News aboard Sol Surfin


March 07 Update

Hello Everyone,

We made it safely around Punta Mala. It took us 23 hours of intense sailing and we were glad to drop the hook in the Las Perlas Islands in Panama Bay. The entrance into the bay is intense with many currents colliding and the seas can get rough and the wind waves can get big and nasty. Not to mention on top of the currents, gusty winds and nasty waves, there is a parade of freighter and ship traffic merging into one of the busiest bays in the world on their way to the Panama Canal.

The beginning of our trip around Punta Mala was not so difficult. We left Ensenada Benau in the morning with 20 knots of wind and “poked our nose out” to see if the winds would behave. We were making good time getting to the point and the seas had only 2-3 feet of chop, not so bad really for this famously nasty point. We continued on and tacked our way up and around the point with 20-25 knot gusts and Sol Surfin was pointing and doing well. We made our rounding at high tide and in the daylight to keep a better look out for the freighter traffic but the ships were so few and far between we thought that maybe they were on holiday. Well everything was going along just fine until about sunset when the winds began to build and the waves and currents were getting restless. Then all of a sudden, it seems that all the big ships came out at once and suddenly we were dodging freighter traffic from all directions. We counted about 15 plus ships that at night can be very intimidating since we are just a “little ol’ sailboat” trying to make our way too. The seas built to about 8+ feet just enough to get uncomfortable and the current was pushing us south as we were trying to go north. Gary hand steered for about 20 hours when all was said and done. He was exhausted. I was busy on the binoculars watching for the freighters in between bouts of seasickness. I often wonder in times like this, “WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING HERE!” and wondering what the heck provoked us to come this way in the first place. I kept thinking that all of our friends made it this way, so we can do it too. The funny thing is that this was supposed to be a good weather window when the seas and winds were calm. We did take one big crash of a wave that came up and over the boat and water shot into our scuppers and water up into our dinghy hanging on our stern. Not sure where that wave came from since it was pitch black and we could not see a thing at night. We think it was probably the wakes of the freighter ships colliding with one another making confused seas.



I was so glad to be safely tucked into a cove on an island by the morning. Once rested and caught up with our sleep the memory of the crossing is far gone and we are enjoying the island life once again.

We are currently at Isla Contadora where they are filming “Survivor Turkey”! We visited the place where they build the sets and construct the props. Kinda funny, we are anchored just off the beach where the survivors sleep at night. During the day, this beach is the only Panamanian nude beach. There are not that many people out (I don’t think the locals need a beach to go naked); we are going to play smash ball later on the beach to check it out.

We are enjoying wireless access on the boat and we have caught up with lots of cruiser friends that are also anchored here. Many of these friends we haven’t seen since Mexico so it is fun to play catch up. We have had many barbecues on the beach and we are playing lots of music and having fun.

Gary caught a huge Amber Jack fish that measured 52” long. He caught the fish just outside one of the Las Perlas Islands. He caught it off of our meat hook line that we usually drag in the water just in case. This one caught us by surprise. Trying to bring this fish in was a bit of a challenge, he was a big guy and the fish was actually pulling Sol Surfin backwards. The fish was putting up a fight and swimming every which way and we were doing all we could just to keep the line from getting caught under the rudders. One time, the line was sawing itself against the rudder and our new bottom paint job, Gary put on the snorkel and fins and swam down to clear the line. A few minutes later he was able to bring the fish up to the boat only to discover that a 5-6’ shark was under the fish trying to get a hold of him as well. I think the fish was glad to be on our boat instead of in the jaws of the shark because he didn’t put up a fight once we got him on board. He had a few large bites on his head which we think the shark had done. This large of a fish was a bit overwhelming to say the least. The biggest fish Gary ever caught and all I kept thinking is where the hell are we gonna put it. Not sure exactly where to begin with a fish this big, Gary and I said our blessings to the fish and we poured tequila down his gills to send him off in style. It took us over an hour to cut him up. We had a huge potluck barbeque that night on the beach with a big bon fire. The fish fed about 17 people with leftovers for Linda’s fish enchiladas. And that was only one-half; the other half is still in the freezer.

The water is much colder here then in Western Panama. We are planning to go into Panama City to check out the canal and visit some more friends. We will reprovision the boat with supplies and take off again back up to the western islands. We plan on heading back to south end of Costa Rica to get some surf in Pavones. We will then sail from Costa Rica down to Ecuador and leave Sol Surfin there for the rainy season. We plan on traveling in South America by land and checking out Peru and maybe Chili. At least that is the current plan. For most cruisers, plans are in jello and can never be trusted.

Love hearing from you too. Jot me a short note if you want to say hi.

Blessings always,

Celestine and Gary
Sol Surfin