Pearls and whales

Tue 4 Mar 2014 23:47
08:23.14N 78:49.97W

Common Crossing caught us up the day after we arrived in Las Perlas so we've been enjoying some very sociable evenings with Peter and Helen. We followed them down the coast to Isla Canas, said to be the most secure anchorage in Las Perlas. I believe it, and it's certainly a bit of a fiddle to get into, mostly because the electronic charts aren't detailed enough here and so it's a matter of transferring the locations of key rocks etc onto the electronic chart and simply using it as a GPS to check where we are in relation to those points. The actual anchorage is lovely, a little bay between two Islands across from a river delta and a village. We came in at low tide, the better to see the rocks, and anchoring was a bit tight but the bay widened out enormously at high tide.

We could hear bird life all around us, whistling back to us when we repeated their calls. Taking the dinghy over to visit the village we were astounded to see hundreds of puffer fish in the shallow water - as well as lots of big sting rays. Puffer fish are very cute. They are tear drop shaped with little fins and tail, fliffing very fast. They have big forward facing eyes as far apart as they can go on their heads. Unfortunately they are also extremely poisonous.

They village was delightful. We were offered limes for sale and when we said "Yes please" they got out the ladder to fetch us some. Apart from a couple sorting some fishing nets most of the men folk were asleep in hammocks under trees along the shore, snores gently flowing with the breeze. The two men mending nets sold us 7 little pearls, varying from 2 to 4mm across.

Relaxing on deck in the afternoon with a book I heard a strange chuffing sound and looked up just as Peter shouted across to us: Whales!
A pod of about 20 small black whales came through the channel and past our anchorage, the chufffing sound was them blowing. We think they were short finned pilot whales. Magical.

That evening there was more magic: The best bio-phosphorescence we have seen so far. We watched a wonderful fire show just looking over the side. Strings of glowing pearls wriggled past, big shining dollops of light like oversized sequins blinked themselves on and off, and all around flashes and swirls of darting light where ever fish moved. When we lifted the dinghy painter out of the water the rope itself sparkled and glowed. If you poured water into the sea an explosion of blue light sprayed out in all directions. Stunning.

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