Panama City

After anchoring out in secluded anchorages in western Panama and the Perlas Islands for many weeks the first sight of the skyscrapers of Panama City were a shock. Mermaid motored in from the Perlas through flat, calm seas we picked up a mooring off Tobago, an island seven miles offshore from Panama City. We found dozens of ships waiting to go through the Canal anchored between us and Panama City and the bright neon signs were clearly visible at night. The first step of going through the Canal was getting measured and the appointed day of our measurement we navigated through many, many ships into the La Playita Anchorage where we anchored and awaited the arrival of the Canal Representative. When he didn’t show at the appointed hour we called our agent who gave us some sage advice. ”When in Panama, one must be patient.” Sure enough, the pilot boat approached a short while later and we were duly declared fit for a passage through the Canal. We settled in on a mooring at the Balboa Yacht Club. The price was outrageous but the place had such a charm that we just couldn’t leave. The bar was the crossroads for sailors that were getting ready for a transit or those that had just completed one. It was also the hangout for an eclectic mix of ex-pat boat workers, canal agents and barflies. The moorings are just outside the Bridge of the Americas and only a few hundred yards from the ship channel that leads to the canal so there it was a fantastic place to watch the world go by. Our friends aboard Neko were on a mooring near us, which made for great fun exploring Panama City. The malls in Panama City were shockingly huge. We spent the days shopping, eating out, doing boat chores, visiting museums and visiting with other cruisers. We watched the World Cup of Soccer with locals, our agent and other cruisers. We enjoyed the restaurants and entertainment. What a difference this place was than anywhere we had ever been. Panama City is a place where no matter where we went we’d trip over history. From the ruins of Panama Viejo, the city started by the Spanish in the early 1500s, to the recently restored Cacso Viejo, where the city was rebuilt after it was sacked by Henry Morgan in 1671 to the buildings of the Canal zone there was something of interest everywhere we’d turn.

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