Costa Rica, Panama Canal, and Las Pearlas Islands

Nervous to leave the boat alone for an extended period of time but excited for a land adventure, we packed for a week and made the trip to our friend’s house in Costa Rica. An 18 hour bus ride from Puertobello, Panama to Uvita, Costa Rica provided for an opportunity to see the countryside and reconnect with friends from back home. Our friend and most generous host Joel provided beautiful accommodations in the rainforest with a spectacular view. We enjoyed some great locales where we were able to partake in some hiking, beachcombing, surfing, and canyoning.

In the wee hours of the morning following our return from Costa Rica, we sailed from Puerto Lindo to Colon to have our boat officially measured for passage through the Panama Canal. We left Puerto Lindo at 2:00 am and arrived before 9:00 am in Colon to welcome aboard our assigned “Admeasurer” who despite the choppy, windy anchorage, proceeded to perform all the necessary measuring tasks with a cheerful demeanor.

We measured, filled out forms, and payed fees, then we parted ways with Issac while he embarked on his Panama City adventures and we made plans for some small repairs to our boat. A quick day sail put us in the calm harbor of Puertobello. After repairing the refrigerator, and doing some work up the mast, we made our return sail to Colon, the entrance to the Panama Canal. This was a delightful downwind sail, holding a steady 7-8 knots. The sea even saw favor to gift us a tuna halfway through the sail and we were successfully able to heave-to and reel in the fish without the aid of our engine. Our seamanship skills are definitely improving.

The timing could not have been better. We pulled into Limon Bay, Colon after a weekend of boat work and picked up some extra crew for the next 12 days. Missy, Dan’s sister, has an adventurous heart that refuses to be confined to land. After being diagnosed with some serious wanderlust the previous year, she jumped at the opportunity to come out for some ocean adventures. Her boyfriend, Manny, is a mechanical engineer, and would have a great time over the next few days gazing at the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal.

Our passage through the canal was miraculously completed in just a single day. We rafted to two other sailboats while commands for forward and reverse engine were shouted across decks by the assigned Panama Canal Advisors aboard each vessel. The guides did an amazing job preventing disaster as we passed through six sets of locks bridging the Caribbean sea to the Pacific Ocean.

We left Byron behind to meet up with his girlfriend, Steph, in Panama City, as we began our tour of the Las Pearlas islands. The week we spent in the Pearl Islands was completely devoid of good sailing wind but was in heavy supply of wonderful land adventures.

As we wished our friends and family goodbye, we sailed back to Panama City and set our sights to our biggest task yet: the Pacific crossing. The next 2 weeks would be filled with checklists, boat projects and provisioning.