The Prelude To The Pacific – Departing Panama
Thursday 12 March Nev here…I can’t believe we have checked-out of Panama, and will soon head to the South Pacific! It’s not hit me yet as to how much of an adventure this is about to be, but I’m sure it won’t take long!
While completing the formalities with Customs and Immigration, we were with our good friends, Ian and Ann, (pictured above) who have a boat called Tourterelle. We have buddy-boated with them for the last 18 months and will aim to leave together on Saturday, staying close-ish for the first 1,000 miles until we reach the trade winds somewhere south of Galapagos.
In line with our whole experience of Panama, check out was a breeze and the Port Captain was charming, wishing us a safe sail, but replacing a hand shake with a elbow bump!
We must have been two of the last boats to check out as, just 24 hours later, Panama stepped up its Coronavirus contingency plans, declared a state of emergency, and instantly stopped issuing clearance papers. No yachts allowed in nor out, so those that hoped to follow behind us, are in lock-down and unable to leave. We found it just staggering and shocking as we watch the world quite literally shutting down around us.
We wonder if, in 30 days’ time, we will even be allowed into French Polynesia, or will the islands there be closed to cruisers? So we’ve provisioned for 30 days at sea and an have plenty of extra supplies in case we have to sail further down the island group till we find an island group that allows visitors in. It’s an interesting and rather serious predicament. But one we are prepared for.
As we left Panama City, we noticed an unusual number of anchored tankers and container ships. A lot of vessels simply stopped in their tracks and unable to continue their journeys as they too face border controls and travel issues. Panama is on lock down.
The weeks leading up to this day have been stressful and we’ve been glad of a couple of days of rest and relaxation before we begin our next adventure. Two nights, anchored off one of Panama’s uninhabited islands where we can swim, paddle-board and enjoy some peace and quiet, while getting the boat ship-shape for the journey.
Sunset at Mogo Mogo, Las Perlas Islands, Panama
En route, we had a great sail, saw a whale and caught a fish for supper – happy days. As we put the anchor down, it was time to enjoy a sundowner or two – and we made the most of it – as from the moment we are on our way to the South Pacific, Two Drifters will be a dry boat! Now that equals a Doof Doof* moment!
* Doof Doof is a UK soap reference to a cliffhanger at the end of an episode! J
Total miles sailed: 33