Back to Panama

Tags: Chagres River, Fort San Lorenzo, Panama, Shelter Bay Marina

Date: February 2, 2022

In mid-January we returned to Panama to launch Amanda and finally do some sailing.

This is Amanda in the storage yard with the truck trailer in front of it, ready to transport it to the launch site:

The truck and trailer with Amanda:

Amanda in the crane, right before the splash:

The launch went fine, we went to the diesel dock to get fuel and then moved to our assigned berth in the marina. The next day we took the marina shuttle bus to the supermarket in Colón to stock up the boat for sailing. Right up until this point everything was going mostly as planned but then Félicie woke up with mild cold symptoms and was tested positive for Covid-19. So we went into isolation on the boat for ten days, according to the rules in Panama at the time. Félicie had mild symptoms for 2-3 days while Bjarne never tested positive or had any symptoms. The upshot of this was that Bjarne had plenty of time to do all sort of small and large projects on the boat, even some that usually never get done because they're not essential and we'd rather go sailing. He made a list of the things he'd done with more than 30 entries!

Once we came out of isolation we got really busy with finishing everything to go sailing, but also socializing with other sailors. We also hiked a trip out to the old Spanish fort, San Lorenzo el real de Chagres, founded in the late 1500s to protect the entrance to the River Chagres. The river is deep and navigable and went far inland in Panama so up until the Panama canal was built it was important for connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific side of the American continent.

The fort was founded in 1595 but was repeatedly sacked by pirates — among others by Captain Henry Morgan — and the British Navy. What stands now is the latest rebuilding of the fort which took place between 1761 and 1768.

Turret overlooking the moat:

The moat:

Storage tunnel under the main building:

Ruins of the barracks building

View of the entrance to the Chagres river:

The moat and the passageway between the half-moon shaped defensive lunette to the left and the central fort to the right:

The entrance gate to the fort:

The lunette with cannons protecting the fort from attacks from land:

The obligatory Félicie-next-to-a-cannon picture:

A southern lapwing:

Picture of Fort San Lorenzo taken from the Chagres river. The central gate on top of the main building and the barracks are visible:

On the 9 km hike from the fort back to Shelter Bay Marina we saw quite a few animals, most notably a northern tamandu, which is a kind of anteater:

The tamandu was perched on a dead tree trunk and was pulling it apart with its claws and mouth to get to the ants or termites living in the trunk:

It would crawl up and down, curling its tail around the trunk to hold steady while eating: