After cleaning the fish I found we had more fish than I originally thought. The good news is that we had plenty of Americans in the anchorage – meaning that I could offload some fish and have an excuse to go freediving and spearfishing the following day. I cleaned the fish, bagged it, and took it to our closest neighbor (the yacht Away) who was ecstatic. They asked if we needed anything. We were in a desperate way for pancake syrup. They had a ton of pancake syrup. Excellent trade. I can’t tell you how happy that made my crew – after a few days of non-pancake mornings, stuff gets weird on S/V NOMAD.
The next three days were very similar. We spent the days cooking, relaxing, diving, swimming, and did one day of full day-drinking – using the kayak as a floating bar and the surfboards and lifevests as floating seats. Fun. I missed taking a picture of our kayak the next morning – clear evidence of the previous day’s nonsense. Those kinds of pictures explain things much better than I can with words – the whole “picture worth a thousand words” cliche comes to mind. This one will have to do – note the shadows on the sand under Luke and Lisa. Awesome.
Our last day of light-wind we went for another freediving and spearfishing adventure outside the reef. Lisa chilled out onboard and made some coconut jewelry stuff. I was honestly impressed by her work.
Luke and I hunted together almost the whole time. We tried a couple of different spots, saw some decent fish, but were having trouble putting big fish in the boat – they were actively avoiding us. I was checking holes and caves right beside Luke when I heard him shoot. Then he yelled at me, then I saw what he shot. He made a pretty epic shot on a large Dog Snapper – putting the shaft through the front of the fish, right between the eyes, and going back through it’s tail. That is a perfect shot – the fish is dispatched immediately, and with both it’s tail and head on the spear it is completely immobilized. Awesome. I was really stoked for Luke, but we were back to a very common conundrum: what do we do with all this fish?
Europeans, Stories, and Scotch
It was early, so we went back to the mothership and tried to trade fish for beer in the anchorage via VHF. We haven’t managed this yet, but we did meet our new neighbors – all young European guys, on a 32 foot monohull. They were having trouble finding fish, so we gave them some. That went over very well.
The following day they came to spearfish with us, but at this point the wind and swell had picked up so much that we couldn’t get outside the reef. So we anchored the dinghy inside and kicked against the current for awhile to get outside and find fish. After a couple of hours of kicking against the current, I was far enough outside the reef that I was seeing fish. Including another very large Cubera Snapper. He wasn’t fond of me, and quickly took his leave. I trailed him until I saw him duck into a hole, but when I dove down I quickly saw what I expected: his hole was, in fact, a huge maze of large caves with more entrances and exits than I’d ever be able to cover. So he was gone. This kind of thing is pretty predictable, but one of these days a big Cubera will make a mistake and he’ll be dinner for an anchorage.
That evening our European neighbors cooked us a lobster pasta, brought some excellent single-malt Scotch, and some nice cigars over. We ate and drank like Kings (again). Then we started into storytime. One of these gents told us about his time in Cartagena, including his escapades with a local pirate and the pirate’s girlfriend. It’s tough to put into words how hard we laughed. And, well, the story probably isn’t fit for public consumption.
That night we retired pretty late, but managed to con our European neighbors into giving us a couple of pounds of flour, if we agreed to make fresh bread and French Toast for the following morning. That’s a real treat out here, and so the exchange was fair.
Our breakfast was delayed, and I reckon we’d be correct in blaming the empty bottle of 15 year The Glenlivet. But eventually we baked bread and then cooked French Toast. The guys came over, ate, then left the anchorage, but we spent the next day recovering, cooking, relaxing. But, all good things come to an end. The end of our Swimming Pool vacation was directly correlated with an increase in wind.
The Wind is Back
When the wind picked up we decided to leave what is now my favorite anchorage in San Blas – the Swimming Pool. There’s something about a place that has crystal clear water, white sand beaches lined with palm trees, and good spearfishing.
Next stop: West Hollandes. We knew a couple of the local Kunas on the islands there – one is a master Mola maker, Prado. Prado has a thing for young gringos with long hair, but he’s harmless. The other Kuna bossman in the area is Julio. Older and pretty straight-edge, not allowing them to sell beer on the island.
So early in the afternoon, we picked up our anchor and motored out of the Swimming Pool toward the West Hollandes. We raised the main and put out the Genoa, but with a bad wind angle I decided to motor rather than tack all across San Blas. It’s a good practice to run the engines every so often as well. So we motored, again, despite the fact that we all really wanted to sail.