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Old 21-09-2015, 02:28   #1
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panama to gambier

hi all,
I would like to have your suggestions, comments and information on a possible Panama-Easter Island, Pitcairn , Gambier passage starting in November /December.
What condition are expected ??
Will the Nino negatively change the prevalent weather pattern ??

thank you all
Roberto
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Old 21-09-2015, 05:48   #2
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Re: panama to gambier

See ➥ Latitude 38 Features: South Pacific Strategies
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Old 21-09-2015, 06:26   #3
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Re: panama to gambier

Roberto, to repeat some of what was in my PM to you for the benefit of others. We went Panama, Ecuador, Galapagos, Easter, Pitcairn, Gambier starting in mid-January from Balboa. I think you could go earlier, especially if you were going to stop in Ecuador for a time. We went during a La Nina year and I can't comment on the impact of a strong El Nino on what you might get. From near Easter until after Gambiers heading toward Tahiti or Tuamotus you will be out of the trades and can get nasty weather. We tend to think about the depressions that pass eastward in the Roaring 40s but before we went I had not heard of the 'squash zones' further north. These areas with strong pressure gradients develop when a depression passes to the south of the massive highs that exist in this area (often as high as 1035 mb). We got into one of these and had winds in excess of 50 knots and were partially knocked down by a large wave northwest of the Gambiers.

Comments about the route and stops we made.

- Panama to Ecuador is very slow because for some reason this is the place with the widest ITCZ in the world. We sailed virtually the whole distance, just slowly.

- There is a place in Bahia de Caraquez (sp?) where you can leave your boat on dual moorings in a river while you tour inland in Ecuador and Peru. These are at a restaurant/marina called Puerto Amsted run by an ex-pat American, former cruiser named Tripp. Seems like a very secure and safe place to leave your boat.

- Backpacking in Ecuador and Peru was great fun and not very expensive. We went as far south as Nazca and Machu Picchu.

- In the Galapagos we kept the boat in the harbour at San Cristobal Island which is one of the two places you can go with a standard entry. The holding and protection here are quite good and the town is very pleasant. We did a tour here with Shark-Sky who are also the SSCA port reps. It was inexpensive and excellent. I am never happy leaving the boat at anchor for an extended time but there is rarely any wind hereabouts and the town seems quite safe.

- Anchoring at Easter and Pitcairn is problematic at best. Check online for where to anchor at Easter. Someone dove on the area and found the two spots with sand - everything else is rock. The shallower one, which can take 3 or 4 boats is about 50-55 feet; the other, which is larger is about 90'. Swells are very often a problem and some days you cannot get ashore because they are breaking. On nicer days you go in through a gap between two surf breaks (you can talk to the surfers on either side as you pass). The stuff about going to the other side of the island to anchor is great in theory but there are almost always large swells from the south that make that area nasty too. At Pitcairn we could not anchor as there were three sets of swells (and no wind at all), not counting those created when waves hit the sheer cliffs. Bounty Bay is a bay only in name. One of us stayed onboard while the other went ashore on one of the island boats that was run by Brenda Christian who is the immigration officer. We heard about one boat that was able to anchor for a week and a Polish singlehanded who hove-to for two weeks waiting for conditions to anchor. Great spot once you get ashore though.

- Mangareva in the Gambiers is about the most relaxing place you can imagine. The most stressful part of life there is deciding whether to order your baguettes for the next day for the morning or the afternoon. The anchorage is well-protected by reefs but you can get a lot of wind there (squash zone at times).

Seems to me that going this way rather than to the Marquesas gives you more interesting places to visit and some terrific sailing but you are more isolated. A relatively small number of boats go this way and we were able to set up an informal radio net with 4 or 5 boats that actually proved useful when one boat had quite serious equipment issues and barely made it to Easter.
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Old 21-09-2015, 10:10   #4
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Re: panama to gambier

After I sent my response it occurred to me that this is not really the most appropriate sub-forum for this thread. Probably belongs in something related to destinations or the Pacific. Can a moderator change it?
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