Those of you who have been jealous of all our fine Caribbean sunshine will feel vindicated by this post.


It is rainy season in Panama and we expected a lot of downpours during the time we spent here. However, what we didn’t know is that the locals refer to July as “the dark month”, meaning that it rains more each July than at any other time of the year. What we were also unprepared for was the fact that this particular July ended up being the wettest on record for 10 years. This amounted to a massive 29 inches of rainfall.


Rain on a boat can mean a number of things. Some of these things are positive: the decks get cleansed with all that pure, fresh water, removing all trace of salt, sand or fish scales; the rain spurs you on to fashion a proper device for collecting water to fill your drinking water tanks (in our case a tarpaulin and a bucket); and the rain keeps the chitres (no see ‘ums) away. A nice bit of rain can be great.


But we didn’t have just a nice bit of rain – 29 inches remember. The downside to that much rain on a boat is all about moisture and humidity. You can do laundry but it will never get dry. Anything wooden will start to grow mould and mildew. Anything leather will start to grow mould and mildew. In fact ANYTHING and EVERYTHING will start to fester in this way, plus you can’t allow things to dry out and keep ventilated as you need to keep all the hatches closed against the rain.


Yup, July was pretty dark.


However, we then had tropical storm Ernesto. Now, as you know from previous posts, Panama is blissfully hurricane free. But, we sailors always keep an eye on the weather that’s around, even if it’s not going to affect us. Ernesto was a tropical storm that was upgraded to a category 1 hurricane and then downgraded again; it swept in through the islands in the eastern Caribbean, headed towards Honduras, and made landfall at the Belize / Mexico border. We watched it closely, worried about our friends just north of it in Isla Mujeres.


Weather doesn’t come from nowhere and it seems that all the bad weather gets sucked into the tropical storms and hurricanes like a sponge, leaving other areas untouched. Elsewhere in the Caribbean the winds were howling, the seas pounding and the rain lashing down but for us Ernesto brought Panama the most gloriously settled blistering sunshine that we had seen, with temperatures back in the 30+ degree zone and calm, still waters in the bay. And all, just like clockwork, at the turn of the month on August 1st.


So the dark month is behind us and now so is mister Ernesto. Fortunately the sun is meant to keep shining, making for a lovely, settled August, September and October. Plus, at least the anti-mould treatment has a chance to dry now!