Sunday, August 2, 2009


Monday morning we were joined by my friends Meg Crofoot and Bree Candland. Meg is currently working in Panama on Barro Colorado Island for the Smithsonian studying monkey social groups and Bree is a teacher in Maine who was coming down to visit Meg. We were very lucky to have both able to visit for 4 days. They flew into Nargana/Corezon de Jesus, a booming metropolis of 2000 people with an airstrip on the neighboring island. Bree had been kind enough to deliver our 40 lb Watermaker ETD (which by the way looks an awful lot like a bomb) so first things first, we installed the replacement part and started making water (yeah). Once that was under control we pulled anchor and headed out to the swimming pool for a beautiful sail in some of the strongest winds we have seen here in the San Blas (other than during short squalls). An afternoon snorkel in some wicked current finished off the day followed by a tasty dinner of fish cakes.

Tuesday we were joined by Simpatica and we headed out to the Grotos caves for a snorkel. All enjoyed a great snorkel, then we had a very pleasant downwind sail under reacher alone (so we could leave the awning up) to the East Lemmons. We found a fairly tight spot in the crowded anchorage, knowing that we would have to shorten scope in a southerly, but were protected from the swell in that direction so it should be OK (this turned out to be a good decision). Meg, Bree, Mom, and I went for a snorkel on the reef off the stern, which turned out to be further away then we thought, so we had a very good workout swimming back upstream against a decent current to the boat when finished. Dinner was a very tasty curry shrimp served over rice.

Wednesday Meg and I went for a dive while the rest snorkeled above. It was a very nice drift dive/snorkel on a wall that sloped down to about 80 ft. Meg and I went as far down as 60 ft, but settled into about 40 ft as a nice section of the wall. We saw many great fish, including about 4 rays towards the end. In the afternoon we played volleyball on the beach with an actually straight and reasonably sized court. The only downside to the amazingly beautiful surroundings was the fact that water was only about 5 feet off the court on either side. Meg of course managed to get sand in EVERY orifice including her eyes and ears...thank god we have a working watermaker again. Our "Maine" dinner was grilled lobster tail with couscous and a nice spinach salad followed by blueberry cobble.

Thursday morning started with a bang as a strong southerly squall coming through the anchorage at about 6:00. We shortened scope to pull the rudder out of the sand just as the wind picked up (all was fine) and settled in about 20' off the bow of an unattended boat behind us. Meanwhile, just to the south of us, boats were getting hammered by the almost breaking waves entering the harbor (thankfully we were tucked behind an island and reef). Three different boats went aground within about 10 minutes. Once we were sure we were OK, I jumped into the dink to try to help. There were about 5 dinks helping push one boat off one reef with no room to really help, and slip away managed to motor themselves off their sand bar, so I headed up to the second boat aground to start helping. This boat had a wing keel, so we couldn't push on the side or take a halyard off so we started setting up to kedge him off with anchors. We tried shortly to load his large anchor into the dink, but the near breaking waves actually pulled me out of the dink so once I got clear of the bow and back in the dingy we decided to try something else. He pulled out his second anchor and some line which we could load off the beam and we managed to get that laid off the bow to at least hold him in place and wait for the wind and seas to subside a bit. A few hours later, when things had subsided, Bill headed out to help lay out his big anchor and he managed to pull himself off. An exciting and exhausting morning, but generally successful as damage was fairly limited. The rest of the morning was somewhat overcast, so we hung out on the boat and then sailed down to Nargana at the end of the day. Lewis and Julie from Simpatica came over for a dinner of chicken and fish fajitas.

Friday morning, the three girls caught an early morning flight back to Panama City where mom continued on to the states and Meg and Bree headed out the the island to complete Bree's visit. It was an excellent high school reunion...far better than the one we all missed last year in Bangor, and we hope they can both join us again along the way.

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