The weather forecast estimated between 1.6 and 2 travel days which gave us a huge window to guess our arrival. Puerto Obaldia is not a good anchorage and should only be used as a day stop. We wanted to arrive Puerto Obaldia in the morning so we could clear in and head to another anchorage for the night.
First thing in the morning we decided to replace our wind vang which had lost its cups during the previous night’s storm and was not working properly. So, we hoisted Matt up our 70’ mast to replace it with a new wind vang. Now we could see the wind speed and direction. What a novel idea for a sail boat!
As we were leaving the channel, we were chased down by the Armada National. They instructed us to follow them back into the bay where they could board our boat out of the swell. Great, we headed back into the bay, put out our fenders, and got our documents out. Technically, we should have had the yellow flag up and called this a boat repair stop or safety stop. The Spanish/English language gap made it a little exciting. Matt showed them our broken wind vang and pointed up the mast. The guard obviously wasn’t a friend of heights and returned a wide-eyed gaze and asked if Matt had gone up there. They searched our boat, checked our paperwork, called into their boss and informed them we had a boat repair – an hour later we were on our way.
As we left the bay for the second time, the wind dropped down to 6-8 knots and the waves were less than 1 meter. Looks like a motor day.
As we were passing Cartagena, the AIS goes off stating that “Sugar Shack needs to notify Cartagena Port Authority when entering or leaving Cartagena.” We were not going there, tried to call on VHF, got no response, gave up. Then 45 minutes later another message appears on AIS. We called again on VHF, think we heard them tell us to change to a different channel and did. However, the channel was already occupied and conversation was already in progress. Matt tried to explain, in broken Spanish, that we were heading to Panama, not to Cartagena. We waited on VHF 16, got nothing and continued on.
We switched off sitting at the helm randomly until about 1800 when we set 3-hour shifts. I took the first shift 6p-9p followed by Matt, then Wayne. As you know, almost everything happens between 2am and 3am which happened to be just as I was coming on my 2nd shift. A nasty storm was brewing on the radar right in front of us. We got our foul weather gear out, put the eye brow down and prepared for some wind and rain. But as it turned out, the storm parted right down the center and we motored right on through it with only a few sprinkles – not even enough to wash the boat.
What the storm did bring was a huge wind shift-180 degree. Instead of being a broad reach it was now right on our nose which made it impossible to sail! It didn’t really matter as the winds were still too low to raise the canvas so we continued on motoring. We attempted to fly the jib periodically, but it never filled for very long.
DAY 1 Puerto Velero to Puerto Obaldia
• Total Daily Miles: 142
• Max Speed: 10.9
• Avg Speed: 5.9
• Hours Moving: 24
• Wind Avg: 5-7 knots
• Wing Angle: Broad Reach to Run then shifted to nose
• Wave Height Avg: > 1
DAY 2 OF PASSAGE TO PUERTO OBELDIA:
I love the dawn shift as the moon sets and the sun rises. It is such a great reflection time.
Somewhere during late morning, we received a hitch hiker. Not sure if it was a huge moth or a butterfly, but it flew right into our cabin and perched on our shelf. I gently tried to scoot it out the cabin door, but it ended up flying out the front hatch, around the cabin and back in through the cabin door! What. So, I tried again and this time it flew down into the office. I opened the small hatch in the office and gently nudged it out the window – again only for it to fly right back into the cabin. Well, clearly, she needs to rest from her long journey so we will let her be for now.
INSERT IMAGE OF BUTTERFLY
Several hours later, Matt urged the butterfly to leave (not so gently) and she repeated the same process, out a window and back in. Finally, we got smart and closed the main cabin doors and shooed her out but not before she tried to get back in several more times. As she left, a huge moth arrived and perched on the sail bag. This did not seem to bother us as much as she was outside and up high. She stayed with us until the next morning.
We raised the main and attempted to fly the jib, even though the wind was still on our nose. Mostly to no advantage.
We alternate between sleeping, eating, or reading, while not on shift. Anything to pass the time.
The wind did pick up, but it stayed on our nose which did not help us get there any sooner.
Watching the time of arrival on the GPS can be an emotional rollercoaster. One minute it says you will arrive in daylight and the next minute it says you’ll have to bob around in circles for 12 hours till the sun comes up. We soon realized that we were not going to arrive Puerto Obeldia in the day light so we changed course and headed to another bay that had better anchoring, Puerto Carreto. We arrived just as the sun was setting, dropped our anchor and sat down when we noticed a small hand carved dugout coming our way. The welcome committee stopped by to say “hello” and welcome us to Panama. He handed us his line, and promptly jumped on the sugar scoop (whoa). We both tried to communicate in our broken Spanish as he was a very nice Kuna Indian.
Puerto Carreto has a very small, primitive, ultra-traditional village in the northern corner of the bay. Television, filming, and photography are banned. Visitors are expected to leave the shore before dark, even though the villagers are very friendly. Since we did not have documents to go ashore, we stayed on the boat.
In retrospect, we should have left Puetero Velero much later in the afternoon to try to arrive Puerto Obaldia in the morning – but hindsight is 20/20. Luckily, we were able to change course in time to arrive during the day light to another safe anchorage. Had we waited until later in the day to change course we would not have been so lucky. Puerto Obaldia will have to wait one more day for us.
• Total Daily Miles: 57
• Max Speed: 10.9 (from yesterday morning)
• Avg Speed: 6.1
• Hours Moving: 9
• Wind Avg: 15
• Wing Angle: Nose
• Wave Height Avg: >1 meter
See our next blog post to continue our voyage to Puerto Obaldia.