As far as updates are concerned – here’s what’s been happening: diving, swimming, sailing, beach fires, fish, eating, drinking. Then more of the same. That’s more or less what we’ll be doing until I haul the boat, mid Feb. To that end – since I don’t enjoy repeating myself, you may not receive a ton of updates until we start heading toward Puerto Lindo to get the boat hauled (at Panamarina). I’m on vacation until then, and I’ll earn every bit of this vacation in the damned boatyard.
Lindsay was on for only three days, it’s still unclear how long Eline will be onboard. They arrived the same afternoon Sandra left. Since I wanted to get back to The Swimming Pool for a calming trend – I had everything ready. And as soon as they were onboard – I fired up the engines and we pulled anchor – heading back North into a 15 knot headwind. Not fun, but it was only a few miles.
Pulling into The Swimming Pool, I saw on my AIS a vessel that looked very close (see: on top of) a reef that I anchor next to. Almost in my spot, but dangerously so. There was a rally of some sort stopping in, so there were boats anchored everywhere. The boat in question, we soon saw, was firmly lodged on the reef. Her entire bow was above water and the whole thing looked no-bueno. Based upon the lack of panicked radio-chatter I assumed she wasn’t holed.
We dropped the anchor just thirty meters from her, but in a much safer place, and begin setting up the boat for a few days of chill-time. The tent-shade thing came out and I rolled down the rear-shade. Then I dropped the dinghy and headed over to see if I could help with the yacht-reef issue. After a quick look at the reef and the keel of said yacht – it looked pretty good. I had a feeling we could, with the help of a few dinghies – get the keel out and free.
Quick introductions were made, but it soon became clear that there wasn’t much experience onboard – at least in getting boats off reefs. I’m hardly an expert – but we’ve done it multiple times here (San Blas is a dangerous spot to navigate). The right move is to decide which way to go (forward or reverse) and then tie multiple dinghies (side-tying is usually best). Then all the dinghies and the boat itself – use the engines to push together. Dumping water helps too – it raises the boat in the water a couple of inches.
We managed to get the keel dislodged – but then the rudder was scraping the coral, which is a delicate situation. It was clear, though, that the boat would come loose. And during this time many more dinghies with many unexperienced drivers had arrived to help. And I was starving and there were two bikin-clad girls making a lunch for me on my boat. So rather than stay and wade through the chaos of too many dinghies, too many chiefs, and not enough Indians – I returned to NOMAD, ate some cheese and drank some wine. It was surely the right decision. Shortly the boat was free, and the damage seemed minimal (if there was any).
We decided to head to BBQ Island with the beach gear. The beach gear is typically: a bluetooth speaker, a music playing device, sun-protection, bug spray, a cooler with alcoholic beverages, etc. The guys on the island were happy to see me (or really, my crew) and welcomed us ashore. Then it was exploring and volleyball and drinks.
On our way back to NOMAD that evening, we passed Gris Gris (heya guys!) and had a quick conversation. There was supposed to be a calming trend over the next couple of days, so we planned on a fish BBQ on the beach. Naturally, that night, the wind picked up to 20 knots – and there went the next few days of diving outside the reef.
We spent the next couple of days playing and doing light-duty snorkeling in The Swimming Pool. Then we sailed down to the Western Coco Banderos for a night. Another beach fire and drinks as we watched the sun go down and turn the sky into fire and then violet and then the moon was full and lit up the ocean around us.
It was Lindsay’s last night. The next morning she’d leave on her way back to Panama City and “reality.”
And, again, I would be thankful that my reality is what it is. So, very, thankful.
Two things – if you’ve read this far:
- I have a friend offering charters here in San Blas, and from San Blas to Cuba. It’s a beautiful boat and a great captain, reach out if you’re interested.
- I’m looking for experienced sailing crew to sail longer distances coming up. This is a paying-crew position – meaning you pay a day-rate to be onboard, and you’ll have duties (just like every other crew member). Reach out if you’re interested. You must be 25 or older, have sailing experience, and be very comfortable in the water. I’m going to be very picky.