Devils and Friends

Serenity of Swanwick
Phil and Sarah Tadd
Sat 25 Mar 2017 01:49

Firstly, the good news. An MRI scan of Sarah’s knee showed that there was no damage requiring surgery, so she has a prescription for anti-inflammatory drugs, and does not need to go back to the clinic again, so we have been able to start the process for transiting the Panama Canal.  On Tuesday the ‘Admeasurer’ came on board and filled in a lot of forms before measuring ‘Serenity’ with a good old-fashioned tape measure, and we now have a provisional date of 9th April for our transit.


Everything here moves to the rhythm of the canal.  To get from the marina, which is on the west side of Christobal, to Colon, on the east side, you have to cross the canal either over the locks, or by the ferry.  You can only use the locks at certain times of day, and may still have to wait for two or more ships to pass before you can cross.  The ferries are old and slow, there may be a queue three ferry loads long when you get there, and the ferries may also have to wait for ships going to the locks.  If you are lucky the drive to the shops at Cuatro Altos may take 45 minutes: if you hit the crossing wrong it may be one and a half to two hours.


Last Saturday the marina ran an excursion to the town of Portabelo , 20 miles away, to the Festival de Congos y Diablos. This celebrates the end of Spanish rule by chasing the Spanish Devils out of town.  We were picked up from the marina by a wonderful old bus, called a ‘chicken bus’ by the Americans and a ‘red devil’ locally.  Portabelo is a small town and was packed with visitors, and vendors selling street food.  The actual festival was more choreographed than we expected, taking place in an arena with a stage: we thought it would be more informal around the town, but it was entertaining with the devils, in amazing costumes with huge appliqué head dresses, being chased around the arena by music and whistles.  All very noisy.


Red Devil

On Board the Red Devil

Comfort Break at the home of Eduardo, who arranged the trip

Devils everywhere


Two boats we had met before were also in Portobelo for the Festival. We first met ‘Saga’ in Madeira, and ‘Bonnie af Stockholm’ in Santa Marta last month.  Rather than returning to the marina on the bus, we spent the night on ‘Saga’ in Portabelo, and then sailed back with them and ‘Bonnie’ the next morning.  We are now all moored on the same pontoon, in Shelter Bay, and will go through the canal within a few days of each other.