By about 14:00, we rounded Punta Burica and entered Panama waters! By 16:30 in flat glassy seas, we dropped anchor in an open roadstead (N08°06.829' W082°52.066') and about an hour later we saw a wall of black cloud and showers coming across the bay from the east. Just as we battened the hatches, and within literally 15 seconds, the winds went from 0 to 20 knots and the temperature dropped 15 degrees. The seas picked up and the rain came down in buckets but at least the lightning kept its distance. But 2 hours later it was all over except the choppy seas that took another 2 hours to subside.
The next day at 05:30 we were off again - this time to cross Bahia Charco Azul heading to the estuary that will eventually take us up to Pedregal. There are 3 entrances, including 2 precarious bar crossings. So we headed for the first one but just as we got to the entrance our electronic charts with integrated GPS crashed!!! So we turned around and motored out of breaking surf harm's way over to safe anchorage at Isla Parida (N08°07.236' W082°20.921') to sort out the electronic chart problem. No luck though.
Beautiful sunset at Parida
Late in the afternoon a local young man, Daniel, who spoke good English, with another worker in a work boat offered to escort us in through the tricky 5-mile entrance fringed with hidden reefs. Jordan questioned going in at dark, but this guy said he grew up here and knew it like the back of his hand. So we headed out as it was getting dusk and Jordan was getting nervous. As we approached the main entrance and in the dark, Daniel came aboard our boat and let his worker follow in the work boat.
A large cloud moved in, now covering our radar screen and obscuring what little sightings we could see in the distance. He said "No problem" and went up on our bow sprit in the pouring rain and called back heading adjustments to safely get us through. He said goodbye as we safely anchored in a calm and protected cove for the night.
The overnight anchorage was a little deserted so on Monday, we decided to move closer to the little town of Boca Chica and just as we were pulling anchor, MV Hobo came around the corner so the 2 of us went around the corner and dropped anchor (N08°12.944' W082°12.452') in an anchorage of about 10 other boats.
We went ashore for lunch at Hotel Boca Brava, perched up on a point overlooking the surrounding islands. You walk up 85 stairs to get there! I ordered medium lobster and it was huge! And delicious. And only $7.45. Amazing! Make sure you stop here.
Now the good news - we have been totally set up with CMAP. This is an electronic chart program that compares very favourably with SeaMax and gives us charts for the whole world. Now its been installed on 2 computers (GPS integrated) so in the future, if 1 computer fails, we will have a backup. Very Happy!