Heading to Panama

Tags: Cayo Culebra, Mexico, Panama, sailing

Date: May 7, 2021

Due to the Covid-19 epidemic, we ended up spending a long time in Mexico, but in the spring of 2021, we decided that it was time to move on to Panama. Our first job was to make sure that Amanda was up for the job, so we did a short trip to spend a few nights in the Sian Ka'an natural reserve south of Puerto Aventuras.

Felicie is packing for the trip:

We anchored off an uninhabited island called Cayo Culebra. One day we did a trip to the mangroves in our dinghy:

We even brought lunch:

On the way back to Puerto Aventuras, we anchored behind a reef off Punta Allen:

You can see our awning which works great for shading the boat to keep it cool on sunny days.

Apart from the wind sensor, everything worked great, so after fixing that, we were good to go. We chose to leave at the end of April because it is before the start of the hurricane season. Panama is far enough south that they don't have hurricanes, but we wanted to be sure not to be hit by one on the way. Another aspect of the timing is that Panama has their rainy season from mid May to December, so we could just make our trip before the heavy rains set in.

Here is our route:

It was a pretty long trip of almost 900 nautical miles. The trade wind almost always blows from the East, so we knew that the biggest challenge would be the headwinds and current against us. This turned out to be true. The wind was quite weak for most of the trip, which sounds nice enough, but with 1.5 knots of current against us, tacking against the rather weak wind was slow going. The waves were still big enough for it to be uncomfortable.

A nice sunset on the way:

The trip ended up taking 12 days with headwinds for the whole trip except the last three. Here we are approaching Panama with many large ships anchored off the entrance to Bahia de Limón:

This is the bay where our destination marina is, but it is also the bay with the entrance to the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal.

Here is the Puente Atlántico where the canal begins:

Instead of going straight to the canal, we made a right turn and headed for Shelter Bay Marina.