Sunday, January 20, 2013

Counting our blessings at Isle Contadora

Position: 08°37'N, 79°02'W – Isle Contadora, Panama

Ensenada Naranjo was just so beautiful, we stayed for three nights,
doing odd jobs on the boat and re-introducing our legs to dry land. The
smells and sounds of the nearby forest never got old, and we enjoyed
sundowners and man-sized dinners every night before getting some quality
sleep. We had the bay to ourselves and maxed out the opportunity to
acclimatise to land life at our own pace. Even if we had planned it, we
couldn't have imagined a better landfall.

Rested and relaxed, we set off on Thursday to our original destination –
Isle Contadora. On the chart it looked like an easy two-day, 200 mile
sail but the tides, currents and wind in the Gulf of Panama didn't quite
agree so we had a few bumpy days and nights. We spotted shooting stars
overhead at night but, given our experience the past few weeks, it's
hard to know what to wish for now. A week ago, we would have killed for
a puff of wind, yet on Thursday night we had two reefs in the mainsail
(to cope with the high wind) and struggled to stand upright, let alone
sleep.

As if that wasn't enough, the Gulf of Panama is one of the busiest
shipping areas in the world. This meant keeping a constant watch day and
night for container ships or floating debris, not to mention stray
up-to-no-gooders on smuggling trips along the Panama-Columbian border.
As we passed the dense rainforest on land and kept an eye out for any
human activity at sea, we felt like we were in a James Bond movie!

Yet as we have learned, all things eventually come to an end, even 27
knot winds and errant currents. At 0830 on Sunday morning we finally
dropped anchor at Playa Cacique on the west coast of Isle Contadora, and
breathed again with smiles on our faces. There were many other cruising
yachts and motorboats in the bay and we popped by a neighbouring yacht
on our way to shore to get advice on where best to land our dinghy. We
weren't quite sure of the boat or crew nationality so it was a pleasant
surprise to hear the familiar tones of Down Under and meet Kate and
Paul, a friendly Australian couple who have been cruising for the past
two years. (Kate Holme & Paul Walters, we know you'll love this :))

Isle Contadora is the most developed of 220 islands in the Las Perlas
archipelago. It translates as 'counting house' as it was where pearls
gathered from local oysters on the surrounding islands would be counted
before being shipped to Panama and then to Spain in the 1500s. There are
white, sandy beaches, two 'supermarkets' and a handful of guesthouses
and restaurants - all we need to relax before we make our final approach
to Panama City and a true return to the real world.

In the midst of all the activity this week, we received the wonderful
news of the birth of our first nephew – Louis Henaghan Jnr. Welcome to
the world li'l Lou. We can't wait to meet you later this year.

5 comments:

  1. Just catching up on your blog - Happy New Year and all the best to you both. Hope everything is still going well. Ang and I are living in Mangawhai now for the next three months before we go to England mid-April. Our baby Alex was born on 5th Jan, he's doing well!

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  2. Wow amazing blog!! Myles u should write a book or get this published wud def b a best seller...well done again, as they say" ye have the life!" :)......loraine moran

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  3. hey we all thought of you when we were out sailing in the comfort of the Hauraki Gulf over the holidays. We did have one wild night when it gusted over 40 knots in Te Kouma and we dragged ancher 4 times overnight.
    Your trip sounds fantastic, cant wait to see all the photos when you get back to Auckland.
    Eoghan, Rachel & Hanna

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  4. Greetings from the couch on a lazy Australia Day Bank holier. Really enjoyed catching up on the Blog- I will regard the pre mixed cake aisle in the Supermarket with a newfound respect! Take care of yourselves. Love Cáit

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  5. Great stuff - your intrepid adventures sound exhilarating! Well done on making it across the mighty Pacific. All the best, Craig Trent.

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