Les Perles 08:29.43N 79:02.19W
Alan Franklin/Lynne Gane
Tue 17 Mar 2015 18:42
Dear Family and Friends,
17th March 2015
Our passage from Tabogo to Les Perles was remarkable for the patches of red sea, thinking my polaroids must be distorting the colours, I did a reality check and the sea really had a burgundy tinge to it with no obvious algae or weed, very strange, I wonder whether its anything to do with the Humbolt current which travels north from South American? Talking of which, it has been surprisingly cool especially at night, just 8 degrees north of the equator, who would have thought that!
Les Perles Islands lie SE of Panama City. There are maybe 15 islands and countless rocks, islets and sandbanks in between. With careful navigation (and the forward looking echo sounder), it is possible to anchor in unspoilt passages between the uninhabited islands with just occasional fellow traveller for company. Isla Contadora, a tourist resort, is the most developed. Recent reports say this too has suffered from the economic downturn. Isla Del Rey in the SE of the group, is the largest with 4 villages and the most populous of them is San Miguel on the north coast. Some islands are privately owned, some like Isla Viveros have mansions lining the north channel coast. The locals otherwise live in small communities around the larger islands.
Les Perles you will not be surprised to hear are named after the pearls found in their waters. The famous 31 carat Peregrina pearl worn by our own Queen Mary Tudor came from these islands. Unlike the San Blas islands in many ways, visitors are not assailed with goods offered from dugout canoes, there are not so many fishermen, I think I have only spotted one. The islands are low, tropical tree lined with rocky shores and golden beaches, the waters during our visit, were not the clear blue the guide books promised but a brown black cocktail of sediment. The palms of the Caribbean are not common here, flowering trees, evergreens and mangroves line the shore, Pelicans swoop in flying gracefully so low over the water, they could touch it if they dipped their wings, in a line astern, gliding and flapping in synchronized harmony. Black Frigate birds fly low too, this morning, wave after wave, their squadrons in V formation, literally hundreds, just above the water, following its passage, an arresting sight. We have seen fish travel on the waters surface, moving by working their tail in the water, their bodies held upright, large rays near the waters surface and baby jelly fish so dense in the water it is like a white and brown soup of them.
The ‘soup’ caused us a problem as we could not run the water maker or the generator for fear of the filters becoming quickly clogged with jelly fish. Having exhausted our supply yesterday doing some washing, we reverted to our emergency supplies and are currently sailing off shore enough to find clear water. A temporary problem and soon fixed which is not the case with the freezer! Once again it has let us down just as we have stocked it for crossing the Pacific, I cant believe its happened, especially as the refrigeration engineer in Lanzarote could find nothing wrong. We have turned the fridge down in the hope of keeping frozen stuff a little longer and we have plenty of tinned foods. Our special thanks go to Anne and Jonathan for stepping in to provide some more, yesterday. We have said au revoir to them as we will head off to Galapagos tomorrow and hope we will catch them there around the beginning of April as they are sailing in the same direction, Pacific-wise.
We hope to anchor and explore a little of the coast of Isla Del Rey today and have a good nights sleep, in preparation for the passage and, with encouraging winds, set off for the big G at first light.
All our best,
Lynne and Alan