FLEET UPDATE 2018-03-31

1) SV EASY – Costa Rica
Matapalo 32′ high tide  N 08 23.518 W 083 16.519
I like it. Good surf. Beautiful, it is not a lake, other than more people it still is old costs rica.
My friend sold out. Monkeys and loads of wildlife.


Drake’s Bay @ 22′ mid tide. N 08 41.864 W 083 40.131

Drake Bay

Manuel Antonio 
N09 22.923-W084 08.886 in 22 feet 3’above low tide

Punta Quepos
N09 24.269-W084 10.113 25′ low tide


Welcome to the Panama Posse !



Rodger & AliWelcome to the Panama Posse !


3) SV LIQUID  – Costa Rica

Latitude: 10.52106
Longitude: -85.79123
GPS location Date/Time: 03/30/2018 11:38:57 PDT

Message: This message serves as our one of our traveling check ins. Just letting you know all is ok 🙂

Has anyone heard of this holiday called “Easter” that lasts all week. I guess the Port Captain has.

Stuck in the Playa del Coco area until Tues morning since the Port Captain is on Holiday for Easter.
We decided to cruise the local bays while we wait. We are in Bahia Guacamaya til Sunday then off to
Bahia Huevos then back to Coco Monday. Checkout Tuesday am then off to Bahia Ballena


Marc & Laura

4) VOLANTE III – Nicaragua

Device Name: Volante III
Latitude: 12.78343 
Longitude: -87.74261
GPS location Date/Time: 03/30/2018 02:49:11 CST

Message: Hello from Volante III. Checkout my current location.

Battery Status: Low. Replace batteries as soon as possible.


5) SV MYLA – Panama

In La Playita Marina anchorage. We have an excellent electrician we can recommend: Tom Valentin at +1-507662598
Also, just got prices from Shelter Bay Marina. Their rates aren’t too bad and offer discounts for 6 months or more.
They can store in a slip or on the hard.

John & Julie
( note – can we put our logo on that ? )

6) SV JULIA MAX – Panama

As we sit in Shelter Bay Marina on the Caribbean side with mv Crossroads, we want to extend a heart-felt thanks to all our friends in the Panama Posse.  We will be heading north towards the Grand Cayman Island early next week.  Here is a brief report on our Canal Transit with a few photos. Love you guys,


Panama Canal Transit 2018

The First Day

What an exciting day!  We arrived in Panama on March 2, and were given a transit date of March 25.  So the intervening days helped build the excitement and anticipation for making the Transit.  We woke at 4:30am, received our one professional line handler at 5:45 am, and left our slip to receive our Traffic Advisors about 7:00am.  We were off to the Miraflores Locks following a Big Boy, a car carrier called Grand Orion.  We side-tied up to a tour boat, Fantasia del Mar, behind Grand Orion.  We used tires and regular fenders between the boats, and two long lines plus regular mooring lines as spring lines.  Going north, we were lifted in the locks, so the mild turbulence was from water coming into the lock.  The significant turbulence was when Grand Orion moved ahead out of the lock.  The ship wake provided up to a 4 knot current on our bow with waves, rips and eddies.  But we easily moved away from the tour boat, and headed up to the next lock. Then repeat.  Once through Miraflores Locks at 10:30am, we moved on to the Pedro Miguel Lock entering at 11:15am.  This time the tour boat was tied up to a tug.  When we tied up in the remaining space next to the tour boat with 20′ to spare on the starboard side.  We had two Traffic Advisors, the seasoned Ricardo, and the capable Victor who was doing his final exam.  Looking at the remaining ship traffic northward they said we were the last ‘line handler’ (cruising boat using hand lines) for the day.  And the last Big Boy named Alpine Link was catching up to us in the adjacent locks.  Of course there was no way we could keep up to Alpine Link after they passed us in the Gaillard Cut.  So it was obvious we could not go through the Gatun Locks today, and that we would be mooring overnight before the Gatun Locks.  Gatun Lake was beautiful, green island scenery.  As we continued on, the southward traffic was plentiful with maybe 20 ships transiting.  The winds picked up and were blowing 15-25 knots, with the accompanying cresting waves.  After mooring to an ocean ship buoy, the winds settled down.  Our Traffic Advisors left, and we settled in for the afternoon.  So tomorrow we expected to leave sometime before noon to go through the Gatun Locks, and on to Shelter Bay Marina, our final destination.
  A special event was going on in the Gaillard Cut.  There were upwards of 25-30 four-person racing canoes racing through the Canal.  Most were four-man teams, but there were many four-woman teams as well.  What a site to see such energy from paddlers 14 years on up.  People (moms and dads) were cheering them on from shore.  The canoes had their canoe names on the side of the canoes, such as, Marry Me, Strong Panama, etc.

