Intermezzo departed from Marina Chiapas around 1400 this afternoon, destination the Panama Canal. On board is the ever-faithful Roy and two additions to the crew, John and Kim who I will introduce soon in an upcoming post. We have about a thousand nautical miles to sail with only a few overnight rest stops along the way. We should reach the Pacific entrance of the canal around April 15th.
We are presently off the coast of Guatamala, heading for Bahia Elena, a national park in northern Costa Rica, very close to the Nicaraguan border. It should take us about four days to get there. My daughter Hannah and I anchored in this big beautiful bay back in May 2016. We ventured on land for a short walk but were chased back to the water by mosquitos.
From Bahia Elena, we'll head to Golfito, at the other end of Costa Rica, to refuel and have a rest. Then it's on to the canal, with a stop at one of Panama's nearshore islands along the way.
When we get to the entrance to the canal, we fill out all the paperwork and pay all the fees required to transit the canal and then get in line. According to the shipping agent handling our canal passage, the current waiting time for yachts is six to nine days after receiving approval from the authorities. That should get us to the Atlantic side of the canal towards the end of April.
The weather is forecast to be calm with light winds until we get to the Golfo de Papagayo and reach the strong winds that often blow there. We sailed along nicely this afternoon on a close reach after leaving Puerto Chiapas, but the wind died at dinnertime and we've switched on an engine. The 720 nm to our refueling stop in Golfito is beyond our motoring range for the amount of fuel we're carrying, so we are going to need some wind to make it there. Of course, we have a backup plan to pick up fuel if we need to, but that would require formerly clearing into Nicaragua or Costa Rica, something I would like to avoid. (I've been able to pick up fuel in Golfito in the past without officially clearing in, but Costa Rica's other ports are more strict.)
It's good to be on the water again on my Intermezzo. This leg has started off with a different feel for me, one of resolve and purpose, perhaps a little less lighthearted. With more crew on board, the responsibilities of being captain of the boat weigh on me a bit too, not unpleasantly but I can feel it, especially on this first day at sea when there is a lot of orientation to do.