Friday, December 20, 2013

Back in the Lemmon Cays, San Blas Islands

20:30 14 Dec 2013, Still in Puerto Linton.
It is finally a calm night here in the anchorage. For the past week it has been blowing 10-12 kts here and a lot more off-shore.  All the weather predictors have been calling for light winds for the past few days but reality is quite different. We actually weighed anchor and left this morning only to be met with 8-12 ft seas and 17-20 kt headwinds as we reached open water. After realizing that we would arrive after dark it was an easy decision to return to the relative comfort of Puerto Linton. Scaring the poop out of Fran might also have had something to do with it. She is again convinced that we should go back to Mexico, now!
Sometime in the early afternoon a squall came through with a lot of rain and wind. It didn’t last long but it did bring that expected change in the weather. As I write this the wind is a light offshore breeze with thunder and lightning visible to the east, where we were headed…  We’ll try again tomorrow in the hope that the seas will have calmed overnight.
Waiting for the weather to change can be a boring process. For the last few days we have been looking for things to do and finding small projects or reading. Fran’s fascination with Candy Crush Saga (I-Phone, I-Pad App) is rubbing off on me but it is easily justified as mental exercise and God knows how much people of our age need some of that.  Fran now hates Candy Crush and Angry Birds!!!
Yesterday we went to Pizza night again and met several new people. After almost 2 weeks here we are starting to feel like locals. We also met a lovely lady who has a great house overlooking the bay. Her aquariums, hummingbird feeders and fountains are superb but her claim de fame is her pet 3-toed sloth. We both had a chance to hold this amazingly gentle creature. We also learned that it has a very strict diet of a certain type of leaf and drinks no water but takes in the moisture from the leaves and pees only about once a week; no I am still not making this up!!

Cute or what??

 Well, we have received confirmation from the broker in the UK, Kings  Easton, that Gosling is officially listed on 3 websites. If anyone is interested in all of the specifics you can find her on under the Manufacturer’s name and model: Nicholson 42. Picking a place where she can be viewed by potential customers was tricky but Rio Dulce, Guatemala was chosen because it is our destination for mid-March, and, we just got confirmation today that we are accepted at the Catamaran Marina for the layover season. Thanks, Barry (Passat II) for giving up his spot. Now I only have to convince Fran that this is a calm sea destination.
We got word, at last, from Chris Parker, the Caribbean weather guru, about our planned route this season. He agreed it was possible but the chances of getting a good weather window from Colombia are much more difficult than from the coast of Panama via Provedencia to the Caymans so it looks like the planned route will change drastically. Should the weather windows not cooperate we will most likely miss Cuba and make for Rio Dulce by a more direct route. That’s the cruising life in a nutshell. Had we started in the eastern Caribbean anything would be possible but going against the trade winds can be difficult, to say the least. Now Fran will get to cruise the Caribbean on a cruise Ship!!!

21:30 17 December 2013, East Lemmons, San Blas Islands
We have finally made it back to the San Blas Islands. As planned, we departed early the following morning and, although there were still sizable swells they were much more “cruiser friendly” this time. During the first few hours we skirted some dirty black clouds offshore. 

Big squall - missed us, just!
The radar showed that they were intense systems with lots of rain but, luckily, they remained about a mile to seaward of us. Later we had a favorable wind and got the sails up for a spell but by the time we arrived at the entrance to the San Blas Channel the wind had reverted to the 12-15 kts from the East making things quite lumpy.  By mid-afternoon we turned south into the channel and soon arrived at the West Lemmons. We had time for a dip in the 81F water before more big black clouds began to form. For the past two evenings we have had some spectacular thunderstorms over the shore but little affect , other than a few showers where we were.
Today we went by panga “taxi” to Porvenir to sign in to the San Blas Islands. It was a relatively painless process costing us $30 for a month cruising permit. The funds generated from these fees go to the Kuna natives. We have already had visits by the two main mola makers of the area. Both Lisa and Valencio remembered us and didn’t push too hard for us to buy their molas.

Once back on the boat we weighed anchor and motored over to the East Lemmons, our last stop last March before heading to Shelter Bay. Several of the boats we had met in Shelter Bay are here and we expect a few more will arrive for the Christmas Potluck event planned for Christmas Day. Aka, Three Sheets, El  Karma, Respite, Hippo Camp,  and Dream  Ketcher are here, among others . On our way we saw this small island inhabited by a Kuna family. The house is built of vertical bamboo poles with a thatched roof but they have solar power and a big red “ Claro” TV dish.

  Progress for these people?

21:30, 20 December 2013, East Lemmons anchorage
When will this damned wind ever abate?? It has been 3 days now since we moved from the West Lemmons to this, more populous anchorage and the wind is still hounding us as it did in Puerto Linton. If it wasn’t for the reefs between us and the open ocean this anchorage would not be tenable, but, then again, all of these low sandy islands would not be here either. There are a few kite surfers who are having a whale of a time. We have taken out our Christmas decorations but doubt if the tree will be set in these conditions. There is supposed to be a change by the weekend but we are not putting too much hope in those claims. Today was the first good sunny day and we were able to get some “free” battery charge from our solar array. So far, we have had to supplement with the Honda generator. We now see the value of a wind generator; in fact, we bought one today, and older Aerogen 6, from another cruiser. We are assured it runs well but until we reach civilization again and are able to get a mounting pole and some cabling it will have to wait in a storage spot under a bunk.
This will be the last entry before Christmas, so, to everyone reading this, a very merry Christmas to you and yours.

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