Panama Powered Paragliding Boat Log

by Jeff Hamann aboard the Gloramaris Updated 2008 May 9 | Panama Crossing Log

2008 May 11, 06:50 We've arrived in Panama City. Rather than try and get our gear ashore in the dingy again yesterday, we left the islands to arrive here at noon. It was a nice relaxing boat ride after the wild flying we have done. We read, fished, listened to music, packed, ate, and napped. Tough work but someone has to do it.

Remy arranged for two pick up trucks to meet us at the dock and we brought our gear back to his place. We were all packed up and ready to ship our boxes by 4pm. Carl and I even managed to get Leon's motor back into his box for him. We packed up your empty box with your stuff sack, hat and a big surprise.

After a nice long shower we all went for ice cream and then visited Leon at the hospital. Connie, his wife, arrived yesterday morning. He has had a tough few days. As best we can tell, there was some bruising to the nerves to his intestines and they are on strike. He backed up so bad he was in agony. They are now withholding food and trying to get him cleaned out. He did say that he feels somewhat better. He showed us his horribly bruised backside. I think he is in more pain from the trauma of the crash than the surgery. No word when they will release him.

Carl treated us to dinner at the Anos Locos steakhouse. We now have a whole day to do some sight seeing. But first we have a date with Lily for waffles at 7:30. Weather is still iffy for flying. Boy, were we blessed with an incredible day to fly the Canal. Sorry you missed the boat trip, we had some amazing flying. [Jeff Goin says: "not as sorry as I am!"]

Row one: Jeff snaps Phil while cruising the Perlas Islands.

Row two: More cruising, the a final landing and eating (Jeff standing).

Row three: 1. Phil & Michael cruise by the Gloriamaris.
2. Michael with one of the islands behind. 3. The boys launching at one of many beaches.

2008 May 9, 15:39 We are now back in Contadora. Phil and I had an incredible flight today. On a scale from 1-10 it was a 9. But yesterday first...

We spent a calm night at anchor inside of Espiritu Santo. Michael slept in the trampoline and Carl slept on the coach roof and we woke up to a very hazy day. The wind and current shifted all night long and in the morning the wind settled on northeast at varying intensities. There were two layers of clouds and a humid haze reducing visibility to less than 5 miles. We could see rain in the distance but nothing too close.

We had to wait for the tide to go out before we could even think about launching. With only 22 miles to go we each took on about three gallons of fuel. Michael went first and executed a nice forward down an 80 foot beach. Short!!! for the light winds. I went next and muffed the first attempt but nailed the second. After filming our launches Phil joined us.

With the light winds and overcast sky we did not worry to much about turbulence so we were able to do some nice low flying. There were a lot of beaches and mudflats to explore. I got a little too low and close at one point and brushed a tree with my left wing tip. Fortunately it did not grab me well enough to pull me to the ground but I carried a stick souvenir the rest of the flight.

There were a lot of islands and inlets rather than the straight coastline we are used to. We passed a couple small towns and a few remote homes but it was mostly uninhabited land. Michael marked a particularly nice beach on his GPS to bring Maria back to someday. We tried to waste enough time to let the Gloriamaris keep up but we eventually had to give up. About 3/4 into the flight the weather started deteriorating and the wind switched from NE to SW. With the unexpected headwind and all the messing around we did, Michael ran dangerously low on fuel. We had no trouble finding the old airstrip but finding a calm spot to land was not so easy. Phil did some low passes to evaluate the rotor in different spots and we finally settled on the West end. Michael quickly landed and Phil and I made a few last passes before we joined him.

I had hoped to land nearer to the east end of the runway closer to the anchorage but it was just too nasty down there. We only had 12 to 15 mph of wind but the trees and cliffs really stirred it up. We watched one rain cloud pass to the east of us and right over the Gloriamaris (GM). They clocked 18 mph at one point. Soon after we landed the wind dropped. Phil insisted on removing his harness and attempting to soar the cliffs at the end of the runway but the wind was too light at that point. He also launched again to see if the east end of the runway was landable but found it still in dangerous rotor.

The runway was built during WWII but not really used much since. It was covered with tufts of grass and weeds that were great line hooks. We figured it was about 3000 feet long. We hid our gear in the bushes and made our way east to the anchorage. It only turned out to be a 15 minute walk but it was not pleasant in the humid mid day heat.

We found the military installation that the AAC asked us to check in with completely abandoned. The radio tower was laying in the bushes and the office was falling apart. The windows were all broken out and we found bats inside some of the rooms. By the time we finally made the beach, the GM had arrived and we were whisked out in the dingy to a delicious lunch.

The afternoon found us all napping (Carl slept with his feet at the other end of the bunk). Before we knew it, the sun was setting and we had to rush back to cover our paramotors. We lugged 10 gallons of fuel back the 3/4 miles too! No fun. I saw a Jutilla and a flock of Chachalacas in the waning light. We ended up calling Tom for a ride back to the boat in the dark. When we dove in to cool off and wash up for dinner we discovered that the water was phosphorescent. You could see your hands and legs outlined in the light producing plankton.

