Category: Passage Making

Panama to Colombia

Sänna - Green Island, San Blas, Panama

“Paradise. We all want to go to paradise, right? Paradise means different paradises to different people – we all have our own personal view of paradise because paradise most often resides inside our head. Panama’s San Blas islands might be described as paradise – the sort of tropical island paradise we see in pages of glossy print so it’s fixed in our minds that a tropical island is where we want to be. To ourselves, Green Island was just a convenient place to shelter from howling thirty-knot winds, until we could launch ourselves from behind paradise into the towering sea that everyone warned us would kick our backsides. When we left, we got hammered – crawling into Cartagena with shredded sails and a broken shackle, our exhaustion a testament to what real paradise is.”

When we left Shelter Bay in mid-January we were glad to be gone. Gone from Panama, nearly two years in the country we first planned to get through in less than two months. We had covid to thank for this, we did not suspect what lay ahead when we crossed the border from Costa Rica having never heard of this virus that was festering inside a bat cave in China.

Now we wanted to move on, we wanted to get out of Panama, we wanted to get away from all the bad memories of covid. We thought we might head south, through the San Blas, to South America…

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North To Santa Rosalia…

Sänna Sea of Cortez

La Paz is a nice place, there’s no doubting that, the harbour sits forty miles or so up on the east side of Mexico’s Baja Peninsular and is considered by most sailors to be the gateway to the fabled Sea of Cortez. 

This eight hundred miles of smooth sea that’s landlocked on three sides had been the subject of much conversation between ourselves and American sailors ever since we’d sailed our way south from Alaska, eventually reaching the San Juan Islands to the north of Seattle’s Puget Sound in Washington State. In the truly sublime North American harbours of Port Townsend and Friday Harbor every sailor it seemed had spent some time or other in Mexico’s most well-known sailing destination.

As we then made our way south down the US Pacific west coast, their enthusiasm and perfunctory advice grew in intensity, we were not under any circumstances to miss out the Sea of Cortez…

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Southwards to the Sea of Cortez


Leaving Ensenada to make our way south provided a welcome relief from the trials and tribulations of bringing Nellie Cat from England to Mexico. Now we’d see how Nellie took to life on the big ocean which, let’s face it, would be a new experience for all three of us. Well, coming as a complete surprise our new ship’s cat was seasick. Neither Marie or myself had given any thought to the issue of cats being seasick, I think it’s fair to say we were as much stressed than we’d ever been since our time onboard Sänna… we were paranoid about losing our new ship’s cat overboard.

By the time Nellie herself overcame both her fear of the sea and her insufferable seasickness, we’d made the sixty-five miles south overnight to anchor in the tenuous shelter of Cabo Colonet…

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