Blog 14. Contadora, Las Perlos Islands. 08.37.21N 79.02.06W

David Batten
Thu 11 Feb 2016 20:09
Wednesday, 10/02/16.  After our horrible experience yesterday, we had a stiff drink and delicious lunch prepared by Jane as usual and a bumpy afternoon with the wind against current.  There is no doubt these currents need respect, as those who have tried to swim against them have found and the water is very murky with poor visibility and rather unpleasant occupants, such as jelly fish, little stingers, rather slimy but quite harmless blobs of clear jelly like material and other indeterminate objects.  Eyeball navigation, as we and several other boats have found to their cost is not really possible and anchoring requires a large amount of chain and plenty of swinging room, so not many anchorages are tenable for the bigger boats and they all seem to get rough with the northerly winds we have been having in the middle of the day.  We are probably here at the wrong time of year, as was the case with the San Blas Islands and it is a shame, because many of the islands are beautiful, unspoilt if also impenetrable, with lots of bird life and fine sandy beaches, mostly covered at high water.  A place for less winds and neap tides!  We did visit the beach once the wind reduced, but walking is very limited on Chapera and only Anthony and the Ship’s Boy felt like swimming, Anthony making it back to the boat, while we picked up the Ship’s Boy from the dinghy when saw progress was more backwards than forwards in the current.
Today we moved after breakfast approximately 4 miles under motor to Contadora, for an evening rendezvous organised by WARC.  Then a day  of preparing for the Galapagos, checking all the bilges, getting out the carefully preserved bio cleaning products, washing the sheets etc and anchoring them to the washing line as they billowed out and tried to blow away.  Before the anchorage got too bumpy, all members of the crew except Jane, who did a major clean up of the galley, put on snorkelling gear and dived overboard to check the cleanliness of as much of the hull as possible and to look at the keel and bulb for any significant damage.   The lucky Skipper and Skipper’s wife had wet suits, so were spared the stingers and the Skipper and Anthony did a great job of cleaning the deeper parts of the hull and rudders and several barnacles were removed in preparation for the inspection in the Galapagos.  Then it was over to Carango, as we need to try and return the huge favour she given us with the outboard to try and help her with cleaning the hull, but we were a bit late and Anthony and David were only able to do a very little.  We had a very delicious Nespresso coffee with them instead, not a good way of saying thank you!  We also organised for Tom and Josh from “Into the Blue” to dive on our keel and bulb tomorrow to confirm that no serious damage had been done by playing in amongst the rocks.  After that and short stroll ashore, we joined the rest of the crews from some of the WARC boats for a free drink and, we thought, nibbles at the Hotel Romantica beach bar, but the former was restricted to beer or soft drinks and the latter was apparently not part of the deal after all.  So back to the boat for scrambled eggs and brandy or rum with chocolates for pudding.  Chocolates are now having to be rationed, as we have run out of truffles and are onto bars, with more days than bars to go, very rugged!!  Contadora is a mixture of very chi-chi houses for the very rich Panamanians and very poor and run down housing for the workers.  It is also very dry, but with beautiful trees and lots of small birds, too small to really identify or photograph.
Thursday, 11/02/16.  Anthony and the Ship’s Boy went for a walk at 07.00 with some of Into The Blue’s crew and other members of the WARC, while the rest of the crew did boat based jobs and we have been able to update the blog using a hot spot on the Skipper’s wife’s iPhone, which has great Movistar reception here thanks, no doubt to the rich Panamanians.  Then Tom and Josh dived on the keel and bulb and reported all was well except for some not too serious gouges in the lead as we would expect.  What a relief.  Today has been continuing with yesterday’s work sorting the boat out for the Galapagos and for Jane to try and find a way home from the Marquesas, not easy as all flights seem to be booked and there is nowhere suitable in the Tuamotus Islands for crew changes, besides which, the latter sound quite frightening with regards to navigation and lack of suitable anchorages.  More narrow passages with reefs and rocks, not well charted and with strong currents, so the Skipper’s Wife’s is having anxiety attacks already at the thought!  tonight, we have the Skipper’s briefing for the Galapagos and a BBQ on the beach at the beach bar, plus prize giving for Leg 2, Santa Marta to the San Blas Islands, which seems a lifetime away and of little relevance now. 
Heaven knows when we will be able to send another blog, so please go gentle  on the author!!  Up to date information on where we are is available through the Yellow Brick web site,  even as to which berth we are on in the Marinas we visit.  Is there no privacy out there?