Finally in the Las Perlas islands

Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Thu 2 Feb 2012 00:54
8:29.50N 79:02.97W
Yesterday we set off for the Las Perlas islands.  These islands are only about 40 miles from Panama, so while our replacement Parasailor has not yet arrived we can go back to collect it when it does.  There was a good wind and we were cruising along at 10 knots when the strap connecting the genoa sheets to the sail broke.  We furled the sail, and returned to Panama to fix it (which was just a case of replacing the braid strap with some strong rope, but involved taking the sail down to tie it on). 
Today we set off again for the Las Perlas islands.  This time it was a smooth sail across, marred only at the end by a couple of aborted attempts to sail Anastasia over reefs before we found the right route to the anchorage.  (No we didn't actually hit any reefs.)  There are no good charts of Las Perlas, the cruising guide gives you a general idea of where to go but you still have to be careful to find a route between the rocks.  Woe betide anyone who tries to come in at night.
We are now anchored at Isla Bayoneta which the guide book says has a beach covered with cowrie shells.  Andrea will be able to go beachcombing tomorrow.  Unfortunately she won't find pearls because apparently an epidemic wiped out most of the pearl oysters.    
Here is a picture of some pearls and a cowrie shell, neither of which are from Las Perlas.  (Andrea got the pearls from a street vendor in the old colonial part of Panama City when we did the city tour, so they are probably Chinese pearls)
Fish pie for dinner, using Dasheen from St Lucia (aka Taro in the Pacific).  It would have been made with fresh Dorado (aka Mahi Mahi in the Pacific) except it managed to break free when Bertie and Andrea were landing it and so we are having to use frozen seafood and tinned salmon.