Over the hills..
Two years ago we crossed the Atlantic and dropped anchor in Falmouth Harbour, Antigua. Now we are 1,100 nautical miles further west, across the wide Caribbean.
Behind me are the misty, jungly Darien mountains of Panama and behind those, the Pacific Ocean, now just 30 miles away from where we are anchored.
Western San Blas
I mentioned in the last post that we had sailed off the edge of our chart into an unsurveyed area. Now we are in the Western San Blas and the depths have reappeared on the chart plotter, although some of the islands are still in the wrong place.
It is also very much more popular than the eastern islands. There it was just us and the Gunas. Here it looks more like Grenada, anchorages with a dozen yachts bobbing about together, radio nets, barbecues, Some boats stay here for months, or years. But you can see why. It is a beautiful area with hundreds of perfect sandy islands covered in coconut palms, surrounded by coral and lagoons.
There is surf, fishing, reefs to explore with dinghy and snorkels. The weather is beautiful and we seem to be having a week off from those strong trades. The solar panels are powering the water maker, we still have fresh vegetables and cold beer. We even have a phone signal in most places. Guna families come paddling by in dugouts selling fresh bread, speared fish, lobsters for a few dollars. Days go by. We could be here for a while.
But first we needed to visit the mainland for a few days. Linton Bay, Puerto Lindo, Portobello, Savanitas. We handled all the formalities, got our passports stamped (Escapade’s 30th country) did all the laundry and provisioning, then sailed back to the islands.
Sightings on the mainland:
I like a monkey.
In the forest around Linton Bay we saw lots of them playing in the trees above us. Leaping from tree to tree and hanging by their tails.
On Isla Linton a family of spider monkeys came to take bananas from our hands and put on a show swinging through the trees around us.
The Lazy Bear
In Panama a three-toed sloth is called ‘oso perezoso’. A lazy bear.
Have you ever seen a three toed sloth? I just encountered my first one, he was sitting very still and looking just like a little long haired bear.
About the size of a big football, long shaggy blond fur, big brown blinking eyes and what looks like a big smile. We didn’t have a camera with us!
But he was the friendliest looking creature, I’m surprised the world isn’t full of cuddly soft toy versions.
I’m told that they have a big meal of leaves and then have to sit quietly for 12 hours because they have a slow digestive cycle.
Nice lunch and a 12 hour siesta, very sensible animal.
I’ve just been told that three-toed sloths can swim between islands (not after a meal), as can the big cats which live in the jungle here, including jaguars. I’m keeping a pretty good lookout while snorkelling these days.
Back in the San Blas:
They appear before breakfast one morning, blowing close to Escapade.
I grab a snorkel and slip in to the water, immediately I can hear the clicks and whistles, they are close but I can’t see them yet. Dawn directs me from the deck, I slowly fin at a tangent to their direction, they know exactly where I am and I think they will come to me if they’re interested. I glance up to see a fin and then a tail above the surface in front of me. The dolphin dives a few feet away and then approaches me head on, just under the surface, he sends me a complex sequence of clicks, I reply ‘Hello!’. Then he dives and swims on his side just below me, showing his white belly while taking a really close look at me through his upturned eye, then turns for a second pass on the other side. Now I want to dive, show him I can do that too. I descend to about 7 metres and feel another blast of clicks but I can’t see him. I think he was calling the other two over to check out the performing human. The other two appear, an adult and a youngster, now the three come to see and do another side-up pass.
Then we all come up for a breath.
All the way from Maui, Sam and Scotty arrived for a slice of boat life in San Blas.
Maui-Honolulu-Houston-Panama City, jungle road over the mountains and a fast Guna launch direct to our anchorage.
We soon have the new crew whipped in to shape, Sam specialising in line handling, dinghy launching and catching fish, meanwhile ‘Scotty The Yachtie’ is a natural with main halyard, winch grinding and very busy in the galley.
Dawn was in charge of ukulele while I was shaking maracas.
That week flew by, a procession of lovely islands. We anchored alone in a vast shallow lagoon studded with starfish and conch.
We sailed, spearfished, swam, we even found some waves for Scotty to surf while Sam and I windsurfed.
The galley was turning out lobster, conch, all kinds of pescado, and the wine cellar was woefully depleted.
We lay stargazing on the trampoline. All over too fast, thanks for coming guys, let’s do it all again somewhere.