Sailed – or more accurately, motored, due to a severe lack of wind – into Panama yesterday, 27th May. We arrived at Flamenco Island Marina late afternoon, with excellent views of the skyscrapers of the modern Panama City, the entrance to the canal under the Bridge of the Americas, and the dozens of anchored container and tanker ships waiting to traverse the canal.
Now I’m at my Airbnb apartment I’m sharing with my fellow Garmin RTWer Bill Lyons in the old town (Casco Viejo) with wine, dinner and after consuming many rum cocktails from the nearby Pedro Mandingo Rum Bar (I’m a bit drunk). The old town is a lively district of old buildings and tourist attractions, which only a few years ago was a rather dangerous gangland area. Nowadays it’s a trendy area with bars, shops and many apartments/hotels.
We’re only here for three days, with the transit of the canal to start very early on the 30th May, followed by a couple of days on the Atlantic side and next race start – northwards through the Caribbean to New York – on 3rd June. Only a few weeks now left till our glorious return to the UK!
Oh and I am now the proud owner of a Panama hat. Well, I had to. Not sorry.
Friday 18th May
I’m currently writing this whilst sitting at the back of the good ship Garmin, with the sun going down behind me (boat time 5pm) watching occasional turtles swim past us through the flat sea. There’s hardly any wind, and we are under tow from the Great Britain boat (we’ll be swapping over to tow them in the morning, so that we can all make it to the refuelling port in Costa Rica in a few days without running out).
We just stopped off for 20 minutes for a quick swim around the boat. Swimming in 4100 metres of ocean depth, 150 miles off the coast of Mexico is pretty special. (As is this whole year long adventure, really.) Although had we stopped to look at the huge number of tiny jellyfish, sea snakes and other translucent wildlife in the sea, we might not have gone in. I think most of us have one or two minor stings.
Race 10 was called early at the second mandatory gate due to the ITCZ (the doldrums) expanding and moving north, giving us an expected diddley squat of wind for the next few days. We managed to pull fourth place out of the light winds lottery near the end; all quite happy with that after being 8th and 9th most of the race. Now for a long, dull 1,200 mile motor through probably no wind and flat seas…
Sunday 20th May
The weather files are currently showing an impressively large windhole just where we are, for the next 5 days or so. The sea is still flat as a pancake, with occasional wildlife such as dolphins, turtles, rays and lots of birds, and we are still motoring slowly towards the refuelling stop in Costa Rica. The relentless sun (except for the occasional cumulonimbus) is giving us all cabin fever…
Hoping for at least some wind soon so that we can sail some of the way and save fuel.
Wednesday 23rd May
Costa Rica! Since Puerto Culebra is not a port of entry we’re not allowed to leave the boat, but we shouldn’t be here too long – just enough for a refuel and then off again to Panama!