Cruising with Soggy Paws
Soggy Paws is a 44' CSY Sailboat. In 2007, we set sail on a 10 year around the world cruise.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Islas Contreras, Western Panama
Anchoring position in the Contreras: 07-51.964N 81-47.635W

We totally skipped Isla Coiba, which is no longer a penal colony and is now a national park. Until recently, there was a reasonable fee to stay for a day or two (something on the order of $10-$20 per night). But cruisers who arrived in Panama City just before we left said that they were asked for $100/day to stay there. ($20 pp per night, and $60 for the boat for the first night, and $40 for subsequent nights).

We wanted to go check it out for ourselves, to see if it really was that outrageous. But we're getting short on time and we just decided we'd skip it. I wanted to go, confirm the fee, and leave immediately (in protest) to make a point. But it seemed a little ridiculous to go to that extent (it's 2 hours motoring to get there, and 2 hours to get anywhere else).

So we went directly from Bahia Honda to the Contreras, going around the south and west end of Isla Medidor. (Someone had warned us not to go through the narrow slot between Medidor and the mainland, saying the currents and waves were nuts there).

We found a nice anchorage in the deep bay on the north side of Isla Brincanco, approximately where the Bauhaus guide indicates. The sketch chart, when used with the GPS and Sea Clear to plot the boat on the chart, isn't exactly accurate. But it is accurate from a visual standpoint. The best anchorage IS west of the prominent rocks, but the location that that plots in Sea Clear on the sketch chart is just EAST of the rocks.

We didn't get to do any exploring, because it started raining soon after we dropped anchor, and poured all night long. There were 2 fishing boats that came in late in the day and anchored in the NW corner of the bay. They were gone at dawn.

This island group is supposedly part of Coiba National Park, and we'd been warned by others that we might get asked to pay a fee to stay there. Our strategy was to resist paying and cite weather and just an overnight stop. With the dinghy up on deck, it's not too hard to argue that we didn't plan to go ashore. But the weather was so nasty that I think all the patrol boats wisely stayed in port. We never saw a soul. There is nothing that we could see ashore... one small beach and 2 palm trees,
and then heavy vegetation everywhere else.

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