Saturday, May 19, 2007

Friday 18th May


9 20.716 N
79 54.555 W

The good news from overnight was that there was an off shore breeze – enough to be able to fly both the main and the jib and turn the engine off for a while, saving a bit of fuel. The night was pretty uneventful with only a couple of ships passing by. Gerry came up from one of his sleeps and complained of a sore throat, I would have been sympathetic if I’d had the energy but I still felt pretty yuk myself – I think he just wanted to keep me company in my misery! By heading in towards land we skirted the San Blas Islands during the night, apparently they are great cruising grounds but we were just glad to have the power to get us past them. At sun rise I was on watch – the sun tried to appear but it was well hidden behind the clouds, Gerry appeared and said he was feeling a bit better, I too felt as if my throat and the sweats were getting better, hopefully the pair of us are over the worst of it. We sailed, motor sailed or motored depending on the wind direction at various times during the day. At no time was the wind over 12 knots, it made for a slow passage but we knew now that we had enough fuel to last us till Panama even if we did end up having to motor all the way. We watched the coast line of Panama pass by, both of us commenting on the smell of wet jungle that seemed to come from the shore. The sky clouded over and became quite black as the day progressed, we thought we were going to be on for some huge showers but they never eventuated. The coast line of Panama slipped by mostly hidden in cloud but we could see the outline of the mountains with the clouds hanging between them – a pretty sight. As the afternoon began to lengthen into evening we were suddenly noticing that we were surrounded by very large container ships – I had been expecting them much soon than this. Within the last 2 hours of our trip we were passed by a good number of them, either on their way to or from the canal, these great monster carriers dwarfed us and I was very glad we were doing this last stretch in daylight hours, I wouldn’t have wanted to be dodging them in the dark! At last the buoys marking the entrance to the docks and canal came into sight, there were at least 20 large cargo ships anchored outside the area and we passed them all, motoring into the East entrance of the port where we hailed the canal signal station for directions for anchoring. We had apparently used the wrong entrance – we were supposed to use the West entrance but the guide never said that and to be honest I can’t see what difference it made – we weren’t a huge container boat! Anyway we were directed to the anchoring area where we dropped the hook in 32 feet of water. Q flag flying, we made ourselves comfortable; ate dinner, showered and went to bed. The trip was over and we still had at least 20 gallons of fuel left – all that worry was for nothing.



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