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  • Writer's picturesvglaciergem

Exploring Panama’s Jungle from the Rio Chagres

About 10 nm (roughly 19 kms) outside of SBM (Shelter Bay Marina) lies the Rio Chagres. It’s been dammed to make Lake Gatun, a fresh water lake, which powers the Panama Canal. It also provides fresh water for the surrounding communities.

We decided to sail up the Chagres , and explore its surrounding jungle.

The Panama Canal Authority gave us about two weeks before our special date, our date to transit from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean! We used this time well.

The river has a somewhat treacherous entrance, with a hidden, under water rock in the middle of the entrance and tidal currents that can be pretty strong. It has wrecked, torn the bottom out of numerous ships/boats in the past.

We picked a calmer day out at sea to make our way into the river safely.

It was a beautiful day sailing!

As we entered the river we sailed past Fort St. Lorenzo located high on the rocks overlooking the entire area. It was a pretty neat vantage point in its day I’m sure and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We found a beautiful 90° bend in the river to call home for a couple days as we set our anchor. We found it to be a good defensive position. It allowed us to inspect oncoming boats for a good half mile before possibly reaching us. Despite their beauty, isolated anchorages can be dangerous places in some parts of the world.

Glorious jungle surrounded us with all of its magnificent, yet sometimes spooky sounds. Sounds from Howler Monkeys, Spider Monkeys, parrots, Toucans, cicadas and tree climbing iguanas, and splashing fish. Yes, they can be very noisy! And let’s not to forget the beauty of all the colorful flowers amidst the jungle greens.

Just stay still, breathe and enjoy! Beautiful! Absolutely beautiful.

We got to see a “resident” crocodile we named Mack, that was keeping us company during our stay there.

When there is just you and the jungle sounds as the sun sets, and rises, it’s almost magical. Spooky too I have to keep adding, but soooo cool!

We spent a total of 8 nights on the river, in the jungle!

We saw no other sailboats our entire stay. We did however see what looked like a couple of human smuggling boats, and a drug running refuel panga. There were a couple of fishing boats that passed us here and there. We had no problems with any of them.

The day after we left, another sailboat anchored in the same spot we had been, and reported its dinghy stolen while the crew was sleeping!

Next stop, back to SBM to food provision, get diesel, and wait for our friends to arrive to help us with the Canal Transit!

Yay! Finally! Our time has come!


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