Greetings from Shelter Bay Marina, just inside the breakwater of the Panama Canal—on the Caribbean side. Rascal has been here since December and soon to depart for destinations north—eventually getting to Florida where we expect to spend the summer of 2018 cruising the east coast of the USA before heading back down to the Caribbean after hurricane season.
Below is a Google Earth shot of the breakwater and Shelter Bay (near the top of the photo.) Note a big ship just leaving the Canal and the other ships waiting to go through the Canal (to the south).
Ships arriving from the Caribbean enter the Canal from the north near Colon), go through a set of locks, enter Lake Gatun, and travel south to the next set of locks near Panama City and into the Pacific. A fascinating venture. We served as "line handlers" for a friend's boat and helped them through the Canal. We got off in Panama City. Our friends are going around the world and left from Shelter Bay. Rascal, on the other hand, is going back to America (at least for the summer of 2018...
Our trip from Panama to Florida will be our most challenging (and grueling) venture since it involves a series of hops over long distances where the two of us will share watches 24/7 for days at a time. (Except for the pirate threat all over the east coast of Central America, we would normally just take our time—a year or more—hopping from port-to-port from Panama to Mexico.) We'll be staying far off the coast of Central America.
When we get a window of favorable weather, we will depart Panama for Providencia, a small dot of an island about 260 nautical miles NNW and off the coast of Nicaragua—roughly two straight days at an average of 5-7 knots.
After a few days of hanging out (and another good weather window,) we’ll sail 400 nm north to The Cayman Islands. This will be about 3 ½ days.
After a rest stop at The Cayman Islands and the next good weather window, we’ll have a three-day sail west to Isla Mujeres, Mexico.
From Isla Mujeres, it’s a three-day sail to Key West, Florida—possibly stopping in Havana, Cuba along the way. From Key West, we’ll begin our trek north stopping for a few days or a few weeks in St. Augustine, Savannah, Charleston, Wilmington (NC), Norfolk,-- eventually getting to Washington, D.C. on the Potomac River and then to the Chesapeake for the duration of hurricane season after which we’ll head south to Florida, the Bahamas, and the Eastern Caribbean for the winter.
Where will we be when? Who knows. (Someone once said the most dangerous item on a cruising sailboat is…a schedule.) We don’t plan to be anywhere any particular time. We just need to be out of the hurricane belt until after the season—and we don’t want to be in cold weather any time…
We look forward to visiting some of our east coast friends along the way.
Below is Rascal in Linton Bay, Panama. Photo taken from a friend's drone...
Rick and Linda Grimes bought a sailboat and left the U S of A for the Caribbean in 2015.