by Ray Jason
They didn’t hoist the Jolly Roger or fire a shot across my bow, but their intentions were worrisome.

Windshifts: A Semi-Pirate Story

by Ray Jason, Posted September 19, 2013
They didn’t hoist the Jolly Roger or fire a shot across my bow, but their intentions were worrisome. I was 80 miles off the coast of Nicaragua, on a rhumb line course from Panama to Key West. The seas were sloppy and felt more like Mother Maytag than Mother Ocean. My Spanish is bueno, and I had been trying to raise my visitors on the radio for 20 minutes. Surely the four hombres aboard the 70-foot rust museum weren’t blasting through these dreadful seas just to sell me a fish.
After the rigors of our Ouija board navigation, Ken treated me to a spontaneous VHF serenade. Suddenly, blasting out of the radio came the unmistakable sound of the “Ride of the Valkyries.” I grabbed the microphone and hollered to my mid-ocean friend, “Charley don’t surf…Charley don’t surf!”
If you promise not to tell too many people, I’ll let you in on a little cruising secret: Bocas del Toro. Located on the Caribbean coast of Panama near the Costa Rican border, this unspoiled archipelago of nine big islands and many smaller ones creates an inland sea where the breezes are so tranquil the waves rarely exceed knee height. And because Panama is south of the hurricane zone, there is no “season.” You can safely cruise here all year round.

Windshifts: Christmas in Panama

by Ray Jason, Posted December 10, 2012
During the “treasures of the bilge” segment of the cruisers’ radio net in Bocos del Toro, Panama, someone named Felix offered a metal sextant for sale. Two minutes later I was racing out to his handsome ketch Boisterous.

Windshifts: Inflatable Combat

by Ray Jason, Posted September 20, 2012
After ten days of non-stop sailing from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, I deserved a night of deep sleep. So why was my crew awakening me at an hour that even a bishop would find ungodly?
Tor's informant told him to search the left side of the river for a subtle but distinctive change in water color. As they eased their dinghy upstream without finding anything noticeable, he wondered if his source had played a practical joke just to spice up a muggy afternoon of ex-pat boredom.

Cruisers' Havens

by Ray Jason, Posted June 23, 2011
This article originally appeared in the December 2009 issueSweet little Bocas del Toro, Panama, was slipping astern of me. It is an obscure but superb cruising stop where life and laughter flow as easily as a mid-moon tide. The hub of the scene there is the Bocas Marina and a delightful bar called the Calypso Cantina.This is a classic example of what I call a “cruisers'
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