Days 1 - 3
22nd -24th March
NOTE: yesterday's attempts to post the last 5 blog
updates covering our time before leaving Cartagena; our passage to Panama, the
San Blas islands and the Panama canal appear not to have been successful.
Hopefully when we post this the missing blogs will appear and in the correct
order. Otherwise our track may look a little erratic but we will have to look
into that some time in the future when we have Wi-Fi! That sounds like a long
way away right now!!
Anyway.... here we are in the Pacific ocean!
We finally completed all of our checking-out
formalities and crammed a few more bits on to the boat; including a final few
litres of water at around lunchtime on the 22nd March. Then we had a bit of
time stowing gear and getting the dinghy strapped down.
At around 3pm our friends Greg, Jan & Ed on SV
"Viridian" passed us in the anchorage and we waved our goodbyes. At 15.25 we lifted our anchor and motored out of the anchorage.
As usual the little mechanical log which measures distance and calculates boat
speed wasn't working. This is very common whenever we have been at anchor for a
while and Jamie went below decks to pull the paddlewheel that operates it from
the bottom of the boat and clean the fouling off it. I had steered us out
towards where all the big ships were laying at anchor, weaving between the
pilot boats that race from ship to ship at full speed. Finally we had the log
working and lifted full sails. Jamie was concerned about our boat speed and
felt we were sluggish; this raised two concerns, the first being that we were
overloaded with all the extra provisions, supplies, water etc. The second was
that we had more fouling under the boat than was ideal and it was slowing us
down. We had given Warrior a thorough scrub in the San Blas islands where the
water was clear enough to see to clean her keel and rudder but I knew from
cleaning the waterline in the anchorage at La Playita how quickly and how much
fouling had built up in the few short weeks since we anchored. We started to
consider if we should divert to the Las Perlas islands and give her another
clean but we were reluctant to delay our departure another day with a limited
window of good wind to get us over the equator. Fortunately after about an hour
things were feeling much better and Warrior was romping along. We decided it
was a combination of foul current and anxiety that had made her feel slow!
As we sailed away from Panama we enjoyed the most
incredible view looking back with a panoramic view taking in the stunning
Bridge of the Americas and the entire skyline of Panama City stretched out
behind us until it was all obscured by the enormous cargo ships we passed
idling at anchor. Yet again we found ourselves leaving a little piece of our
hearts in a wonderful place; and already planning our return.
Our first couple of hours we spent getting our
sails set and getting the spinnaker pole ready for "goose winging"
our sails (sailing with the main and headsails set on either side). We used the
last bit of phone signal to send messages to family and friends and we watched
the other two sailing boats on AIS as they gained ground ahead of us. One of
these, Viridian, was soon away and out of AIS range; her longer waterline
making her a much faster boat, it is unlikely we will catch them up now. The
second boat was a 46ft catamaran called Cinnamon and we stayed within approx.
11nm of them for the next few days eventually chatting on VHF radio on day 3
which was quite fun.
Apart from these sailing vessels there was much
large shipping to steer clear of; although most was operating within the
shipping lanes that we kept away from. Nevertheless we kept a very close watch
for the first 24 hours of our passage.
The first couple of nights were very dark with no
moon present but we enjoyed the clear starry sky and watching the spectacular phosphorous
bouncing in our wake. It seems to be a particularly bright and clear phosphorous
here. We noticed it one night whilst still at anchor when we rowed our dinghy
back and the phosphorous was like crisp underwater LED lights that literally
highlighted the outline of the boat and the oars. We had never seen anything
like it. Very different to the sparkling light-show effect that we had noticed
in the Atlantic waters. This same bold phosphorous followed in our wake for
these first nights on passage and compensated a little for the lack of moon
These first 3 days we have had excellent sailing
conditions. The winds have generally been force 4 to 5 but with gentle seas; so
far very different to the towering; rolling waves of the Atlantic. This has
made movement on-board much more comfortable and cooking and making hot drinks
has generally been a pleasure rather than the exhausting chore it can be in
We have kept a constant watch although we haven't
seen a vessel for nearly 48 hours now. Today the winds eased a little and we
launched our spinnaker "Old Meg"; the lightweight headsail that is
likely going to work very hard over the coming weeks.
The calm conditions have meant we have been able
to get a few jobs done on-board but generally we have been relaxing; reading,
puzzling and constantly checking on our fresh fruit and veg which seems to be
ripening at an alarming rate. We haven't been as impressed with the produce we
bought at the market in Panama as we were with the produce we set off across
the Atlantic with from the farmers market in Tenerife. Only time will tell but
I doubt we will be arriving into French Polynesia with much fresh left onboard
and I'm glad we loaded up with lots of tins!
Meep has been really chilled out and spends most
of his time snoozing in his little upturned crate. He came on deck yesterday
and spent hours snoozing under the sprayhood. Today he seems to prefer to stay
below decks. He seems to understand far better than previously what is going on
and isn't so obsessed with trying to climb on the back of the boat as he was on
previous passages. Despite this we keep him in a harness and attached to one or
other of us; or the boat, at all times when on deck and don't let him wander
above-decks unsupervised. He seems very happy though. Although three days out
and we haven't seen a flying fish yet which he is bitterly disappointed about!
As I write this we have just seen our first
dolphins of the passage. A large and excitable pod that put on quite a flying
display for us although didn't come too close to the boat. We could see them
leaping and playing off our beam though. We saw a large pod of dolphins a week
or so back when we went to fill our diesel tanks at the marina; they came right
up to the boat and I commented to Jamie on how big they were. These guys seemed
to be very big too as they caught my eye quite a way off. I think this species
of dolphin may be bigger than their Atlantic cousins.
That's probably about all for now. We will keep
posting regular updates and dropping the coordinates so that you can see how we
are getting on. So far all is good and we are enjoying our time aboard. There
is a very magical feeling setting off with everything you need onboard and no
fixed deadline to arrive; just being pulled along by the wind and listening to
the water tinkling along the hull.
We hope everything is just as peaceful wherever