We are back cruising
We are back on Carpe Diem. It’s tempting to say, that the break from the adventures is over, but that’s not the case. The break was part of the adventure, just rather different from what we imagined when planning the circumnavigation. It was amazing being with our daughters Freja and Nanna again, and to see other family and friends. We didn’t even manage to meet everyone before the opportunity to come back to the boat showed up. And once again we have experienced how all you lovely people offered help with accommodation, borrowing cars and much more. We are rich in the exact right way.
Back in Curacao, we had to adjust to the temperature again. The 30 degrees Celsius was reported by the forecasts as “Feels like 37 degrees”. Maybe we were more used to it before going back to Denmark, because it was hard getting much done in the heat now that we were back. We did bring a few projects back with us. Upgrading the solar panels, patching a few spots in the CobberCoat (antifouling), speed log, cockpit shower etc. And the boat needed to be put together again with sails, sprayhood, bimini and much more.
Finally, the boat was ready to be splashed with the most important projects done, and we could drop the anchor again in Spanish Waters. Due to the hurricane season more boats was in Spanish waters, as it is hurricane safe area. And as this is the hurricane season, many have decided to stay here during this season. One of them was another Danish boat, Añejo with Daniel and Astrid. We really hope to meet them again out in French Polynesia. Our new crew member, Laura (yes, now they are two Lauras) joined us here, and then fingers were crossed for a good weather window to Panama. What wasn’t possible before going home to Denmark, looked as being possible now: Nanna had an opportunity to visit us, which we would prefer to do in Panama where we could visit the Kuna Yala (San Blas) islands. And luckily the weather window looked fine, so tickets were booked to Nanna and it was arranged what to do if we for some reason did not get to Panama before her (even though expected).
A good weather window is important. Sailing to Panama along the Colombian coast is quite tricky, and very often with heavy winds and big aggressive waves. Along the coast, the Colombian Low pressure accelerates its winds. You can either go far out in the Caribbean Sea or hug the coast (looking out for all the debris washed out from the rivers). We chose something in between as the weather window was good. We did get wind and big waves, but nothing worse than when crossing the Atlantic. With more than 1 knot current with us, we cruised with good speed, and might even reach Shelter Bay Marina in Panama Saturday afternoon, more than 24 hours before Nanna would arrive.
But that’s not how it turned out. We kept a northern route above the bay with the Colombian and Panama boarder, where there was no wind, but also same weather pattern we saw when we were caught in a storm outside the Portuguese coast. We didn’t want to get too close to that, also after advice from an experienced Caribbean cruiser, which our friend Judith were in contact with. This time we did not end up in bad weather, but when changing the course to point SW towards Colon in Panama we experienced an increasing current against us. And not just 1 knot but 4 knots when it was worse. This meant we only moved forward with 2,5 knots, and suddenly it would be late Sunday evening before arriving at Shelter Bay Marina. We were happy we arranged with Juan in the Marina to take good care of Nanna if we were late – and with the service level they have here she would be taken well care of.
It wasn’t a tidal current we had against us, which would turn and become a current with us 6 hours later. Only thing to do was to hope it would decrease. We were a bit uncertain what would happen for the last 25 miles, where we would be sailing along the coast, without the opportunity to sail further out, as we had to keep inside the traffic separation zone which only the big ships to and from Panama where allowed to use. Would the current increase at this point – in which case we would not really be moving forward – or would it decrease? Luckily it was the latter, also because there was no wind and we were motoring. If somehow the engine stopped we would have been flushed out to see again in the strong current.
The engine did not fail us, and the current decreased as we got closer, so Sunday morning we could now see all the ships that had been visible on the chartplotter for a while because of AIS. And then it was time to call “Cristobal Signal Station” asking permission to go through the big breakwater, and from there further in to Shelter Bay Marina. We arrived in good time to have Covid-19 tests taken and get ready to welcome Nanna in the evening.
Shelter Bay Marina is fantastic for many reasons. And Panama with jungle and not least the Guna Yala (San Blas) Islands. I promise we will explain that in a later Blog post.