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Mad Monkey - A quick stop in Panama and now to see Galapagos

Mad Monkey arrived in Shelter Bay Panama a week before transiting the Canal so this gave us enough time to catch up on what's been 'going on' at home and to prepare the boat for the Pacific. We also enjoyed day trips to the new Gatan Locks where we were lucky enough to see a ship complete its transit and on another day, visit the Embera Indian Village where we got to meet the locals and acquire some tribal tattoos. We had great fun transiting the Panama Canal, rafted with Jojo's Circus and Alora, then coming together for a raft party in Gatan Lake. Once in La Playita we didn't have much time but managed to fit it some shopping, a Lebanese themed night and some rooftop bar sightseeing! Then it was time to explore the Pacific OceanÂ…

We had 2 and half days exploring the Las Perlas Islands and our main priority was cleaning the hull in preparation for Galapagos; this meant we had to find an anchorage with little current that could accommodate our 2.85m draft. Firstly, we went to Isla Chapera with the plan that we would initially go and explore and then come back to scuba dive. Once we'd beached the tender and made our way up the beach we were greeted by a snarling dog showing his teeth, a man telling us we weren't welcome here and a man behind him carrying a machine gunÂ… A group decision was quickly made not to question him and jump into the tender to escape! Thus, we made our way to Isla Contadora which was only a 30 minute motor that was hosting the rendezvous in a couple of days' time. Typically, slack water was at 0730 hrs so this called for an early start and following that we did a second dive later that day and a third and final dive the day after. Just before departing Las Perlas, Thomas and Galen checked our bottom (that being the yachts hull!) and said we were the cleanest in the fleet!

Yesterday we started our journey to Galapagos and the sailing conditions were perfect! Most yachts put up their spinnaker upon crossing the start line and it was great to see all the different colours on display. We were averaging 8.5 knots in the first 5 hours which was great but I wasn't expecting to be woken in the night to help get the spinnaker in and then heavily reef the foresail and then put a 2nd reef in the main! We suddenly found 30+ Knots!

On a final note, it's interesting to see how committee vessels have changed over our trip from England: In Las Palmas for the ARC we had a big unmissable warship, leaving Saint Lucia we had a 60ft sport fishing boat and now we have a tiny dug out fishing boat with a light outboard fitted on the back!


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