We visit two islands: Isla Santa Catalina and Bahia Honda. First, a short 13 nm away, is a small island called Isla Santa Catalina. We pulled up anchor at Isla Cebaco in sweltering heat, with no wind, scattered clouds, and a bright blue sky. It was good weather conditions to fly the jib with 12-13 knots of wind at 60 degrees. All of our charts showed many reefs and shallow spots along the way. And midway between us and our destination was a 4-meter shallow spot that we were trying to avoid. Strange to be so far off shore in only 7-17 meters of water. The depth vacillated a lot and quickly.
As we were motor sailing along, we noticed a huge squall off to port. It appeared to be heading away from us, but as we continued along, it kept getting bigger and bigger. Lots of thunder. Dark foreboding clouds, and big swells. We hustled to put the eyebrow and rain shades down before the worst of it hit, but to no avail. The rain was coming down in sheets making it challenging to see. In fact, it was coming down so hard that we lost sight of the island that was a ½ mile in front of us. Luckily, we have 5 charts, all of which combined are decent to navigate by so we were able to drop the hook and retreat inside.
Even though rainy season is not technically supposed to start for 5 more days, we’re thinking it’s here. We remained inside for the rest of the night as the sky unloaded buckets of water. It was a peaceful night until about 0200 when it became really rolly. High tide came in and brought with it some big waves that kept us awake for a few hours. But by early dawn, it calmed down and became the sweet, innocent anchorage we fell asleep in the night before.
Image: Top: is Isla Catalina with a dilapidated surf shack and lower three photos are neighboring islands with some serious surf and breakwater.
The next morning, we set our schedule as we periodically have to live by a timeline. We are trying to make our way to Gulfito without missing the many islands that lay between Panama and the Costa Rica border. Monica, Matt’s mom, is coming to visit us in northern Costa Rica in a few weeks. It is a little over 300nm from Isla Santa Catalina to Herradura Bay where we are meeting her. Technically, we could make that passage in 2-3 days, but we would miss dozens of lovely anchorages, beaches, and islands.
After we created a “soft” sail plan, we got Sugar Shack ready to head to Bahia Honda. A short 21-mile motor in really calm conditions, no wind, lots of birds and fish, and a few dolphins.
These dolphins always look like they are scratching their backs on the bottom of our bows. They seem so close. But, Matt said that our red bottom paint would come off on their silky skin (it’s ablative paint which means it is meant to come off easily but prevent growth). Since the dolphins had no red tattoos, I assumed they are just barely missing our boat.
As we entered the mouth of Bahia Honda, we were surprised by the tall, green, mountains that make up this beautiful and spacious bay. Image below: Top entering Bahia Honda (overcast day); Middle little island with trees speckled in white birds; Bottom surrounding islands.
As we were anchoring, a panga approached with an older gentleman and two kids. They politely stayed back until we set the anchor. Only then, did they approach our boat. His name was Domingo and the kids were his grandchildren. He wanted to welcome us to the bay, showed us where he lived, and told us that he has not seen many boats lately. He gave us a bunch of sweet finger bananas and a pineapple and asked for nothing in return. Of course, I scrounged around for school supplies for the kids and Matt gave him a few small fishing hooks.
Around 1500 another squall came through. At least we were already anchored and prepared, so Matt took advantage of the fresh water and washed off the deck and took a shower.
I love this shot of two of my new favorite bananas. The small one is a fingerling banana which is really sweet and the two large ones are plantains. Matt has become an expert at frying them in oil to perfection for a sweet treat after dinner.
Later in the afternoon, Kennedy stopped by. He is Domingo’s son and the father of the two kids we met the day before. He told us that he works for an American family across the bay and that they are part of the Bush family. Interesting. Kennedy has worked for the family for over 20 years. He was very nice and asked for a few items to trade as he said that everything is very expensive to bring in from Panama City and he’d prefer to trade for fruit. They were looking for children’s clothes, shoes, batteries, cooking oil, milk, and fishing hooks. Across the bay is Isla Bahia Honda where there is a small village, school and tienda (market).
The night was really calm and peaceful. This is a very tranquil bay, full of wildlife and sweet people. The next morning, we received another visitor, Santo who is Domingo’s other son. He was interested in trading his word work for batteries, jackets, shoes. At this point we are emptied out, not sure what we will do at the next stop.
After a few hours of cleaning, we pulled the hook and headed to our next stop.
COMING UP NEXT:
- Islas Secas
- Isla Parida
- Isla Gamez
- SUP adventures