SHELTER BAY MARINA, PANAMA
It took exactly 36 hours to get from Cartagena to Shelter Bay marina in Panama – The first 14 hours we had to motor as there was no wind and then the 15 to 20 knot trade wind kicked in giving us a good sail all the way to Panama. After dogging all the ships at the entrance to the canal we were finally moored up in the marina just as it got dark.
As it was the start of the weekend we couldn’t check in so we had a couple of lazy days on the boat. Shelter Bay marina is built around an old American Navy base cut off from the rest of Colon by the canal. The surrounding area is mostly jungle with walks cut through the canopy. Penny and I were walking along one of these paths when we heard an incredible roar – I’ve never seen Penny run so fast back to the boat with the occasional look over her shoulder expecting at any minute for a large wild animal to come tearing out of the jungle. It wasn’t until the next day when we over heard some fellow cruisers talking about the wild life around the marina that we found out that the noise we heard is made by a small male monkey, known as a howling Monkey no bigger than a few kilos in size.!!!But it sounded like King Kong
On Monday we headed into Colon to check in. The town is very run down and it is not safe to walk around the city. To move around you have to catch a
taxi, even though it may be a few hundred metres to where you want to go. All the shops have steel mesh shutters across their windows and security personnel at the door. You even have to be careful which taxi you get as it is not unheard off that the passengers have been held hostage until they parted with all their cash. Fortunately there are safe shopping complexes around where you can go without any problems. Here you can find all the latest products and produce at an incredible cheap price.
Checking in ended up being a bit of a nightmare as we had to go to 3 different places to complete the paper work. Each office requires copies of your passport, ships papers, cruising permit, crew list and clearance papers from your last port. None of the offices had a photocopier so it wasn’t long before we ran out of our copies and then we had to try and find somewhere in town to get some copies made – not an easy task. It seems such a waste of time and effort as no one actually checks the papers you give them or reads the forms you have to fill in.
Tomorrow we fly to Switzerland to see Emily for Christmas and will be back in Panama by the 29th December – hopefully without any broken bones!