Sunday 5th July thru Sunday 18th October, 2015
We were back at Shelter Bay Marina after our trip to Colombia for just 11 days. Long enough to get provisions and visit with friends before having Ocean Star ready to leave the dock and head back to the San Blas Islands. After sitting in the marina since January we wanted to test that everything was still working.
We left the slip at around 11 Am on Thursday 7/16. We were able to sail most of the way, down to the new marina under construction in Linton Bay, until a small shower killed the wind. We had heard a lot about the marina and wanted to check it out. It's in a great location and looks like it will be a really nice marina once it is completed sometime in 2016. We arrived around 3 PM and there were several boats there that we knew from Shelter Bay and a few new ones we met, it is a very cruiser friendly marina, and we wound up staying an extra day.
Saturday 7/18 AM as we left the marina we had some storms on the horizon so we anchored for a little while to let them (and their accompanying lightning) pass before continuing on to the San Blas Islands by 10 AM. We were anchored off Green Island a little after 5 PM. I called a friends boat on the VHF radio, Barbara & Stewart on S/V La Luna were anchored off another island nearby. We last saw them in February 2013 in St Thomas when we first started heading west. They had traveled across the Atlantic and back and had just recently came west to Panama's San Blas Islands. It was great to hear their voices again, and we made plans to go snorkeling the following day.
Sunday after a great day of snorkeling with Barb & Stew and John & Lela from Yachtsmans Dream, we moved Ocean Star over to the island Sabudupored, where La Luna was anchored. That night another boat joined us Jim & Cristine from Ullr and we all had a pot luck gathering on Yachtsmans Dream with live music provided by Stew & Jim.
We hung out there for several days snorkeling the surrounding reefs and enjoying having an internet connection. La Luna left a few days later to go to Linton to provision and take care of some boat projects. Yachtsmans Dream also left to head to the Bocas Del Toro area so we asked them to deliver a spear gun pump I had picked up for Ultra in Colon. We enjoyed getting to know Jim & Cristine before they also left for Linton.
Monday 7/27 we went by dinghy to Nargana to get gas. None available until the following day, but we walked around to see a few good changes since we had been there the year before. Dinghy ride back to the boat for lunch and then we were going to go snorkeling again but the dinghy motor would not start. SO GLAD it waited until we were back on the boat to die and not while we were 3 miles away at Nargana or even the ½ mile away where we were going snorkeling.
Steve worked on the dinghy motor, trouble shooting the problem, finished up the following morning by replacing the stator and it was good to go. Steve went back to Nargana to get the gas, then we went to snorkel the spot we had missed the day before. We had clear skies that night to see the International Space Station fly over.
Wednesday 7/29 we went over to the Eastern Holandes Cays to one of the best anchorages known as the “swimming pool”. Friends Marilyn & Kent from M/V Cardea were anchored here and it was good to run into them again. The snorkeling on the outer reef was great, but my waterproof camera died so not too many pictures.
Saturday we moved a short distance to another favorite spot called the “hot tub” for some more great snorkeling.
By Monday 8/3 we were low on veggies so we moved over to the Eastern Lemmon Cays by the island of Yansaladup. The “supply boats” frequent this anchorage in the off season more than the other anchorages we were at. Tuesday the veggie boats showed up and we had a great selection to choose from. We met a few other boats that we had talked to on the radio and spent several days here snorkeling the many surrounding reefs. Took the dinghy over to the islands of Chichime where a LOT of boats “live”. This is where locals bring tourists visiting the San Blas and many of the back packer boats hang out, a very crowded anchorage.
Friday 8/7 we went over to the Eastern Naguargandup Cays and anchored behind the reef off Nabadup. The snorkeling by the close reef and the outer reefs were fantastic. This group of islands are further south so wave action was a lot smaller than in the Lemmons. The weather was being very kind to us and we had mostly sunny days with most of the rain coming in the early morning hours. Lisa the Guna guide & mola maker that took us on our river tour the year before stopped by to to say Hi & borrow life jackets for her group going to the river that day.
