We left Santa Marta , after first watching Max , together with our friends from Zouterik and Askari , win the Brazilian F1 race , around 3:30 pm. A quick fuel stop and last goodbyes to Zouterik crew Mariska and Linde that came alongside at the fuel dock and we were on our way. The first few hours we had great winds and with around 22kts from WNW and hardly any waves or swell we quickly sailed into the setting sun. During the night the winds decreased to a gentle breeze and for the last 150 miles or so the winds stayed around 7 to 12 kts with smooth seas. The trip itself was one of the most relaxing trips so far and with an average speed of 4.5 to 5 kts we sailed across to Panama.
We had one visitor on our way down, a tiny bird that was totally unafraid of us or anything else. It explored Blue Pearl inside and out for a few ours, sat on the girls head and hands , leisurely explored and was promptly adopted by Robin and Lauren as pet .
I think the little thing just needed some rest as after a few hours it was gone again .
Our planning and, highly unlikely, our sailing skills must have improved greatly over the last 18 months as we arrived exactly when we wanted at 8am to check into Puerto Obaldia . After having read various reports from other cruisers about the anchorage being untenable in most weather with large waves rolling into the anchorage from the open sea we dropped our anchor west of the village in 20 to 30cm of swell , quite doable and without much problems we attached the outboard to the dinghy we made our way to shore where I spotted some small fishing boats on the north side of the village and I thought this would be a great spot to land the dinghy and walk to wherever we needed to go to handle all formalities.
Upon arrival we were met by a friendly Panamenian soldier that asked where we were going and in my best Spanish we replied ‘Migracion por favor’ He replied that we needed to go to the south side where there are 2 docks for larger ships and we needed to go there as well !
So off we went , turned the dinghy around and found our way down to the other side of the village , here we tied up and climbed the 2 meters up to the dock itself
and walked towards what looked like a check point , a small concrete hut with greenish shutters , we asked the soldier inside for immigration and after a few seconds an English speaking person joined us. This person turned out to be some sort of police officer and the first round of officialdom started . Passports , exit zarpe , boat papers etc etc . Everything needed to be laid out and he made pics of everything and then he asked where our boat was . I pointed down to the place where we anchored , which was invisible from the place we were , and he asked why we anchored there instead of in front of the docks ?.. Well, because that is where we dropped our anchor, it was easy and I had no idea we needed to anchor within viewing distance of him . He seemed to shrug and accepted our ‘because it was the easiest place to anchor’ answer. Once that was all done we were pointed down to the building that had ‘Copias’ on a sign on the outside of the little building to make copies of our passports (3x) boat papers (3x) crew list (3x) and exit Zarpe from Colombia (3x) . After this task we went one door down to meet the immigration officer who took our pictures , fingerprints and stamped our passports all quite efficient and hassle free.
Once our passports were stamped he directed us to the Maritima building around the corner where we got our cruising permit and other papers , quite a lengthy process as everything needed to be hand written , receipts needed to be made , crew lists copied etc etc . But after a quick hour and a US $200 payment we were all set and Blue Pearl and ourselves were all legal in Panama with a cruising permit valid for a whole year . I have no idea if we can stay for a year as well ? Or when we would like to stay for a year some sort of extension is needed ? I guess we will find out one way or another 😉
Anyway , officialdom done we walked around the tiny village where Robin and Lauren soon found a playground to monkey around for half an hour as we spotted a memorial proudly stating that the village of Puerto Obaldia had residential power since December 2016 ! Project number 007 😉 and all houses connected to a power grid.
As it was getting warmer and warmer and we wanted to make our way to Puerto Perme , some 6 miles north and a safe secluded anchorage , we made our way to the dock , passing the police checkpoint who now wanted copies of our cruising permit and other papers as well ! So back I went to the copias building making more copies . The lady started out saying that this was highly irregular and normally the police does not want copies of our cruising permit ? But who am I to argue with a police officer (in Spanish) , so more copias and finally back to Blue Pearl.
The hop from Puerto Obaldia to Puerto Perme , some 6 miles, we motored as we had 5 knots of wind on the nose. Leisurely we used our mechanical wind for 2 hours and using the Eric Bauhaus charts we made our way into the anchorage .
For those without the Bauhaus charts sail north to the 8degrees-44minute line and turn due west until you see the entrance on your starboard side, sail until you are exactly in the middle of the entrance and then turn into it , there are shallows on the approach but if you keep the 8-44’ line you will give those a miss.
At the entrance keep in the middle ! There are barely hidden rocks and shallows on both port and starboard sides of the entrance , so stick to the middle. By accident or purpose (we will never know) the shallow on our starboard side was ‘marked’ by a branch from a palm tree barely above surface so we sailed around it using it as a marker . Don’t count on this just stay in the middle . The anchorage itself is a horseshoe shape and widens considerably with enough space for a few yachts .
As soon as we were anchored properly some curious village kids in their ulu’s , which are hollowed out trees to make canoes btw, came paddling by to say hello and asked if there were any kids on board maybe ? Word of 2 blond girls with light skin on board of a sail boat spreads fast 🙂 Robin and Lauren handed out some lollipops to the kids and chatted away in the 3 words of Spanish they know ‘Ola .. Habla Ingles ?’ .. sadly for them these local kids don’t speak English but I am sure they’ll find a way to communicate and play
And here we are , our first San Blas village , dead calm waters and a 270 degree view of green, small village , ulu’s paddling by and tranquility . Welcome to southern most part of Guna Yala Panama !
Today , after a very good nights sleep , we will explore the village and I think tomorrow we will make our way further north as we have some friends flying in in 6 days that we need to pick up from the Playon Chico ‘airport’ .
We have no wifi or cell reception so I have no idea when we can post this ? We’ll see