Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Coco Bandero Cays

Despite the continuing torrential rain, much fun was had in Ratones Cays trading with the fishermen. Perhaps our bargaining skills still need some work or perhaps the Kuna fishermen are just incredibly generous people, as they've enthusiastically embraced "buy one get one free". In this way Ouf ended up with four octopus, three lobsters and two crabs, and less intrepidly we ended up with two large crabs. One of which energetically made occasional bids for freedom which Ellen "crustation liberator" happily encouraged.
It looked as though our diet would be dominated by crab for the next few days, but fortunately the arrival of Steve and Aly on Corisande solved the problem with the four of us quickly devouring the two crabs using an odd assortment of pliers, screwdrivers, skewers, cutlery and fingers.That evening the seas increased with the strengthening wind and despite heroic efforts deploying the kedge anchor in an attempt to ensure Kika's bow stayed into the chop we had a disturbed night's sleep in the rolly anchorage.

The following day the weather promised an improvement, with the first sight of the sun for a few days. We decided to head off in search of a more sheltered anchorage. For once the route was relatively clear of hazards and the wind was not dead-ahead allowing us to sail. An informal race commenced, with Corisande starting, Ouf following and us bring up the rear (50m of anchor chain takes time to recover with a manual windlass - Ouf just pressed a button and Corisande were just more organised and set off earlier) Michele's foot meant that Ouf didn't fancy the hassle of hoisting their main and reefed their genoa to allow us to catch-up.With full main and full genoa we felt slightly smug as we overtook Ouf and then Corisande until Ouf unrolled the remainder of their genoa and caught us up again.In the event Corisande showed the best seamanship, by dodging the reefs in the anchorage and dropping anchor under sail. We would have been next had not an Austrian boat taken up most of our preferred anchoring spot with diagonally deployed dual anchors. After feeling as though we had the San Blas islands to ourselves its a bit of a shock to hear the VHF radio come to life with chat from other yachts and arrive at an anchorage and have to pick our spot between boats.

Half an hour later the now familiar torrential rain started, reducing visibility and making the approach to the anchorage considerably more hazardous. We were thankful that it held off until we were all safe. It's clear why it's a popular place, the guide describes the anchorage as:
tiny palm crowded cays and translucent water colours makes this area one of the prettiest in the islands
Can't wait for a break in the weather to go exploring.

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