Second Transit Day

  After the first night tied up to an ocean mooring buoy, we all woke up to a beautiful morning.  Our agent phoned us to inform us we would receive our Traffic Advisor at 12:30pm.  So the morning was spent taking a swim in fresh-water Gatun Lake.  Only after getting out of the water did Ricardo, our experienced line handler, tell us some stories of crocodiles in Gatun Lake…..  The surprise and entertainment of the morning was seeing the Coral Princess cruise ship come through the upper lock, and then slowly turn around and stop between the old locks and the new locks.  What was it doing?  We thought: someone had jumped overboard, maybe it was a ship exercise, maybe it was dropping some people off since life boats were deployed.   Only later did we learn that the cruise ships sometimes go through the Gatun Locks, stop, disembark passengers so they can take land tours, go back to Colon where the passengers will meet up with the ship to continue on.
  At 12:55pm our Traffic Advisor arrived telling us we needed to leave immediately.  To his surprise we had the engine running, we released lines from the mooring buoy, and we are off at top speed.  We had to meet up with a ship that was about one mile away, and get in front of it, tie up to a tug (yeah)…and the ship was not going to stop to let us in.  We made it with a hundred yards to spare!!!  Gatun Locks are three separate locks: Higher, Middle, and Lower.  We learned quickly that there are currents, eddies, and winds off to our port.  We tied starboard side to a huge tug.  The ship ‘Great Beauty’, a petroleum tanker, took up most of the lock width with 5′ on each side to spare.  They were three boat lengths away from us: 150′.  Going down, there was less turbulence.  Tied up to the huge tug was reassuring.  But then came the Middle Lock.  The advisor told me to stay on the left side of the lock while the tug went on to the far end to tie up.  But when I went to the left side, we tied the bow to a bollard, and then Julia Max shifted quickly 90 degrees perpendicular to the lock sidewall.  All I could think of was to spin around with a ‘back and fill’ maneuver.  It would work in calm water and no wind.  But we had currents and wind.  I spun 180 degrees, thinking how the tug and the pilot on Great Beauty were taking this in.  A lock person was jumping up and down wondering what we were doing.  Then the wind kept catching our bow, and preventing my finishing coming up into the wind.  Panic.  But we kept trying, and slowly she came around.  Prayers answered.  We went to the left side, but stayed in control of our heading, the tug passed us, we tied up to them when they were set, and the pilot of Great Beauty continued forward probably with a few more gray hairs. 
  While waiting for the water to lower, I suggested that we should center our steering wind vane and tighten it down, so that when I had to back up it wouldn’t affect our maneuvering (so I thought).  But when we entered the Lower lock, I was having great difficulty controlling Julia Max.  The currents caused by fresh water mixing with salt water, the winds at 15 knots, and my steering vane rudder centered, were affecting my steerage.  We were headed sharply towards the right side wall.  People rushed forward with fenders and tires.  At first I thought, with enough power I should be able to turn.  Then I tried reverse.  The steering vane was released.  We came up, and bounced off the side wall using the fenders. No damage! Great work, people!!  We tied up to the tug for the third time.  The water dropped, the gates opened, and we headed out in 15 knots of wind as fast as we dared.  Thanks to a great crew, we came through the Panama Canal unscathed, and more knowledge than we wanted.
  We had about four miles left to drop off the Traffic Advisor, and settle in to Shelter Bay Marina where we would be for the next few days.

sv Julia Max (officially 48.67’ Peterson Ketch with anchor and davits)

Canal Transit
Julia Max & Linehandlers

George & Sue (note: congratulations – we miss you too !! )

7) CROSSROADS – Panama

Stan & Diane
(note: congratulations – we miss you !)