There was thundering and lightening when we went to bed and it rained a lot during the night. Michael was disappointed that he couldn't sleep in the trampoline again. The weather wasn't much better when we awoke. It did not look like we would fly at first but each hour saw improving conditions. Even though we weren't yet sure we would fly we started the long trip to our motors at 9 am.

It was humid and hot even with the overcast. The biggest problem though was the light wind. I hate no wind launches with 4 gallons of fuel!!! I cleared a spot on the runway for my wing only to have to move it when a twin Comanche landed on our strip. Michael decided to pass because of the dubious weather and light wind launch. He was using Leon's MZ100 and did not have the confidence to get off the ground.

I was relieved to get off on my first attempt. I am not sure I had a second try in me. I quickly checked the speed to destination with my GPS and was again relieved to see that we had little or no headwind. The 35 mile trip looked possible after all. It was 10:30am and I was committed and excited. Phil nailed his launch as usual and Michael started the long trek back to the boat with his paramotor.

There were at least three layers of clouds, the lowest of which had a base of under 1000 ft. The farther we went the better the conditions got. The sun eventually came out and the clouds thinned out around us. The scenery below was spectacular and the clouds above were amazing. It was butter smooth. We followed the edges around some of the larger clouds and dashed between the smaller ones. Phil got some amazing video.

As we got closer to our destination we relaxed more and more. When it came into view we knew we were okay. We circled and slalomed around clouds until we were tired of the game. We took turns ordering each other around for the best photo angles.

The longest over water crossings were near our destination, Contadora. We realized that at least one of the intermediate islands would completely disappear at high tide. So, we stayed high until we were in glide range of Contadora. We would have done some more exploring but the weather was deteriorating quickly. The mellow clouds were developing taller tops and we felt the suck as we passed under the large one over Contadora.

The wind was still very mellow at ground level and we were able to land right on the beach where we left two days earlier. It was a challenging, exciting, beautiful flight. One of my favorite of all time.

We were immediately met on the beach by interested tourists wanting to rent our motors. Phil played the game with one guy right up to putting his paramotor on his back. We stowed our gear under a beach bar roof right as a light rain began to fall. While we waited for the GM to show up we ate lunch at the Galeon overlooking the beach and then took a walk.

We traded the last of our gas for a ride out the the boat when it arrived. It was a bit scary to see all the air traffic in and out of the airport during our walk and from the boat. We were on the lookout during our final approach but more than once we have been surprised by a fast approaching aircraft.

I was as excited to fly the Perlas as I was to fly the Canal and I have to tell you neither let me down. What a trip. We are all battened down now for the boat ride back to Panama City early in the morning. No more flying. But if we get our motors packed quickly we should have some time for sightseeing tomorrow.

Accommodations aboard the Gloriamaris

2008 May 8, 10:08 We left last night from the Flamenco YC at 1am for the Perlas after a nice dinner at El Barko (same place we ate last trip). We arrived at Isla Contadora at 6:45 am. It rained lightly on the way out and the wind was blowing 10-12 mph from the North when we arrived. But surprisingly, the sea was calm enough to get the paramotors ashore in the dingy. We were given permission to use the runway but with that much wind we didn't need the extra room and we elected to launch right from the beach.

The AAC gave us until 9am to clear the area and we were doing really good until Michael's motor wouldn't start. It took replacing the spark plug to get it going and we were all in the air by 8:30. The flight to Espiritu Santo was 24 miles of islands, beaches, mangroves, and mud flats. Very smooth, very beautiful and very relaxing compared to the flying we have done for the last week.

Because it was low tide, there were many beach landing options as well as three runways! The sun played hide and seek with us but we got some good video and still shots. Espiritu Santo is the place where we took Dana and her friends. The big sand bar where I flew before had changed so much that it was almost unlandable. We elected to land on a big beach on the west side of ES. The wind was still in the 10-15 mph range and we encountered rotor near any land mass including some rocks near our landing site. Michael took a pretty good collapse near the landing site but he recovered before he hit the water.

The Gloriamaris arrived within an hour after we did. We found a path to the east side of the island where Tom picked us up. I enjoyed a needed nap and relaxed most of the afternoon. We left the gear on the beach and plan to fly to Punta Cocos tomorrow (22 miles). The weather forecast looks pretty good and I am looking forward to flying the rock pinnacles I remember from hiking there last trip.

Carl is more relaxed than I have ever seen him. He asked me to email the office and tell them that he won't be returning. He took a three hour nap today and slept hard enough for me to paint his toe nails. He caught two Sierra on the trip down and we had them for dinner! It is hot—I hope sleeping is comfortable tonight.

Leon is hoping to be discharged today. Remy is going to put him up for a few days until the doctor clears him to go home.


This was actually taken on a 2006 trip but it is the Gloriamaris and these two characters are part of the crew. Michael has yet to get his toenails painted (yet) but Carl has.

On these trips, somehow, somebody's gone leave with pink toenails.

© 2015 Jeff Goin   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!