I had high hopes for the Caribbean Sea. Coming out of the washing machine that is the Gulf of Mexico, I had assumed that nothing could be worse than bashing through confused seas and that the Caribbean would be a softer ocean, more pleasant to sail in and, mainly, less prone to make me vomit. Wrong. The Caribbean has steep seas and short wave periods, and in the direction we traveled that unfortunate confluence of sucky wave characteristics always hit us on the beam, a sure fire puke fest for yours truly.
Comparatively speaking, I LOVE the Pacific. She may be a bigger body of water, but she is much more laid back. Obviously, we have only traveled in one tiny smidgen of the world’s largest ocean, but this bit of it is utterly tranquilo. The waves are long, slow swells that I barely notice passing by, and the sailing has been surprisingly good. This coast isn’t known for its wind, and, sure, we’ve done our share of motoring, though not nearly as much as we had assumed. Overall, we’ve had some lovely 10 - 15 knot beam reaches with winds out of the southwest. The weather has been perfect and the islands of Western Panama sublime.
Even the dreaded Punta Mala, the point that you have to round to get out of the Gulf of Panama that can sometimes funnel winds and has a strong current, was easy as pie. We waited for a good weather window, swung way out (about 15 miles) to avoid currents and ship traffic and danced along at 8 knots in almost completely flat seas.
On this coast of Panama, the water is way warmer than around the Perlas Islands and abounds with life. We’ve seen our first whale! And more sea turtles than you can shake a stick at, as well as two sea snakes (scary and cool), and a dolphin show reminiscent of Sea World. Seriously, they were walking on their tails.
And nary a seasickness pill has crossed my lips. Welcome to the Pacific.