8) GADABOUT – Nicaragua

After a very sporty bar crossing on our departure from Bahia del Sol, a full day/night of strong currents, and loads of panga dodging last night, Gadabout made it to Puesta del Sol, Nicaragua first thing this morning with calm seas and no breakers at the channel entrance. Now it’s time for some sleep.

Gadabout made it to San Juan del Sur and we are enjoying the nice calm anchorage. Just kidding… it’s not. Blowing a steady 25+, gusting to mid- to upper-30s. We’re assuming the port captain’s office is closed for the holiday so at least we don’t need to rush to shore. Happy Easter, everyone!


Arthur “Wags” & Paula
( enjoy one of the best Pizzas at Pizzeria La Terraza in SJDS – the owner is from Italy and stock up on Rum – it’s 4 x the price in Costa Rica )

9) SV ARGONAUTA – Costa Rica / Panama

Hello Everyone

We are new to the group. Had a great time at Goudy and Carol’s yesterday. Special thanks to Sea Glass for including us,
We are heading back North to Pacific Mexico after spending several years in Central America and the Caribbean Home port Ventura Ca. We may start 6 months on and off.

Yesterday several members asked us about our canal and other experiences ….. so I thought I would share

Have been thru the canal both ways and Dave has assisted cruisers another 4 times.

It’s a great time and really fun, not hard. Have plenty of bottled water for your pilot. It ‘s required ….. Also a “proper lunch” no sandwiches. We have met cruisers that did not comply and the pilot ordered his own lunch delivered and a large expense to the vessel! Dave barbecued chicken thru the lake.

A great read before you go thru the canal is a Path Between the Seas by David McCllough. It really makes the canal experience come to life. You understand what is beneath Gatum lake and all that went into building of the canal

We did use an agent both times. We had company flying (two of our line handlers) in and were date sensitive. Your agent can tell you when you must arrive in Panama City to obtain the date requested. It varies by time of year. You need to be measured the first time… under 50 ft is the magic number.

First time our agent was quick, easy and cheaper than our second agent but keep reading.. First agent Eric Galvez, second agent Alex ASA @shipsagent.com . During our first crossing the canal authority had us sidelined for another boat, At completion of the locks we were told we owed the penalty 800.00 US (our crossing was too slow). Our agent did not help us. He accused us of being beneath our stated speed. At our request our pilot wrote a letter stating what really occurred and our penalty was dropped. In many ways the canal authority does not always know what their counterparts are doing.

We had one experienced hired line handler the other two were friends. Rick(hired line handler was great) he rented us fenders and lines at a cheaper price and was great company and had a lot of knowledge of the area. Rick 506-6427-3044 You never know ahead of time what configuration for the crossing you will have, despite your request, We were nested that last time, We were the center boat. The other two boats had no experience causing the trio to cross like a snake, coming dangerously close to the cement walls. Lines were too tight and then too loose. At the end both boats started to un group and forgot to release our stern lines from theirs We almost lost our cleats. Rick was great and helped save the sides of our boat mates and our cleats.

We hired the same driver both times for Panama city. The four of us to toured old town, found boat parts and supplies and arranged a panga to monkey island. He charged 100.00 US per day Much cheaper than any ” tour” for four people Speaks perfect English nice guy and knowledgeable of the area. Avil 506-6706-8343
It’s fun and a good idea to visit the Miraflores locks and museum before making the crossing. Your friends at home can see you cross thru a live cam at the Miraflores locks… see website

Hope this helps have fun


David & Marilyn

10) SEA GLASS – Costa Rica

 Going back in time made memories with Panama Posse which I can now call my extended family and friends for life. I would truly recommend joining the Posse to new sailors alike and those who have been sailing for a long while. Knowing that you are not alone out there, not just for moral support but to share the experience of new and exotic places. I can’t express enough gratitude to all that have helped us thru our journey. Best wishes to fair winds and following seas. HeHe….I sound like a sailor!!!


