Chocosanas on Repeat

(Eastern Coco Bandero Cays, San Blas, Panama)

We’ve been loving life over here in the Coco’s. Greg’s got class A diving. I’ve got my own running track island. Endless buckets of sunshine, and we’ve enlisted ourselves into San Blas’ Aussie fleet. Great times abound, regardless of what my liver thinks.

The only downfall is the morning appointment with an increasingly bitter Mother Nature. For the last two mornings, like clockwork, we’ve been hit with a Chocosana between 8:30 and 9:30 am.

Regularly the breeze at anchorage is 5-10 knots. Pretty calm, keeps all the boats facing the same direction. But when these bad boys blow through the world turns black and the winds blow up to the 30-65 knot range. At least that’s what we saw this morning. Absolutely mental.

So here you are on your boat, your floating home, being pelted by crazy winds and driving rain, just praying your anchor will hold steady in the ground. To date our beast of an anchor has been a star player and held like a champ. Thank goodness we busted out the wallet and spent the money on a good one.

But not only do you have to worry about your own floating domain. What’s worse, is you have to worry about the other boats anchored around you. Specifically the ones up wind of you. Doesn’t matter how well you hold if buddy in front of you starts dragging your way.

As is beginning to be the norm for us during these storms, the only boat upwind of us, you guessed it, drug. Holy f*ck, a double masted monohull at least 50 feet, started coming at us sideways. The wind is howling at 65 knots. The rain is coming down in sheets and we’ve got a fairly substantial vessel coming at ours. They, thankfully, managed to get themselves to our port side a little. Then as it looked like they were going to t-bone us, Greg got two hands on their bow handrail and guided them down the length of Oceanna. Chaos is a pretty strong word, but I don’t think it’s too terribly inappropriate in this situation.

Once they were clear of our stern, it was a huge relief to watch them drift away. But now the problem is they are dragging their anchor. An anchor that could easily find ours, wrap up, and subsequently pop ours out of the ground. I stationed myself on the bow of Oceanna (holding on to something was almost mandatory to stay upright, and there wasn’t an inch of me that wasn’t 100% saturated) and put all my focus into willing the anchor snubber to stay still. One little jump and we would be in trouble.

Eventually they drifted quite far back and had to be clear of our anchor zone.  Now all that was left to do was to watch the horror story behind us. The dragging boat continued to be blown around in the storm and took out another boat. As the two boats hung up on each other the previously set anchor popped and the boats drug back running aground on the island behind them. With some combination of engine maneuvers they managed to get off the sand and spent the rest of the storm fighting the wind dancing around each other. Which in turn wrapped their anchor chains up even more.

What a mess!

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Stormy skies and jewel waters colour the garage.

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A shot during Chocosana morning #1. Visibility goes to zero.

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The calm after the storm sets the Panama mainland mountains a glow.

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With the morning storm out of the way, it’s back to business as usual.

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Not a bad Pargo. Not bad at all.

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We’ve found the world’s greatest mangos. No serious, we have.

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The aftermath. Greg is in the water diving on the anchors doing his best to untangle them. While the two Aussie’s are in the dinghy pulling up chain as it comes free. The boat owners watch on.

 

4 comments

  1. So nice that all can help out but sounds pretty terrifying to me!!! The mangos look amazing!! Keep up the good work with staying afloat and not tangled!!

    1. You’re right, during the storm it’s definitely not fun!

  2. Betty Evans · · Reply

    Sent from my iPad I sure enjoyed every one of you writing about your experiences,they are so well written and so comical at times. I admire you two for being as brave as you are being that neither of you really had much knowledge of sailing but you’ve proven me wrong !so far you doing great and I’m really proud of you both. You made my day and will keep looking for more.will keep in touch. Love you both Granma. > >

    1. Thanks Granma!! We continue to surprise ourselves at how much we’ve learned. We love knowing that you’re following us along.

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