Walkabout - Leg 3 - An early morning start to Shelter Bay, Panama
15:50 9th March 2023
An early morning start for our sail to Shelter Bay as we had to arrive before 1600 to gain entry to the marina and a berth.
We lifted anchor at 0400 with what looked like a good wind angle and enough of it to sail which was looking unlikely the night before! In the end, we sailed until 1100 when the wind died and motored the rest of the way.
As we entered the Panama Canal area which we had to cross for the marina is on the far side, we were surrounded by gigantic anchored ships waiting for their passage slot through the canal, or lying empty waiting to be filled up with containers or gas or whatever their special cargo was. It was like a graveyard of lonely ships, waiting to be called up!
We arrived in Shelter Bay Marina at just before 1600 so onetime in our book! We were met and given a berth where approx. half the ARC fleet had arrived a day or so ahead of us with many requiring work done, other needed a lift out for work under the boat and others wanting time to provision.
Walkabout had booked a slot to be lifted the following day as we needed to change the seals on our saildrive gear box and paint a layer of anti foul in preparation for Galapagos.
Shelter Bay Marina, is a busy place packed full of boats waiting for their dates to transit through the canal. Unlike those of us on the ARC Pacific and in a large group, we had a fixed date booked months ago. There is a pool, small shop, outdoor fruit and veg market and local mini buses taking you to Colon for shopping if needed which we all did!
Shelter Bay was also the place where Tom was turning 21! With one slight hiccup … Walkabout was out the water so we had to find another boat where we could hold a big party fitting for a 21st celebration and the only one that comes to mind is Casamara! Invites had gone out to all ARC boats and in the end, we had a huge bash on the pontoon with balloons, banners, cake, bubbles and dinner in the marina plus a pool party to see out the evening! Not a bad soirèe with the added excitement of a Panama Canal transit two days later!
Shelter Bay was also where the ARC Pacific Jiggedy Joggers was officially formed and so a few of us met up in the early morning for a 5km jiggedy jog outside the marina alongside the forest where you can hear howling monkeys, see racoons crossing your path and sloths lounging in the trees above you.
We also met up at the marina restaurant for sundowner beers and dinner and the occasional plunge in the pool to cool down after boat jobs and other preparations during the day.
Whilst we were in the marina we had a knock on the boat and emerged from the boat jobs to find a cheery face saying ‘Greetings from Tipton St John!!’ It turned out that this was Josh Scrimshaw, whose parents live in Tipton. Rosemary had done a great job of tracking us on Marine Traffic, and realised that Josh was in the same place as us. Josh is the skipper of the 50m super yacht ‘V6’, who were in Shelter Bay waiting for the owners to arrive. We had a great catch up, and Josh very kindly invited us to V6 to check out his place of work - and what a place of work it is!! We had a fascinating time seeing the workings of a super yacht and the business behind keeping these amazing machines running smoothly. Also, it turns out that V6 has a very big horn - more of that in a later post!
The local advice was not to visit Colon as it was not a safe place but that is where the supermarkets are so we headed in one day via taxi to provision.
As part of the canal transit preparations, each boat is accurately measured, fumigated for the Galapagos, issued with chunky lines and huge fenders as well as allocated an Adviser who is with you throughout the transit.
Walkabout was ready! For the Panama Canal transit and into the Pacific!