We opted for sailing really close to the Venezuelan and Colombian coast. If things would have gotten too ‘lively’ we could have taken shelter in one of the harbours along the coast. I must confess that I was the most nervous ahead of this passage. Selcuk, our Turkish American friend had shared stories of boats arriving badly damaged in Panama from the ABC island.
Despite my protests that we were leaving too early in the day, Sorin did choose the best weather window. We left midday on a Wednesday and despite my fears, thanks to my skilled skipper, we had a good seven day passage. We briefly stopped in San Blas and in Linton Bay before entering Colon in Panama.
The second day on our passage, whilst I was on watch I noticed that Mehalah suddenly changed course by ninety degrees. I thought that the wind changed direction and that we needed to reset the sails so I called Sorin who immediately figured out that the auto-helm was no longer engaged. He asked me to be on the helm whilst he investigated. He found that a metal plate joining the rudder to a quadrant that controls the helm snapped. Using all sorts of tools and his unmatched practical skills, whilst Mehalah was rolling left and right on the waves, after a struggle, a few cuts and bruises, he managed to temporarily remediate the issue. For the rest of the passage he checked and reinforced his temporary repair on a daily basis. A relief, as otherwise sharing the steering of Mehalah between only two crew over several days would have been exhausting. Well done, Captain!
After five days sailing we reached the beautiful Arhipelago of San Blas. I cannot express in words the San Blas experience – a few intense hours in the most beautiful room of paradise so far. We snorkelled, we enjoyed the fantastic generosity of kuna people while visiting one of the tiny islands of the over 300 islands archipelago. We closed the day having a blast with newly made rebellious friends who are roaming the seas for 21 years! The following morning, before setting sail again, we accomplished the beautiful mission that our American friends set for us on leaving Guadeloupe – opening the ingeniously wrapped leaving present once we are in San Blas. Overwhelming experience again! Thanks Robin and Mike.
We are now in Shelter Bay Marina in Colon, Panama. We’ve just seen a crocodile right in the marina…No snorkelling or hull cleaning on this occasion! We are surrounded by huge ocean cruisers. Amongst the very few exceptions, is our new friend, Sorin (yes, another Sorin) who is doing a solo circumnavigation on his 27 foot Jaguar. What a daring…A living legend, having taken 71 days to cross the pond, the other Sorin can compete for ‘who crossed the Atlantic in the longest time’; this brave chap is a testament to the fact that much can be achieved with very little, as our Golden Globe Race friend Abilash was saying…
The atmosphere in the posh Shelter Bay Marina is surreal. Many group activities and an implied excitement for the crossing to a new world. Hopefully a pacific one for everyone!