Chris & Amanda

11) CINDERELLA – Nicaragua

Cinderella is trucking along. After a night of dodging pangas and reefing sails we are passing El Transition.
Got a late start yesterday (the wind, swell and current were too much for the windlass so we waited until it mellowed)
Turns out, after we passed Puerto Sandino the wind fell off the nose and we don’t have to tack! The current is still kicking though. We are leaving the storm jib up full time now and run as a cutter when the wind is light.
In a mile or so we should be able to crack off a few degrees and get moving.
Hope all is well out there!

And! Here is our tracker in case we lose signal http://www.sailingcinderella.com/where-are-we-now

I spoke a little too soon. The further south we got, the crazier the gusts. Way over the predictions, probably double. After spending the wee hours of the night hove-to we turned an ran back to Masachapa. We are anchored and excited to get some sleep.

Update : Cinderella lost our primary anchor while bashing into mean swell. We have a secondary anchor but it is not optimal. We are currently (3:49am) heaving-to outside of Astillero, Nicaragua. About 15-20 miles from San Juan del Sur. The current is pushing us so we are losing some ground but at least manage to be moving towards shore.

The wind looks like it may be building tonight and so not sure if proceeding to sjds is a good idea. Even though services are there. At least at Astillero there is said to be better protection and we’d like to wait until sunrise to enter.

Wind is higher than predicted.

Just wanted the other boats to be aware of our situation. Good thoughts for us please!

Thanks to everyone who responded with helpful and prompt insight, we owe you some hugs. After a rowdy heave-to for a few hours the gusts kept building, we turn and ran to Masachapa. Anchor holding well in 30′ Now for nap time.

Pavao, Pajo & Ava

(note we need your pictures)

12) RESPITE – Panama

Bahia Honda. We anchored in Domingo anchorage.
7 d 45.746 N 81 d 31.812. Depth 10 ft in low water.
Enjoy! Domingo anchorage at Bahia Honda. Calm and peaceful after the locals finally quit trying to trade with us.
They are very isolated and really need D cell batteries, rope, fishing hooks and anything else you can spare. Kennedy has assorted fruits to trade.

Bahia Honda

We now have a pet on board, called, what else? Giko!


Checking out of Costa Rica started out wonderful with the friendly immigration officer and went downhill from there.
Took us about 5 hours to go through the process. Counting spending time talking to said officer !

Exit Costa Rica

Chris & Janet

13) TOTEM – Nicaragua / Panama

For your canal planning pleasure: the purpose of this post is to walk through the dynamics of the transit with point about the roles aboard, what actually happens, how to avoid getting caught in the spinning raft of doom, and our takeaways on how to have a good/safe transit. The shortlist of tips from our POV based on factors in your control:
1. Clear decks. The area around bow and stern cleats must be as clear as possible. We moved (stern rail mounted) outboard to rest on deck near Totem’s mast to free up space near the stern cleats.
2. You’re either a line handler or you’re not. If you want to take photos or text or adjust your GoPro or message Facebook friends or, or, or, when in the locks, then you are not a line handler.
3. Fair leads! You know your boat: if the bow line has to pass through the bow pulpit for a clear path to the cleat, then have it run that way at the start. Re-leading in the moment takes time you may not have if currents start spinning the raft.
4. Stern lines: Jamie felt these took the most load: a strategy to consider is running them to a cockpit winch with the stern cleat as a guide. This gives far better control when easing a loaded line and more muscle to tension when required.
5. Repeat the instruction given by the advisor. This makes the advisor’s job easier by confirming you heard and are responding to the action called for. It may serve to clarify the advisor’s intentions when issuing rapid instructions.
6. Mitigating an un-engaged advisor. If the lead advisor is distracted or communication is poor (and even if they’re not), proactively talk through maneuvers before they need to happen. We felt the boats rafted to us struggled a couple of times due to less attentive advisors.
7. PAY ATTENTION! The lead advisor (who is not necessarily on your boat) may call for rapid engine and or steering changes. One of the boats rafted to us was… less attentive. It created a couple of fire drills and added to our burden to prevent the raft from spinning.

