It’s 5:30am, the boat is rocking violently from side to side and James and I are covered in water. Had we been on passage this might be something that we were expecting or at least prepared for. But no, this time, we are actually at anchor. The rocking is caused by the wake of power boats careening through the anchorage at breakneck speed, disturbing all the boats who have nestled here for the night. The water is from the two glasses of it that sit at our bedside every night which was unceremoniously dumped onto us, our pillows and bedding at this ungodly hour.


Welcome to Panama City – hands down the most cruiser unfriendly place we have ever been. It’s amazing to us just how much of hassle it has proved to be on a sailboat here, particularly when you consider that the Canal basically defines Panama.


Firstly, where do you put your boat? Well, there is the Balboa yacht club which has mooring buoys for rent but these are extortionately expensive and all full. Failing that there is the Flamenco marina which is also expensive and uncontactable by phone, email or it seems on foot as no one will talk to you about visitors slips for sailboats. It’s basically just full of sportsfishing power boats.


But, no worry, we prefer to stay on the hook anyway. However, in Panama City your choice of anchorage is either Las Brisas where, at this time of year, the prevailing winds create a lee shore and the dinghy dock involves tying your dinghy in one spot and then using a dinghy ‘shuttle’ strung up on some kind of zipline arrangement – ever so practical when it comes to provisioning with those heavy items. Or you could choose to anchor at La Playita where they will charge you $40 per week solely for the use of the dinghy dock (no showers, wifi or water included) and where aforementioned high speed boats will throw you out of bed in the middle of the night.


This is before you realise that to get anywhere in the city involves numerous buses or taxis which, after time on small islands or sailboat friendly stops just seems like a ghastly hot ordeal.


At least there is lovely Taboga only 7 miles away to serve as a well needed getaway from the city. And yes, I do sound cranky from having woken up on the wrong side of bed!