30.03.2013 Panama (Atlantic Coast)

Sat 30 Mar 2013 00:00

30.03.2013 - Day 12

Arrived Isla Grande on. Isla Grande is a holiday resort for Panamanians. It
is very lively at the moment due to the Easter Holidays.

We read in the pilot book that the island next to Isla Grande is full of
monkeys so we decided to go and check it out. We had also read that the
monkeys are very friendly until people decide to leave when they become
upset and can bite so we knew to approach with caution.
Pretty much immediately when we arrived on the island, a monkey came
straight over to us. This monkey was walking on it's two back legs with it's
tail and arms in the air and it's mouth wide open! It was almost as tall as
us with it's arms in the air. Anyway it took a shine to Sproggy and
proceeded to grab her and try to climb onto her. It was funny at first but
when it wasn't backing off I think we were all starting to worry. When it
realised we didn't have any food, it left Sprogs alone and decided to check
out the dinghy we had left on the beach! As we walked back to the boat, the
monkey became interested in Sproggy again, and her camera case. We are now
all worried the monkey is going to bite someone as it has seen we are about
to leave so we are moving as slowly as we can and Paul is standing by near
sprogs ready to boot this thing if it starts playing up. We managed to get
away! Phew - it is hilarious looking back on it now but I think we were all
scared of what could happen as this monkey was quite big and not very shy!!

We then went ashore to explore and buy some basics and everyone was partying
in the streets - great atmosphere but there wasn't anywhere hygienic looking
enough to have dinner.

31.03.2013 - EASTER SUNDAY - Day 13
Today we woke up to find Debs had given us all Easter Cards and little
baskets with choccie treats in them as our Easter gifts! She was also
cooking a Full English for everyone for breakfast so it had been a great
start to the day!

As we were all about to tuck into our delicious breakfast. We spotted a mast
coming towards the front of our boat at quite high speed! We all ran to the
front of the boat, grabbed the fenders as fast as we could to push this
METAL boat off and away from us! The other boat's anchor chain had snapped,
and their engine cut out so the wind had pushed them into the front of ours.
There is a bit of damage to the front of our boat which needs to be sorted
when we get to the other side of the canal but it was big shock to everyone
and the worst thing was that it ruined our delicious Easter Sunday Brekkie!

1.04.2013 - Day 14
Today we sailed to Portobelo which used to be the biggest Spanish port in
this part of the world and where Francis Drake's lead coffin was dumped in
the sea. We had a look around the town. There is a really old fort with all
the canons still in place the old customs house which would have been an
impressive building in it's day. The town is very quiet now with not much
going on, apart from a load of vultures hanging around, but we did find a
restaurant/bar called Captain Jacks set up by an american for travellers and
cruisers looking for somewhere to eat and hang out. It was in lovely
surroundings with hummingbirds flying around. We all had a really tasty
lunch here.

2.04.2013 - Day 15
Sailed to Colon, the entrance to the Panama Canal! Here we stayed in a
marina called Shelter Bay. We read that Colon is not the safest place in the
world, and it definately isn't the prettiest, however the marina is well
kept, right next to the jungle and a US Army base with helicopters landing
and taking off throughout the day. Lynsey learnt some of the rope techniques
for coming alongside marina berths today which has made her a bit nervous
for the canal transit, but with a bit more practice she will be fine. We are
staying here for three days and hope to confirm our canal transit date while
we are here.

3.04.2013 - Day 16
The boat needed a good clean today. Started to buy provisions for the
Pacific passage - milk, juice and booze! We met up with an Aussie chap
called Simon who Tony had met previously in Cartagena and we ended up having
a few drinks with him on his boat in the evening. His boat is called Skimpy,
registered in a place called Bikini, so this guy has invested a load of
money and designed a range of bikinis called 'Skimpy Bikini'! Charlie and I
bought a couple off of him as it was such a random thing to do we just had
to have them!

4.04.2013 - Day 17
As Deb left to go home very early this morning, the cooking is now down to
me and Charlie so today we made a list of all the food we need for the next
couple of weeks and went and bought it, as well as bulky items for the long
Pacific passage! It was quite an eventful journey to the Supermarket but we
made it back alive, in the dark and were not arrested in the end so it was a
good result at the end of the day ;-)
Although I think Arn and Paul grew a few grey hairs while we were gone!

5.04.2013 - Day 18
Today we spent the day doing odd jobs to the boat and a bit of housework to
get it ready. We went into Colon town for a look (we didn't get out of the
car) and had a coffee. Tomorrow we will be leaving Shelter Bay to go up the
Chagres River for an explore.

6.04.2013 - Day 19
Chagres River - This river cuts into the Panamanian jungle and is very deep
so are able to sail all the way up it to the dam that links up to the canal.
We have been informed that the river is infested with Crocs, but that didn't
stop Paul and Charlie from having a go on the wakeboard!!!
After dinner, when it was pitch black, we went out in the dinghy to looks
for crocs. If you shine your torch on the banks you can see their red eyes
reflecting back. Most of the ones we saw disappeared by the time we got near
them, but we did see a baby croc - just didn't know how close by mummy was!

7.04.2013 - Day 20
Today I have finally got around to writing this blog! I will try and make
future posts a bit more exciting! Today we have spent the day here on the
Chagres River still completing all our jobs to get the boat ready for the
Pacific. We go through the canal tomorrow at 3pm which we are all very
excited about.

It is very quiet and pretty here on the river with occasional sounds of
howler monkeys! Tonight we will stay here again and move back to Shelter Bay
marina to meet the Canal agent to collect ropes and fenders.