Catch up...........Portobello to Shelter Bay, Colon, Panama
After a cracking sail to Portobello it was time to be
re-united with the rest of the BWR fleet. It had been several weeks since we
had all assembled in one place. So after a bit of sight seeing we all got
together for lunch and a rally briefing for the
We had anchored on the north side of the bay about a mile distant from the town itself. A very peaceful spot, with very good holding in deep water.
We were once again entertained by flocks of Pelicans and Frigate birds, plus the sight of a couple of Panamanian Eagles.
Interestingly, some of those who anchored off the town soon learned the hard way that the holding is not good. Much excitement once the wind got up!
Portobello is a fascinating place steeped in history and full of spectacular contrasts.
Portobello in the 17th and early 18th Century was the main storage depot for the Spanish Gold and Silver that was being plundered from the whole of South & Central America by the Spanish conquistadors. The picture above is of the customs house, which was the main store house and it is surrounded by forts on both side of this natural harbour.
It was by its very nature a magnet for Buccaneers and Pirates, such as Sir Frances Drake and Henry Morgan who attacked it on a regular basis and indeed Henry Morgan famously stormed it with 460 men and took the city and held it to ransom. There is in fact an Island off the entrance the harbour which is called Drake Island because Drake died in Portobello and is reputed to have been buried at sea just off this large rocky outcrop.
It is hard to imagine the wealth that was transported from
This is a sad place. Whilst they have a stunning set of antiquities and ruins, it is badly neglected and there is extreme poverty and squalor here. The way the locals look at you does not make for a warm comfortable feeling………….
Right next to the ruined castle, adjacent to the Customs House, are shacks made from rough breeze blocks, corrugated iron sheets and PVC plastic. All unfinished. There were dogs every where, but virtually no cats. So it has got something going for it………………………………
On the other hand, the restaurant some 2 miles out of town,
on the southern foreshore was a spectacular setting above the water in the bay.
We had a splendid lunch and it was fun participating in the briefing and
joining in, in the repartee once more. Some of the Ralliers got a little
tired and emotional at the “do” and ended up playing football with
the local children in the market square. This of course had to end in tears and
the oldest participant in the fleet, Pat aged 74, fell over and fractured his
wrist. This was a good wake up call for the rest of us. But bad news for Pat,
who has now had to be flown back to the
The local transportation is colourful, if a little uncomfortable…………….
This bus is the main form of transport for the locals, and
is the link to
After our arrival in Shelter Bay marina, which was the old
Fort Sheridan, AKA the US Army military HQ, when the American’s owned
the Panama Canal. We had the “pleasure”
of a trip into down town
All very sad really, because this was a thriving spot at the turn of the 19th Century, when the canal was being constructed. There are some lovely art deco buildings that are just falling down amongst all the squalor. It is just crying out for some TLC. But the local monthly wage is $400 for a typical family of four, so there is little money to go round, especially as there is around 50% unemployment.
Then there is the canal itself. This is a truly magnificent example of mans ability to triumph in adversity. So much so it deserves a chapter all on its own………………….