Friday, April 18, 2014

Leaving Panama.....Finally

Grace is in the final throes of getting ready to leave Panama.  Our first stop will in all likelihood be the Galapagos Islands.  The Islands are on many cruisers bucket list.  They aren't on mine.  I've seen plenty of desert islands with strange lizards while in the Sea of Cortez.  The reason we are planning to stop is to reload on fuel. 

We're running late, as usual, and have missed the most favorable time for this passage.  During the dry season, just now ending, north winds flow through gaps in the Panamanian mountains from the Caribbean, across the isthmus and out into the Pacific, sometimes driving lucky sailboats as far south as the equator.

These gap winds are driven by powerful Caribbean trade winds.  The Caribbean trades are laying down, and loosing power.  Gap winds are becoming rare, thermal clouds appear some afternoons, rain is coming.  Lightening too.

With winds no longer spilling out of the Gulf of Panama, the seas south of Panama go calm.  Sometimes light southerlies, bending around the coast of South America, fill the area.  Anything over 7 or 8 knots is a blessing .

It can be a great light air passage. 

But there's more.  Currents.  Ocean currents curl through these waters like spaghetti noodles at full boil, traveling several kilometers per hour.  Playing the wind and current could be fun if it works out.  It probably won't work out so we are almost certainly going to motor a lot.  We are carrying all the fuel we can, but still need to sail a good part of the way.

I've put up a couple screen saves taken from the Nullschool animated weather site showing currents and winds between Panama and The Galapagos.,1.38,1102



Check out the Nullschool site.  It is mesmerizing.


  1. Hey, very cool that you guys are heading south again. What are the plans for the rest of the season? (and don't underestimate those iguanas.....we loved the Galaps....) cheers, mates, from NZ