Day 6 – Sint Maarten to Panama

Current Affairs

25 July 2021

Noon position: N 13°34.903’ W 73°57.647’

We made nearly 164 miles noon-to-noon. Our best haul yet. With our approach to Bocas now a near straight line, and a favorable current, we should be able to make even better mileage in the coming days.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that we have lost our wind. We anticipated the last few days of this trip would be spent motoring. The wind shadow created by the northern tip of the South American continent was always going to mean we had to rely on our 175-horse Yanmar to cover the final stretch.

It has however happened sooner than we had hoped, which means we’ll have to burn more diesel than we wanted.

Fortunately, we left Sint Maarten with topped up tanks. We literally have plenty of gas in the tank to make it.

I’ve mentioned this in a previous entry, but the story of this passage has really been the currents. There are several clockwise and counterclockwise currents swirling about the Caribbean Sea and crossing this stretch of ocean from the northeast to the southwest like we did means we had to plan our route accordingly.

There are few things more frustrating than sailing into a counter current. Do you remember being a kid at the airport and being unable to resist walking the wrong way on a travellator. How cool is it to keep walking, but not moving? So much fun!

Not when you are sailing.

In the wee hours of this morning, we had a 3.9 knot assisting current. We were flying along at almost 11 knots at that point. It would have been extremely frustrating had it been the other way around. Our speed would have dropped to around 3 or 4 knots with a near four knot current against us.

Currents in the Caribbean Sea
Currents in the Caribbean Sea largely determine the best course to take. An opposing current can really add days to the journey, while an assisting current can save a lot of time.

So our course for this journey has largely been based around using these current to propel us forward, and it’s worked out well. Even now, as I am writing this, we are running at a relatively low RPM on the engine (to conserve diesel) yet we are cruising along nicely at between 7 and 8 knots with a 1.5 knot current at our backs.

It’s looking like we will reach Bocas around 5pm on Wednesday. We will likely anchor out for the night, crack open a bottle of bubbly to celebrate our arrival, and then get a good, long, uninterrupted night’s sleep before checking into the country and heading to our slip the following morning.

The finish line is nearly in sight.

Sunset on Day 6





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