Here we go again. We’ve been here before…no, not here in the San Blas Islands, but here trying to slow down this freight train. Heretofore our job has been to keep her moving while enjoying where we’ve been. Let me explain. On a passage we are usually found facing backwards tucked in behind the cabin bulkhead which is quite tall so we see most of the scenery of our passages after we passed it, if you know what I mean.
We’ve had an amazing passage from Puerto Rico and tonight is no exception but we’re close enough to do the arrival math and no matter how we slice it, we keep coming up 0-dark-thirty. No good, dear Escapees, no good at all. Tip-toeing into Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, in the dark is one thing but you’d have to be daft to try that stunt here with unlit and unmarked shoals scattered everywhere. So if tonight follows protocol we’ll pick up about five extra knots of breeze but how does that translate into shrinking EVs sail area down so we can slow to about five knots of boat speed without de-tuning the rig too much? We chose one more reef in the main and no more wing and wing which EV seems to really like.
We only hit seven knots a few times and with the jib partially blanked by the main on the same side, we were ready if the Colombian Basin acted up. However, we failed to appreciate how many freighters are passing in and out of the Panama Canal. Marce had eight simultaneous targets arrayed around her in the dark but with nothing aimed directly at us, while I had six targets, two passing us within a mile or so. With AIS we felt confident that we were targets on their screens as well, maybe just not as big as these 400 foot behemoths. The radar foot-print of a forty foot fiberglass sailboat would be hard to pickup among all these monsters but with AIS there you are.
Still with that said, there was no napping and by daybreak a very tired skipper and crew could see the mountains of Colombia. As we approached Panama the low lying San Blas Islands came into focus out of the mist in the foreground. What a thrill. This is sailing calendar beautiful and quite exotic.
So Escapees, the photos are in the darkroom lab but the graphics team has been goofing off looking out the porthole again so stay tuned, the photos will follow. (We’re posting underway via satellite phone and SSB radio. That’s why there are no photos; they’re too big.)