Turning the corner: northbound

Well! That was a longer-than-expected departure from the blog!

The restored streets of Old Panama City...

The restored streets of Old Panama City…

...and the regular streets. Notice the Guna ladies on the left, showing us how molas are meant to be used.

…and the regular streets. Notice the Guna ladies on the left, showing us how molas are meant to be worn.

DSCF2770Our family headed back to Las Perlas on the third week of July, and promptly dropped off the map with a fair lack of cell coverage. We have been, in a word, remote. One beautiful anchorage after another, but with not so much as a tienda in sight, never mind a cell tower. Even the military base we passed, on the south tip of Isla del Rey, failed to connect us with the wider world.

Mama and baby humpback.

Mama and baby humpback.

 

We’ve spent out time avoiding whales—in some cases, literally stopping the boat to keep from hitting them; hanging out with a cherished few other kid boats for a couple of nights; working our way around the southern peninsula of Panama; and learning about swell.

The kids attack our friends on Ula

The kids attack our friends on Ula

Persistent swell from far-flung ocean storms has been on our radar since we underestimated the impact of waves on our Beaufort-Charleston run. We get pretty accurate wave info from Predict Wind, and we pay attention to both the wave height and the distance between waves. But waves in the Pacific are different from Atlantic waves, and we’ve found ourselves caught out by building swell that makes awesome surfing conditions, but poor anchoring.

Beauty in the Perlas

Beauty in the Perlas

DSCF2786On our run from Isla del Rey past Punto Malo, we had such great breeze and current in our favor that we thought we might get around the entire peninsula in one long overnight trip; but we soon ran into strong headwinds and waves that had us ducking behind Punto Guanico around 3:30 in the morning. The next day, after a leisurely pancake brunch, we pulled up the anchor to try and get a little more protection from the swell closer to the point. Instead, we were confronted with two huge sets of waves rolling towards us! Fortunately, the anchor was already up, and we beat a hasty path out of there.

Locals careen their fishing boat to work on their nets at Espiritu Santo in the Perlas

Locals careen their fishing boat to work on their nets at Espiritu Santo in the Perlas

Our quick exit meant pushing on through the continuing headwinds and waves of the previous night, to finally anchor in the rolly little bay at Ensenada Naranjo around midnight. One more push to find a calm anchorage the next day, on the north side of Isla Cebaco, and we could finally recover.

Ensenada Naranjo in the morning.

Ensenada Naranjo in the morning.

The stretch of Pacifc coast of Panama that we’ve been traversing is incredibly beautiful. We’re reminded of Hawaii, with steep, verdant mountains rising sharply up from the ocean, and huge waves rolling along rocky shores. We’re not the only ones monitoring the waves; this area of Panama is filled with surfers. We’ll continue on along the more protected bays and islands, avoiding the spots where the waves stack up, on our way to the menagerie of Costa Rica.

Speaking of menagerie...we found ourselves completely surrounded by a huge flock of pelicans the other day, dive-bombing for a school of fish taking refuge under our boat!

Speaking of menagerie…we found ourselves completely surrounded by a huge flock of pelicans the other day, dive-bombing for a school of fish taking refuge under our boat!

8 Comments on “Turning the corner: northbound

  1. Glad to hear all is well. It is interesting how you have been at sea long enough to know how the Pacific acts different than the Atlantic! Amazing. Be safe!

  2. Your blog is a wonderful gift to so many of us. Thanks
    I hope Martin and Francesca realize how lucky they are to be doing this trip.

  3. The photos are fabulous, but the narratives are too short for what “some readers” want to know. Looking forward to more frequent installments, with more of the same great photos, and “gobs” of stories…as you head North.

    Watched the movie “Dunkirk” yesterday: bad idea as I now have assorted vivid not-so-good deep water images to amplify ancient phobias. Having to single-handedly deal with hefty postpartum hemorrhage remains preferable to the deep end of a swimming pool!

    Be well and stay safe: know that you are loved.

  4. W O W Panama reconstruction is really looking good. When we were there it was just starting. It sure did not look like your picture.
    Great report ! ! . I sure enjoyed it.

  5. You are my traveling peeps and glad to hear from you! whales and seagulls sound like hazards in the road and look forward to the next chapter…….

  6. Always great to hear from y’all… go slowly northward… lots of hurricane activity W of MX… nice weather here. Besos y abrazos!

    • Yeah, we’ve got an eye on it. We won’t be in Mexico until November, most likely.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *