Posted by: catamarantwooceans | February 10, 2015

More Sailing in Kuna Yala – part 2

1.2.15 – Sunday – Morning in Nargana, filling water and provisioning. Lunch in Sugardup and then sailing fast to the West Holandes, 13 miles away. Waisaladup is the place Gili crowned as the most beautiful in the region, mainly because of the good reef there. Fishing with the limited portion of chicken breast Gili allotted was also limited to a small fish which was immediately put back as live bait. Just before going to bed, Yossi checked it and found out it was eaten by some creature without disturbing the rod.

2.2.15 – Monday – From Waisaladup, we motored six miles to the south to Achadup in the western Naguargandup cays. Another fantastic location…

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3.2.15 – Tuesday – The weather here is a bit crazy; yesterday there was almost no wind and today it was blowing 20 knots. We sailed to East Lemmon cay with the wind at 60 degrees from starboard. From time to time waves were breaking against the hull and as Yossi happened to look into their cabin, which is on the starboard, he was horrified to see that the hatch was not completely closed and that seawater inundated the sheets and mattresses. Once we got to the anchorage we took everything out to dry; Yossi and Ester relocated to the aft cabin. From our position we noticed the peculiar shape of a junk rigged boat; surely it is Kevin’s Amuri Mina! A nice sight taken with the new Canon SX50HS which has an enormously long lens.

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One of the things to do in East Lemmons is snorkeling the reefs. On today’s outing I noticed a spiny puffer hiding in a crevice and dived down to "talk" with it. I put my hand closer to it and when it did not object or run away, I touched its white, soft belly, stroking it gently. The fish seemed to like it, going out into the open with no fear; an irregular experience!

4.2.15 – Wednesday – Last day in the Kuna Yala. First, a visit to the harbor master and then we motored against the wind to our favorite anchorage in Chichime. Kevin and his family were there at anchor; their two kids are adorable.

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The parents of Kevin’s wife, Julia, were with them on the boat and they all came for a beer later in the evening. We were told that the family is moving to Europe where Kevin would have to get used to living in civilization.

5.2.15 – Thursday – At 0645 we left Chichime. Destination – Green Turtle Cay marina. Wind – 11-13 knots and sea slight. Trolling again, trying to kill the fishing jinx we are experiencing lately and finally succeeding!

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                                Yossi and Tuna

A visit to the Chinese mini market in Nombre de Dios was a necessity. Yogi, the marina manager, was going to his house in town to have lunch and I hitched a ride, squeezed into the front seat (the back seat was occupied) with his Rottweiler bitch which was slavering during the 15 minutes drive, luckily missing my foot. We spent a quiet night in the marina.

6.2.15 – Friday – The day dawned with grey skies and rain; we waited for a lull and went out to go to Linton. The rain came back and as all crew hid inside, the captain braved the elements. Approaching Isla Grande, where we wanted to enter the channel to Linton, we were lucky to have the clouds disperse and visibility good enough to be able to recognize and avoid the reefs and shoals.

Right on our heels came a huge Catana 59 catamaran; yachts are getting bigger and bigger!

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After lunch we went to visit the monkeys on Linton island and then went out to go the ten miles to Portobelo. Surprisingly the weather improved and we had a lovely sail, the highlight of which was the catching of a nice Mahi Mahi. Another opportunity for Gili to exercise her gourmet cooking abilities.

7.2.15 – Saturday – Out of Portobelo to go to Chagres river. An argument started between the captain and the chef; Gili was advocated trolling for fish while Miki thought we should eat the chicken we have in the freezer, thus preserving the world’s fish dwindling population. Guess who had her way… With the wind blowing at 18 knots from the starboard quarter we sailed 7-8 knots, the captain hiding a smug smile knowing it was too fast to catch a fish. Two miles to the entrance to Chagres river and it was the turn of the chef to smile. A Jack Trevally was caught.

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we entered the river, which is always beautiful and peaceful. We took the dinghy and explored the river banks, going into some side channels that led into the jungle.

In the evening Gili started working on our jack dinner. I personally do not like this fish. Gili tried her best to cook it in a tomato based spicy oriental sauce but the jack opposed all her efforts, it was tough and not very tasty. Did you ever come across a jack on a menu in a restaurant? There’s a good reason for it.

8.2.15 – Sunday – Another beautiful day in paradise. We had some visitors perching on our pulpit.

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Here’s a closer look at one of them.

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We slowly motored towards the river’s exit looking out for monkeys but seeing none. Then to Shelter Bay marina, where "Two Oceans" will stay for about two months while we go back home.

