Saturday, March 26, 2011

Our Adventure in the Las Perlas Islands, Panama.

Saturday Night...Waiting at the airport for Claire and Denver was exciting. I haven't seen Claire since about 1980, and we used to spend just about every weekend together, like sisters. I could hardly contain myself. We were also expecting David to be called into Immigration to show his boat papers, proving that we were there to collect them. We had already sent a copy of our cruising permit via email for them to print out. Suddenly they emerged from within and not seeing us they wandered out of the entrance..I went around the wall and they saw me. Whoo great that they have arrived. We hopped into a taxi and zoomed back to the marina, where we found a restaurant to relax, catch up and enjoyed a great Panamanian meal. After about three hours we caught another cab and were soon deposited at the dinghy dock, where we piled the luggage and us all into the dinghy. It was the first time that we'd had 4 people and luggage in 'The Limo'. David rowed us out to Puddytat.It was now really late, so we had a nightcap and staggered off to bed.
Dawn...Sunday morning.
Denver relaxing....

Panama City in the distance.

Next morning, Sunday, we decided to go shopping for food and drink, so we caught a cab to the Allbrook Mall. This was the first time we'd been there and it more American than the malls in America...Extremely posh and rather sterile. Anyway we found the Supermarket and proceeded to fill up the trolleys. The fresh produce was a huge disappointment, but we managed to find almost all we needed. David asked our taxi driver to take us to a place to buy Limes...This is where we should have come to in the beginning. He took us to a massive market with the most wonderful fresh fruit and veg...We think there were meat and fish areas, but it was so huge we didn't see it this time...we'll definitely be going back there. Once we got back to the boat we stored the food and ended up having to use the igloo in the cockpit to store the extra fruit juices and ever important beer.
The igloo is chocas...:-)
We still hadn't been able to find a tank of propane that we could borrow, ours were nearly out and the pick-up to get them filled was only on Tuesday. We'd arrived here on Thursday, today is Sunday...
Water collecting time.

Off they go to collect water..we're off in the morning.
Monday, David asked on the net if anyone would lend us a cylinder but we didn't get any offers. The decision we made was, we'd use the charcoal Barbecue / Braai and do all our cooking on that. So we left, upped anchor and started out on our adventure to the Las Perlas Islands.
Where we are anchored at Panama.
I zoomed out and here is one showing the islands.

The wind freshened to 15 knots, Claire was at the helm and we were scooting along at speeds of up to 10 knots. What a great first experience for Claire and Denver on a Cat! We had a fantastic sail and 6 hours later we dropped anchor at Isla Casaya.
There is an 18 foot rise and fall in the Las Perlas, so we have to make sure that we anchor in at least 24feet at high tide. This allows 3 feet under our rudders at low tide. This place is gorgeous. The island is covered with trees, some of which are in flower..what a lovely sight. The water isn't as clear as usual due to the Humboldt Current that has decided to well up to the surface. This has created a greenish hue to the water and made it much cooler than normal. Claire and Denver took the kayak and paddled around the water's edge. They discovered that they couldn't get ashore as the rocks were to steep or the sand was like mucky mud, so they stayed on the kayak and explored that way.
Off to kayak and explore...
Denver getting in...he didn't fall...:-p
Claire's turn...these guys are good :-)
Bye...have fun!
 Claire here...We managed to clamber aboard the Kayak from Pudddytat and headed into the bay. We were intrigued at how low the tide gone at low tide, exposing a tremendous muddy bottom. We circled the bay where it was deep enough to manouver and saw a huge fishing net about 150 yards long, now exposed by this low tide. We were intreaged to find a dozen or so fish flapping about on the mud, but most most amazing was a 6 foot long crocodile trapped with the fish in the net.
Sundowner time in the islands.
Great Sunset!

David had been painting a newly acquired batten with epoxy to stop the fiberglass hairs from catching in his hands, later he'll paint it white to protect it from UV. The rod was dry when our friends returned, so we stored it along the deck, tying it to the stanchion poles. Denver pulled the kayak back up onto the boat and we set about making a delicious dinner. We had a very pleasant night there.

