Monday, April 11, 2016

Western Panama to Benao

Panama, a long time coming!
Our route to Benao, only to be stopped waiting out a Panama Gulf gap wind, think Papagayo South

Isla Parida, Panama

02 – April - 2016

An overnight trip around Punta Burica and on to Isla Parida

We had several dolphins escort us out of Costa Rica around Punta Burica that forms the Costa Rican, Panamanian border with some shrimp boats working the coastline. The trip was shorter than the guide books said and I hadn’t checked the charted distances so we arrived in the predawn darkness and ran some lazy time killing patterns while we waited for the sun.
Lots of rocks and Islets, not made for a nighttime entry!
The Island is surrounded by rocks and islets and a very exact route must be followed to enter the southern anchorage we planned to stay in. Dawn confirmed that waiting was a good decision because a huge surf pounded on the off shore rocks. We followed the Sarana Guide’s way points in and took a protected anchorage.
Looks like paradise
Other than a couple of caretakers living in two separate bays there are no residents and little development. After a good nap to get over the night crossing we put the dinghy in the water and explored three bays on Parida and one on Isla Paridita. A big mango tree on the beach provided an impromptu treat. It was a peaceful anchorage with only a small swell making its way in, gently rocking the boat.

Islas Secas, Panama

03 – April - 2016

A short 4 hours from Isla Parida to Isla Cavada in the Secas
Another pretty anchorage

We quickly dropped the hook and got the dinghy in the water because we could see the bottom clearly in twenty feet of water. Flips, masks and snorkels in hand we ran the dinghy to the north point and dropped its anchor and rolled into the water. It was beautiful. Some new corals are re-establishing and lots of tropical fish.
And a beautiful sunset

Bahia Honda, Panama
04 – April - 2016
The lush shoreline at Domingo's
Back to the coast, past Isla Medidor to Bahia Honda
A big yacht at anchor on Isla Medidor

After another short day that took us through a narrow pass we arrived at the entrance to Bahia Honda. Again, an anchorage that lives in many stories of the early boats cruising this coast. You have two choices, north to Domingos finca where he an his son, Kennedy, greet sailboats with offers of fruit from their farm. They are always interested in bartering. we traded batteries, milk and cookies for banas, lemons, mangos and grapefruit. If you are a diesel mechanic, they won't let you leave.
We put the dinghy in the water and ran over to Isla Honda to see the small village. People were friendly and curious. Not many boats stop here.
The bay is calm and makes for a peaceful anchorage but on a minus tide as we were leaving Domingo's foreshore we stopped for an hour while the rising tide floated us free from a sand bank that came quickly up from 19 feet. Life's little surprises!

Islas Cebaco, Panama
05 – April - 2016
Sailing out to Cebaco, the winds freshened and challenged our progress into the SW bay.
A quick shot back at the "feed ship" as we departed in the morning
Cebaco is the home to a "feed ship" and some charter fishing boats on buoys. We heard that you can buy diesel and snacks from them but we just came in close to shore to get out of the wind that was building, dropped the hook and relaxed. It is a pretty bay, well protected from the north wind and the swell from the south was reduced by us sneaking in close behind the buoys placed by the charter company.

Ensenada Naranja, Panama
06 – April - 2016
The weather is definitely changing...
Some mixed winds on the way to Naranja but it is a pretty, secure bay to ride out some North winds
The land was cleared in the early colonial period so cattle are common on the hils
While we were trapped in Bahia Santa Elena in northern Costa Rica for two weeks by the Papagayos our friends Wayne and Judy on Curiositas were trapped for at least that long in Ensenada Naranja. It is a very pretty bay but more exposed to swell than we were in Elena so we empathized with their plight. We knew weather was coming from reports on the Pan Pacific Net so we stayed one night and left early.
Benao or Playa Venao, Panama
07 – April - 2016
We are definitely getting close to Punta Mala, Bad Point!
It was a pre-dawn departure to make a daylight land fall at Benao. The weather started light and after numerous sail changes and direction adjustments it became apparent that once again the wind was on our nose. We knew the gap winds were picking up and Benao was our only hiding spot from the north winds. We finally motored the final 4 to 5 hours just to get the hook down before dark.
Kanilela at anchor

We waited until the next day to go ashore and after listening to the Pan Pacific Net and realizing that we were going nowhere for three days we stopped at the Villa Marina Hotel to check their restaurant schedule. Then we wandered up the beach to the well known surf beach to relax and watch the surfers of varying abilities.
And then there were two, Genesis arrived

Much to our surprise we saw a sailboat entering the bay. It turned out to be Genesis III who we had left in Golfito as they were picking up Mary's brother, Joe, in San Jose. On our way back up the beach we met them in one of the many beach bars and caught up on our respective travels.
Villa Marina Hotel, pool and courtyard, these are cruiser friendly people!
The forecast is for favourable winds and tides tomorrow about noon so we will head out for our final two steps to Panama City, Otoque -98 miles and Panama City another 22 miles.

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