Rather late than never – this post is 4 weeks late! The reason? We were anchored off Pedro Gonzalez Island in the Las Perlas group, where I did this post with good phone reception. I should have published it then, because when we got to Isla del Rey, the last island before our crossing, there was no phone reception to be found. So here it is. Cheers! Next post to follow soon.
Dirk & Annie
Note: Click on any image to enlarge.
Panama City is big and consists of the old town which is being restored and gentrified, with half of it still very rundown and tired. Then there is the modern downtown area with amazing skyscrapers and a metro subway system, comparable to most modern high density cities. We anchored at Las Brisas de Amador, which is at the end of a 3.5 km causeway between the mainland and three small islands. The well landscaped causeway was built during the canal construction with material from the Culebra Cut excavations.
Our first 7 km walk was to the Biodiversity museum opened in 2014 and designed by Frank Gehry, who also designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and the new Engineering building at the Sydney University of Technology. We have visited the latter buildings in the last three years and are impressed by the vision of the 91 year old Gehry and his associates.
Our next foray was by bicycle to the old town. We were pleasantly surprised by the friendly locals who would offer their assistance whenever we consulted our maps.me app to find our way on our phones. Quite a few enjoyed the opportunity to practice their English. After dicing with death on the spaghetti network of freeways on our bicycles, we decided to stick with buses and the metro.
With our new electronic bus/metro card in hand, we enjoyed paying only 25 cents per bus trip and 35 cents per metro trip. In what must be the biggest shopping centre in the southern hemisphere, we got lost in the Albrook Mall on three successive visits for groceries, a new Samsung tablet, haircuts, etc.
Right next to our anchorage at Las Brisas de Amador, is the only bureau of the Smithsonian Institute, based outside of the United States. Smithsonian scientists first came to Panama during the construction of the Canal from 1904 to 1914, to conduct a biological inventory of the new Canal Zone in 1910, and this survey was subsequently extended to include all of Panama.
I had ordered back up parts such a sheaves for blocks that take great loads and have seized up before, from Harken in Miami. Ridiculous how USD 75 of spares, incur USD 250 of Fedex freight charges! Whilst waiting for these parts to arrive and spotting a used oil disposal facility, I drained the engine and sail drive oil, replaced the 3 oil and fuel filters and filled up with 8 litres of new oil.
We filled up with 200 l diesel in our main tank and 200 l in jerry cans and 40 l of petrol, plus filled our water tanks, at Flamenco Marina yesterday. Diesel and petrol cost only AUD 70 cents/litre and with wine, beer and spirits equally cheap, we stocked up for the year. The parts eventually arrived and we have now checked out through our agent and will sail to the Las Perlas Islands on Sunday the 7th March when there is a good following wind predicted.
The Las Perlas got their name when the Spanish arrived here in 1511 and relieved the indigenous King Toe of his cache of pearls and enslaved all the skilled pearl divers to dive for them. Most of the Islands have white sandy beaches, but the 2.8 to 3.0m tidal range, result in strong currents flowing northwest and southeast between the islands.
After a week in these islands, it appears that Saturday the 13th or Sunday the 14th March may provide a good weather window to set sail to the south of the Galapagos islands and then, track along the equatorial trades.
A reminder that you can send us a free SMS message while we are at sea (up to 160 characters). You have to go to https://www.predictwind.com/iridium-free-sms/ and enter our Iridium number, which is 8816 5240 9032. This is the best way for us. Please do not attach photos or images.
In addition, I have activated Esprit’s tracking display, which can be viewed whenever you are interested to know where we were an hour ago.
On this long leg we will hum the Village People’s song: ”We joined the Navy to see the World, but what did we see? We saw the Sea!”
Cheers for now.