|Las Perlas islands|
Las Perlas are a collection of islands, only 30NM out from Panama. A few fishing villages and one island with holiday homes, but otherwise deserted and beautiful. We spent two nights off Isla Pachega, where there were thousands of pelicans and frigate birds, and we were woken up by wave-slapping noises all around the boat.
What was it? Could it be wind-on-tide? In the morning we found that is was rays jumping. And jumping high! Then two more nights on Isla Canas and a discovery dinghy trip up the mangrove-lined Rio Cacique. We have had to learn about tides again as they reach 4m here.
Panama City and the disappointing La Playita marina was three days of non-stop shopping, cooking, vacuum-packing and freezing. Engine and generator checks, rig checks. Old Panama fun, with architecturally interesting Spanish heritage. Nicky has made plans and provisioned for 60 meals for 5/6 people, and the freezer which is exchanging heat with 28 deg water has slowly, slowly gone from just negative to now a healthy minus 16 in the cooler ocean waters. Every space under the cabin floors is filled with tins, cans, bottles, etc. Chicken, pork, beef, lasagne, ratatouille, babotie, peppers de-seeded, all vacuum-packed, labelled with expiry dates, so that the Galapagos authorities will not be unhappy. No seeds of any kind allowed, so our netting hung from the saloon ceiling and filled with fruit, lemons and limes, will have to be eaten or juiced before we get there.
Taking a yacht through the Panama Canal was a
once-in-a-lifetime experience. First, the canal is highly evocative of the struggle to build it by the French, who attempted a sea-level canal, and then the Americans who finished the canal in 1913. 35,000 lives lost, many from Caribbean islands.
Overnight moored up six abreast in the Gatun lock, we set off early am and then waited ahead of the Culebra cut for the vast MSC Elodie to come through. Then down through Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks, under the Bridge of the Americas and into the Pacific!