Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Beautiful Bahia Honda in Western Pacific Panama

Anchorage Position: 07-45.124N 081-32.800W

The comments we heard about this bay seemed unanimously wonderful. The West Coasties all said "Better even than Bahia Santa Elena in Costa Rica." Since we haven't been to Bahia Santa Elena yet, we couldn't relate. However, our own reaction is WOW!

After nearly 2 weeks of rockin and rollin at the Flamenco anchorage in Balboa, and then 4 days of tenuous rolly anchorages, this is REALLY NICE.

Bahia Honda is a really deep bay where you can get total protection from the swell and the wind. And amazingly, it is very sparsely developed and so our anchorage feels very remote. We heard a waterfall ashore after the rain last night, and howler monkeys and various birds, too.

We are the only cruising boat here. We've only seen one other boat in the last 5 days of traveling, and they were headed the other way. From listening to the SSB nets, it seems nobody moves anywhere in the Panama/Costa Rica area this time of year.

We left Isla Cebaco about 10am yesterday, and headed NNW toward the coast. We wanted to sightsee the coast a little on our way to Bahia Honda. It is a beautiful and wild coast. Not much in the way of habitations evident here. Our Panama road map doesn't show any roads in this area. And there is no cell phone service at all.

We did check out Puerto Escondido, the next bay to the SE of here. Tao 8 told us it was a very nice anchorage. It did look nice, but we are glad we carried on to Bahia Honda. Puerto Escondido is a typical semi-exposed swelly anchorage compared to here.

Soon after we dropped anchor, we were visited by Domingo, a talkative old guy in a cayuca. We had heard about Domingo from other cruisers... He and his family live across the bay on a finca (farm) and he can supply some fresh veggies, and also can hustle gas, diesel, and 'dry goods' from the town.

Domingo talked a mile a minute in Spanish, and we only half followed everything he said. But he did invite us over to his house, we will probably go for a visit this afternoon. He mentioned there were children there and suggested we could bring some cookies and maybe school supplies for the kids. Later we were also visited by one of Domingo's sons, Kennedy. He was looking for fishing line and lures. His opening line was "You have a very nice boat, mucho dinero". Dave told him he would look
and see if there is something he could spare. I don't think we should just give stuff to anyone who asks. But it's hard to say no sometimes, when we have so much and they have so little.

Cruising Details

We had all 3 chart programs (SeaClear with the Bauhaus chartlets, Nobeltec with Raster charts, and MaxSea with older CMap charts) up and recording our trail as we came in. The Bauhaus chart is still the most accurate, except we found at least one shoal (5' or less at mid tide) where he has a 6 meter sounding. CMap and the Raster charts seem to agree with each other pretty well and are both off positionally by about .2 miles. Our raster chart says it is WGS72.

In the Bauhaus Guide it is the '6' (meter) depth indication, due north of the eastern edge of Punta Miel and SSW of Isla Levin. (on our raster chart, which has depths in fathoms, it's where the 3 1/4 spot is).

It's at 07-45.096N 081-32.515W. We were exploring at low-rising tide (about +2 feet according to our tide chart) and trying to find an anchoring spot in one of the bays as you come in, on the west side. We could see the one spot that is noted with 1 meter indications in the first bay, and went around that and into the blue area on the north side of the first bay. By the time we got to reasonable anchoring depths there, that seemed to too confined to anchor in. So we carried on around the point
to the north of it, outside the blue shading, to go into the next bay. We were RIGHT OVER the 6 meter depth indicator when the depths went from 30' - 15' - 5' in one boat length. I am not sure we touched, but we backed right out of there, nosed out a little further and tried again, and got the same. So then we went way around the point.

We ended up a tiny bit east of the 14 and 10 meter spots in the westernmost bay, at 07-45.124 and 81-32.800W. There is a narrow shelf here that is anchorable depths, a small beach at low tide, and waterfall we can hear ashore to the south of us. A little wind comes over the low spot in the hills to the SW. There are no obvious habitations in this bay, but we did see some guys get dropped off by lancha in the low spot to the SW...not sure where they are going, except maybe to hike across the low
spot for a lancha to Isla Medidor, where we have heard there are some very large foreign residences under construction.

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