Final days in Panama
May 15th – June 17th 2017
Yes, it’s been just over a month now since we transited the canal and what are we still doing here, I hear you say?. Well time goes by so fast that it feels like yesterday that we arrived here on the Pacific side. So after the canal transit we still had a couple of weeks to kill until our French visas were ready for pick up, so we toddled down to the Las Perlas Islands roughly 30 miles south of Panama City. Most of these islands here are uninhabited with just a few having a small town or village.
We spent a few days at Isla Contadora where we made new cruising friends aboard the US flagged monohulls Southern Comfort and Pelican Express, and the Kiwi cat, Off 2 C. This island is one of few which has fast internet, a couple of decent restaurants, several plane and ferry services daily and some of the beautiful homes that the wealthy Panamanians own down here. There is the odd B&B and a couple of low key hotels as well as some failed resorts which are now abandoned.
From Contadora we moved further south for a couple more days to Isla Pedro Gonzales with its beautiful palm fringed beach and also to Isla Casaya before returning to Isla Taboga and then back to Panama City.
Our visas were finally ready and one week later we’d finished our sightseeing of the city, finished the last of the last of provisioning and had well and truly had enough of the rolly anchorage and the filthy grease ridden waters which are part and parcel of the canal zone. GWTW had thick black grease smears all over her pristine hulls and orange slime and barnacles has started to grow on our swim ladder and anywhere else on the hulls within reach of the rapidly spreading orange blob. And after being chased down and nearly hit by an unattended yacht one night that caught our anchor chain as it dragged past us, pulling us with her towards other boats and the sea wall, we couldn’t wait to get out of there.
Now we are back at Isla Contadora once more and tomorrow we will head south to the end of the island chain. From there it’s out into the big blue highway, next stop Galapagos Islands in around 10 days time.
I’ll do my best to remote post the text of the blog as we go along but if it doesn’t happen you'll get the full story once we reach land again.
Until then it’s hasta luego Panama
Cruiser Info : Panama City Anchorages, La Playita is very rolly and the water is full of oil and grease which will mark your hull. We used Simple Green spray cleaner to remove the grease line, It was the only product that worked. Lay Playita marina charges $53 USD per week for dingy dock use . No single day price only a weekly rate Sunday to Sunday, Can leave trash at marina, no Wi-Fi available unless you take a slip. Plenty of free Wi-Fi at bars and restaurants across the causeway ..easy 3 min walk.
Small supermarket in strip mall of shops across the road the other side of the causeway on the Las Brias side of the road,
Las Brias anchorage. Very big and flat but very poor if not dangerous dinghy dock. Many live-aboards in this bay , just ask re dinghy access, New public dinghy dock is supposed to open some time in the future.
Flamenco Marina. Can use dinghy dock for $21.40USD per day. Additional cost to pick up guests. Fuel, water and trash disposal available,
Balboa Yacht club. Moorings only no anchoring. No dingy dock ,you must use yacht club tender to get ashore. Good restaurant and bar with free Wi-Fi.
Isla Taboga. Good anchorage on either side of sand spit to suit weather conditions. No dinghy dock but can use beach or public wharf when ferry is not there, This island is 7 miles from Panama City and ferry runs regularly to Balboa YC. Return trip is $20. quite a few good restaurants ashore.
Supermarkets Riba Smith was the best we found ( big American style) at Alta Plaza. Also a big Rey supermarket and a Do It centre , similar to Home Depot on the USA, across from Riba Smith. Taxi ride from La Playita is $8-10
Resources,.The Cruiser’s guide to Panama City. Excellent info put together by cruiser’s. It’s available as a PDF free from Shelter Bay marina office or from Yahoo groups online
Taxis. We used Roger who speaks excellent english and has a van and a taxi. He has been looking after cruisers for around 30 years and charges $10 per hour and will take you where ever you need to go. Ph # 67176745
Regular taxis are cheap and everywhere, most fares are a couple of bucks. La Playita to French Embassy in the old city is $5 and to Balboa Yacht Club is $3