Isla Linton Anchorage, a week of Rain and Boats A-Dragging
It started raining soon after we arrived at Linton, and basically, with only a
few short breaks, it rained for 5 days straight. We took advantage of the rain
by putting up the tarp to collect rainwater, and were able to top off our
tanks, while we spent most of our time on the boat, reading, building web-pages, and so on.
When it did clear, one day, up we took a dinghy exploration
over to Isla Grande, to check out the anchorage, and see the villages
there. On the way back, we stopped at the fishing village on
the mainland across from Isla Linton, La Guaira, where we had a nice lunch at
the only restaurant there, run by ex-cruiser Hans, who served us chicken, fish,
rice, and beans, with great fresh-squeezed watermelon and pineapple juices.
The only other excursion we made at Isla Linton was to get some fuel.
Since we had not filled up since transiting the Canal, we had used about
25 gallons getting to Shelter Bay, Portobello, and here, and generating
our electricity for the last week or so.
We had heard that fuel might be hard to come by, or expensive,
in the San Blas Islands, so we wanted to top off before going there.
I transferred the diesel fuel from the 5 jerrycans on deck
into the tanks, and we took the jugs into La Guaria in the dinghy and
had them filled. We also got a couple of gallons of gasoline to top
off our supplies for the outboard. It was a good thing we started that task
early, at 8:00 am when the morning broke clear, because when we got
back to RHAPSODY at 10:00 am or so, just after we re-tied the filled
fuel cans on deck, it started raining again.
So the main story of the week here was the heavy rain that fell nearly
every day and night. We would occasionally turn on the instruments
and measure winds in the 25 knot range with gusts to 30. It rained so
hard that the water collection system could not keep up ... sometimes it
would rain several inches in just an hour or so, a pounding crashing
thunderous rain, that just overwhelmed the 1.5" pipe that fills the
One night in particular, the wind was blowing very hard and we
spent almost all night awake watching RHAPSODY to make sure that
she did not drag her anchor. After finally getting to sleep at 4:00 am,
we were awakened at 5:30 by someone pounding on our hull and shouting at us.
The skipper of the catamaran next to us was in his dinghy in the driving
rain and we scurried to grab some clothes and get to the deck, where
he told us that several boats had dragged anchor and that,
according to him, RHAPSODY had almost hit his boat during the night.
He said that he had shouted and screamed at us, but could not awaken
us. I couldn't help but think that shouting from boat to boat in a
rainstorm is not a particularly great idea, and wondered if the guy
had ever heard of an air-horn.
The guy was pretty wired up, so we calmed him and took stock of the situation.
It looked like RHAPSODY was ok, with 30-40' between us and the his catamaran,
so there was nothing to be done in a hurry. We told him we would re-anchor
RHAPSODY further away from him after the sun rose. We continued to chat
and he filled us in on other news about the night.
He told us out that this one huge catamaran, NEUTRINO, a big 75' yellow monstrosity
that had been anchored about 100 yards east of us, had slipped
its anchor, and passed right between RHAPSODY and his boat in the storm.
We were shocked to see the big catamaran about 1/2 mile west of us
where it had apparently finally come to rest after catching its
anchor again. Wow. Glad that we were not awakened by that big
boy hitting us! He also told us that several other boats had
slipped their anchor and that we could and should monitor channel
72 on the VHF to find out more.
After he left and went back to his boat, as the sun was beginning to rise
and we could start to see around the anchorage, we turned on the radio and
listened to the sagas as some of the other boats dealt with the aftermath
of the storm. One boat (DRAGOA) had dragged his anchor across another boat's
(HIATUS)'s chain, leaving the two boats' anchors tangled into knots that
took divers several hours to clear. Boats all over the anchorage were re-anchoring
as the daylight came.
One thing that we found out about the Linton anchorage that did not please
us, was that many of the boats were untended for months at a time, just
sitting here on the hook while their owners were elsewhere. That was
the case with the big yellow catamaran that had slipped and almost hit us,
as well as with several other boats that slipped their anchors. On VHF 72
we could hear the conversation as the regular "tenants" of the anchorage,
some who had been here for years, tried to contact the owners of the offending
boats, most of which were in Colon or out of Panama, to get keys and so on
so that the boats could be re-anchored. It was a real mess.
That day, during a break in the rain, we re-anchored RHAPSODY.
The only open spots left were almost out of the protection of the island,
and our new anchorage was a bit rolly, but at least we were safe from
other boats. It wasn't a fun place for us. Finally, after 6 nights in this
trailer-park, bumper-car anchorage, we had had enough. The weather was looking
to improve, and it was only another 40 nm to the San Blas Islands, so on Sunday,
Nov 2, we finally said "the heck with it" and departed the Linton Anchorage
bound for the San Blas Islands.