Bahia Honda, Panama
Bahia Honda was a great stop. A huge bay with an Island placed right in the middle where a small village is located. The bay was tranquil and the weather was perfect and we were able to restock at the little store in the village. There were the usual dugout canoes with of kids and fisherman that came out to the boat looking for goodies, and we handed out pencils and fish hooks.
Bad things did not happen, we missed it by at least 3 minutes. It was a beautiful day for rounding Punta Mala, the bad point, known for it's treacherous tides and currents and especially for its infamous high winds. We spent the previous night anchored in the lee of a small island, Isla Otoque about 20 miles from Panama City. Dois and I had checked and rechecked the weather charts to find a weather window from the fierce northerlies that had been blowing all month. We thought we could leave the safety of our little harbor around 2:00 am, when the winds should abate. We went to bed early, hoping for rest, but the winds howled all night and Dois had at least one foot out of bed all night, while I had at least one ear awake. Two AM came and went, but the winds stayed. Finally, around 6 AM we decided we could handle it, and charged out of the windy anchorage to a flat calm sea. How long had it been calm? Probably since 2:00 AM.
We motored along, enjoying the occasional dolphin visit and tuna jumping. Ginger remembered how much she liked dolphins while Daisy napped away, unconcerned about our movement or changing environment, as only a blind boat dog could. We spotted turtle number 1 on this journey, it was great to be back. We worked our new AIS transponder. There were 8 ships rounding Mala with us and they must have picked up our signal because unlike our first visit to the bad point, these ships kept their distance.
As soon as we rounded the point, a north wind started up and was blowing about 20 on our beam. Nothing to worry about, we were only 10 miles from our chosen anchorage of Bahia Banao. Because we had left I. Otoque late in the morning, it was now very dark, no moon lit our way. We had swung through B. Banao on our trip down to Panama when a south swell stopped us from anchoring there. We felt confident that we could enter the anchorage in the dark, on instruments. There is a village with lights and no rock dangers, so we used our radar to enter between the very dark points of the bay. The bay gets shallow fast, and quickly we were in 17' and u-turned looking for more depth. We dropped the anchor in 25' right in the center of the beautiful, calm bay.
Dois went below to turn on the generator to top off the batteries for the night. We had been motor sailing all day, but running the autopilot, chart-plotter, radar, fridge and what-not had left the batteries slightly wanting. We could have skipped it, but why? The generator ran for about 3 minutes and died. Why? What we found left us chilled and thankful our luck fairies had not completely abandoned us.
In preparing for this trip, Dois opened up the fuel tanks and cleaned them. Not an easy job, there are baffles and the tanks are large and it's impossible to reach every nook and cranny. The fuel we have purchased along the way has not been perfectly clean, and sitting for long periods like we have done breeds growth. We have filters that will screen most of it, but there is no filter on the pick-up tube. The generator died because the pick-up was clogged. Both the engine and generator get diesel from the same tube.
I thought about listing all the ugly scenarios that could have happened but didn't. They all started: if the engine had died... But it didn't so I'll leave it there. We are sitting in beautiful Banao now, with 30+ knots of wind coming over the point and into the bay, healing Ashika way over. Dois and I had decided last night that we would take a day off here, but it's not really our decision anymore. It's blowing stink out there. We'll just wait a bit longer. Try not to feel sorry for us.
Bad things happen, I think they happen more often on a boat. We are always trying to mitigate the chance of bad things happening, but in the end, fate is with luck fairies.
We really aren't lost at all, we know exactly where we are. We left Banao in a blow. It did not look like we would see any relief from the big wind any time soon, so we hiked up our shorts and battened down the hatches and sailed out into a pretty decent blow. The weather gribs showed it becoming reasonable a few miles up coast. Weather reports were only accurate in that it blew hard from Banao, but it maintained 20+ knots on our beam for our entire trip around the cape. The waves were small although of mixed direction, so we kept one foot on the beach, so to speak, and it was a glorious sail.
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