There are times in your life when things just work out the way they are supposed to, well usually they do but sometimes they are just magical.
Having our granddaughter and our friends aboard in the San Blas was one of these magical moments. Once we learned when Marykay and her husband Scott and daughter Caryn were coming to visit I realized that Daphne would have her mid winter break the same time and could not think of a better place to have her experience than the San Blas islands. Like I said it all just worked out, her mother, my daughter agreed to the plan, I was able to get the same flight that our friends had made and the opportunity for our friends to bring her with them was just the universe making room for our plans.
Larry met them all at the Cruiser Casa in Panama City after their arrival. Once they made the trek in the 4 wheel drive out to Carti and the Panga ride to the boat I greeted them at our boat with more excitement than I recall having in a very long time. This would be an opportunity for us to share one of the more special areas that we have cruised.
As per usual for this time of the year there was a nice breeze blowing through the anchorage, I was on deck as the panga arrived after making lunch for everyone who I expected to be hungry. Our granddaughter Daphne was as excited as I was when they arrived, I knew this when she said ‘Nice hair Grandma’.
Marykay, Scott and their daughter Caryn were amazed that the day arriving to Rocinante had arrived and there were many squeals of delight as we unloaded their luggage and our provisions from the panga to our boat.
After filling up on some tasty morsels and stowing their gear we donned swimming attire and snorkel gear and proceeded to snorkel to Banedup, one of the islands near our anchorage. Doing a little miscalculation we ended up snorkeling over some VERY shallow spots but ended up on the beach at Banedup and showed everyone the island.
On our way back from the island we went to Kokomo and asked Becky and Denny over for happy hour. It’s always fun with Kokomo but our guests were tired and so after our appetizers and visit we had dinner and retired early.
We stayed in the E lemons on Sunday, traditionally there is a pot luck at the larger anchorage just East of us and there are 20-30 boats anchored at this time. We chose to have a potluck on Yansalerdup with just a few of the other boats anchored near us, it was a bit more intimate and not so overwhelming for our friends. The Kuna family on the island had caught a small Lemon shark and called us over to see it. Not knowing my sharks well I commented that it was a baby nurse shark, the Kuna elder man, the only person who spoke Spanish, said that it was a Lemon shark. In my best spanish I explained that I liked nurse sharks because Marykay and I are nurses.
Later that evening the whole Kuna family came back to where we were gathered to talk with Marykay and I. He showed us his 9 month old grandson who had sores/bites all over his body. We questioned as to what it could possibly be, could not come up with a solution at the moment but promised that we would come back the next day to help. After returning to the boat the discussion continued and I even spent many hours that night thinking about what we could do that would at the very least ‘do no harm’
The next morning over our coffee Marykay and I discussed our thoughts. The only thing we came up with was that it was Chicken pox, admittedly one of the worst cases either of us has seen. We came up with bathing 3 times a day with baking soda and oatmeal, which I had blended to a flour consistency. Applying a tea tree oil infused oil on the skin, as tea tree oil is reputed to be beneficial to every skin problem. The grandfather understood all the instructions and we were happy to have been of some assistance.
We pulled the anchor up to motor to dog island to snorkel the wreak which lies off the beach. There is a very small anchorage only suitable in calm conditions and only for a few hours. We finally maneuvered the boat to pretty good holding and were off to enjoy the beauty that this reef had to offer. Larry stayed behind to make water, this is very labor intensive so I am thankful that he is willing to do this for us.
The girls found the jewelry and molas for sale first and when we couldn’t find them in the water we looked toward the island and saw Scott holding all the snorkeling gear under a palm tree and the girls ogling over the handmade items. Of course Daphne and I joined them, I found a bracelet, Daphne found several. We hauled our treasures back to the boat, stopping once more over the wreak, getting pictures of Daphne finding her own.
After lunch we headed over to Salurdup, it was Monday and we planned to have Lisa take us up the Sidra river for the tour on Tuesday. The winds were up a bit to about 21 knots, the seas had been stirred up as well so we had a wild ride as Scott helmed Rocinante across the channel, Caryn was at her favorite spot on the bow and as it got rougher she decided to make her way to the cockpit just as a big wave came over the bow to soak her.
