Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bocas Sailing

A highlight of our time so far in Panama is the day we spent on the water in Bocas del Toro. We booked an all day sailing tour with Bocas Sailing. We've always gone out on motorboats before and Erik thought it would be nice to do the sailing tour. It turned out that most of the day there wasn't enough wind to sail, but it was still nicer to be out on a 40-foot catamaran than on a little motorboat. There was room to move around and it felt more relaxed. One thing we've appreciated here in Panama is that children are usually given a discounted price, and we were pleased that they charged very little for kids. The next morning I happened to see the same boat heading out so was able to get a picture of it from the shore.
The catamaran was named Chewbacca, which the kids thought was pretty cool.  Here Pearl plays with the boat's namesake. If you ever go to Bocas with children, bring your own life jackets! The boat operators don't seem to have small ones for the kids. This was the only small sized one and of course it was still way too big for Pearl.
Erik snapped this one. 
Raphael and Erik enjoying the boat ride.
We got to see some dolphins coming up for air! They weren't leaping out of the water, just coming up long enough to breathe. They come up four or five times and then disappear for about two minutes. We watched for a while, waiting for them to come back up again, and got to see it a few times. 
After visiting Dolphin Bay, our next stop was a mangrove island surrounded by a coral reef. Much of the world's coral has died, so it was a rare treat to get to snorkel a living reef. I don't think I've ever seen coral so beautiful, like an undersea garden with corals in a myriad of fanciful shapes and brilliant colors. Nestled amongst the coral were starfish in various colors, seaweed, and "sailor's eyeballs", a large single-celled algae that looked rather like silver pearls.
I was so proud of Poppy, who really got the hang of snorkeling this time around. Last time we went, a few months ago, she had a hard time with the mask and breathing tube, but this time it clicked for her. I love snorkeling so much and am happy she is able to do it easily now.
Erik and I took turns getting in the water with the kids and staying on the boat with Pearl and/or Raphi.  Here they were hanging out in the cabin while Captain Marcell prepared sandwiches for lunch. He's from Germany and has been doing Bocas sailing tours for many years. He was knowledgeable about the area and we enjoyed visiting with him throughout the day.
Right up there with snorkeling was the rare privilege of drinking an entire soda. 
In typical girlie fashion, an empty soda bottle became a baby doll, wrapped up in a towel and snuggled by Pearl.
Beautiful green islands dotted the blue sea.
At the second spot we snorkeled, the fish were amazing! Captain Marcell has dubbed these Sergeant Major fish "piñanas" as they go crazy over pineapple (piña) scraps. In our family, they are sometimes called Murphy fish, because when Peregrine was four we snorkeled in Mexico and he confused the name with Sargent Murphy from Richard Scarry's Busytown books! Peregrine loves snorkeling as much as I do. Raphael did lots of swimming at this spot as well, but didn't want to try putting a mask on. Even little Pearl got in the water for a minute here. We saw many different kinds of fish here, so beautiful!
Isla Carinero from the boat.
There's something about a boy and a boat that just seems to go together, isn't there? 
We finally got to sail toward the end of the day. It was a nice, peaceful feeling to be gliding quietly along the water. We had a wonderful day out exploring! 


  1. That looks like so much fun!

  2. That looks great! What fun you had in Panama! You look much better prepared to snorkel with the kids than we were a year ago in Belize. We should have been smart and taken turns...instead we all tried to go at once, and there just weren't enough adults for the amount of holding our kids required (after all, we'd been living inland in Mexico where they didn't get out swimming all the time)!!

  3. You're making us miss Panama even more with tales of wonderful days like this one.

  4. Hi family, This is marcells wife from Bocas Sailing in Panama. I love your blog, I came across it by accident. Could I use some of the photos on our web site. If so could you send me originals of the snorkeling ones and others if you have time. thx

    1. I would be glad to send you some pics if you send me your contact info. You don't have a blogger profile set up so i have no way to contact you!


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