Posted by: catamarantwooceans | May 31, 2015

Panama–May 2015

1.5.15 – Friday – First thing in the morning I motored to Porvenir to pay my dues to the Kuna Yala Congress. I was received by three giggling Kuna ladies who had a lot of fun with the sole visitor.

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Next, tacking against the wind to go to the Eastern Lemon cays. Another mackerel was caught, so I’ll stop trolling until my crew comes on Tuesday. Once at anchor, I went snorkeling with the GoPro; I still have to learn how to get good results from it. The bay was, as usual, full of sailing yachts; I could see that many of them were charter boats, including the one below, looking like a Turkish Gulet.

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2.5.15 – Saturday – I sailed to the Western Holandes spot we liked so much on our previous visit. Sailing on the flat water in the lee of East Lemon cays close hauled, with full sail and 15 knots of wind, doing 7 knots, I couldn’t but exclaim out loud: “It’s so beautiful!”. I reached the anchorage, sailing almost to the anchoring point. We were the only yacht in the bay but slowly other yachts joined, bringing the total to six.

I went snorkeling with the GoPro taking some videos and stills. Back on the boat I tried to edit them but was not very successful. I have a new laptop that has the Windows 8, which is very different from the Windows 7 I am used to. In addition, Microsoft took out the picture manager program from the new Office and I’m trying to find my way in Picasa and other picture management programs; it’ll probably take some time.

I waited in vain for the kuna cayuca lobster vendors. Fishing was absolutely unsuccessful, so I had a leftovers dinner. Not too bad…

3.5.15 – Sunday – On Tuesday my crew would arrive, flying into Porvenir. They are my brother in law, Yaron, who sailed with me before in the Caribbean, Pacific Panama and the Philippines and Asher, a friend of his, whom I met when I worked for the airline. In preparation for their arrival, I would have to make some shopping in Carti, mainly for fruit and veg. Today I will sail to Kuanidup, in the Los Grulos, to get close to Carti. I was in the process of raising my mainsail (I started doing it at anchor lately) when a motorboat full of produce came by. Are those the Colombian traders everybody talks about? They had some good stuff which I bought but still left some items for Carti, wishing to get the freshest vegetables possible.   

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Los Grulos are two small islands, Kuanidup on the east, has a sort of hostel on it, which I preferred not to anchor by; it was very deep near shore anyway. On the other unnamed island I could see a fallen shack and one standing structure. The islands and reefs around them make a sort of lagoon, in the middle of which I could see a shallower patch; I dropped anchor at 5 meters depth over a sand and rocks bottom. Snorkeling was disappointing but the place had a good feel to it.

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With a lot of time on my hands, I tackled a long-due task – treating the salon upholstery with a cleaning agent.

4.5.15 – Monday – Morning brought a change in the weather. Grey clouds, promising rain, were approaching from the northeast. I left the anchorage determined to do the short leg “pure sailing” style. I even passed the narrow channel between  Carti Tupile, Yandup and Sugdup under full sail (the wind was 10 knots so I wasn’t too fast) approaching the anchoring point, I  furled the jib, turned into the wind and dropped the anchor; mainsail was immediately lowered. I did start an engine for electricity, but kept it out of gear. It was a good feeling to go back to basics!

After a short period of rain I dinghied to Sugdup; I tied the dinghy to a makeshift dock and went to the adjacent home to ask for permission to stay there for half an hour. A young woman said it was O.K but an older woman came out and demanded that I pay 5 dollars. Some people told me that the Kuna people became greedy lately; truly the requested sum was ridiculously high and I simply left and found a place for free. Going to the two shops I know there presented another disappointment; they had nothing! I went to the three islands mentioned above and somehow collected enough tomatoes, a few cucumbers but no peppers! “Come back tomorrow” they all said. It seemed I’d have to, after all – how can an Israeli crew survive without peppers in the salad?

Done with Carti,I motored to Porvenir. The rain clouds dispersed and the wind was less than 5 knots. As I was anchoring, a local guy attached himself to the boat; citing the terrible heat (“mucho calor”) he asked to come aboard and I agreed. I had an ulterior motive and this is what it was: about three months ago a yacht went on Sail-Rock and was abandoned. The Kuna people were quick to take out everything out of it. The hull, which was well above water when I came here last was nowhere to be seen. I was curious; where did all the equipment go to? With one of my Raymarine instrument’s screen, the Tridata, getting clouded, I could perhaps buy one here.

I asked Lionel, that was the Kuna guy’s name, about it and he said that if I came to his island, Whichubhuala, at three p.m. he would take me to where yacht parts were stowed. At 1500 I was on the island’s northern dock. Lionel took me first to the local shop where I bought some rice but that was not the place I was looking for. Next he took me to a house where a few boat items were kept. “That’s all that is left” he said. The owner of the house, who spoke English, said that everything was sold to yachties. “Maybe next time” he said.

On the way to the dinghy I had to pass through a private yard. The man of the house led me to the dock right by a shed he had there. Inside that shed I noticed two large turtles lying on their backs. “Can I take a look?” “yes, no problem”. At the beginning I thought the turtles were dead but as we got closer they both moved; clearly they were in a horrid condition. “What do you do with them?” I asked. The man answered calmly:”they are for eating. I sell to clients”. He had no problems letting me take pictures.

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Now we treat sea turtles as an endangered and protected species and here they keep them on their backs for food just like in olden times. With all the sorrow, I believe that here, where the struggle for survival is a daily affair, I cannot blame the Kuna people for harvesting whatever they can. 

Following a tip about a “Tienada de verdura”, a vegetable shop on Nalunega, an island a stone throw away, I motored there and finally got my peppers and a pineapple. Walking around the village I saw a man carrying a chunk of turtle meat, holding it by the flipper. No further comment.

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Back to the boat to await my joining crew.

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