Alone Like a Rolling Stone

The western San Blas

Coming from the southeast, we had only moderate wind during the first days in Panama, often from the southwest or, when it was really bad, directly on the nose. Therefore, we also slowly ran out of diesel, as we covered many nautical miles under motor. After we had bunkered diesel under adventurous conditions at Rio Diablo, the wind changed to northeast and became stronger. Our first destination, almost completely under sail, is the Coco Bandero Cays. In the far west there is the small island Orduptarboat.

Oduptarboat, San Blas Panama

The anchorage is narrow, fringed by underwater reefs, and the small island does not offer much protection from the swell of the Caribbean Sea. As it is in our relationship and as skipper, I am of course responsible for the choice of the anchorage and its shortcomings. Gaby therefore doesn't hold back with criticism and once again gives me a good talking to. She always does that when she doesn't particularly like an anchorage. For the first time in a long time, the small island is reasonably clean. Admittedly the place is a little rolly and the breaking of the sea over the nearby reefs, something to get used to, but for one night that will go. It goes then also, however, we both, with 25 knots of wind, only little slept, we lay but also already worse. The next morning we set off for the Holandes Cays. The wind continues to come from the northeast, but we want to go to the east side of the cays, to the so-called "Swimming Pool". So the wind angle becomes a bit sharp and with 40° we reach just 2.5 knots. Admittedly not exactly the parade discipline of a catamaran. We reach Banedup, as the island is officially called, and drop anchor in front of BBQ Island on 4m sand. With 20 knots of wind, the anchor immediately digs in and a jolt goes through the ship. We agree, it holds. 

"Swimmingpool" San Blas, Panama

With us are five other yachts in the "pool", including an American, which is supposedly already seven years here. The water is crystal clear and there is always a barbecue on BBQ Island when a crew has caught a bigger fish. Christmas and New Year's Eve parties are also held on the island. The scenery is not bad and reminds me strongly of the Bacardi advertising from the 90√©rn, with campfire atmosphere and romance. Nevertheless, we have enough after two days and want to continue. The wind that blows you here on the nose is permanent and in the gust with up to 28 knots but quite annoying. The internet connection is weak and if at all, only Whats App data reach us somewhat stuttering. However, this thin data stream is crucial that we stay a little longer. The Flip Flop and the Lady Blue has announced itself via WhatsApp, for the next day. We are happy to see them again and therefore remain still lying. 

Holandes Cays, San Blas, Panama

The next day both then also show up. During the crossing, the Flip Flop caught a horsehead mackerel, which is easily enough for all of us. Quickly, the most experienced in filleting fish is determined. With one fish, compared to zero fish for my competitors, I hit the jackpot. It's not exactly one of my favorite things to do, but the prospect of a delicious dinner is what drives me on. After all, one grows with one's tasks, and so I manage to provide the cook with usable fillets for the dinner. The evening is long and the next morning we decide to sail on to the Lemmon Cays. The Lemmon Cays are divided into East Lemmon Cays and Lemmon Cays and separated by the Eden Channel. The rather small islands are located in front of a large reef, which protects from the swell, but the wind blows through unhindered. In this respect it is not calmer than at the "swimming pool". The Lemmon Cays are visited by many charter boats and what is immediately noticeable is that there is no plastic waste flying around. The islands are meticulously kept clean. Obviously, it has been recognized that more money can be earned with clean beaches than with dirty ones. 

Katinka under sail (recording kindly provided by the Flip Flop)

Now this realization only has to get around in the southeast of the country, maybe then something will change. In any case, nature seems to be fine here. When I, with the dinghy, am on the way to Flip Flop to pick her up for a beach walk on the small island of Nuinudup, jumps in front of me about 1m large ray out of the water and glides about 10m through the air, to dive seconds later again in the crystal clear water. I have already seen many fish jumping, but a ray was not there yet. For me once again an absolute highlight, it's a pity that in such situations you don't have the camera ready to capture the impressions. But in the head these things imprint themselves and are irrevocably recorded. 

San Blas, Panama

We will stay here for a few more days and then sail from Lemmon Cays to Linton Bay Marina. What we experience in the next week, you can read as always in this place. Until then, as always, fair winds and keep a stiff upper lip.