captain’s office with the first step of our paperwork for leaving now done.  The boat’s paperwork is complete now – we only have immigration to deal with and they are scheduled to arrive tomorrow morning to check us out just before we can leave.  We have to leave on the high tide to have enough water under the keel and over the bar – so hopefully they will arrive by late morning so that we can have Lanikai prepared for sea before our 3 PM departure time.