Friday, May 10, 2019

Leaving Panama

May 5
Shelter Bay Marina

I flew back to Panama from California yesterday, met Intermezzo's new crew member Josh at the airport. We shared an Uber back to Shelter Bay Marina where we met up with Roy who has been enjoying adventures in Panama City while I've been away. Rainy season definitely started here while I was gone; it has rained every day and we haven't seen the sun yet.

Today we topped up the fuel tanks, officially cleared out of Panama, took the long, bumpy taxi ride into Colon and back to shop for provisions and now we're ready to slip our lines tomorrow morning.

This leg of The Voyage takes us from Panama to Isla Mujeres, lying off the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Our first stop will be the remote Colombian island of Providencia, a two-day sail from here. We may make another stop at the Cayman Islands, but the wind is looking good for a direct sail to Isla Mujeres and every sailor I've spoken to has told me the Caymans are nothing special and expensive. So, unless the crew has a strong desire to make a second stop, I expect we'll take advantage of the winds and sail straight through from Providencia. The whole passage should take us 10 days of sailing, plus two to four rest days, depending on wether we stop at the Caymans or not.

Light winds are forecast for the first day out, so we'll probably be motoring with small waves on our beam. Then it looks like the winds will build and we'll be able to sail on a beam reach the rest of the way to Isla Providencia.  Of course, I am very skeptical of "weather suggestions" after the last leg!  When we leave Providencia, stronger winds and larger seas are forecast but both should be on the beam or behind, veering southward as we progress until the last days of the passage when we may actually be sailing downwind!  Again, I am avoiding attachment to such suggestions.

Shelter Bay Marina has been an enjoyable, if expensive, place to spend some time. It is a cosmopolitan crossroads of sailors, French, British, Australian, Kiwis, Austrian, Swedish, American, Canadian, and more. Most are transiting to the other end of the canal to sail to the South Pacific. Most of the sailors heading in the other direction have already left; we're laggers, but I'm glad I purposefully delayed so that winds would shift southward as meteorologists suggest they do.  Now, I just hope there aren't any early season hurricanes when we get to the East Coast USA!

Prior to leaving for California, I met a very interesting and mindful young man, Adam Holm, from Sweden. He recently finished filming a documentary about indigenous people who live the Colombian desert. He's now trying to make his way back to Sweden without using any fossil fuel. He walked the docks of Shelter Bay Marina diligently for weeks, trying to find a ride on a sailboat to Europe, living in an abandoned church nearby. We had a very nice conversation about life, philosophy, spirit, freedom...he was exactly who I needed to meet when I met him. I'm happy to learn that he finally found a ride!  Adam chronicles his life and journey using audio and video media rather than my old-fashioned writing. You can view his latest video blog post on YouTube here. I consider him a kindred spirit, a brother adventurer. I hope our paths cross again. (I'll bet they do!)

I let go of dream while in California, left a big part of my past where it belongs. Now to move forward onto a blank canvas, feeling a bit empty having no dream and old wants and habits diminishing, with nothing to replace them. Difficult, but exactly as it should be.

Shelter Bay Marina - the start of rainy season in Panama
Crew for Leg 4 of The Voyage - Roy and Josh

Adam swimming in the mangroves of Panama - not sure if he knew about the crocodiles