Belize to Panama- COMPLETE
We did it! 800+nm, south of the hurricane zone, and now I can relax!
For those not familiar, the problem with this leg was getting out of the Bay of Honduras, which means a 48-72 hour block of motoring directly into the trade winds.
If you are really luck, you can leave between Tropical Waves(bad weather) that knock down the winds and make a nice ride. We got lucky and it happened just as we arrived. No problem, right?
Wrong. The start from Belize City was kind of a mess. I had commissioned a custom hardtop for the fly bridge back in May. It was planned to be complete by Monday July 24th at the latest. Of course it wasn’t. They hadn’t even mounted it by the 28th.
I pushed(imagine that), and got the top secured and ready to depart by the 29th(will post pictures soon). Not the best finish work, so my OCD meter was pegged for the rest of the trip, but even mellow Mr. Ealing agreed the caulk job was nerve racking. Still, the weather was forgiving. We were able to motor out of Belize peacefully on Saturday.
Sunday night we ran over a fishing net, which forced a stop in the Bay Islands of Honduras for repairs(which turned out to be a highlight of the trip). We spent Monday and Tuesday relaxing, diving, and eating in “casual elegance”at an all inclusive yacht resort on a private Cay. So not only did we find the most incredible spot in the entire western Caribbean(Barefoot Cay, check it out), we got to mark off one of the scratched mission objectives. Roatan! Thanks to Gary from New Jersey(the manager) for all the help
Departing on Wednesday the motoring was wet, but acceptable. Outside of about 6 hours of really rough conditions just before the turn southward, the weather for the rest of the trip was very fine.
On Thursday we reached the Banco Vivorillo. Beautiful and remote, but not empty. We counted four full size fishing boats, plus launches collecting lobster traps. From what we could tell, they had no interest in us, but stories of fishing boats turning out to be pirates, and our tight schedule to reach Panama meant a short stay. We anchored for a couple of hours then continued on. Lot’s of jelly fish at the bank!
Friday afternoon we reached Isla de Providencia! Hands down the highlight of the trip for me. The place was beautiful, and something about the remoteness and sailing into the harbor made it like a scene from a movie. We stopped long enough to refuel and go ashore for dinner, then continued on.
The trip down to Panama was uneventful, but Panama itself is a trip! Setting aside the city of Colon(really dangerous and scary), the approach to the Canal is intense by boating standards. They actually have a traffic control that directs you via radio, a lot like ATC when flying. There are tankers and cargo ships in every direction as far as the eye can see.
The crew on Leg 4 was really in sync. Everyone helped and got along. Thanks to Sue for the great meals(I still don’t know what happened to all the chocolate ship cookies) Super thanks to Ryan and Sailing Master Liam for carrying the bulk of overnight watches.
We actually made it all the way through Mutiny on the Bounty, with enthusiasm!
Bunks got a little soaked from the green water over the bows on Wednesday and Thursday(ridiculously leaky hatches), and other typical problems, fuel filters, etc. Otherwise, no major failures.
Reliant is now safely slipped just inside the canal zone at Shelter Bay Marina.
Leg 4 Complete!