I don’t know why but other than the thrill of being in Panama it wasn’t very thrilling. There are a lot of factors that go into new port enjoyment and one major factor is, if it’s the most rolly, bucked-out-of-bed roadstead you’ve ever experienced it probably will lessen your overall enjoyment .
Five dollars a day to land your dinghy at La Playita Marina.
Bikes rusted out and given away.
No cruising guide.
Amazing Frank Gehry building but still under construction and closed.
Stunning high-rise modern city skyline far off in the distance but somehow impossible to find.
Chandleries with nothing in them.
I could go on and given time and a decent anchorage I think we could have warmed to the place but with constant wakes 24/7 from 1,000-ft Panamax monsters and pilot boats that cut right through the anchorage, not to mention Las Perlas and the Galapagos beckoning, the dead pig had floated past the boat.
We were missing our transiting buddies Nancy and Dave, so we decided to walk to the Balboa Yacht Club to get our passports stamped. When asking directions we were told that it wasn’t walkable. We’re Escapees. It’s walkable, and while trying to find immigration we bumped into a guy who said he’d drive us to the admiralty chart shop which had nothing in it that we needed anyhow. No Equador flag…seriously?
After three stops we finally hooked up with a guy that brought out enough plumbing bits that I was able to fashion a diverter valve, bypassing our leaky watermaker manifold using 1 bronzey tee (Panamanian for brass), 2 SS ball valves, 3 nipples, and 3 hose adapters. All without a lick of Spanish.
Yes, I’m that good.
So as I say, they don’t use street numbers so finding a small business is a touch difficult and requires a certain amount of wandering around with a puzzled look on your face. While wandering around with a puzzled look on our faces we bumped into a great NYC style deli and even Marce had a great lunch for a change.
A spot of last minute provisioning had us searching for a cab and a quick dinghy ride home to check the weather for a much needed passage outta here.
Morning dawned with glorious sunshine and light breezes, and with a quick call to Flamenco signal station we set a course through the behemoths at anchor awaiting transit through the canal. Marce wisely “suggested” one reef in the main and as the ultimate authority aboard Escape Velocity I said, “yes dear” while grousing under my breath about losing up to a knot with the light winds predicted.
We were soon touching 7+ knots in 25-30 knots of wind and put in another reef when the leeward hull started to dig in. It turns out that the uterus is not only a most excellent tracking device but it’s a wind predictor too and we have one onboard!
So, where was I? Oh yes, we were barreling along asking each other, “is this too fast?” when Las Perlas hove into view and we stood on until it was time to turn into Survivor’s favorite island group.
Ok, the sail take down earned no style points but this sure is a pretty place, and Jeff…we’re ready.