Panama here we come!

Watching the weather forecast from San Andrés, each day it looked like we'd get a break in the high winds and waves in about 2 days time.  And each time 2 days later that break never materialized.  We had quite a few ugly storms swing through and were happy that our anchor held in tight off of the pier.

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At least we got to watch Colombia win a match in World Cup football (soccer) followed by happy fans parading around the island.

One weather report showed a window just squeezing shut and we decided to go for it.  Chris Parker was advising us and other boats in Providencia to go now or wait another several weeks for any reprieve.  Leaving the anchorage at daybreak we had a steady 20 kts of wind and two reefs in the main, perfect for a speedy, well-balanced sail.

Panama-bound, we had to decide on our port of call for our zarpe and chose Bocas del Toro primarily to have a favorable wind and current direction.  

Winds at departure

Currents at departure

This route (green circle to green circle) would keep the wind on our beam and the current behind us, which did work out as intended for a great beam reach.   The other option was to go to Porvenir, heading towards the 2nd land trough to the east, yet this would have been a bouncy beat into these waves with the current slowing us down.  No thanks! 

Winds at arrival

Currents at arrival

Waves were 6'-8' with the occasional 10 footer and required a bit of holding on!  

Reach's new sterns were the stars of the day for this fast ride.


When we reached below 11 degrees latitude at nightfall, squalls lined the radar as lightning lit up the dark sky.  Most lightning was cloud to cloud, yet a few strikes were close within 1/2 mile.  After we arrived at Bocas we heard that the sailboats heading down from Providencia all experienced a close strike that took out all of their GPS signals temporarily.  Luckily they all came back up without permanent damage!

Lightning map at arrival

Surfing into the Bocas channel in a NW wind and following seas, the waters were becalmed in the pretty green archipelago.  This was a good chance to visit a new area in Panama despite the fact that we knew we'd have to pay more to check into the country here than other ports.  The Port Captain, Immigration, Customs & Agriculture Officers plus launcha driver all came aboard Reach for the paperwork.  $560 dollars later, we used the very last of our US money checking into Panama ($193 cruising permit, $105 each passport visa, $160 "boat service" fees)!  At least this is for a full year permit for both the boat and for us, its crew.  

Cue the rain, we're back in beautiful, green Panama!

© M&M 2019