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Date: 17 Aug 2009 17:44:32
Title: Bocas

Hello Friends                    "09:20.12N 82:14.80W"
 
As predicted, we did chill for another day at Escudo de Veraguas before continuing gently westwards on the remainder of our trip to Bocas del Toro. As we're south of the trade wind belt, it pays to wait until the wind is blowing where you want, so we had quite a good sail for a few hours before the wind headed us near our destination. Mind you, while teh wind was still good, we picked up a counter-current near the shore and were belting along at 9.5 knots over the ground, so the scenery was moving fast.
 
If you look at the google earth image of the area, you'll see that we are in an area of protected water, shielded from the Caribbean by a chain of islands. The official way in to Bocas is through the main channel to the NE of us here, but we decided to explore another way through, where the official charts show no water at all, or just damp mud. But we have the excellent Eric Bauhaus Panama Cruising Guide which uses a combination of satellite photos overlaid with chart data. So with moderate light and careful preparation, we picked our way in through the Crawl Cay channel between the reefs all around. Good practice for the Pacific atolls we thought.
 
We're now in the delightful Bocas del Toro which is a friendly and laid back town which is very gently going a little upmarket from its backpacker history. It has everything you need including helpful signs like "Happy Hour 3pm -9pm"...
 
 
We're in Bocas Marina for a few days and have got to know Darien and Dylan who run the 'Calypso Cantina' here. We took a sunday outing with them and Anne, the marina manager's wife, to Red Frog beach on the Caribbean side of Bastimentos Island and spent a great time bashing around in the surf and inspecting Red Frogs. The tiny frogs are as poisonous as their colour warns, but the Indian kids collect them in leaves and bring them along to you for photo purposes.
 
 
Another busy day at the beach then (actually there were a few others tucked into the corners, but not exactly overcrowded).
 
We spent the rest of the day eating and becoming slightly intoxicated at the cafe at Crawl Cay where we came through the reefs. The buildings here are built out over the water on piles, so you watch the tropical fish swimming under you as you eat and drink. I don't remember very much after that, but we did manage to photograph one of the Indian dugouts which ply these waters. These are made from a single tree and can be surprisingly large as you can see..
 
 
We understand that this was the weekend 'commuter run' bringing back the workers to Bocas Town after a weekend with their families.
 
Bocas has a great feel and we'll be happy to spend quite a bit of time here.
 
Which is handy, as George has booked a flight to the UK to make sure that everyone is behaving themselves. He's back in London from Sunday 23rd and returns to Panama on 11th September (the flights were cheaper on that day !!). George's mobile / cell number for the visit to the UK will be 07906 237 009.
 
Meanwhile Michael will be chilling in Bocas, so don't expect another blog too soon !
 
Best Wishes
 
George and Michael
 
 
 
 
 

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