The Run to Panama

16 Mar

Tayana 37 Offshore

Rachel and I schemed to make the 110 mile run from Santiago De Cuba to Port Antonio, Jamaica, over night. We made excellent time, arriving 10 miles offshore around 4 in the morning and sitting hove-to until around 7. I always get nervous about landfalls. Something about all that land being so close after having the open expanse of ocean around me for days. Even with two  sets of electronic charts and a small scale passage chart to reverify my position, I still never quite trust what everything is telling me. I need to see it with my own eyes.

We motored into Port Antonio and tied up to the marina dock around 9AM. The entire port is owned by the Jamaican Port Authority and is quite pleasant. Its $12.50 a day for a mooring and that includes use of the marina’s facilities. What’s more they have a nice fuel dock with diesel for $2.50 a gallon. We filled up our tank as the next diesel stop won’t be till Shelter Bay, some 600 miles to the southwest.  

We spent 4 days in Jamaica enjoying the local food and figuring out how to eat a bunch of new tropical fruit that we had never seen before. We also soaked up a fair amount of internet and caught up on some work. By the time Thursday rolled around it was looking like the best departure date would be Saturday because a few days later another cold front was predicted to sweep down and raise the winds to 25 knots. Yes, we’re still having to deal with these damn North American frontal passages that have hounded us since setting off from Portsmouth in November. We left Saturday afternoon after a midmorning downpour. We sailed east along the beautiful Jamaican coast and approached the eastern tip of the island nation by sunset. Helped by a 2.5 knot current the lights of Kingston quickly faded into the northern horizon. The 560 mile trip to Panama was the stuff of trade wind lore, 15 knots aft of the beam, screaming along under a poled out genoa and a reefed main (to ease the rolling). The boat was making fantastic time surfing down the swells coming thundering off the Columbian coast – I saw 10.4 knots for the first time ever one evening. We messed around with the Cape Horn wind vane, finally getting it to work well. I also put together a list of parts I will need to bring back in May to remove the rake out of the rig and fix the weather helm issue we’ve been having with the boat.

Our planned arrival was at Porvenir, San Blas. Here the customs and immigration is run by the Kuna Natives and is more laid back than the station in the Canal Zone. We arrived around 1:00pm after yet another nerve racking landfall (the ree fs around this region claimed 12 boats last season, the published charts are inaccurate). After paying $463 for customs, immigration, and fees to the Kuna Congreso, we were cleared in for an entire year. We upped anchor and moved over to Punta San Blas for some much needed R&R. Being in Panama is surreal. When we were refitting the boat outside Baltimore, Central America seemed so far away and sometimes completely out of reach. Now, over two thousand miles later the first major destination of the trip has been reached. Our expectations and goals for the trip are evolving as well. The more you cruise, the more you realize how much cruising there is to be done in each new place you visit. More on that next time.

-LC 

*sorry for the lack of photos, we have the cell phone in a bag up the rig to get service. we then turn the phone into a hotspot to be able to post. For some reason its not playing nice with wordpress and won’t let me upload. 

This article was syndicated from Cruising – Beautiful Crazy Happiness

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