Preparing the boat is never easy; add to the regular cleaning operations the breaking down of the vacuum cleaner, the discovery that water from a yet unknown source is entering Gili’s wardrobe section and to cap it all – my cellular phone sliding from the cabin top right into the water. I’ll try to dive and find it tomorrow; at least save the SIM card.

9.2.15 – Monday – A day of hard work and exasperation; the marina staff, who led me to believe they would supply a 115 volt line for my dehumidifier came up with all sort of reasons why they couldn’t do it. Main argument was "liability" in case my unit will malfunction and, according to one of the maintenance office people, may cause a fire. They ended up bringing one of their units, for which they are going to bill me 45$ a month.

They also decided that I should pay the full amount, 260$, for the no result treatment of my autopilot system by their electrician. Being committed to staying here by the leaking fuel tank I have no choice but to pay. But they are going to lose me as a long term client once that affair is concluded. At least the pumping out of the fuel in the leaking tank was done quickly and efficiently. The actual repair would have to wait until I come back in April.

So until then – Adios from Miki and Gili on Two Oceans.

Posted by: catamarantwooceans | February 5, 2015

More Sailing in Kuna Yala

After a long time with no internet, we now have it in Green Turtle Cay marina. I’ll publish more than one post so please, look for it.

25.1.15 – Sunday – The terminal was a beehive of action with a multitude of water taxis dropping people off and picking others up to go to different locations.

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Ester and Yossi were soon on the boat and we motored the 2 miles to Carti Sugdup to let them have a first impression of life in the Kuna Yala.

Next we went to Porvenir to collect the laundry we let the hotel do "a mano", by hand and then to Chichime for the night. A few of the yachts in the anchorage had flags of the "World A.R.C"  and were supposed to leave for Colon the next day.

26.1.15 – Monday – This was the day of the cruisers party in the West Lemmons so we went too. Rob Dehaan, out of yacht "Southern Comfort" who was involved with the party’s organization, hoped for 40 yachts. When we met him on shore he said that there were 60 yachts present. The party took place on Elephant island, around the local bar. Cheep beers and wine made everybody happy. Here are some pictures I took.

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                         Ester, Yossi and Gili

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                     our ladies with Rob

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            Lauren, Rob’s wife

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                   The youngest participant

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                  some other young ones

27.1.15 – Tuesday – A "Flea Market" was planned to take place on Elephant at 1430; we decided to give it a miss and instead sailed to the Western Holandes. Last time I visited here we were three yachts in the anchorage; this time there were eight, including a small cruise ship.

Yossi is an enthusiastic fisherman and I wanted to give him a chance in that location, which the guide described as having superb snorkeling and fishing. Snorkeling was great but our fishing results were nil. We tried different baits; octopus and fish pieces we had in the freezer – no success. In despair we resorted to using chicken breast and in half an hour we had four snappers.

28.1.15 – Wednesday – We decided to stay another day. We liked the place, especially the reef on the east side of the break between the two islands on the western side of the group. Gili declared that it was the prettiest location in all of San Blas. Thoughts of repeating the fishing performance of the previous day were on our minds but inexplicably no fish was taken.

29.1.15 – Thursday – From Western Holandes we sailed to the west islands of Coco Bandero, anchoring near Obduptarboat, another beautiful island, complete with white coral sand and coconut trees. We  swam to some of the reefs surrounding the anchorage and were disappointed by the small number of fish seen; we did see three stingrays, one of them a real monster.

We had lunch and a bit of a rest before motoring two miles to the east to what I began to call "Coco Bandero Central". Again, dismal fishing performance. Are we going to have to BUY fish?

30.1.15 – Friday – We found ourselves short in water. Getting water is a problem here and in the past we could always count on the  supplier in Nargana. Today, as we dropped our anchor opposite their place, we saw their panga tied to the dock with non of the water barrels they use to ferry water to boats in it. Apollo, local Water Walla, said no water would be available until Sunday. We convinced his boss to sell us 36 gallons out of his home big tank of rainwater, so at least we shall not suffer thirst.

We did a lot of shopping for the next few days and then sailed to the area of Green Island and found shelter on its east behind the island of Kulgaladup. From the distance it seemed nice and had the benefit of having the place all for ourselves but frankly, it did not have any advantage over our regular anchorage.

31.1.15 – Saturday – Wanting to combine seeing new places with fishing on the way, we left the Green Island complex and sailed to Isla Puyadas, where "fishing and snorkeling are excellent" according to the guide. Isla Puyadas is open to  the ocean and is recommended as a day stop and settled weather anchorage. Today it was not so settled, the anchorage a bit rolly and snorkeling out of the question. We decided to go to Tigre island, 2.2 miles to the south, where we planned to spend the night.  

