Bocas Del Toro to Colon
On Monday 18th Jan we headed back up from Crawl Bay towards Bocas Town and planned to stay a few days. We stopped off at a remote anchorage and had a peasant night completely on our own.
On Tuesday we took the opportunity to get 3 Gas tanks filled and expected this to take up to the following Monday. In fact it took until Wednesday 28th January to get our Gas tanks back, but it was very cheap.
We immediately set off for Crawl Cay to join up with Peregrina. On Thursday we sailed to Laguna de Bluefield, a small island 20 miles south-east of Crawl Cay, which is named after a Dutch Pirate. It was fairly choppy in the bay so we didn’t get the expected snorkelling, but it was very pretty.
Peregrina heading past us to get out of the choppy seas.
On Friday we sailed to an uninhabited island, Escudo de Veraguas, which is reckoned to be one of the most scenic islands in Panama. The wind direction made the anchorage very uncomfortable and on Saturday morning we decided to set off for Colon, accepting that we would arrive at the harbour in the dark. Pete and Margie were less affected by the choppy sea and stayed on during the day to explore the island. We arrived at the breakwater entrance to the canal at midnight and anchored inside the harbour in a remote corner.
Early on Sunday morning we left the harbour and sailed back 8 miles west to the Chagres River, arriving about an hour before Pete & Margie. The entrance was quite challenging as the channel is pretty narrow and twists round some reefs, however we both managed without incident.
The entrance to Chagres River.
Motoring up the river.
Peregrina coming to join us in Chagres.
Peregrina backing the anchor in.
In the afternoon we took the dinghy up the Chagres river and quickly realised we should have anchored further up the river as it was 6-7 miles up to the famous dam. This is the dam that was built 100 years ago to create the Gatun lake which forms a large part of the canal and provides the water for the locks. It was a really nice trip through the rain forest, although we were surprised how little wildlife we saw. Later in the evening we could hear lots of Howler Monkeys and lots of birds, but not see most of them. On the way back to the boats we visited the Fort San Lorenzo at the entrance to the river. It was very impressive, with lots of cannons still in place.
Posing for the essential photo.
Exploring one of the creeks.
A tree stretching out from the rain forest to get some light.
Looking up river from the fort. Our boats are way up the river and can just be seen.
The impressive fort remains.
A lovely calm Monday morning on the Chagres River.
On Monday morning we went back to the Canal entrance and anchored at Club Nautico, where there is easy access to a fairly safe part of Colon and to the offices where you have to arrange the transit and the bank where you have to pay the fee (in cash). It costs just under $1000 plus you have to pay a bond of just over $800, which you get back about 4 weeks after the transit, minus any bank charges.
We spent the next week shopping, filling up with diesel and getting ready for transiting the canal.