Mermaid in the Caribbean!

When one sets a goal and spends months preparing for and accomplishing it, once it’s done it feels like a page has been turned. That was our feeling when we woke up one morning to find ourselves through the canal and Mermaid was in the Caribbean. As Captain Ron said, “El Carib, the Spanish Main .. if anything’s going to happen, it’s going to happen out there.” Before leaving the comfortable confines of the Shelter Bay Marina all five of Mermaid’s intrepid crew squeezed into a small cab and headed out on a forty minute cab ride to Colon. Colon has a well deserved reputation as a place that that’s best seen n the rear view mirror and we didn’t plan on hanging around long. We rented a car and headed out of town. The rental car had a satellite navigation system that worked surprisingly well and with Captain Mike behind the wheel and David navigating we were soon at the overlook for the new locks under construction at Gatun. Immense hardly does the project justice. Our next stop was at Fort San Lorenzo at the mouth of the mighty Charges River where the Spanish started construction in the 1500s. We were the only ones there and in the quiet it wasn’t hard to imagine yourself there at the edge of civilization 500 years ago. The tropical humidity and swarming insects certainly made you thankful for bug spray and air conditioning.
We fueled up and set out for the Bocas Del Toro archipelago the following day. We motored out of the breakwater and set the sails in a 15 knot breeze with a large following sea. Ideal conditions for Mermaid. We had a glorious sail all afternoon but as evening approached the squalls moved in and the wind shifted forward. We spent a rainy night battling a headwind. We planned to stop at Isla Verudas, a remote island with an anchorage protected from the prevailing swell but when we arrived at dawn with an overcast sky we found that while the anchorage was protected from the swell there were large wind waves sweeping through so we decided to go with plan B and headed for Laguna Bluefield. After setting the anchor the anchor off Playa Raya we were soon visited by a number of locals in cayugas. We handed out bubbles and Oreos to the kids and bought five lobsters for $1.50 each from a boatload of young men. Nothing like fresh lobster on the grill for dinner. We headed for the Crawl Cay Channel the next day. The passage is narrow and lined with very shallow reefs so Robin and David went up on the foredeck pointing the way between the reefs, Kathy was relaying info back into the cockpit and Holly kept an eye on the charts. We slid through and anchored in a secluded, very protected spot in the Gallego Cays. We found some nice snorkeling nearby and enjoyed the sea life in warm, clear water.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.