Friday- 4-25

What a pleasure to get laundry done; fill the water tanks; have internet to be able to skype the family; and get a Panama phone chip to make calls home again! The boat looks like a tornado hit--can hardly move. Two projects at the same time--cutting new access in settee to be able to check battery fluids; and extending the water fill up to coach roof so the fill will be near the companionway. We stopped our work day early to join a few other cruisers for a visit to the Smithsonian Research Station here in Bocas. It's only open 2 days a week between 2-5pm. We saw our first Sloth--just hanging out scratching! The station does research on "tropical and terrestrial environments of the Caribbean". Their website is: www.STRI.ORG, or (for speed cut & paste address)

Panama!! N 09deg.20" / W 082deg.14"

We're at Bocas Marina & YC, boat bound while we wait to get get checked into the country. We had a great run down, sailing the whole way, and had to slow Infini down so we could get here in daylight. At one point we were under staysail alone, a bit uncomfortable for the waves, but we timed it perfectly getting here. (No huge overtime fees, and entering the channel in daylight). This is another 'sticky' place for much to do and great amenities. Lots of expats--some investing in real estate. A good representation of yachts from all over the world. Can't wait to get a 'real' shower (not from our great 'sunshower')--and have a meal at the restaurant tonight. We have a few boat projects to take care of...hopefully all will be done in a few weeks. More later---need to nap after 2 sleepless nights!

Underway 4-20-08 N11deg,05min, W082deg,00min

We went to our 'outside' anchorage in the afternoon to be able to see the coral heads; thinking we'd leave at first light, but it was too rolly so we left at 1 am for our run to Bocas. What a glorious sail so far. Wind 15-20 aft of our beam- reefed main and jib gives us 7-8 knots. Seas are 6-8 ft. pushing us nicely. This is what it's all about...and a full moon to boot! We expect the wind to moderate gradually to about nothing. We hear you always have to motor the last bit to get in. Bocas is on the west end of Panama, near the Costa Rica border. We were hoping to arrive in daylight; but because we're trucking so nicely, it may be a 2 am anchor. We're hoping for a bite on the line that's trailing! Tried playing with the wind vane---no luck yet.
Picture is of 'land ho' Panama...we had good weather until we got close to land. We missed the rain squalls though.!

April 15, Tuesday Still in Albuqurque Cays

We did a dive today with the pros--Nancy & Ginny (Willow); they speared 3 fish. We followed and watched--the landscape is incredible--30ft. was the deepest we went. To think the fishermen free dive that and more every day. Yesterday was a rest day--Michael made another loaf of pressure cooked sour dough bread. We also had home made pizza for our shared meal with Willow! They brought the grouper, I made conch fritters with the first conch we harvested. We boiled the meat out, since we want to make a horn we can blow from this one--a nice 10.5" specimen. I also made chocolate chip cookies- we're not suffering out here at anchor. We're waiting for this cold front to blow through. This is late in the season to get such northerlies. The wind and waves would be OK for us to go; we just don't want the squalls and thunderstorms it will generate toward the Panama coast. We'll be able to reprovision and get a phone chip when in Bocas del Toro- about 170mi. from here, which should be an overnighter. Can't think of a more beautiful place to wait!

Cayos Albuquerque, off the coast of Nicaragua

N12deg.09" W081deg.50"
After a great night sail we dropped anchor @0730 in 25ft. of water, waiting for better light to enter the reef area. At noon we made our way to a more protected anchorage. One other boat, Kristiana, has been here a few weeks; we've heard him as a relay on our SSB cruisers net. It's always nice to meet the person behind the voice! Two small picturesque cays are inside the reef. The Colombian military has a small base on one of them, the young guys rotate for a month at a time; part of their 2yr. mandatory duty. There's no boat for them to come and go--they just wait for the end of their duty...hopefully they've rationed their provisions properly! We'll go introduce ourselves to the 27yr. old commandante when we launch our dinghy. The other cay has a few fishermen in pongas that leave in the morning and come back at night. San Andres is only 15mi. north of here--we did not stop on our way down- it's a popular tourist spot- similar to south beach, and after experiencing tranquil Providencia, we didn't want the city affect.

April 8 Tuesday

We would have rented bicycles to ride around the island, but they don't have any, so we rented a moped instead. Michael was a bit leary at first, but he did just fine! There are mostly motorcycles & mopeds on the narrow roads, but this is not a crowded island. The road goes around the perimeter, about 18km. We enjoyed the ride and stopped for lunch at a secluded place on the beach- el Divino Nino. We were the only ones there, but she fired up her wood stove and cooked a feast of lobster, crab, shrimp, conch and fish---$15.00 for the 2 of us! We're getting used to the big numbers in the exchange rate. Our lunch was $35,000.(pesos) We get the max out of the ATM- $300,000 pesos, and it's around $165.00. Since we got back at 12:30 and had the moped for the whole day, I took it out for more exploring on a few loop roads that we hadn't been on. We plan on raising anchor late afternoon for a night run to our next reef system, Albuquerque Cay, about 85mi away.

Providencia, Columbia

We're at N13deg.22min / W081deg.22min
What a lovely, clean, safe, friendly island paradise! This is a mountainous island of volcanic origin. The check in procedure was a breeze, boats have to use 'Mr. Bush' as their agent--he's been welcoming cruisers for 25yrs.--what a gentleman! Population around 4500; very family orientated; they are proud of their 'no crime' reputation. We're sharing the anchorage with 16 other yachts- some going north, others going south toward Panama. Hailing from many different countries. Supplies come by small freighter from San Andres- 55 miles to the south. We're thrilled to have internet access (though slow) in town.

April 3, Low Cay , near Providencia

N13deg.30.9 W081deg.19.8
We raised anchor @ 0500 and had a glorious broad, progressing to close reach sail to Low Cay. It didn't matter that our autopilot is kaput-- when you have these good conditions. The seas were 4-5ft. with the occasional 8-10ft. roller. Our speed was 7-8knt under full sail, the occasional 9 surfing. We dropped anchor at Low Cay at 1:30pm behind a crashing reef in 15ft. of crystal clear water. Another beautiful spot; well known for good diving...they keep getting better. The island of Providencia looms 10mi. in the distance. We'll go 'check in' to our first Columbian country tomorrow. We had grilled mahi mahi aboard Willow, since they caught 2 on the way here; we didn't have a single strike. And they were behind us!? The other pic is of the entrance to Providencia; Santa Catalina Is. on the left. The anchorage is between the 2 islands; a footbridge connecting the two.