Boca Chica and Boquete
Boca Chica is a small community that draws life from the abundant sport fishing that lies just 60 nautical miles off the Panamanian coast. For a cruiser though, this is a laid back place with a small marina offering secure moorings, internet just fast enough to keep you addicted, and some of the most wild and remote islands just a day sail away.
We stayed here for much longer than we originally planned or anticipated, and we took full advantage of having a large city (David, Panama’s second largest city) near by to restock the boat, as well as work on all the little projects we could think of. Most of all though, we took this time to recharge our batteries and just enjoyed staying in one place for a while.
Being constantly on the move can get exhausting, and after a while we find that we are unable to process the all the amazing experiences we have. When everyday and every activity is new, we never get to fully digest what we did the day before. Our brains never get the chance to just “go through the motions” or “zone out” for a while. For this reason, every so often when we find ourselves in an “easy place”, some place that we can relax a little and work a bit on the boat, we take a break from cruising. Not that we just sit around and watch Netflix all day, but we stay busy and we enjoy working on the boat and catching up on computer work. We stop moving the boat around and get to know one location. It’s silly how finding a bit of a routine in a place can give you more energy. Knowing where the grocery store, bank and hardware stores are, and where the items that you need are located inside of them, make life just a bit easier.
We were also lucky enough to be moored next to where the sport fishing boats returned each day and we were often gifted massive bags of freshly caught tuna. Not only did the fishermen give us huge portions of fish, but they also threw the remaining carcasses into the river, attracting some pretty big crocodiles!
Boca Chica just so happened to be one of these places for us. Here we spent a few weeks working on a bunch of sewing projects, repaired our cockpit hatches, varnished some wood and deep cleaned the boat. It was really nice to feel productive and settled for a while, and our time there fueled us for the rest of our cruising through remote, western Panama during the rainy season.
It wasn’t all work though. We escaped the heat and boat work for a few days and took a little vacation to cool off in the mountains of Boquete. Three hours away and what seemed far away from the hot and sticky tropical climate of the coast, Boquete quickly charmed us. This cute little mountain town is much cooler because of it’s altitude and because of so, become a popular getaway for tourists and expats alike. Not only that but the surrounding mountains are absolutely beautiful and full of rewarding hikes and stunning waterfalls. There’s also a few good restaurants, bakeries, ice cream parlors, bars and coffee shops lining the main street.
It was exactly what we needed after weeks of sailing in remote, Southern Costa Rica and Western Panama. Just having real trails to hike on was so nice compared to the bushwhacking we had been doing through the jungle with our machete!
Our time in Boquete would only be a weekend retreat, but it was absolutely worth it as Rachel and I made it back to the boat fully recharged.
Eventually we ran out of excuses to keep on staying in Boca Chica and both Rachel and I were itching to get out to some beautiful islands and clear water to swim and play again.
The closest slice of paradise was Isla Gamez, but to get there we’d have to navigate the narrow river around a reef, under high voltage power line that no one seems to know the hight of, and through a shallow channel a few feet from shore with just inches under the keel, before we would finally make it into open waters again.
We did pretty well avoiding all the major obstacles, but also learned an important lesson…. Never trust the guy saying “trust me”.
We followed a fellow cruiser’s advice over trusting our depth sounder, and followed him over where he swore was the right way. “I have gone through here a hundred times”, he said. “Follow me.”
Nervous about the hight of the looming high voltage line and maneuvering the boat through crazy, rapid like water as we navigated the narrow pass at the end of the outgoing tide, we decided to follow him.
We followed him right into a rock. Luckily for us it was a soft rock, mostly clay, and it only scrapped the paint and bruised our egos a bit. But, it was a good lesson learned. Always trust your gut and your depth sounder!!!
We were out of Boca Chica safely and were headed out to explore the islands of Western Panama!