Isla Contradora, Panama

Wednesday October 1, 2008

Michelle wasn´t feeling good this morning so opted for a quite morning on the boat. Robin rowed himself ashore and walked around to the other side of the island, noting the very empty and quite rundown resort and housing complexes everywhere. The island seemed almost deserted. He stopped at the local store for a few provisions, arriving back with beer and soda water but no meat or bread! Never send a man shopping. Grace, Triple Stars and Sans Clés arrived in the anchorage this afternoon and radioed over to ask if we´d like to come over for sunset drinks. Robin kind of groaned knowing it would be 8pm before we got back to the boat and he could get fed. Cruisers seem to eat very little of an evening, just snack or junk food and he dies of starvation at these events. Nevertheless it was nice to have company and we enjoyed the evening.

Flamenco Anchorage, Panama City, Panama

Thursday October 2, 2008

It´s another one of those no wind kinda days so we are motoring the 32nm to Panama City. There are storms building up over the mainland which look quite threatening but we are sitting out on the water, the sun shining, a slight swell keeping us company. The rubbish floating past in the water is surprising considering how clear the water is. It´s a non stop constant slick of plastic bottles, buckets, oil containers, plastic bottle tops, plastic bags, plastic plastic and more plastic. Occasionally half a tree floats on by which keeps us alert rather than dozing off under the sun. There´s not a sign of a huge container ship on the horizon. We can´t make out how the Panama Canal is making a profit. There doesn´t seem to be all that much traffic. We are not sure at all about the justification for the expansion. Maybe all will become clearer when we arrive in Panama City. The skyline of Panama City could be seen 20 miles away. As we got closer the towering skycrapers looked eerie with the dark clouds lurking over them. The entire landscape had an alien feel to it. I´m sure in the sunlight it would look line any other huge metropolis.

We had just five miles to go when the storm building up over the city broke on top of us. The wind, what little there was suddenly changed 180 degrees and backwinded the jib while increasing to 20knots in the blink of an eye. We had just taken the mainsail down so we did a 360 degree turn and furled the jib. Michelle donned her foulies as the rain was startingly cold and stood watch for lumps of wood while Robin, the big brave lad hid downstairs where it was dry although he did monitor the radar. We arrived in the anchorage to 20 knots of wind, a considerable chop causing all the boats to bounce and sway at anchor, halyards and sheets ringing against masts making quite a cacophony of noise. We dropped the hook, set it well and snggled inside in the dry comfort of our home. Looks like we are in for a wet night.

Balboa Yacht Club, Balboa, Panama

Saturday October 4, 2008

Yesterday was a blustery kind of day, raining off and on with a confused chop entering the anchorage. Robin decided to row around the anchorage saying hello to various cruisers we knew and gathering information about Panama, but by the time he made it back to Warrior he was in agony having strained his back yet again. Rowing into wind and current is not keeping him fit at all. We really need to get the dinghy engine fixed. This morning we were going to head to breakfast with some cruisers but Robin decided that since we were so far from the entrance to the Marina and they wanted 5 dollars a day to dock your dinghy anyway, we may as well go around to the Balboa Yacht Club and hop on a mooring. They have a complimentary 24-hour water taxi service which transfers you from your boat to shore and which is compulsory as dinghies are forbidden in this area. So we called in to say we wouldn´t be coming to breakfast, upanchored and headed up the Canal towards the Bridge of the Americas, which spans the entrance to the Panama Canal on the Pacific Side. The skyscrapers of the city were arrayed in sunlit splendour this morning as we made our way running parallel with the palmtree-lined causeway.

Built between 1959 and 1962, the Bridge of the Americas is an amazing sight. Its a cantilever design, the suspended span being a tied arch. The total length is 1,654 m (5,425 ft), spread out over 14 spans. The main span measures 344 m (1,128 ft) and the tied arch (the center part of the main span) is 259 m (850 ft). The highest point of the bridge is 117 m (384 ft) above mean sea level, the clearance under the main span is 61.3 m (201 ft) at high tide, which means we can easily fit under it. There is also a pedestrian walkway on each side just in case we get the urge to go walking in traffic. Not quite our Sydney Harbor Bridge but still impressive none the less.

Bridge of the Americas

We went ashore yesterday afternoon and caught up with Rick from Inshalar who we had last seen a year ago in Guyamas. He was one of the lucky chaps who rode out Hurricane Henriette with us. So we sat and chatted for quite a few hours, Rick grabbing a map of the city and pointing out all the no-go zones in addition to getting us oriented and we relaxed spending the rest of the late afternoon on the balcony of the Balboa Yacht Club.

Sunday October 5, 2008

The camera cable has been found. Tao 8 had messaged us to say there was no sign of it at Golfito so we started to tear the boat apart to look for it figuring it had to be on the boat somewhere. It was hiding underneath the photocopier the sneaky rascal. So today´s task, in addition to writing missing bits of the logs, was to go back and include the few photo´s we´d taken just in case we managed to locate another cable.