23 nm from Bahia Honda to 3 nights at Isla Santa Catalina

Having gotten fuel in Bahia Honda, we felt more assured about spending time in the remote cruising grounds of Pacific Panama. We had been feeling a little anxious about the conflict between wanting to stay and explore these islands and bays, and the need to have enough fuel to safely round Punta Mala and make the final legs to Panama City. But now that our tanks were topped off, and we had additional fuel on deck to boot, we felt like we could take our time at any places we decided to go. The distances between the anchorages in this cruising ground are typically quite small, 20 miles or less, so for the time being we could even be said to have a surplus of fuel.

At 10:00 am or so, on July 15, RHAPSODY was the last of the four buddy boats to leave Bahia Honda for the 23 mile passage down to Isla Santa Catalina. WAHOO, KETCHING UP, and DELFIN SOLO were all an or two hour ahead of us as we kept up contact on the VHF radio along the way. We were able to sail for an hour or so in a light offshore breeze before we had to start motoring. We heard the other boats when pulling into the anchorage at Catalina, remarking about the heavy rain they were experiencing, and, sure enough, a few minutes later we, on RHAPSODY, encountered the moderately heavy rain squall. Visibility was cut to less than a hundred yards as the rain gushed out of the sky and the winds and seas picked up a bit. We were concerned about having to pull into the anchorage under those conditions, but the squall passed by and, an hour later, the rain had stopped as we motored into the anchorage at about 2:30 pm and dropped the hook.

We anchored about 1/4 mile off the island, between the island and the mainland. On the mainland at Catalina, maybe a mile away, there is a small town which caters to surfers and tourists. On the island itself there was virtually nothing manmade, except for a single, apparently unoccupied, house, a half mile or so up the beach from the anchorage.

We spent three nights at Isla Catalina. I finally had a chance to get caught up on the web pages thru Bahia Honda, and was even able to post them to the web with my intermittent free wi-fi, so we spent most of the second day there just putzing around on the boat.

The third day DELFIN SOLO, KETCHING UP, and WAHOO moved over to Isla Gobernadora while RHAPSODY stayed another night and day at Catalina. That morning, we took the dinghy across to the mainland, landed there, and did a quick reconnaissance of the surfer-tourist town, where we found a couple of tiendas, restaurants, and pizza parlour. I thought maybe I'd be able to jam at the pizza parlour, since it's mentioned in the Lonely Planet as having live music, but it was the off-season and the place was not open while we were there, and in general the town was very sleepy, looking to close down at sundown. We stopped at the tienda and got a few much needed provisions and then returned to RHAPSODY for the last night at Catalina.

The next morning, a day behind the other boats, we left Isla Santa Catalina and went over past Isla Gobernadora to Isla Cebaco. As we were getting the boat ready to go, we found this little tree frog hopping around inside the salon! We captured him and then put him safely in the water. We watched him swim away towards the shore before we fired up the motor, pulled up the anchor, and made way.