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old town portobello

Posted by on April 17, 2013

February 24 – 26, 2013

Portobello from the anchorage

Sailing into the bay of Portobello, we could just see the history that surrounds it. Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502, the town of Portobello is home to Fort San Fernando, Fort Triana, and Fort San Jeronimo, all of which can be seen from the water. Once established, Portobello became a significant port in the transport of Central and South American riches, including silver and gold. In turn, pirates were lured by all of the rich temptations. Pirate Henry Morgan succeeded in taking Portobello, demanding a 100,000 peso ransom for the town.

The Church of San Felipe is home to the Black Christ of Portobello, a wooden statue of Jesus of Nazareth. This holy statue, famous for its miracles, is worshipped by many, and every October there is a festival to celebrate it.

downtown Portobello, Fort San Jeronimo, the Customs House & Church of San Felipe

Church of San Felipe, home of the Black Christ statue

going in to see the Black Christ at San Felipe










We arrived in Portobello just before sunset, and anchored at the innermost part of the bay near the mouth of the Rio Cascajal. We were quite protected from the strong northeast wind.

Since we’d caught a large mackerel on our way to Portobello, but we had no veggies, we invited s/v Saliander over for dinner. We supplied the fish, and they supplied a roasted veggie dish. All was absolutely delicious!

With all of the history surrounding us, the following day was declared a field trip for the kids. We toured Fort San Jeronimo, the Church of San Felipe, and walked past many of the old historical buildings.

entrance to Fort San Jeronimo

at Fort San Jeronimo

old Customs house in Portobello

canons at Fort San Jeronimo

black vultures at Fort San Jeronimo

watch tower at Fort San Jeronimo

siblings refusing a decent pose

looking out from Fort San Jeronimo

homes lining the backside of Fort San Jeronimo

busy taking photos

anchored in Portobello

We completed our day with a bit of food and wifi from Captain Jack’s, and then some shopping at a couple of the Chinese-run grocery stores. Just after we got our wifi, the electricity to the entire town went out, and we had to shop in dark grocery isles. We returned to the boat to find weevils in a few pasta packages we’d just purchased. AND, the one bag of pasta I thought was clean contained a dried, dead lizard!! I discovered this as I poured the pasta into the boiling pot of water. From now on I’ll make sure we carry a flashlight in our packs! I still get shivers thinking about it.

passing the old Customs House

great food & internet

local marine consignment shop

sweaty hair in a local grocery

individualized local buses

molas displayed by a Kuna Indian

photographing the bay

happy that the next step is down

Full Monty anchored at the mouth of Rio Cascajal

Portobello Bay beyond Fort Triana


The next day we would sail to Shelter Bay Marina, near the mouth of the Panama Canal. Our excitement grew in anticipation of the next big phase!

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