From the distance Tigre was not very attractive; when we got closer we saw that the coordinates given in the guide as the western entry were in fact for the anchorage inside. Our approach took us over an area of 3 meters deep water and as we entered it I said to Gili:"It is going to be rough getting out of here". At that moment a big, steep wave towered behind and broke on our stern. I turned the wheel to port, opened power and went back to the safety of deeper water. We decided to relocate to a quiet place not far from Nargana, to where we needed go the next day for water. After a stop for lunch at the pleasant Isla Tupile we went further west to Sugardup, 1.5 miles from the entrance to Nargana.

Sugardup is another of those beautiful islands that make up Kuna Yala; some of them are so low and small that one wonders how they stand the onslaught of the sea.

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Near our chosen anchorage local fishermen were at work; they utilize a system by which they spray the surface with water, presumably to attract the fish. They were taking out fish at a fast rate while we had no success at all.

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Posted by: catamarantwooceans | February 5, 2015

With Gili & Friends–part 2

21.1.15 – Wednesday – We wanted Mali and Boaz to see Coco Bandero so we motored over. Gili and I snorkeled around one of the islands, seeing a nice eagle ray, big barracuda, permit fish and other reef creatures. After a pizza lunch we sailed to the East Lemmons. As we were having our margaritas a motor boat approached; I immediately recognized Lisa Harris, master Mola maker. Mali wanted to buy some and a deal was struck after some bargaining.

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Lisa, as every one who visited the area knows, is a man who was raised and appears as a woman. This, we are told, is not an uncommon practice in the Kuna Yala.

22.1.15 – Thursday – We passed most of the day in the same anchorage; Boaz nursing a bad cold that took hold of him, Mali reading and Gili and I snorkeling the reef on the south of Nuinudup island. At 3 p.m we set out to go to Porvenir. On the way we passed Lemmon Cays and saw one of the yachts that had the misfortune of grounding on a reef at the beginning of the month.

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The rumor is that a salvage ship from Colombia is on the way to save her. Getting close to Porvenir I felt the appearance of Sail Rock at the entrance was different from what it was when we left the place on Sunday. It took me a few seconds to realize that a sailing yacht was hard aground on the reef with no mast or sails. When we came ashore we gathered pieces of information. It happened on Monday evening in the dark; the skipper already flew to the U.S leaving the yacht for the Kuna people to exploit. After I took the yacht’s picture I noticed that a local man was on the bow.

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I would not speculate about the reasons for that mishap.

23.1.15 – Friday – At 0600 I took Mali and Boaz to the hotel near the airstrip. We waited for the airplane to land but it did not arrive. When we lost patience half an hour after the planned ETA, the Kuna old lady, who seemed to be the ops officer on the island, called the airline. A lengthy conversation ensued at the end of which they promised to send a "special plane" that would arrive at 0800.

Back to the boat for coffee and breakfast and then back to the strip. The single engine, four seat bird ( a Cessna?) landed at 0830; Mali and Boaz could finally board.

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Theirs was a short visit but they experienced a lot; from the tranquility of Chagres river to the bad conditions of the leg to San Blas and then the wonders of the islands.

Gili and I were ready for our next guests, my cousin and his wife – Yossi and Ester who would come on Sunday. Just as I was preparing to raise the anchor, a yacht came in; I thought I heard Hebrew spoken there and sure enough it was Jerry Lipson, an airline pilot from Israel with his two men crew. We exchanged a few words and departed towards Carti Tupile, where the harbor master, senior Lopez, said we could fill up water at the island’s dock. We approached the short dock gingerly, tied up and started filling our tanks. The water tap did not have a lot of pressure so it was supplemented by three men hauling jerry-cans which I siphoned into the tanks.

Cost of water – 10$; labor – the guys wanted 3 dollar each and Gili, impressed by their hard work added some more. Yours truly, who had to manhandle ALL of those containers, was not rewarded at all…. Just kidding…With all the hard work, I neglected my documentary obligations, forgetting to take pictures of the proceedings.

A few hundred meters to Carti Sugdup, lunch, short visit to town and then we motored to Aridup for the night.

24.1.15 – Saturday – The morning was dedicated to cleaning the boat; another pressing matter was investigating a small leak originating in the starboard forward locker, where a fuel tank is located. I took  everything out, gave the locker a good rinse and then wiped the bottom dry. Waited a reasonable time and verified that we did have a leak from the tank. I plugged the drain and would have to sponge and store the fuel in a can until we get back to the marina, where a permanent repair would be possible.

In the afternoon we sailed to Nonomulu island near Carti, to await the arrival of my cousin Yossi and his wife, Ester. We thought it would be a secluded and quiet bay but found out it was close to the terminal to which all traffic from Panama City to San Blas comes. I’ll pick them up from there with the dinghy. A panga loaded with vegetables came by and we did our shopping with them.

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