Saturday, October 16, 2004

Week 16 - Boquete to Portobelo and "The Middle of the Ocean", Panama

October 9 - 15, 2004

Saturday to Sunday - BOQUETE, PANAMA

Enjoyed two more days of cooler weather and beautiful landscape before leaving for Panama City with hopes of finding a boat to South America.

Monday to Tuesday- PANAMA CITY, PANAMA

What a nice city! Toured the Panama Canal which was amazing! Also spent time in the old part of the city.

The boats in the canal were HUGE!

Found a boat to South America (see posting, "Found a Boat!"). Left Panama City Wednesday afternoon for Portobelo with two other people who decided to join us (Jimmy from Sweden and David from New Zealand). Met Captain Dennis Morris (from Michigan), his partner Dina (from Colombia), and their friend Stuart (from England) at a bar/restaurant . The seven of us (representing six countries) had some dinner in town and got to know each other a bit.

After dinner and some beers, using a dingy, Dennis and Dina took us to the boat that was to take us to Colombia, a vessel by the name of "Valhalla" - owned by the captain`s friend, Bill. The captain changed his mind last minute and decided to take another boat - his own boat, "Victoria."

Six of us were going to soon be on our way to Colombia. We spent the first night sleeping on the boat because it was not yet ready for sail. Mechanics had to work a bit on the engine before we were able to leave. And so, Kiko, Jimmy, and I spent the next full day on land touring Portobelo while the mechanic worked on the boat with Dennis, Dina, and David.

Portobelo is an amazing little city on the ocean with forts surrounding it. It also has an amazing history.

After the engine work was done and we had the boat ready for sail, we "tried" to leave at midnight. According to the captain, it is best to leave at night so as to arrive to the islands of San Blas at sunrise rather than in the dark because there are many reefs and approaching the islands in the dark can be dangerous.

BOAT ISSUE NO. 1 - The engine started, then stopped... for good. Change of plans. The six of us unloaded everything from Dennis` boat onto the Valhalla. By 4am, we were finally ready to sail off - on the original boat we expected to sail on.

We sailed all night and arrived safely to and anchored at Chichimay, one of the many islands of the San Blas Archipelago - 365 coral atolls.

BOAT ISSUE NO. 2 - At 2am, we were awakened by the horrible noise of the anchor being let out. Somehow, the anchor-chain slipped and the boat started drifting to the island. Not a good thing - at all. Dennis started up the engine in time to back off from the island. We re-anchored, being safe again, and all went back to bed.

As you can see from this photo, we were extremely close to land to begin with...

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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Found a Boat!

Miraculously found a boat to Colombia!! We sail off tomorrow on "Valhalla".

It is not possible to go by bus from Panama to Colombia - the road ends and the only ways to South America from Central America are by air (not our preference), boat (difficult to find), or by foot through the jungle (very dangerous). See information on The Darian Gap.

Our goal of doing this whole trip by land/sea only was not looking so good up until yesterday. We have spent TONS of time sending emails, hanging up flyers, contacting anyone we could think of.... for months.... and have had no luck at all.

We arrived to Panama City yesterday to get closer to the source of information (ports, yacht clubs, etc.). No more than 5 minutes after we arrived to our hostel, a man came to the door to find two guys from Scotland. The two guys were to sail with him to Colombia - yet they were nowhere to be found. But, Kiko and I were! Serendipidy!! And so, we leave tomorrow with Captain Dennis Morris from Detroit, Michigan of all places. :)

I am posting this earlier than normal because I will not be able to post on my regular Saturday date as we will still be at sea. We are stopping at the San Blas Islands first... then off to Cartagena, Colombia.

Oh, and another amazing thing... we ran into our friend from Sweden that we met back in Nicaragua on the island of Ometepe. He is going to sail with us and travel through Colombia with us as well.

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