24th Feb – 9th March – Las Perlas & passage to Galapagos

Left Balboa moorings at first light and after motoring out of the channel set a course for the Las Perlas, a cluster of over 20 mainly uninhabited islands about 40 miles away. Little wind so mainly motoring until later on when I picked up a southerly breeze. I eventually anchored off the NW coast of La Contadora, the busiest of the islands, a weekend retreat for rich Panamanians. Next day I moved on to a lovely anchorage in the channel between Isla Espiritu Santo and the main island of Isla Del Rey. Supposedly a popular anchorage but I had it all myself, it was very peaceful, lots of pelicans and parrots.

Espiritu Santo

Now I could start the task of diving under and ensuring the hull was clean before passage and that afternoon I got 1 side done but I find it tiring work. Wanting to finish the job off next morning but the tide was running swiftly past the boat and I decided it wouldn’t be wise. Yes welcome back to tides, something you almost forget about in the Caribbean, here the range is about 15 ft. I therefore moved on, motoring down the east side of the islands to almost the southern end. Here I anchored at Rio Cacique which the pilot assured me you were almost certain to find flat water. So it was I and I finished off the hull cleaning.
A quick dive next morning as a final check then it was time to leave, this morning at least there was some wind and from the North so I set off for the long passage bound for the Galapagos. Probably like many other cruisers I had some regrets at not having more time to spend exploring in these delightful islands but the Pacific beckoned.
I did have a calm patch passing between wide gap between Isla Galera and Punta Gorda but then the wind was back. A notable sight was the sting rays jumping vertically from the water, turning end over end and landing with an almighty splash.
So the day passed and the first night, lots of big ships bound to and from Panama but all a good distance off. I was off to a flying start because in the first 24 hours Sea Bear had run 130 miles. However it was not too last and the winds grew lighter and lighter with some periods of calm. I don’t think I saw winds over 8 knots again. So the days passed, once clear of the shipping channel there were no ships and little to do apart from ring the changes with the sails, pole out the yankee opposite to the main, lets try the cruising chute, the occasional gybe to keep on course as far as possible, a little tweak to the self steering now and again. On the 8th day I was a little surprised to see a fishing vessel must be 200 miles at least from the nearest land.

After sunset of the 9th day and a big bird made a determined effort to land atop the mast, succeeding after several attempts. I guessed it must be a land bird as a sea bird would just settle on the water, but I wasn’t able to identify it, it perched there all night leaving with first light in the morning.

sunrise coast of San Cristobal

My patience with these calms and light winds was wearing thin so nightfall of day 10 when it fell calm and there was about 50 miles to Isla Cristobal I resorted at last to the engine. It didn’t help that the auto pilot had packed up so hand steering it was. The wind did return for a while but not for long and when it died again I let let drift and took a 30 minute nap before turning on the engine again. It had been a lovely full bright moon night but eventually it sunk below a thick band of clouds so it was really dark, now I know there is an island somewhere hereabouts. First light and all was revealed and I was shortly entering Wreck Bay there to anchor. It had been 10 days short 1 hour for the 838 mile passage.

Wreck Bay

3 thoughts on “24th Feb – 9th March – Las Perlas & passage to Galapagos”

  1. Fantastic achievement, Skip. Guessed you had mixed winds as your tracker showed quite variable distances day by day! Enjoy the finches…

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