Tuesday 8/11 our watermaker blew out another end cap. Luckily after the last one broke Steve had ordered a few extra so was able to make the repair after getting to and removing the watermaker. Just the usual “fixing the boat in exotic locations” that is part of cruising.
Thursday we changed anchorages to the Coco Bandero Cays. More great snorkeling and only a few boats until the weekend when 5 big power boats showed up to party for the weekend.
Sunday we sailed over to Nargana to get diesel and gas then anchored off Sabudupored again.
Monday back to the Holandes to be closer to the channel out for an early departure on Tuesday.
Tuesday 8/18 early departure, arrived at Linton Bay Marina late afternoon, where we were greeted by Barbara from La Luna in her dinghy helping to push us into the slip against the wind. Wednesday Barbara had made arraignments to go to Colon via Tommy in his truck and had room for 2 more people if we wanted to go. Out of curiosity about the land trip we went and Steve went to have his blood test that was due. The commute from Shelter Bay is much shorter and cheaper !
Friday 8/21 we were back at Shelter Bay and in our old slip by mid afternoon.
Next couple of days spent washing the boat and doing laundry. Wednesday we took the marina shuttle to Panama City for Steve's follow up visit with his doctor on Thursday. His blood work came back with a very good reading, so NO radiation treatment is needed, we have the green light to move on.
Friday 8/28, we get busy making plans for me to go to Texas and visit family and bring back any parts & supplies we need from the states. Steve had been having computer problems. We met a couple, Patrick & Sandi on YachtCruz, new to the marina, on the ride to Panama City on Wednesday. He use to work for Dell and knows computers well, so he said he could help Steve get his computer working properly again. Need to be able to shop on line !! Made contact with an agent we wanted to use for our canal transit.
After 9 months of waiting around for medical clearance we were all of a sudden busy with a lot of to-dos.
Wednesday 9/2, my birthday, we took the marina free shuttle back into Panama City. Steve had some errands to run picking up some parts while I shopped for a few things at the mall and had a pedicure. Back to the marina to finish the day off with a little celebration.
The next 2 weeks go by fast as we reorganize the boat as we check on what supplies are needed.
I fly back to Texas on Wednesday 9/16 afternoon. Saying goodbye to Steve at the mall where the marina shuttle drops us off.
The next 3 weeks in Texas go by so quickly!!! Had a great time seeing family in Texas, flew out to Phoenix to see brother, sister-in-law & nephew for 3 days. Got to see a few friends in Texas, but missed seeing a lot of people, just too much to do in a short time and as usual it gets overwhelming. Before I knew it I was packing up to return to Panama. One brother had been planning to visit us and be a line handler when we transit the Panama Canal for 2 years, shortly before going to Texas, youngest brother said he might want to come down for it also, then while home my sister decided to join in and make it a family affair. Too bad 3rd brother and nephew could not have joined in BUT the boat was full to capacity even if they had the time off from work & school. One of the benefits of having family come down for the canal transit was I had help to get all the supplies back down to Panama. I checked 3 bags and left 2 big ones behind to come down with family !!
Back to Panama on Wednesday 10/7, arriving back at the marina around 5 PM. Steve had been busy while I was gone getting his computer to work finally with the help from Patrick. Checking the boats systems and plotting courses. We got things unloaded the following day but it took a few more days to get things stored away, installed and fixed.
Erick our canal transit agent came out to the boat on Friday to complete our paperwork and collect the $2000.00 that it cost us to go from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.
The next week is spent getting the boat ready and provisioning with a quick visit to the dentist in Colon to get our teeth cleaned. Steve had come up with the idea for us to use fuel drums to carry extra fuel needed for future travels. That last minute project was accomplished with some fine tuning to be done at a later date.
Next blog will be all about our canal transit.
Link to pictures; https://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/PanamaContinued?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCPHy9dT50JWxKQ&feat=directlink