Escape from Panama

Sun 30 Mar 2014 16:44
00:59.969N 86:13.326W
I did'nt want to tempt fate and do the diary until I was sure we were past half way to Galapagos! 
It seems this time we succesfully made our escape and checked out of Panama on 21st March.  We topped up with fuel and water and motored over to the nearby island of Taboga to attempt to clean the weed and barnacles off the bottom of the boat.  Galapagos is extremely strict regarding entry requirements and it is required that any visiting yacht must have its hull inspected and will not be permitted unless it meets their standards, the boat is thoroughly inspected both inside and out so we had a lot of scraping and scrubbing to do (thanks Ros for the wonderful plastic scrapers you sent out, we could'nt have done it without them!).
2 days later we left Taboga and very very slowly sailed the 15 miles to the next island Isla Bona, luckily we had 1-1and a half knots of current with us and arrived 4 hours later in the lovely secluded bay which we had all to ourselves.  1st job was to clean the weed off the bottom of the dinghy with bleach, then Syd dived under the boat and de-barnacled the propeller and prop shaft - it was a very scary sight, in the 3 months since the boat had been out of the water, the propeller was covered in barnacles!  We were very suprised how cold the sea was. 
We left early next morning in windless conditions and spent the day motoring on a glassy sea the 85 miles to Punta Mala and decided that rather than carry on motoring we would stop in the surfing bay of Playa Venao and pick up internet and wind forecasts.
Next morning the wind was blowing, Syd picked up the latest forecasts and it was looking very good - 18 hours of Northerlies and a couple more days of North Easterlies which would get us nicely on the way.  Syd set up the spinnaker pole and boom for his tried and trusted twin headsail configuration and we were up and running.  We were amazed at the speed we left the bay and were actually on the way with the perfect 20 knot wind in the right direction.  The wind was behaving exactly as predicted and we clocked up an incredible 158 miles in our first 24 hours averaging 6.58 knots.
The rest of the journey has been variable with every sail configuration known to man coming into play - but we have kept sailing and after 10 hours of motoring last night and a very scary encounter with a ghostly trawler that did'nt show up on the radar, we are now gently drifting along at 3-4 knots, the sky is blue and our current stowaway is a large blue beaked booby who has taken up residence on the pulpet and has been preening and cleaning itself for the last 4 hours, it shamed us into taking our first shower of the journey!
Whilst I don't want to chance things by mentioning mechanical issues, we had a very worrying moment a few days out when the generator overheated - Syd disappeared to take it to pieces and I sat waiting to be summoned to jump into the water armed with a screwdriver to poke up the barnacle blocked inlet hole (never a dull moment!!!).  Syd appeared with a big grin and a sea strainer full of leaves!!!
We are hoping to arrive on the island of San Cristobel, Galapagos sometime on Tuesday, 1st April - Oh God isn't that April Fools Day!!!  I sincerely hope the joke is'nt we have gone round in a big circle and are back in Panama!   Oh yes, the bad news is our agent in Galapagos (it is necessary to apply for permision from Ecuador to visit the islands on a private yacht) has gone missing, I had a strange email in Spanish which sounded like he had done a runner to Africa (our Spanish has'nt improved much in the last 9 months but I hope that is'nt the case, otherwise the April Fool joke could be we can't stop!