Panama – a place I knew from a children’s book, a palindrome and as the place we were going to cross from the Atlantic to the Pacific. I assumed we would turn up at the north end of the canal, lock through and then head on west. I definitely didn’t imagine spending three months here. But that is sailing – always different to your plans.

We arrived in the backwater of Linton Bay where we cleared in and then picked up Annalena & Daniel for a two week holiday among the palm islands and coral reefs of the San Blas Islands.

Panama was also the land where we bought a new dinghy (thanks to Sheila) and finally achieved a working water maker (thanks to Felipe).

The next stage was the transit of the canal. There has been so much written about this and all the potential problems, that we were a little surprised how easy it all was. The most challenging task was sleeping five people and feeding six. Once the last gate opened and we motored out in to the Pacific we really felt that we had passed “the point of no return.”

Panama City skyline – the view from our cockpit

Anchored off a big city is not that much fun so we headed off to the Las Perlas archipelago for a week and ended up staying a month. It really is that sort of place. Days at a time we saw no one and mostly were anchored alone in a bay surrounded by jungle. Our friends on Bengt turned up for Heidi’s birthday and Christmas. A beautiful month.

We returned to Panama City, went in to “work, work mode” and installed additional solar panels, new batteries and a new solar charger. Repaired a wind generator and bridged the broken gas alarm. Resealed a variety of leaking deck fittings and modified our bimini. Polished stainless steel and oiled teak. We also designed and sewed a utensil holder that cleverly uses a hidden space. We were finished just after sunset two days before our next guests arrived.

anchored alone off the Las Perlas Islands

Caro and Stefano had no sooner set foot on Artemis than we upped anchor and set off back to the Las Perlas Archipelago for a two week “best of” tour. Stefano has his practical skippers exam booked for April so Neill took a back seat and let him do all the planning and sailing. With four hard working, motivated people on board, we sailed almost every day but it was completely stress free and a holiday for all of us. Stefano really had to “show what he was made of” on the last day when Neill was ill with stomach pains and he, Heidi & Caro had to take the boat back against the wind to Panama City. We are convinced the skippers exam will be easy for him – especially as there are no four meter tides in Croatia and no shipping lanes.

The ladies anchoring at sunset after Capitano Stefano fought the counter current all day

Back in Panama City for the third time we finished off our list of open jobs, provisioned as much as the lockers will hold and now plan on clearing out tomorrow and sailing away.

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