Thankfully we were not the only ones laughing as she got to the cockpit with a big smile on her face. After sailing several hours, our snorkeling in the morning, and anchoring we were content to swim around the boat a bit, take the dinghy to the island of Salurdup for a little exploration and hang on the boat for a wild game of Uno. Daphne was the victor for the evening and we were in bed again before 10 pm, resting for another adventure.
Tuesday we went to the river, Lisa came to get us right from the boat and we made the slow trip to the river.
Our hike to the top only took about an hour so we were a bit sweaty and couldn’t wait to take the plunge into the cool, fresh water. Some of us bravely jumped from the 10 foot rock into the pool, and some were a bit more chicken and jumped from a rock quite a bit lower, hey we all got into the water to cool off and that’s what counts. Lunch was satisfactory and filled our stomachs, enjoyed the rest sunning on the rocks and then began the return trip which takes us through the river, another high jump which we ALL jumped from, a slide or 2, continued trekking through the jungle past several Kuna gravesites and back to the panga where the adventure of the day began. This day was thoroughly enjoyed by all and we were ready to relax on the boat.
Our first thought when we were planning the time was that we would sail to another anchorage called Gunboat island, it is only a 5 mile or so sail but we knew that changing anchorage would take at least 3 hours and the anchorage was reported to be a bit rolly so we decided to stay where we were to explore the area. Waking up at about the time to listen to the ‘net’ which comes on at 0830 every morning on the SSB, leisurely enjoying our coffee and breakfast and chatting about our experiences from the day before we prepared to go on our outing. We piled our gear into the dinghy and I took everyone to see what reefs we could find. Our first stop was disappointing as we only found one coral head so we jumped back in the dinghy and headed a bit further. Between two of the islands I could easily see the breaking waves of the reefs that extended off each island, I found a sandy spot to drop the dinghy anchor and we jumped in. First look told us we had found a special place. Snorkeling right next to the breaking waves was a bit surgy but once we were out a bit from the sand the visibility was wonderful. Before we got caught on the outside of the second set of breaking waves I suggested we return to the dinghy and explore 3 palm island.
3 palm island is a bit of a takeoff from 1 palm island, which there are several of these so named islands scattered around the San Blas. We anchored the dinghy off of the island a bit and snorkeled the reef all the way to the island. The girls found many treasures on the island to show us, pictures to remind us what a treasures we have found and explored together were taken and we headed back to the boat.
Surprised that we had been gone 2½ hours we showered thanks to Larry filling our solar showers and had a late lunch. We knew that a rematch at UNO would be in order that evening and the Ausenhus’s were hot to take the crown from Daphne. I knew that there was one experience they could not leave the islands without and that was the famous ‘noodle happy hour’. Having enjoyed a mojito with our fresh mint the night before I set out to make enough for the younger women to have their version and share in the festivities.
Once the mojitos were made everyone got their ‘noodle’, which are the Styrofoam straw-like water toys and I gave an example of how you get into the water with your noodle and drink in the glass to enjoy our ‘noodle hour’ floating in the cool Caribbean sea. Marykay said she is going to tell her mom that this is the way she wants to have pupu hour from now on. We laughed about when we come back to Seattle they will have us over for ‘pupus’ and have noodles on the couch or in the bathtub and we will remember their time with us.
The next day was Thursday, we headed back to our original anchorage at Salurdup, the wind was 12-15 knots, main and jib were set by Larry and Scott and Mary Kay was at the helm for the great sail. The girls were a bit nauseus but they quickly recovered once we were out of the channel. Safely anchored we got a visit from our Kuna family, the grandfather happily reported that the baby was much better and thanked us for our ‘medicine’. The girls contributed to the islands economy by purchasing some of their beaded bracelets and we waved goodbye as they paddled away in their ulu.
Friday morning came early as we had to take the return trip to Panama City for their flight on Saturday. The panga came as expected, we piled in, they said their goodbyes to Rocinante and we arrived at the Cruiser Casa before noon. This day was spent exploring some of the sites of Panama City, the canal and Miraflores locks, the fishermans wharf, and Casco Viejo. We ended the day enjoying dinner and a traditional dance demonstration at a nearby restaurant. It has been such a wonderful adventure.
Thanks to Marykay, Scott and Caryn for visiting us, allowing us to share this magical place called San Blas with them, thanks for the unforgettable memories and laughter they have shared with us, we will relive this time over and over. But most of all thanks to them for allowing our granddaughter Daphne to have an adventure of a lifetime. For this we are eternally grateful.