Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

It is Thanksgiving Day in the States and though not a holiday in Panama we will be celebrating.

First, we want to thank our family and friends for being so supportive of our cruising dreams. We think of you daily and miss you. We are also thankful for all our loyal readers of this blog as well as those who take the time to stay in touch with us. We certainly appreciate the latest news from you as well as juicy gossip.

We left the last pirate hangout in Bluefields and made our way on Monday morning towards the next pirate hotspot – Portobello. The 140 mile trip took about 28 hours and wasn't the best passage. It started great with a good breeze to sail along with a current in our favor. We were making good time and the engine was off (yippee – saving fossil fuel $$ and making for a comfortable ride). Then the wind (which was forecast to stay coming from the west/northwest switched and ended up right on the nose for the last half of the trip. We first thought it was some local squalls causing the dramatic wind shift around 2200 (that's 10 pm), but it just lasted and lasted all the way into Portobello. The seas had a good 6 foot swell which wasn't bad, but when you added the wind chop from the opposite direction it was sloppy. But we made it into Portobello harbor around 1130 on Tuesday morning and found a spot. It's quite crowded in here as this is becoming quite the cruiser hangout. Just like in the olden days – this was a favorite pirate spot and the town of Portobello with its many forts was often looted, pillaged and plundered. So cruisers fit right in.

Our original plan was to head down to a group of islands Veraguas and then to the Chagras River. But all the rain that Panama has been getting over the last few weeks changed our plans. The Chagras is an outlet for the dam that holds the water into the Gatun Lake (for the Panama Canal). And when there is a lot of rain as there has been, they simply open the dam with absolutely no warning and let some water out. Now this massive amount of water running out of the river can create quite a current along with debris from trees and jungle. Many a sailboat has ended up thrown on shore, a reef or sandbar unable to cope with the sudden water surge. We decided it wasn't prudent to sit in the river and wait for this experience. Hopefully, we'll still make it to the River because the wildlife is supposedly magnificent. But we'll wait until after our haul-out in Colon for the new shaft.

So we opted for Portobello and here we sit. It's only about 20 miles from Colon so we'll have an easy run (weather permitting) into the marina for the haulout in early December. We also have phone and internet here so we can make our final arrangements for the work we need done.

Today, we'll get to enjoy a turkey dinner thanks to "Capt. Jacks" Jungle Bar. Jack is captain of the sailboat "Fantasy" (the boat built for that old TV show, Fantasy Island), and also owner of a hostel. Its the local cruiser hangout as well. He is hosting a potluck there today for Thanksgiving and our guess is that it will be packed based on the number of boats here. We are hoping to start to meet some folks who will also be going through the Canal and into the Pacific this season. We'll be bringing a green bean casserole "Patsy beans" and a chocolate cake "Astarte Decadence."

We wish all our family, friends and unknown readers a wonderful day. Be thankful for what you have. We certainly are!

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