Thumbnail image

Departure From Panama

Friday, the only day a sailor should never leave port, along with a boat’s name that should never be changed from its original launch day. Stories of catastrophes are countless, and through personal experience in the Pelican voyage, the subjectivity of superstitions is a real fact. I question how many of these abstract concepts, are active in our lives. How many of these traditions, gifted by those who preceded us, impedes us from creating a new life of our own.

Prior to this thought, a pesky generator comes to life at the anchorage somewhere in the distance, before the crack of dawn. Starring at the open hatch, feeling the gentle breeze soothing the intolerant heat of the tropics, the enraged mind ponders on punishments for those inconsiderate being(s) and their unethical practice in those early hours. Meaningless wasteful thoughts.

Perhaps this is the source of my desire for solitude at sea. The ocean has no concerns about my feeling, affairs, desires and aspirations. It takes nothing into consideration, and I reciprocally. It manifests its moods whenever it wants and does not tell me how I should feel in regards to it, just as much an earthquake, a tsunami or an asteroid on a colliding course with our planet would either.

It is Friday, Little Minx is ready, I am ready and that can only mean one thing: “we are off” and where we are going to, this sociologically-weak abstractionism plays absolutely no role.

Kettle on, plunger down, the scent of coffee fills the cabin in those early hours. Savouring the cuppa in the cockpit admiring the sunrise, I rub the morning out of my eyes trying to identify who were the inconsiderate bastards with their generator. “Quit beating on a dead horse, Jonny”.

Bunk is set, three cushions from the saloon draped with two sheets, right on the floor by the companionway: the bed for the next two months.

Waypoint punched in the Matsutec GPS/AIS rendered a sigh from seeing the four digits distance that separated us from the philosophical gatherings with Glyn and Bobbie, dear live-aboard friends from Tauranga.

After some two hours of writing emails, Facebook and all the other addictive social media non-sense, it was time to crank the engine and weigh anchor. Nothing gets me more anxious than listening to the pur of an engine. The thought of adding hours to the overpriced motor makes the stomach churn.

The heavy Rocna anchor surfaces and finds its way onto the bow roller, bringing the realization that it was exactly a year ago to the date from the departure from Cowes in England. Warm thoughts of the months in Kent, what wonderful people I left behind and ahhhhh, the cold pints with Heiko after racing Dragons(sailboat) down the Medway on the weekends. Brought a genuine smile to my face albeit the overcast-drizzly skies.

Weaving around the grave yards of tugs, barges and decommissioned-steel ships, Little Minx putted around Flamingo island as I continuously wiped the cold drizzle off the sunglasses, still staring aft at the fading anchorage and Panama City’s skyline. Mixed emotions surfaced in thinking of the same circumstances 3 years prior. This time certainly more knowledgeable, not in a financial hang, with a better yacht and hopefully not complacent enough, as every time one sets out to sea, new challenges need to be overcome.

“No time to get nostalgic. And that massive mainsail ain’t gonna hoist itself, ol’matey” – murmured the out-of-shape yachtsman. Halyard around the biggest winch aboard and “Heave, ho… heave, ho…”

Half of the luff up and no more stamina. A glance at the adipose belly, some hard breathing and back at it, getting the whole 54ft of canvas to the mast-top. “Heave, ho…” – under no circumstances let that halyard recede one millimeter. Stinging sweat mixed with rain dripped off the eye brows. And the last of the 75kg mainsail stretches itself to a very gentle luff.

Course set, headsail rolled out, sails trimmed and Little Minx graciously healed on a flat beat toward Taboga Island. As the engine exhales its last breath, for a hopeful long while, I admired in awe how marvelous this Hanse 400 design is. Hardly over 10 knots of wind and still squeezing 6 knots of log speed, just shy of cracked sheets from a beat.

Taboga Island passed to port and so did some other obscured islands as the evening crawled through the overcast skies and very fickle winds. Being at the tail end of summer, the rush to get far away from the continent couldn’t be more realistic, as Panama has the highest incidents of lighting in the entire world. And their power, is something to be experienced in the flesh!

To a very benign start, a glance at the stars was gifted for a brief moment in the overcast skies. Feelings of impurity of living ashore, of prostituted existential influence that leads to a life hardly of my own creation, all melted aft in the beautiful wake that Little Minx painted with glowing-phosphorescent plankton, in the vast darkness of the deep blue at night. At sea, at last.

END OF DAY 1 - Friday, September 15th
Progress: 93nm
Lat: 7.587
Lon: -79.754