Blog entry 4: The Las Perlas Islands (aka the Pearl Islands) - a lucky escape!

Ian Redwood & Laura Brown
Sun 27 Feb 2022 22:49

08:27.500N 078:59.870W

The Las Perlas Islands (aka the Pearl Islands) - a lucky escape!


We had some frenetic activity over the past few days - stocking with fuel, water, food and spares and loading a new outboard, but at last we finished our list of jobs.  We hoisted sails and left the bay by Panama City.  It will be our last glimpse of skyscrapers for a good while.  At last, it was great to get some fresh air in the sails and moving water under the hull.  We headed 40 miles South to Las Perlas - a lovely warm day with a splendid breeze.



These beautiful islands are green and relatively uninhabited, and they appeared like floating shapes as they dotted the horizon on our approach.  The islands are reputed to be the cause of much lingering amongst would-be Pacific travellers and a cause of regret for those who do not linger.  They will be our last glimpse of land before we arrive in the islands of the Marquesas some 4000 miles away.  We have decided not to go to the Gallpagos and so our route will take us South across the equator to the easterly trade winds (i.e. heading us west) and out of sight of that island grouping.


Our visit to the Las Perlas was almost spoiled before it began.  But that was entirely my fault.  Whist cautiously approaching an islet where we had planned to anchor, we heard and felt a sickening graunch that reverberated throughout the entire yacht, to stop suddenly dead in our tracks.  We’d hit a rock hidden just below the surface.  Unmarked on any charts and out of sight of Laura at the bow.  Luckily, we were only doing 3 knots at the time, and I reckon it scuffed along the bottom of the keel.  But even so – it’s a sickening feeling, that made your stomach drop.  The whole yacht shook, and the mast juddered and every item aboard reverberated in protest.  A few expletives and a blast of reverse power with a little more graunch broke us free.  A lucky escape!  After backing off I quickly lifted the floorboards to confirm we weren’t shipping water.  It only goes to show that the charts in these areas ain’t like they are in the less remote areas of the world.


In deeper water we changed plans and made our way to another bay.  We arrived in beautiful light and birds wheeled and called in the golden twilight.  It was time at last to crack open the champagne for Laura’s birthday!  We drank our fizz under the brilliant stars and witnessed twinkling bio-luminescence bloom around our hull.  We quickly forgot our earlier ordeal distracted by the nutrient rich Pacific.  Pelicans plunged and large fish patrolled nearby, their dorsal fins breaking the surface, whilst smaller prey darted around in the reflected lights from our saloon.



We will stay here for a few days and gather our thoughts, waiting for a weather window.  These are strange, sad times indeed as we read about Ukraine and have those events in our minds – we feel a long way from family and friends.