On Tuesday Morning we set off for our next piece of paradise. This time we had periods of sailing and periods of motoring. The wind is very iffy. Mid afternoon found is dropping the anchor in Isla Espiritu Santo
That beach is actually huge...
A hole in the island...near the beach in the previous pic.
Claire and Denver went in the kayak to explore the beach. Watching them pull the kayak up we realised that the trees were much larger than we first realised, Claire and Denver were tiny in comparison. While they were exploring David and I made some sangria and stored it in the freezer. When we first arrived  Claire and Denver pluckedup the courage to jump in for a swim...brrr 22 deg C a bit chilly for me. Two hours after they left for shore they paddled back, hot sweaty and happy. They decided to go for another swim. The weather had warmed up, and even though I hadn't been doing anything I was hot too, so I plucked up my courage and jumped in for a swim with them...eeekk! it was cold. But amazingly enough it soon became rather pleasant.

Claire and Denver had found some treasure and seen some sights..Claire here....
I found this area to be breathtakingly beautiful, with large rock banks and three different golden isolated beaches hidden from view. Denver and I swam at all three beaches and explored the tidal pools. The vegetation was fascinating. Much we didn't recognise, but we saw Bromeliads and orchids, airplants and several varieties of palm trees. We were lucky enough to see a toucan and two green parrots, and listened to their screeching. We also saw many pelicans swooping and diving to catch their dinner and lots of cormorants. As we headed back to Puddytat we were lucky enough to see our second sea turtle, who watched us for a while and then dove, exposing it's beautiful back.
Pelicans feasting...

Our friends decided to sleep out on the trampoline, under the stars. It was a lovely night..and I think they had a really good nights sleep.

Wednesday Morning we were soon sailing/motoring again with Claire at the helm. We are teaching them how to handle the boat. Our destination today is a spot on Isla Del Ray. It's supposed to have a good forest and a pretty river, going by the photo's in the guide book. The bay is called Bahia San Telmo. We dropped our anchor in the part of the bay where the Rio Cacique river emerges into the sea.
Anchored in Bahia San Telmo
Claire and Denver..getting good at this..

We decided to go ashore..all of us. David and I went in the Limo and Claire and Denver went in the Kayak. The waves crashing onto the beach looked rather high and steep, but we decide to go anyway. Claire can fill you in here...ha ha their experience was quite something.....
Denver decided our best bet was to get ahead of the wave, paddle as fast as we could to catch it, and surf it into the beach. Unfortunately there was a big undertow, and as the wave broke, we ran out of water, the kayaks nose plunged 3 feet straight down into the sand, where it lodged itself and catapulted Denver and I 180 deg and we got dumped...big time. Both of us lost our sunglasses, and Denver fortunately didn't break his neck because he did land on his face. We staggered up hauled the kayak up onto the beach and then rushed to help Sylvie and David before they got tumbled too.

David and I decided to go in stern first, so David gingerly rowed us closer and closer. The waves rushed us towards the beach and as we neared it, another wave started to curl and break behind us. It smashed into us, soaking me, wetting David rather thoroughly and dumping a fair bit of water into the dinghy. Claire and Denver grabbed the dinghy and helped us to haul it high up the beach, where David set the anchor. We walked along the long golden beach, the waves cascading constantly, some gentle and some rather large dumpers. Unfortunately the beauty of the area was marred by a lot of litter. We saw a bicycle seat, children's trainers, adults slip slops, plastic bottles and lots of other broken bits and pieces. We decided not to notice them.
Claire found a coconut with milk and lots of flesh here...
The river mouth...

When we got to the river I had to sit, so David set out a chair for me. My back problem doesn't seem to be easing, instead the numbness has started to spread down my leg..It's a tad worrying. Claire had found a coconut, that when she shook it, it sounded like liquid was in it. We planned to open it back on the boat. We'd taken cold beers and kettle crisps with us, so after everyone had explored a bit they came back to me and we cracked open a drink. David found a skull that we eventually decided might have belonged to a dolphin. All in all a very pleasent way to spend a few hours on the beach. Getting back to the boats, we watched the waves very carefully, waiting for the big waves to subside and the smaller waves to take over....A very successfull launching was achieved by both boats and we paddled back to Puddytat, ready for dinner...steak, veg and baked potato tonight! yum! Oh yes, we opened the coconut..and it was full of lovely milk and lots of coconut flesh.
Top of the skull and top jaw.
Underneath the top jaw.
Going back to Puddytat after a day beach combing.

