August 7, 2017
We left Golfito for the 300 mile trip to San Carlos, Panama. With no wind and an adverse current, we spent three days slogging our way to Panama. The trip was relatively uneventful other than having to dodge some squalls (always at night, always on my watch!) and a few fishing boats.
As we got closer to Panama City and the Canal, the clearly marked shipping channel on the charts began to look like a super highway out on the ocean. We stayed clear of the shipping lanes, choosing to stay on the shore side of the channel. As we were making 5-6 kts, decent given the conditions, the container ships and tankers were making 2-3 times that speed. The last thing we ever want to do is play chicken with the big boys! But, it was certainly fun to see them light up the horizon at night and create multiple AIS targets all over our chart plotter.
We rounded Punta Mala and headed north toward San Carlos on our last evening at sea. There had been some debris in the water earlier in the day, which was mostly logs and other plant debris clearly runoff from the rains. But, just as we sat down to have some dinner in the cockpit that night, we heard a big thud on the bow. We started looking around and grabbed the spotlight. What we saw floating in the water was some kind of big white, metal box. It wouldn’t be until we got into the marina in daylight that we saw the huge scrape in our paint on the starboard bow. Ugh. There are hazards in the ocean you can see and some you can’t. It’s the ones you can’t see that are most worrisome. We’re just glad it was only cosmetic damage and not something more serious.
We arrived the next morning at Vista Mar Marina in San Carlos, greeted by our friends on Kya and Manatee, who we hadn’t seen since El Salvador. A couple of months earlier, we had decided to travel back to the States to attend a family wedding and started searching for a safe, and reasonably priced place to leave the boat while we were out of town. I had emailed Katie on Kya, who I knew was already in Panama, to ask if she had any suggestions in Panama. She let me know that they were at a new marina in San Carlos called Vista Mar with Manatee and sent me the pricing info. The price was right, so we made a plan to head to Vista Mar.
We were happy to see our friends on arrival and started preparing the boat to leave for 10 days. Rob on Manatee was nice enough to volunteer to look after Adagio while we were gone. This was such a huge benefit to us, as the big tides in the area create a large surge into the marina. The dock lines have to be checked and adjusted daily to try and keep any chafing to a minimum. Also, given the humidity in the rainy season, we really needed someone to open the boat for a couple of hours each day to air it out and try and prevent any mold from growing.
We got everything situated and packed in two days and made our way two hours to Tocumen airport in Panama City. After a fabulous 10 days in New York, Connecticut and Vermont with family, we were ready to get back to Adagio.
Upon our return, we were introduced to a new group of friends that Becky on Manatee had made while we were gone. We met a great group of expats from the US, Canada, Mexico and Argentina who were living in the area and happy to show us around and throw a few parties. Vista Mar is a really nice marina with a golf course and beach club, but there is not much of a town that you can walk to if you want to get to a store or restaurant. As much as we loved the fun times and great company, I could not thank our friends enough for running errands for us like taking us to grocery stores and letting us do laundry at their house. Seriously, thanks again Aurora, Marcelo, Janet, Judie and David!
Golfing in Panama…
While in Vista Mar, we took a few trips into Panama City, played golf at the local golf course and rented a van to drive up to El Valle de Anton. El Valle is up in the mountains about 45 minutes from Vista Mar and a completely different climate. The city is actually in the caldera of an extinct volcano! After piling in the van, we stopped at a hiking trail that took us through the rain forest to a beautiful waterfall and natural swimming pool. Very cool!
After our hike, we stopped for lunch at a beautiful hotel and started looking for some other sight seeing activities. Janet had the driver stop at another little restaurant off the road while the rest of us waited in the van. She came back a few minutes later and told us all to follow her as she handed us each little bags of dried corn kernels.
We walked through the restaurant and across the street to a wooden fence. On the other side of the fence were ducks, geese, chickens and turkeys. As soon as they saw us with the bags of corn, the entire flock of birds came rushing towards us. It was hilarious. We all acted like kids throwing the corn at the birds who quacked, squawked, chirped and clucked at us. So funny.
We’d had a great time at Vista Mar, but it was time for us to move on. So, we said our goodbyes and assurances that we would keep in touch and left Vista Mar for the big city of Panama!