Friday, July 30, 2010


Where do I begin on this one? Panama is absolutely fabulous by boat. I am trying to picture how we would vacation here by land and I think it would be a bit difficult if we were expecting a resort experience. I have yet to see a large resort complex and love this place for it. My dad and sister just left after a two week visit and we treated them to all manner of local experiences. After a $.25 pp bus ride toward the city proper, we walked to Casco Viejo. This is an area of recently refurbished, but very old historical buildings including churches, houses, businesses and a theater. After that, it was off to a local fonda (restaurant) which set us back all of $17 for the seven of us including drinks. One torrential downpour and another bus ride and we were back to the boat. We opted to take our first sail the next day and ended up motoring over to Isla Taboga in 26 knots of wind and driving fun at all really. From there it was off to Las Islas de Las Perlas with our friend Greg, who sailed over on his boat Sweet Dreams. Only 35 or so miles from Panama City are about 200 islands that boast beautiful beaches, clean water and very local villages. Isla Contadora is a weekend retreat for wealthy panamanians and has a nice calm anchorage. The town has a few small stores and not much else. We introduced my sister to snorkeling, which was an instant hit. After this, we hopped around several other islands looking for towns and snorkeling spots. The next town was really a few houses with nothing else. Brady and I tried to strike up a conversation with little luck, but saw some local women shredding coconut for "coco rice". We headed back to the boat and a few hours later were visited by two young boys offering a container of coco rice for us to try. I donated some gas for their return trip and Brady gave a necklace as a gift for their mother. The hospitality and graciousness of these folks is impressing me daily. Our best stop by far was Isla Pedro Gonzales. We met another local kid on the beach who seemed to be enthralled with the gringo visitors. It turns out his mother was killed in a fiery bus crash, that left him scarred as well. With our new 15hp outboard, I towed our kids, my sister, Greg, and our new friend Juan David behind the dinghy on both the boogie and surfboard. I think we may have made not just Juan David's day, but possibly his life up to that point. He may still be smiling. In return, he rounded up a 25 lb. tuna as a gift and offered to show us where to dive for fresh lobster. Greg and I jumped at that opportunity and found the best snorkeling experience of our trip.

Around the Northeastern point of the island, we snorkeled in about 25 feet of water and saw thousands of fish, a beautiful starfish, manta rays, 5 sharks (four bottom feeding nurse sharks and a white tipped reef shark), and lobster. If that wasn't enough, we saw a whale about 100 yards away playing in a pile of floating trash of all things. We coasted up a little closer and killed the motor to watch. I suggested that we get in the water to get a better look, but Greg was not to savvy on that plan so I went solo. The next thing I heard was, "Troy, it's getting pretty close!". Out of the deep blue about 25 feet in front of me emerged a giant humpback whale headed in our direction. My bravery gave way as well and I made haste back into the dinghy. The whale headed away when Greg fired up the motor and we hurried back to get my dad and the girls for another round of snorkeling. Two weeks flew by and we had to get back to the city, but we all visited the Miraflores Locks Museum to learn about the canal and watch a ship head through the locks toward the Atlantic. One cruiser pizza night later and my dad and sis were off again to Colorado. Back to normal for us as well with laundry, grocery shopping, and boat projects to be done although we treated ourselves to a grand mall experience complete with Taco Bell and a movie before resuming school for the ladies. Oh, and Brady needs feedback on the blog. Think of sad Brady face and post a comment or two please :) Until next time...Troy

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A word from Emily

I love Panama so far it is awesome. We have seen a lot of dolphins in Panama. I love the towns in Panama. There are a lot of islands in Panama too. Panama city is so big it is bigger then Denver. We all love Panama. We have done a lot of school. Panama has a lot of pretty towns. There are a lot of boats. There are a lot of trees in Panama. There are a lot cars driving by in Panama city. We are in Panama city anchored in a giant anchorage. We have met a lot of boaters in Panama. There are a lot of big buildings in Panama city across the anchorage we can see them but not even close to all of them. There are long beaches in Panama. We see a lot of buses and trucks in Panama city. We see a lot of big rocks in Panama city. It also is clean water in Panama city.

