With the weather forecast predicting NW winds, it was time to move on; our idyllic anchorage in Isla de Pinos would provide limited shelter. The plan is to work our way north-west along the coast of Panama (and the San Blas islands) toward Colon and the canal entrance. We set off at 9.30 in company with "Ouf", planning to head to more protected anchorages in either Mamitupu or Ailigandi (5miles further north) depending upon how well the light allowed us to pick our way amongst the isolated rocks and coral outcrops.
The Panama coast we passed looked magnificently lush, forested hills in the mist, rolling down to a wooded coast-line punctuated by the occasional Kuna settlement. We passed a perfect tropical island, Kwitupu, where we briefly considered a stop until we saw the Spanish translation - "Isla Mosquito". We passed Achutupu at what seemed to be their rush-hour where around twenty dug-out canoes with sailing rigs, appeared to be heading home for lunch after a morning's fishing. Wish we'd taken some photos, unfortunately some tricky reef navigation took precedence to the camera.
Around 3pm we dropped anchor on the southern shore of Ailigandi. We were greeted by some very camp, highly entertaining Kuna Indians. We've marvelled at how fast and skillfully the Kunas propel their canoes, however these gay Indians could have emerged straight from an Almodovar film-set and never been in a canoe before. Much laughter ensured as they struggled to stay close to Kika, and left some Kuna paint marks on our recently cleaned gel-coat.
Ailigandi is a small heavily populated island - think a miniature Manhattan and replace the sky-scrapers with bamboo huts. It seems more developed than Isla Pinos, with a a medical centre and largish school. We also received receipts for our one off $5 anchoring fee, although they seemed more interested in learning about the where we'd come from, information about our families etc etc than actually taking the fee. Looking forward to spending more time exploring after too much time in Isla Pinos was spent trying to get the outboard to work reliably. Currently it seems OK, although it sounds like a rattling bag of rusty nails. There's lots to-do here with a river, reefs and off-laying islands to explore, as well as a Kuna cafe to try - if the outboard doesn't play ball we'll just have to row.