We're tucked into a beautiful bay nearby the mouth of the Cacique River at Isla Del Rey. We actually got to sail over here from Isla Pedro Gonzalez, where we had anchored in a very protected spot with no roll under the lee of Point Zacarilla. Fishing has been good; we caught another beautiful Spanish mackeral on the cedar plug, which has been the most useful lure we have. The scenery has been varied and beautiful; sandy beaches, deserted islands, red colored bluffs, large boulders and rock formations uncovered at low tide. The surf is pounding in the background as the frigates soar overhead. We're enjoying the solitude, as there have been no other boats to share an anchorage with for a while now. Single sideband radio transmissions have been difficult to get here, and there's no cell phone service available.
After provisioning, laundry and getting air for our scuba tanks, we departed Las Brisas anchorage and motor sailed to Isla Contadora, where we had anchored before. There must have been a fishing tournament as 45 sport fishing boats of all sizes and descriptions pulled in throughout the afternoon and evening. For you fishing aficionados out there, admiring the Bertrams, Hatteras', and custom yachts nearby was awesome. In the background, we spotted some humpbacks cavorting around. The weather deteriorated a bit during the evening, and as we rolled, so did the sport fishers. In the morning, a fuel barge showed up to refuel those yachts, and we eventually pulled anchor and motor sailed in about 8 knots of wind to Isla Bayoneta. The currents between these islands in the Perlas are really impressive; the rips are audible as well as visible. We prepared our Spanish mackerel we had caught on the way to Contadora for dinner. In the early evening the sky lit up with innumerable lightening flashes which were occurring so quickly we couldn't count them. At about 2030 a line squall from the NE hit us which we estimated packed 40-45 knots of wind (instruments were off) along with the requisite rain and lightening; scary stuff. The anchor held well but the hour storm gave us some anxious moments in the pitch darkness. This morning the sun's shining, and we're waiting low tide to go exploring some of the beaches. The tides here are about 15-17', so the beaches and reefs are completely covered at high tide. The two small dinghy patches (necessary due to chafe which occurred at the dinghy dock at Las Brisas) placed yesterday morning seem to be fine, so we'll complete our coffee and launch the dinghy in a bit. N08deg29min,W079deg02min
at 9:27 AM
We're so happy to have shared our entrance and introduction to the Pacific with our good friends Fleur and David. The wind didn't cooperate to let us sail (what else is new), but we were able to experience a few different anchorages, and do some beach combing before heading back to the mainland so they could catch their plane to Florida. Gracias amigos....you will be missed!
at 9:01 PM
We spotted two humpback whales just north of Isla Pacheca. We didn't get too close, but observed their tail slapping behavior for a good half hour. We anchored at Pacheca, but the wind turned strong NNE during the night, putting us on a lee shore and causing a sleepless night. Our snubber just about chafed thru, which would have caused a great deal of surge on our chain, but we effected repairs at 0400 and rested until departure at 0715. Right now we're anchored at Isla Contadora (N08deg37min, W079deg02min), where the water's calm, and breakfast is being made. Later we'll go and explore the island. BTW, for you cruisers out there, our Zarpe was from Cristobal to Balboa, and check-in to Balboa was easy. I went to the Port Captain's Office, where he told me he'd send a Boarding Officer out to the boat. I told him I had a bit of running around to do, and he said not to worry...just call when I got back. The Boarding Officer showed up about 20 minutes after my call and I dinghied him out to Infini. He was extremely courteous, did the necessary paperwork in about 10 minutes, and there was no cost at all involved. The next time we see him or the Port Captain will be to get our Zarpe to Ecuador.
at 10:19 AM
It was a tenuous start to a wonderful transit, as a leak in our manual fuel pump started when we were underway with our adviser Hector to our first set of locks at Gatun. (M says the copper fuel rail snapped off right at the junction of the exit nut of the pump. Michael(Captain McGyver)and David did a fast repair so we were able to make our 1530 time slot. Our first three locks going up we side tied to a bouy tender,(smaller then us!) so Fleur and Sue had it easy. We were behind a small freighter and a fishing seiner from Cartegena. It was great to be locking during daylight, and at our mooring doughnut in Lake Gatun by 7pm. It was a beautiful cool night and we had a pleasant sleep in the Lake. Victor, our new advisor, arrived to a ready crew at 6:45am. The weather was great for our 5 hour motor across the isthmus, and we center tied for the three locks down; with Fleur and Sue on the bow lines, and Art and Dave on the stern lines. (And a big thank you to Dar for taking the pictures!) We were behind two tour boats, so Infini's image is on many a camera. A bottle of champagne was popped when we were safely through and in the Pacific...a double celebration, as it is our 28th wedding anniversary also! A proper libation to Neptune was offered before we all toasted Infini and our successful transit. Right now we're safely anchored (we won't even discuss the white out squall conditions that greeted us just as we were ready to anchor - we waited it out) on the north side of the Amador Causeway (N08deg55min,W079deg39 min), Las Brisas, and are one of about 40 different types of vessels here. We went ashore to celebrate with a meal at the 'Wine Bar', and our friends from the sv Rose of Sharon, Joe & Sharon, joined us. A happy, satisfied and tired crew!
We're off through the Panama Canal....
Gatun Locks somewhere around 5-8pm
You can follow on www.pancanal.com
Times are not a definite, as there are many variables.
Tomorrow we should be at Miraflores and the Bridge camera's between 12-2 or so. Much better possibility of seeing us, as it will be daylight. It's raining and the sky is full of clouds, so visibility on the camera tonight may not be good.
David's mom Fleur flew in last night, and our friends Art & Darlene from Wayward Wind will help us line handle also.
It's been hectic to say the least....will try to update when we can.
Infini will be back in her home waters....as she had her first 17yrs. in Seattle.