La Playita, Panama City

Tue 25 Feb 2014 14:51
Bridge of the Americas, joining South and North America.

Once we'd gone through the last lock everything happened rather quickly. The pilot boat came and whisked Ivan off, we crossed over to Balboa Yacht club and the launch came alongside and our crew - many many thanks; Moon Dancer and Eric took the lines and tyres on and were gone! All of a sudden, after having had seven people on board we were back with just the two of us, and all was calm again. There were no moorings at the Yacht club so we pootled down the side of the channel along the Amador causeway, admiring the stunning skyline of Panama City to a little anchorage at the end, La Playita.  We had to think a moment when we anchored as the Caribbean side has hardly any tide, a couple of feet at most, but here it was like being back in the South of England - 15 ft tides and it was springs!

The floating dinghy dock at La Playita Marina, not quite low tide. 

Almost as soon as we got the hook down Bruce from Remi-De buzzed over in his dinghy to greet us and congratulate us on getting through- we really appreciated his smile and kind words. We tumbled shattered into bed that night but the next day we were up and out, doing our city jobs like getting Phil's glasses ordered, finding petrol (none in Shelter Bay) and two stroke oil, fan belts and replacement bulbs. We also found a lovely restaurant, Mi Ranchito, with good local food and music! The music here is great, a sort of mix between Scottish folk and Cajun, with Latino overtones:

It's a fascinating anchorage because you are in full view of the channel and can watch the comings and goings of all the big ships, the pilot boats, the ferries and all who supply them. At night there are so many ships at anchor to the South of us with so many lights that it looks like the land continues on from the causeway, almost all around us, it's only to the East that it's relatively clear, as that's where the channel lies.

All this boat movement doesn't seem to stop the sea life. Under our boat we saw a school of what looked like baby yellow fin tuna, and huge shoals of rays, little brown ones, about a foot across, can be seen in the anchorage in the evenings. They come up to the surface and stick just the tip of one wing out, and just stay there a while. I have no idea why. Perhaps they're playing at being sharks.

Phil's glasses surprised us by taking just 4 days to arrive so we were back to provisioning - all the fruit and veg and the cold stuff this time. Our friendly taxi driver, Luis, took us to the fruit and veg market, showing us the best places to go, making sure we were right. New friends from Aros Mear joined us, thanks to them for the two pictures below. 

Luis at the market.

We checked out. This caused some difficulty because the Immigration man decided that we didn't have the right stamp - our Kuna stamp wasn't good enough, we had to have a Pacific side stamp too, so we had to go and find the immigration office at the Albrook Airport. Luckily Luis looked after us brilliantly; finding us the right places and coming in with us to interpret if needed. 


Our boat now looks like a fruit and veg shop, and we're all set to go. First stop Las Perlas, then on to Galapagos. My only regret is that I didn't get to see a real live sloth!

The view of Panama city across the Amador causeway. The multicoloured building on the left is the yet to be completed Museum of Biodiversity.