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The Fennell Family’s “Route Less Traveled” Part 6

With today’s drenching, cold rains, we decided to share a little sunshine. Dive into the story of the Fennell family’s continuing voyage “off the beaten track” aboard their Bavaria 46E Taliesin Rose.

We said goodbye to friends who had become family and a place that felt like home in the sweet gulf with promises to return. We had been traveling with our buddies Pati and Eric (who were more like family) on Shearwater since El Salvador, and together we continued southeast.

Fennell Family and friends in dinghy
Touring Bahia Honda with Pati and Eric.
© 2023 Taliesin Rose

The passage to Panama was pleasant as we buttonhooked around Punta Banco toward Puerto Armuelles. At the time that we were transiting, the regulations on the books were being enforced and it was mandatory to check in at the first available port of entry, which was unfortunate because Armuelles is an unprotected open roadstead with terrible anchoring, and the southern swell season had already started. We had to wait overnight for our paperwork to be processed and it was the most uncomfortable night on the hook we experienced the entire three years cruising.

As soon as we were official, we headed for the relative calm of the open sea to let our nerves and stomachs settle, and ventured toward the picturesque islands off the northern coast of Panama.

We had been to islands all along the Pacific Coast — the rocky, evergreen-covered islands of the Salish Sea; the craggy California islands; the arid, cactus-covered islands of Mexico; the palm-tree-littered isletas of El Salvador; the ancient volcanoes of the Golfo de Fonseca; the vine-laden islands of Costa Rica. All so beautiful in their own right. But none of them quite prepared me for the breathtaking beauty of the islands of Panama.

Taliesin Rose
Taliesin Rose crosses the bar in El Salvador.
© 2023 Bill/Cruisers Rally to El Salvador

My personal belief system is based firmly in science and the astounding “magic” involved in the natural processes of the world. Gazing upon the Islas Partidas for the first time, the azure sea dotted with postcard-perfect, slate-colored rock piles, each with a clump of lush green jungle atop, each with a white sand beach lined with coco palms, it’s easy to imagine some omniscient being placing each one carefully for the sole purpose of creating something beautiful to behold. Even more astounding to realize that it all occurs by a series of happy accidents, without a thought to the human gaze, just existing in tropical splendor.

The waters around Partida are littered with submerged rocks and small islands, so navigation into the anchorage was a nail-biter. We were rewarded for the effort with a gorgeous view in each direction.

The nearby Islas Secas are equally beautiful and contain a national park. We explored the white sand beach surrounded by clear aquamarine water. We all delighted in the shell game a cluster of hermit crabs were participating in, where they each level up into a bigger shell in order of size, biggest to smallest. The girls practiced making a beach bonfire with Eric. And we aimlessly walked along the beach under the steaming trees, dripping with rain drops from the earlier squall and draped in vines and bromeliads.

Read the continuing story from page 84 of Latitude 38’s February issue. Or, go back to the start of this seven-part story, the last of which will appear in the March issue of Latitude 38.

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