Sunday, July 11, 2010





Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Golfito and Panama!

After Isla del Cano was Puerto Jimenez. This was a sleepy little town with a calm anchorage. The people were once again very friendly and inviting. After several days our approaching visa expiration could not be put off any further and we were off to Golfito the last port of entry/exit on the southern pacific side of Costa Rica. We ran into our friend Greg from sweet dreams again in this perfectly flat calm ancorage. As it turns out, we wished we could have spent more time here since the anchorage was full of sailboats and the shore services were great. Tim and Katy from Tierra Mar (former cruisers) provide a dinghy dock, laundry service, showers, and internet. We met Julio, Livia, Theo, and Valeria a family on Ilha do mel, who had sailed from Brazil and several other colorful characters. We filled our propane tank, got groceries, cleared out of the country, fueled the boat, and had a great potluck dinner before setting sail for Panama. We were hoping to travel with Greg until Panama City, but 2 hours into our trip he radioed to tell us that “something big broke” in his engine. We offered to help, but he turned around solo and we hoped all was well. The setting sail part was rather optimistic since we motored all day to Punta Balsa, which was surprisingly calm. Our first experience with the locals was a breath of fresh air. An elderly man greeted us at the beach to welcome us and shake my hand. After a walk down the beach in a torrential downpour, it was back to the boat and off to Isla Parida the following morning. After a 2 hour sail, a 6 hour motor and another downpour, we rounded the corner of the island towards our anchorage to find a dinghy headed right at us. Lo and behold, it was Greg! His big problem turned out to be an alternator bearing that only held him up for a day and $60. He left overnight and headed straight for the island and we managed to pick the same anchorage. Isla Parida is a picturesque location with clear water, beautiful beach and lush jungle. There are several other islands within dinghy range and we enjoyed snorkeling, hiking and a picnic lunch. After Isla Parida was Isla Cavada in the Secas Islands. This Island was as beautiful as the last and we finally found what we have been looking for all along: countless islands, pristine beaches and endless snorkeling reefs with an abundance of fish. We next headed to Ensenada Pixvae which was a small local town. There was one phone in the whole town and more kids than we have ever seen in one place. We walked through the town with a local who kindly offered his guide services. We were actually looking for some produce, but found only fruits...on the trees! So, we got a few cokes, beers, 45 bananas on the bunch (still not ripe a week later by the way) with some fresh limes thrown in, 4 coconuts including a how to open with a machete demo, fresh sugarcane, and some locally grown and hand separated brown rice (very, very whole tasted like dirt)-all for about 10 bucks including a bag of candy that we passed out to the local kids. Greg has been having more luck at the fishing than Brady although she did catch a 3 foot spanish mackerel. Greg, meanwhile, has reeled in three tunas and some mahi mahi. Next was Playa Benao, which was where we were supposed to wait for a weather window to pass around Punta Mala (bad point) towards Panama City. This was a terrible rocky rolly anchorage, but ashore was more paradise. There we found a beautiful beach side restaurant owned by a great couple with four kids. Their family recently sold everything in California and bought the entire beach for a different life. They now have a bar/restaurant along with some rooms to rent in a little boutique hotel. Our kids played for hours with theirs on the beach and the trampoline. We took a bus to the next town called Pedasi and Brady is officially ready to put Panama at the top of our list. One more sleepless night and we opted to head for Punta Mala with a favorable weather picture. This turned out to be the best sail of our trip. As we rounded the point the wind came around behind us at around 25 knots, and with spinnaker alone we managed to sail for 14 hours straight at up to 10.5 knots. We covered the 130 miles to Isla Tobago in about 20 hours. This anchorage is also beautiful and has a pretty big town on the island. From the boat we can see all the ships at anchor waiting to transit the canal and the very dramatic Panama City skyline. We will be moving over to the city in the next day or two and will get our fill of all that it has to offer before my dad and sister visit for two weeks.