The anchorage has a swell and the waves are trying to climb up our back steps...makes rather a noise but it's fairly regular and it puts you to sleep. This morning, Thursday, Early, a chap paddled up in his dugout canoe to try and sell us some fruit. It was rather green but we bought some. He'd paddled a couple of miles to get to us, we thought he came from a village we could see in the far the moment we are waiting for the current to be in our favour so we could continue our adventure.  Finally at 10:30 we upped anchor and have been motoring until a little while ago when the wind came up and we are now sailing.

The fruit seller in his dugout.
Claire....the 4 hour trip was spectacular. We sailed past numerous beautiful islands with dramatic scenery, golden beaches, green foliage and rugged rocks. We were also visited by dolphin and sailed past schools of rays.
Steep sided islands..

Birds, birds we're not catching.. :-p
Reefs you must look out for...
The ocean crashing onto reefs....beautiful trees.
Dawn search for food.
Denver Fishing...

The anchor was dropped at Isla Bayoneta at about 4 pm. We were in a tiny bay and so could see a lot of the life around us close up. We sat and had sundowners and watched the birds fishing. There were  pelicans endlessly diving and elegant flocks of a white bird that was either a heron or and egret but they had curved orangy beaks. The trees reminded us of Africa. They looked like flat topped accacia and Massasa. The colours resembled the golden bush in the Afircan winter. Claire and Denver just couldn't get over the night skys with the incredible number of stars. We were also anchored within sight of at least 5 islands and only saw one distant light. What a paradise!
Denver dropping the anchor.

The white bird with the orange beak.

Friday morning...we got up at sevenish and David made us a breakfast that consisted of tortillia with sugar and squeezed lime, rolled up into a cigar shape and scoffed down as fast as possible. Then Denver and Clair dropped the Kayak into the water and took off to explore. David and I stayed to clean the barnacles off the bottom of the boat.
Claire says.... Denver and I found a passage between two islands and on the far side of the passage found two little beaches, one on each island. We explored the left one first. It was so beautiful and tropical, so dense that you couldn't penetrate it. It had tall overhead date palms and coconut palms. The water was clear with a green tint and the shells were plentiful. We scared an iguana which dived off the rocks and into the water. After a very cold swim we headed off to the other island, which was equally as beautiful. There we found a full grown Olivia Bulbosa in pristine condition..what a find! We were swimming again when David and Sylvie arrived in the Limo and persuaded us to paddle to yet another beach where we'd find cowrie shells...we hoped.

Sylvie....David rowed us around the corner and there we saw a lovely secluded beach protected by a large reef, so getting ashore would be easy. We gently wafted past rather a lot of those white birds, who were fishing off the rocks. Once we'd pulled the dinghy ashore we started to search for shells. There were hundreds of them, but a lot were broken up. Also on the shore were thousands of little bright multi coloured pebbles scattered on the sand. We explored that beach and then crossed over some rocks to another beach that extended deep into the island. We were pottering around collecting shells of various vibrant hue when David said that he'd found a jelly fish stranded in a pool. I had the camera so I started to climb over some still wet rocks and all of a sudden my feet just zipped skyward. I landed, hard, on my back and lay there stunned for a minute. David came over and helped me up. Amazingly, other than the initial pain of banging a part of your body, I was fine. So we continued to search for shells. We amassed a fair haul and a few hours later ambled back to Puddytat. Rowing back, the tide had gone out so far that we barely made it over the section inbetween the two islands, the sand scraping the dinghy's bottom. Soon we were home. I had a swim and a shampoo and then went to the bows to enjoy a sundowner with David whilst our friends had a swim and a wash. We lifted anchor soon after that and set sail for Panama City...
Claire watching her last sunset at sea.
Denver in his favourite spot.
Sadly our week in the Pearls was over.....We have the challange of cooking a meal on the barbecue/braai whilst we sail back. So far we've managed to cook a lentil curry and some pork, that may be ribs or not we're not sure.. ;-) We'll be dropping anchor at Flaminco island after sunset tonight....It was a week in heaven.

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