December 5, 2020
It has been 16 months since we first entered Panama from Costa Rica. On the Pacific side we explored many islands before rounding Punta Mala. We struggled to reach Vista Mar and then enjoyed the Perlas Islands before heading into the canal. Once through the canal, we rested at Shelter Bay Marina and played tourist in Panama City. Then we headed out to the islands of Bocas del Toro. We headed to the states for Christmas in 2019, fully expecting to leave Bocas upon returning. Just (as in the day!) as we were about to head east toward the San Blas Islands, the country shut down. We could not leave Bocas del Toro. And so we stayed and explored the paradise that is Bocas off and on as the officials would let us. Once we were able to leave, we obtained the needed paperwork and headed back to Shelter Bay on the edge of the canal. From here we explored the jungle as well as made our long overdue trip to the states. We have truly enjoyed our adventures in Panama, including three trips to Panama City. But the restrictions have loosened a bit and it is time to leave.
Our next journey was to be to the Colombian islands of San Andres and Providencia. The Country of Colombia was due to open on November 1. These islands are a part of Columbia, but lie closer to Nicaragua. Hurricane season usually ends around mid November, so we would plan our departure around then. We waited, and watched as hurricane Eta passed closely to the islands and slammed into Nicaragua on November 3. We would have crossed it’s path! OK, we need to wait a bit longer. We watched as Iota formed. It’s path was directly across the islands. On November 17, Hurricane Iota, a category 5 (the strongest) hit the islands. San Andres was crippled, but Providencia was decimated, leaving 98% of the island’s buildings and infrastructure broken and destroyed! We were heartbroken for the people of these island paradises.
With so much destruction comes a lot of floating trees and parts of buildings. We knew that this was not the way to go. Change of plans and a different direction, is Jamaica open? A couple of weeks of back and forth with the country and the help of a marina manager, we are now the first cruising boat to enter Jamaica since the COVID lockdown. We will have to present a negative COVID test as well as quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
So now we have our negative tests as well as our exit zarpe and stamp from Immigracion. There was a lot of paperwork and waiting, but now it’s the day and we are off to Montego Bay, Jamaica! Five days without stopping we will each keep our three hour shifts and hope for fair winds and following seas!
You can track us at: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/slowdancer