Finally Departing Panama

Sunday, March 27, 2016

009-22.038 N
079-57.024 W
Marine forecast for this location

Ahoy from the crew of the BlueJacket!

RouteYes, the BlueJacket sailing blog is back! If you only rely on these blogs, you probably think that we've dropped off the face of the earth, but if you've been following us on FaceBook, you know that we've been busy getting BlueJacket ready for another cruising season. We're currently at Shelter Bay Marina which is outside of Colon, Panama. From here we're going to head to the Colombian islands of San Andres and Providencia, which are located off of Nicaragua. Then we'll head to a place called Media Luna (half moon) where we'll anchor behind a reef patch with no land in sight. From there we'll head to some small cays known as the Vivarios and then to the Bay Islands of Honduras. After hanging out in Roatan, we'll head to Lighthouse Reef in Belize and then we'll head to the Rio Dulce in Guatemala where we'll store BlueJacket for hurricane season. All in all this is about 1000 miles.

We headed to Panama about 3 weeks ago and have been spending 10+ hour days getting BlueJacket ready. There's really nothing unusual about this, as it takes a lot of work to make sure that everything is running properly and to keep up the maintenance on her. It is very rewarding to have people stop by to discuss our "new" boat and to see their reaction when we tell then that BlueJacket is 19 years old! The good news is that have been no major surprises and everything is working well. Lets hope that it stays that way.

BlueJacketLife at Shelter Bay marina is always interesting. The number of international boats here is amazing and listening to all of the languages being spoken is quite fun. You just have to remember that they probably understand English and you don't know what they're saying...It's been more difficult to get things done this year than it was last year. Construction on the new Panama Canal lock has rerouted traffic, making the trip to/from Colon much longer. The little on-site store changed management and now it stocks very little of use. Even more exasperating is that the chandlery (boat store) is closed, so there's no place to buy marine hardware without going into Colon. Arghhh!!!

WeatherAt this point we're pretty much done with boat projects and hopefully we'll have a few days where we can just relax and get everything in the boat settled into its final location. We're waiting for a weather window which will allow us a good passage to San Andres, which is located about 220 miles N of here. The major issue is that the prevalent winds at this time of the year are out of the NE, due to a consistent low pressure system which resides off of Colombia and generates high winds and seas. The last time that we made this passage, it was very wet and spirited. Hopefully this time it will be much nicer. Right now we're looking at departing from the marina on Monday, heading to Portobelo (which is about 20 miles NE of here) for a mini-shakedown cruise and then heading to San Andres on Tuesday. We should arrive in San Andres on Wednesday afternoon.

In order to stay in contact with our parents and the charity that we run, I've added an Iridium Go satellite device and an external antenna which provides us with phone service, text messaging, position tracking, SOS/SAR and *very* slow and limited e-mail. For anyone thinking about getting one of these, set your expectations appropriately (i.e. don't think that you're going to be surfing the web) and give yourself plenty of time to configure and figure out the software.

Iridium GoIf anyone wants to quickly get in touch with us, you can send a text message to +8816-2348-8921. Note that this is an international number, so check to make sure that your plan doesn't charge you for international texts. Alternately you can send e-mail to with your message in the body which will be delivered to us a text message. If you use Twitter, you can follow us at @BlueJacketSail. We can also be reached at our normal e-mail addresses.

If you want to see where we are, just go to my home page and click on the link under "Position Map". Right now it just shows where we currently are, but once we start moving it will show a map of our route.

That's about it from here until we depart. Have a Happy Easter!

-- Geoff & Sue

P.S. I know that the map at the top of the blog is broken, but I don't have time to fix it right now.

For the cruiser:

If you're interested in an Iridium Go, here's what I ended up using:

Log ID: 2269

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