Linton Bay Marina at the base of the hill
After our productive week in Linton Bay, we planned to head back to Bocas to keep the boat for the summer. We wanted to get back to Bocas to escape the severe weather in the eastern part of Panama, to avoid the heavy lightning and squalls that occur annually in that region. Bocas has some extreme weather too but not with the frequency that happens in the San Blas.
|Sunset as we head west after passing the Panama Canal |
The trip was only about 100 nm and we would be fighting current but have some favorable winds and seas so we didn't want to leave too early in order to get there in the daylight. We figured it would only take about 18 hours so we left Linton in the early afternoon to get across the canal anchorage in daylight.
A view of Bocas from Maya Point on Shepherd Island
The weather was as advertised and we got through the canal anchorage with little trouble although we had to maneuver around to avoid ships leaving the canal. Overnight there was lightning around as there usually is.
Another beautiful Sunset
There was a beautiful sunrise that soon faded into clouds but we could see the island ahead of us. We had our sails up with the wind behind us when suddenly about 0700 the wind shifted 180 degrees and was directly on our nose. Soon the waves turned as well. I pulled in the sails except for a little bit of main sail that I left out to help with stability. We were now less than 10 miles from our destination and we could see squalls all around. Then without any warning the canvas on the boat began to hum and pressure shook the boat. The gauges registered nothing but we must have been hit with a microburst. A sudden vertical downdraft of tremendous force.
A friendly dolphin that came by for a visit.
Stunned from the experience we began to question whether or not we could anchor and enjoy the island. After another mile or two and the horizontal wind intensifying from the west we decided it would be impractical to anchor in the face of the west wind and swell. So, we altered our course away from the island and toward the entrance to Chiriqui Lagoon. With the wind dead ahead of us it would be a beat into heavy winds and seas. Something with which we've had a lot of experience.
Tropical foods continue to make up a large part of our diet. Above is a raw cacao pod with the cacao beans in a sort of nougat that is very sweet compared to the bitter of the raw chocolate but a very tasty and healthy snack. We love our bananas right off the vine and we always have dried coconut for use in lots of dishes. Also a very healthy food that helps build a good immune system.
The rest of the trip was uneventful and the wind calmed as we made our way back into the Bocas archipelago. We decided we would spend the weekend in our quiet cove to decompress and get reoriented so we could plan our next steps.
On our return we connected with old friends. This dinner is at BB's on the Beach with John and Jennifer Stark and Wilson who was busy elsewhere.
For the next month we hung out in anchorages, spent time with friends, did boat chores resuming the enjoyable lifestyle of Bocas until we needed to get the boat ready for our departure back to the States for 2 months beginning the end of July.
The end of June we went back into Bocas Marina to complete scheduled maintenance; do some repairs and modifications; decommission our systems and deep clean for our absence. In years' past at the end of the season we winterized our boats for cold weather. But here we simply condition them so they will continue to perform.
Most nights of the week banana boats come in to the Port of Almirante to pick up a load of Chiquita bananas. Panama has 3 ports on the Caribe. Almirante is bananas, Chiriqui Grande is oil and Colon is general cargo.
Our engine requires servicing every 250 hours. Before we came to the Caribbean I serviced it several times a year. Since we've been in the Carib I only need to service it once a year because I never hit the hourly requirement. In 7 years of cruising we've only added 2,000 hours to the engine log. In the Rio and up north I never worried about a fresh water flush. But, last year I realized the engines here need to be flushed with fresh water. This year in addition I pulled the heat exchangers from the engine and generator and cleaned them along with flushing the cooling system. Everything performed well.
A visit to see our friendly Red Frogs.
Our generator, likewise, is under utilized. In our 7 years we have only run it less than 2,000 hours. For the first time I replaced the coolant in that and pulled the heat exchanger to clean it.Pulling the heat exchanger off the genset.
Our mainsail was original with the boat and has been beginning to show it's age. Also, in the microburst we suffered it got torn slightly so I called a sailmaker who came and cut it down and fixed the tear. He also did some repairs on the jib that were needed. With this work we can hopefully get several more good years out of our sails.
Our mainsail was recut to hopefully avoid jamming in the furler. I later tuned the rig to be sure the mast was perfectly straight as well.
I rebedded our chainplates for the first time in 5 years. Most of them looked good but one had been leaking so I redid them all. The chainplates are fiberglassed into the hull of the boat and hold down the shrouds that support the mast. If a shroud or a chainplate fail the rig can collapse. From what I could see they looked good and since I repaired the leaking one I've seen no evidence of any leaking.
Time to replace the LED anchor light. It has a photo sensor to turn it on in the dark and off in the light. A nicely sealed self-contained unit lost its luster possibly when we were hit with the microburst.
Last year I rebuilt our windlass and after rebuilding it only worked one way. In talking with the experts it was their recommendation that one of the gear assemblies might be jammed and could be repaired or replaced. I discovered that after I had completely reinstalled the windlass. It worked fine on the workbench before it was reinstalled but, rather than assume I could unjam the gears I bought a new one. It had to come from England so instead of waiting on it I knew we would be back in Bocas later so I waited to rebuild the windlass again. In the last anchoring before we came into the marina something happened to the windlass so I could no longer use it to retrieve than anchor with the motor but I could bring it up by hand. That turned out to be a simple fix once I tore the windlass apart. It's now been rebuilt and fully functional.
Our hotel view of Panama.
Living on a boat there is always work to keep everything "shipshape." The elements of sun, wind, rain and sea deteriorate everything quickly and to have a viable home it's essential to keep after the requirements. It's a love-hate relationship. I hate to do the work but love what we're doing.
The harbor walk from Casco Viejo was a favorite tourist destination selling Panama souvenirs.
After a month of working on the boat we left for Panama City on 26 July. Two days before our flight to the States so we could get our Covid test and other business in the City. On 26 July we left Panama, for our 2 months in the States. Our plane to Miami was late but we were back in the States.
The Panamanian Ministry of Culture