Bonus: an awesome advisor like we had … Roy and Jamie’s bromance photo below. A couple of elated guys as we got into the Pacific!

More at http://www.sailingtotem.com/2018/03/anatomy-of-a-panama-canal-transit.html


Totem kids dolphin spotting on our way into Playa Hermosa a few days ago (doubled back from Huevos)… looking at taking off tomorrow. Next stop… Chiapas? Not sure, looks like we might be able to catch a T’Pec window in the bargain.

Boat kids are the best !

Behan & Jamie & …

14) PINEAPPLE – Nicaragua

Quick tip for anyone who finds themselves in Chinandega, Nicaragua (near Puesta del Sol and Corinto): Check out “More Than Coffee” for excellent coffee (including proper espresso!) and snacks. The owners, Mayela and Augusto, are super friendly and generous. It’s a gem!


John & Michelle

15) SV RAVEN – Mexico

Raven is in Chiapas after an easy Tehuantepec crossing. We need to have our transmission fixed…again…but will be heading to Bahia del Sol in a week or two.


Neil, Tally, Jan

16) XENIA – El Salvador


Xenia crossed Bahia Del Sol El Salvador with some awesome cruisers today! Xenia made 13.8 knots. What a rush!!!


Tara & Mike

17) FRED AGAIN III – Panama
FredAgain III is departing Golfito this afternoon for Panama.



18) Carinthia / Agape / Dad’s Dream – Costa Rica

Panama Posse Deal

Panama Posse Deal at Hotel Oasis

Ask for Cruiser friendly Agatha Willhelm & Staff

private dinghy dock
free WiFi
restaurant with local snacks and basic good fares
music chill
free potable water (TDS 325)
$ 1.75  beers
dog friendly
all day access 3,000 colones x day ~5.50 USD
but they did not charge us on day 2 because they like cruisers so stick around)

You can also take the ferry across from here to Puntarenas if you need to provision 

Anchorage @ 09 56.361 N 084 57.845 W @ 13 feet (8′ tidal range !)


18) Carinthia / Agape / Dad’s Dream – Costa Rica

Panama Posse Deal

Panama Posse Deal at Hotel Oasis

Ask for Cruiser friendly Agatha Willhelm & Staff

private dinghy dock
free WiFi
restaurant with local snacks and basic good fares
music chill
free potable water (TDS 325)
$ 1.75  beers
dog friendly
all day access 3,000 colones x day ~5.50 USD
but they did not charge us on day 2 because they like cruisers so stick around)

You can also take the ferry across from here to Puntarenas if you need to provision 

Anchorage @ 09 56.361 N 084 57.845 W @ 13 feet (8′ tidal range !)


We celebrated Ricks (Dad’s Dream) Birthday and
ran our own power-cord to our little Palapa for some R&R and device charging off the boat

Happy Birthday !

Dietmar, Suzanne, Rick, Brenda, Joshua & Rachel

Picture of the Week – SV AGÁPĒ

Costa Rica – Punta / Playa Naranjo @ Oasis

Keep em coming
Happy Easter, Passover and Panama Posse bliss

Panama Posse

We celebrated Ricks (Dad’s Dream) Birthday and
ran our own power-cord to our little Palapa for some R&R and device charging off the boat

Dietmar, Suzanne, Rick, Brenda, Joshua & Rachel

Picture of the Week – SV AGÁPĒ

Costa Rica – Punta / Playa Naranjo @ Oasis

Keep em coming
Happy Easter, Passover and Panama Posse bliss