Woooooo Hoooooo I just got woken up by Stu and Sienna saying “there’s whales at the bow of the boat!”, up I jump, well as fast as I can first thing in the morning! I walked to the bow to see hump backs about 10 boat lengths away, so cool. As I was opening Siennas little present she made for me (a note with a special rock made into a necklace, she is so sweet) and giving her a cuddle we saw a hump back right at the back of our boat, up we jumped fully excited to see the whale come right past our boat about 2 boat lengths away!!!!!! So so so so awesome.
Las Perlas is known for its wildlife and I see why. As we left the anchorage at La Playita after circling our friends Bonaire to say our last good byes for a while (they are spending cyclone season in Marquesas so we really hope to see them again). It was great to be out again, and worth the long hard/hot days to get ready with provisioning and boat jobs, we need food and a very safe sea worthy Neverland for the next 2 months as our next passages after Las Perlas are to Galapagos (around 8 days) and then the Marquesas (around 3 weeks) a total of 3000nm!!!!! Eeeeek that’s a long way and a long time, we are definitely feeling a little stressed by this thought, but Stu and I have thought of many scenarios as to what can go wrong from fire to strong winds (though unlikely in these latitudes more likely to get no wind in the ITCZ) to mast breaking and how to release it, to mechanical failures like auto pilot failure which would mean one of us has to always be out at the helm hand steering (we have a spare autopilot). We have run through mini drills with the kids – sequence of events in the case of having to use the liferaft, how to use and which flare to use in which scenario to fire onboard and what to use and do. Stu is amazing and has ordered backups for most things and seems to know how to fix almost everything on Neverland, and if he’s not sure he figures it out!!! I have a very clever and resourceful husband, when we ran into that tree near Cartagena he ended up fixing the daggerboard! It took 5 men whilst winching it with the halyard to move it! When the port engine was over heating at around 25000rpm he spent days in the engine bay going from one possible cause to another, and spoke to many other cruisers and 2 mechanics until he figured it out and the subsequent canal crossing went without a hitch, which is a whole day of motoring.
On the way out from Panama city we saw 2 pods of whales and some dolphins and caught 2 fish, one got away but we enjoyed Spanish mackeral for dinner that night. Emily on S/V Bonaire inspired me to do more helming as she drove their boat all the way through the canal. So I drove all the way to Las Perlas and chose our anchorage and plotted waypoints between the islands, we didn’t ground Neverland on reef and got there safely- a little bit happy with myself 🙂
So we have been anchored off the island that they filmed Survivor from!!! It’s an awesome island, very strong currents as the Pacific has up to 5 m tides!!! Very strong current around these 2 islands in the mid of the high and low tides with loads of fish life, we have a constant school of small jacks around our boat. Stu has almost finished cleaning the hull (a massive job especially after being anchored at shelter bay marina for over a month) and he reckons it’s a 3 knot current at times! I’m trying to teach the kids about the tides and we will do some chart plotting for our next anchorage today.
We went ashore yesterday, it’s a jungle island with massive giant beautiful trees overhanging the sand, some with swings attached, saw many iguanas on the beach, 2 massive males with their orange colouring also.
Sienna – there was a swing in the middle of nowhere on a beach, and we swang on it and we had fun. It was made out of rope and a long piece of drift wood attached to the tree. We saw iguanas on the beach.
Stu is the one who pushes for the the next spot and I am the one who doesn’t want to miss out on anything a place has to offer. So after some discussion and researching of grib files and other forecasting models, we decided to head off in the next 2 days to Galapagos. I wanted to see other places here in Las Perlas but we only had time to see one other island (Isle Banderos), I would say it wasn’t as nice as the first but still great to see. After spending a day speedily trying to get the kids to do some school, I’m feeling a little panicked as Alex is behind in reading as he was before we left (but ahead in maths and loves it!!), so I’m trying to follow the reading program and we were blessed to get the second half of the program send to a mailbox in Panama city before we left, a surprisingly great service! Panama doesn’t have postal addresses for their homes/businesses etc so no one has an address!!!! All mail is sent to these mailboxes that they must organize and pay for themselves I believe, but at least these seem to be a great service:)
Just as we were about to pull anchor to go to the next anchorage a few hours away, a mother and her baby hump back whale swam right past our boat, by right past I mean ½ a boat length away!!!! We were anchored in 8m of water!! So so so awesome, I was jumping out to my skin with excitement. Their skin was so smooth and they really are ginormous graceful creatures. I called everyone and we tip toed around the boat to see them, I would have jumped in with goggles but it all happened so quickly, we got some great pics.
I digressed – back to Las Perlas. The second island: we spent the next two days rushing around getting Neverland ship shape for 10 days at sea. In fact the whole time at Shelter bay was about getting Neverland ready for the big passages. I cooked up a meal for 2 nights, cleaned mold (vinegar is the latest choice of mould buster), hauled Stu up the mast again to install a new wind sensor, put everything back in its place etc etc. Stu ran around doing last minute fixing, checking life lines, rechecking forecasts etc, etc. We rocked up to our new anchorage at night as we left a little late, it was defiantly a little more stressful and we anchored further out than we would have during the day but we did it and all was fine we avoided the submerged rocks that were not on either of our electronic charts but were identified by our guide book. Didn’t get to dive the anchor but the holding was fine as it was tested the last day with a strong squall of 30 knots and the most impressive build up clouds ever. There was no mistaking a squall was coming!! That one deserved a pic (thanks again to Ange for helping with my camera, I love it and I am getting the hang of lightroom!).
We explored some nearby beaches, the first beach the dingy almost got swamped with the incoming tidal waves so after I got eaten by no see ums we ran back to rescue the dingy. Kids got a good run along the beach, always an issue getting the energy out of them especially at sea. At least at anchor they can run around the boat, swing off the halyard and climb the shrouds. They don’t tend to swim unless we are in with them, or there are other kids. The second beach we found as we were looking for cowrie shells (as directed by the guide book) was covered with either tonnes of pink shells or rocks. Upon closer approach we discovered this amazing beach was covered in pink shells, so we collected and foraged and explored this pretty place. The last beach was facing the west and the currents collect all the rubbish from the mainland and its really disgusting the mess us humans make of our planet and home. This beach was littered with coconut trees and Stu managed to use a long piece of bamboo to knock down 20 coconuts for us to drink the milk of, much to the delight of the kids who drank from the cracked ones, though they still managed to fight over them even though there were so many! These coconuts were a different type from others we have seen, these ones have the milk only and none of the white ‘meat’, and are a green colour rather than furry brown.
Sienna – we found lots of shells they were orange, pink, purple, red and mum found a really nice shell it was big and a bit like a cone shell, I don’t know how to explain it but it’s a nice shell. There was a lake of wisdom that Alex pee’d in, Alex is a mighty eagle. There was a crab track making pictures of stars and unicorns and one was a picture of a person. We went to a coconut beach where dad carried a big log and hit the coconuts and they fell down and cracked so we could drink the milk, and it got all over our faces. Also our dingy almost floated away, I mean the waves pushed our dingy and it floated a bit but mum stayed there to mind it.
Thanks for reading again, we appreciate it.