position N09 22 033 W79 57 061

Ocean Rival Journey Log
Adam Power Diana Power
Fri 17 Jun 2016 03:53

Tues evening 15 June.

Looks like shelter bay marina will do O.K. 
We blew gently along from our island anchorage yesterday and entered the Colon harbour through the eastern gap in the long harbour wall. Lots of large ships at anchor outside the harbour and many more smaller ships anchored inside the wall but it is a massive harbour so no problem finding a route through to the far western corner of the harbour where shelter bay is located. It is a natural lagoon ideally suited for anchorage and now  filled with a fair sized marina with nice solid concrete topped pontoons and substanial fingers which move hardly at all as you alight. It looks busy but there are plenty of spaces and we were directed to the last but one pontoon, where the smaller 40' yachts reside (I initially chose the 50' pontoon with ideas above my station).

The boats here are generally in rather better condition than many of those at anchor in Portebelo or Isla Linton where it seemed that quite a few yachts had been left and forgotten, hulls and tattered sail covers
turning an unhealthy shade of green.

We are among a selection of mostly american, a couple of german and some unidentified nationalities. Most seem to be waiting to transit the canal but others using the marina as a base from which to explore the San Blas. A german engineer is using a yacht as accomodation while working on a cable stayed bridge that is being constructed over the 2 canals at the  Colon end. Currently the road access from here to Colon is via a ferry.

The 2nd canal is due to be opened in a couple of weeks. Final testing of the locks with a big ship currently underway.

Today we took the free bus into Colon and checked out the shopping mall. It has been impressed on us that one shouldn't wander freely around the town for sake of ones safety. On whim I asked a taxi driver if he could direct me to a car hire office- the driver didn't understand my request but a 2nd taxi pulled up and asked using very good english if he could help . He told me to wait while he dropped his passengers then took me round a selection of car hire firms and helped with the offices. We had reconciled to taking a taxi from marina to airport but for a similar fee a hire car would give a some freedom to explore and sort out imigraton papers which we heard can be an expensive taxi operation. The friendly taxi driver then showed me the way back to the marina which I would no doubt have had trouble finding.

We made use of the car this afternoon by taking a ride in the rain to Fort San Lorenzo which is a little further up the coast on the point of Rio Chagres.  After a bumpy ride through thick forest along a potholy road and being relieved of $10 on route the forest opened up and a lovely grassy clearing dotted with Mango trees signalled the fort. Only as you cross the clearing do you gradually realise the scale of the fort on the edge of the cliff  with its deep dry moat and countless canon positions. The spanish were very keen to protect this stretch of coast and the gold route across the istmus but Francis Drake, Henry Morgan and then Edward Vernon all succeeded in taking the fort at different times with massive loss of life.

The sounds of the forest while we explored the fort were almost frightening at times as calls of  the howler monkeys seemed to chase us round the moat and bring to mind the sounds of marauding bloodthirsty pirates.

We need to get our imigration papers sorted in Colon tomorrow (apparently a stressful process) and if time after explore the canal visitor centre.