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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Panama’s BIG Tide Surprise = Serendipitous Stop

cruising life
This photo’s for Jodi of Blue Pelican.  Snapped him when
I was kayaking too close to his Panama City roost.
“All that’s left is refilling our diesel and water tank.  As long as we leave by noon no problem making it Las Perlas.” 

Famous last words.

When Panama City’s La Playita Marina informed us we couldn’t come in until 1 pm as the tide was too low (plus $30 extra for the pleasure of pulling up to their dock to fill), it didn’t occur to us to ask Flamingo Marina if the same was true for them.  I new sailed to Flamingo Marina until someone waved us down in a panga, turning us back by telling us “The dock’s depth at low tide is 2 feet.”  It was low tide.




cruising destinations
Taboga… a pastel-box pretty village
a mere 7 ½ miles from Panama City.
Amazingly, just two hours later, the dock was already back up at 12 feet.  In the interim we lunched and kayaked.  It was a lovely afternoon on the water, albeit not what we’d planned.

taboga panama between panama city and las perlas
Wayne's dad Phil, me, Wayne, and
Phil's wife Gunnel, 
enjoying our supper
at Taboga’s Calaloo restaurant.
Filtering our diesel as we fill is a slow process.  It was too late for Las Perlas that day.  Las Perlas islands were over 30 miles away.  We were ready to blow the large popsicle (shaved ice – more about that in a future post) stand known as Panama City.  “It’s not too late for Taboga,” Wayne countered.  Taboga we went; it was about 7-8 miles from Flamingo Marina.



taboga panama between panama city and las perlas
Corvina cooked in an outstandingly garlicky
sauce served on the side with a delicate
coconut-milk rice and a banana waldorf salad,
sans celery, shredded carrot and walnuts.
Thanks for dinner, Phil & Gunnel!
Two hours later we dropped anchor.  After a little kickback time while we waited for the ferry to leave where we planned to adopt as our dinghy dock.

We fell into our dinghy and headed into town.  “Fell” because there was some stiff chop.  Our dinghy bounced up and down; entering and exiting it was all about timing.  Yee-hah!  Ride ‘em cowboy, bouncy.  Add to that a little extra “Whoa!” excitement when the bench sit I was sitting on collapsed beneath my butt.

Fortunately, our timing was good.  No cruisers were damaged in transit.

taboga panama between panama city and las perlas
Note the small kayuka at the side
of the panga?  It’s the Tobago way to
dinghy out to the fishing boats tied off
to small mooring balls in the bay.
Taboga is a pretty little town.  Looks like someone used bright pastels to color the quaint stucco homes accented with designerly wrought iron balconies.  Bright yellow stucco walkways with white balustrades lined the waterfront, the soccer court and some parkway squares.  The streets were clean and a lovely jasmine fragrance perfumed the air.  The brisk chop misted the walls as it slammed against them.

Alas, it appeared the sidewalks rolled up along with the ferry’s departure.  After a bit of a walkabout, and a chat with a B&B proprieter who apologized that it was her chef’s night off, we planed ourselves at the one restaurant that was open, Calaloo, as the viewpoint Vereda Tropical restaurant didn’t open until 6:30 and the prospect of a rough dinghy ride back in the darkness was not appealing.

taboga panama between panama city and las perlas
Tobago fisherman opens the floating live bait well
before heading out for bigger fish to fry.
We toasted over a tasty Spanish sangria, and enjoyed a delicious meal at the festively appointed Calaloo restaurant and made it back to our boat before dark. 

With full and satisfied bellies, we watched the depth drop below our boat, from over 21 feet when we anchored, to 12 feet, and we know it was not yet low tide.  Despite the darkness, we opted to re-anchor; we’re glad we did.  By morning, we were sure we’d have grounded at our first anchorage point, and been stuck there waiting for a rising tide to float our boat.

pelicans near taboga beach
This beach dramatically shrinks and expands
with the tides.  The pelicans couldn't care less.
Instead, we enjoyed a glorious orange dawn, the prettiest we’ve yet since in Panama – and perfectly dinghy-able beaches appear that prior we under a swirl of turbulent water.

We lazily watched the fishermen paddle their kayukas out to their pangas, load up for fishing from their live well buoys and begin their day.

And then we set off at last for Las Perlas, grateful for the happy accident that landed us, totally unplanned on Taboga.  For cruisers looking for a peaceful place to hang out close enough to Panama City for parts and provisioning runs, check out Taboga!  There’s a ferry that runs between Taboga and Panama City several times a day, for $25 round trip.

taboga panama between panama city and las perlas
Sunrise in “our” Taboga anchorage.
Location Location
Taboga (N08.47.733 W79.31.497 – before we re-anchored to not bottom out at low tide) PANAMA, just 7.5 miles from Panama City’s La Playita anchorage and  Flamingo Marina.