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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.