On November 3 we left the safe haven of Shelter Bay marina to venture out into the Pacific. We were joined by our friends, Jim and Laura on Nilaya. We motored out into the anchorage among the many huge ships waiting to go through the canal to the Pacific. We weaved in and out making sure that anything moving was avoided! The entrance is only wide enough for the big ships and a couple of tugs beside them. We waited for one to enter and gunned it to get out before the next one ran us over. All out, we turned to port and away we went.
Our original plan was to go up the the Chagres River for a day or two. But unfortunately, the unrelenting rain of "rainy season" made the entrance tricky and the river muddy, so we bypassed the river and settled down for an overnight to Escudo de Veraguas, an island 110 miles from Shelter Bay. The night was rough with contrary waves, lots of current and periods of torrential rain and close lightning. Glad to see morning, we found ourselves still quite a distance from Veraguas. With the current against us, we were making only 3 1/2 knots instead of our usual 5-6. On and on we went until mid afternoon when at last we saw the beautiful island ahead of us like a mirage! Jim and Laura beat us there by over an hour and were happy that we finally made it. We dropped anchor, had a swim and enjoyed our relaxing evening.
Knowing that a storm was following us, we up anchored at 5 a.m. the next morning. We had periods of wind during which we sailed, but mostly the winds were light making for a long day of motoring to keep ahead of the dark clouds that followed us.
As we entered the channel into Bocas del Toro, we called the marina to secure our spot. The person answering the phone informed us that it was a holiday and the marina was closed, so we would need to wait a day. Oh well, there are a lot of anchorages in this area. We dropped the hook in Bastimentos and spent the evening looking at the lights of the small town and catching up with another buddy boat, Bonsai.
Well, great plans….the next day it poured! Not wanting to enter the tight marina and dock in a downpour, we waited another day at anchor before entering Bocas Marina on Thursday, November 7. We had officially made it to Bocas del Toro.
A little rain at anchor in Bocas