New Year's Eve and sailing to Darien

Tags: Darien, Panama, Panama City, sailing

Date: January 9, 2023

We spent New Year's Eve anchored off Panama City next to Avenida Amador, the causeway that connects Panama City to the island Isla Flamenco. The causeway is very popular during the evenings and on weekends. People go to enjoy the palm trees and sea views, the bars and restaurants, a view of the large ships going in or coming out of the Panama Canal or just to cruise back and forth in their car. It is also the place to go on New Year's Eve to set off fireworks and look at the fireworks. From our anchorage we had premium seats:

We stayed close to Panama City for a few days into the new year, so we could get laundry done and stock up on food. We then went off to the Islas Perlas, an archipelago with dozens of islands about a day's sail from Panama City. From there we went off towards Darien, the Panamanian province next to the Colombian border on the Pacific side of Panama.

Our crossing from Islas Perlas to Darien happened on an almost windless day and we saw lots of marine life and birds on the way.

Something we have never seen before to this extent are large schools of small fish whipping up the surface of the water in an attempt to escape some larger fish chasing them from below while pelicans, boobies, frigate birds and other marine birds pick them off from above.

Due to the calm sea conditions, the patch of stirred up water is clearly visible and we even caught a few of the larger fish jumping out of the water:

At times the surface of the water was like glass, here reflecting a juvenile brown booby flying just above the water surface:

That booby wasn't just passing by our boat. It decided to try to land on the anchor. It took several aborted tries before it finally was able to land:

It sat there for a good half hour and was not the least afraid of us when we approached it to get a better picture. It did not find it very easy to balance on the anchor and once or twice when a small wave lapped at the boat it had to use its wings to avoid falling off:

While we were both standing looking at the booby on the anchor a small pod of pantropical spotted dolphins swam along with the boat for a while:

Due to the calm conditions we were able to get some good, clear shots of them through the water surface:

Only the older individuals of these spotted dolphins actually have spots while the younger ones a more uniformly colored. Thus, these two are probably quite young:

A young one and an older one:

Another older individual with lots of spots:

Our boat booby is watching the dolphins, too:

Three brown pelicans taking a break from fishing:

Several local fishing boats appeared as we got near Darien: