Chichime Cays - Happy New Year!
Tuesday 1st January 2013
Distance run: 16 nmiles
Yesterday morning we decided we’d had enough of the howling wind, and in any case Rod & Mary needed to get a move on if they were to fly out from Panama City on 9 Jan, so we lifted the anchor and set off for Chichime Cays. We sailed in 12-15 knots of wind in swelly seas (we are nearing the end of the reefs and the ocean swell is more apparent this end of the archipelago) until we reached Dog Island where there is a sunken boat that is popular with snorkelers. We dropped the anchor in quite lumpy seas and cadged a lift in Rod’s dinghy ashore so that we could snorkel the wreck. We seemed to have entered a different world, as it turns out this is a popular tourist spot, and the tiny island and its beach was full of lily-white holidaymakers and loud music. Fast launches were bringing them from somewhere, presumably for the day, although there were a few small tents pitched beneath the trees.
We swam around the wreck – it was interesting to do so but I didn’t see anything any different – though I gave up when a big wave swamped my snorkel and I ended up choking my way back to the beach. The guys said there was much more to see on the other side as you could get inside the wreck – I took their word for it.
Back at the boat we stayed only long enough to dry off before lifting the anchor and setting off for the remaining three nmiles to Chichime. As we approached the main anchorage we could see that not only was it open to the reef like the place we’d just left, but it was fairly crowded. Rod suggested we see if we could find space in the lee of one of the islands, and this turned out to be an excellent suggestion. The sea was a little lumpier, but only just, and the wind was much less behind the palm trees. So we found a spot and anchored, much to the annoyance of a French boat we ended up nearer to than they liked. They expressed their annoyance for a while through staring and gesticulating, but unfortunately for them we have been crowded out by their countrymen too many times to give a toss. Anyway, the boats were in no danger of touching, they were just annoyed they had an audience when they stripped off to shower on the aft step. Like we’re interested…
Rod & Mary came over for sundowners & supper, bringing with them a pot of delicious chicken curry, and together we toasted in the New Year. Later, as it turned midnight, fireworks could be seen in the skies across the horizon, as 2013 was welcomed on a variety of islands. It was quite a spectacular sight, as often the island couldn’t be seen, only the fireworks, and it looked like they were coming out of the sea.
New Year’s day dawned bright and sunny and we lowered the dinghy and set off to explore. We went all the way around the island, Uchutupu Dummat, picking our way through the shoals, and taking a breaker at one point that nearly filled the dinghy. We dropped the dinghy anchor just off the island and snorkelled on the reef, where there was surprisingly more colourful life than I had so far seen. Back at the boat we settled back in the cockpit to chill out. Welcome 2013!