Day 135, Year 1: Voyage of Windbird Phase II
Date: Wednesday, March 1, 2006
Weather: Partly Sunny, Enough Wind to Sail
Air Temperature: 79 degrees F
Water Temperature: 67 degrees F
Latitude: 08 degrees 37 minutes
Longitude: 79 degrees 01 minutes
Location: Contadora, Las Perlas Islands, Panama

We started our day early by heading into the Balboa Yacht Club at 0645 via the launch to pick up blocks of ice that Roosevelt, the taxi driver, had promised to bring us. He was right on time and had two big hunks of ice for our on deck cooler. We use this cooler for storage during passages-after the ice has melted. While we have ice, we can store extra vegetables and drinks in the cooler to extend our fresh food life. We have had a very large Igloo aboard since leaving Boston, but while in Panama City, we bought a much smaller Igloo to give us more aft deck working space. This morning we took the bigger cooler to the dock and figured someone would want it. Actually Roosevelt jumped at the chance to get the cooler. When he looked at it, he just said, “Beach party!” We hope he enjoys it.

I stayed on shore while Mark took the ice out to the boat. I had to send Panama pictures to our son Justin so he can get them on the website and I knew this morning would be my last internet connection until we reach the Galapagos. About 0830, Mark came back to get me and we headed down the long Balboa Yacht Club dock to catch the launch back to Windbird. We had been there almost two weeks and it was beginning to feel like home-definitely a sign that it is time to move on. But we met some great people that we hope to see along the way in the Pacific.

By 0900, we were headed out into the Pacific. I called this log, Phase II, as that is how it feels. We completed our trip from Boston through the Caribbean, and now we are beginning the second phase of our adventure in the Pacific. Fitting that it was the first day of a new month for the first day of Phase II. We headed down the long line of channel markers for boats coming into and out of the Panama Canal. The causeway that begins with the Bridge of the Americas continues past the Balboa Yacht Club and follows the channel out into the Pacific. We had a fantastic view of Panama City to our port and huge numbers of cargo ships at anchor in front of us awaiting Canal transit. We worked our way through the maze of big ships, through an area of water littered with trash, and then through another area of water where a red tide was in full bloom. Rusty red clouds of algae billowed beneath us. We were motoring, with Aqua Magic and another boat from the marina behind us.

While things were calm we each did some work on the boat. Mark polished some stainless and I took advantage of the light winds to spray water proofing on the dodger and bimini – canvass that provides us with shade in the cockpit.

Eventually we came to clear water and a fantastic breeze. We had about 20 knots on the beam and were able to sail the rest of the way to Contadora in the Las Perlas islands. We arrived here around 1600 and were pleasantly surprised by clear waters. We had heard on the weather net that the water here was greenish brown and murky from the algae bloom, but evidently it has moved on. We were especially pleased to see Windcastle. Doug had been very ill for a few days before leaving Balboa and it was good to see him well and active.

It was really a good feeling to be in sailing in the Pacific on our first day out. We will island hop here for a few days and then head to the Galapagos. That is about a nine day trip and we will probably not have good sailing. We will be crossing the equator on the way which puts us in the doldrums for most of that trip. But then we thought we would have no wind today and we had a fantastic sail. As I’m sure you are aware, it is impossible to predict the weather, so we just have to be prepared for whatever Mother Nature sends our way.

060301 Day 135 Panama–Goodbye Panama City