061127; 0042 UTC,
Balboa, Republic of Panama
N 08 degrees 56’ / W 079 degrees 33’
We arrived safely in Panama City on November 21, 2006 in strong winds during a foggy, white-out squall after a long night of hand steering Carina. Our trip of 978 miles took us one hour shy of ten days, which is what we had estimated, so we are pleased. Our Monitor windvane steering device - an essential piece of equipment for long ocean passages - suffered an un-repairable failure on day nine and our backup electronic belt-driven autopilot wasn't able to steer under the extreme squally conditions of our last night at sea, so we took turns steering and watching for canal traffic, finally approaching the Panama Canal and anchoring at a location south of the Balboa Yacht called La Playita (little beach) about 0930 local time.
It was a long, tiring night for us. Except for the squall, our last days of passage were characterized by lighter and unreliable winds. This caused us to motor more than normal through calms so as to avoid a forecasted negative change in the weather. That forecast, if materialized, would have delayed our arrival in Panama City and would have forced us to anchor in the Perlas Islands to wait out strong north winds. But we were able to motor and sail to Panama before the winds arrived. We were also anticipating a reunion with friends on the vessels Mira and 5th Element for a Thanksgiving feast that they were planning - certainly motivation to keep accumulating miles under our keel.
In spite of the motoring we were forced to do, we were still able to sail over 75% of the time during our voyage. Now on a mooring at the Balboa Yacht Club in Panamá City, we've jumped right into our long project list including our being able to overcome some technical problems to post our latest Galápagos photos to our website. If you are interested, please visit the site: www.sv-carina.org and select "Our Pictures" from the navigation bar.
We hope everyone is well.
Sus amigos del velero Carina
Leslie, Philip and el gato guapo, Jake