Isla Linton - Panama 09 36.77N 079 35.27W

Mike and Liz Downing
Wed 27 Jan 2010 13:18
A day hop of 46 miles from the San Blas to Isla Linton, 25 miles east of the Canal. Isla Linton is a small uninhabited island covered in rain forest very close to the mainland (also covered in rain forest) with a sheltered anchorage behind it and we had a quiet night.
Leaving the San Blas was interesting! A couple of days earlier we discovered that the big rubber pipe between the engine and the muffler/silencer looked like it was about to split in one spot. The pipe wall had collapsed and when the engine was running the rubber pulsated just like a heart beating and looked like it was about to burst. The San Blas is not the place to take things apart, so we made a temporary repair using a flexible gasket sealer, layers of tin foil and a lot of duct tape to hold it all together (everything except sticky backed plastic!). As a result we only wanted to use the engine in an emergency and so planned to tack out of the San Blas channel. When raising the anchor, we suddenly spotted a block of flats the other side of one the islands (Porvenir) where we were anchored. It was a cruise ship heading for the channel. It was the first time we had seen one in this area and it was doing 17 knots, not something to tack in front of! So we waited half a hour for it to arrive and go down the channel and then headed off. The wind was west of north, so once we had tacked out of the San Blas channel (it took forever!) we were close hauled all the way, with winds around 20kts and a bleak, swelly lumpy sea, quite a lot of which came onboard and ran down the decks. So much for the downwind sail we thought we would get! Oh, the sky was grey and it rained on and off. The only good point was that we were doing 7 to 8kts and made up all the time we lost tacking out. With the wind west of north, the swell was onshore which made it interesting getting in here without the engine. We did use it once behind the island to anchor and the repair did hold up. So, so far so good. We will need to use it today to leave and get in the other end, so fingers crossed!
We are seeing lots of ships as we get closer to the Canal. Using AIS on the chartplotter to show the entrance to the outer harbour, they look like bees round a honey pot. We're hoping to head for Shelter Bay marina which is on the west side of the harbour, in a national park - lots of rain forest and wildlife so we are told. We hope so and we hope we can get in or anchor outside.