Friday, 4 March 2016

Panama, San blas, East Lemmons and West Holandes (With Stefan) 2015-10-27

We love the San Blas! We ended up staying two more weeks after Becca and Dale left, mostly just because it was impossible to tear ourselves away. We went back to the East Lemmons again, where we were hoping to meet up with a friend of Mark and Liesbet’s. We found him alright! Or rather, he found us. Rather than visit us in the dinghy like a normal person, Stefan waited for the wind to pick up and then launched his kite, tacking back and forth upwind until he got to our boat. With the kite still in the air he grabbed onto our dinghy and casually sat down for a chat, the wind constantly threatening to drag him away. This was a guy after Garth’s heart!


We just chatted to Stefan as if it was normal to have somebody clinging to the side of our boat with a kite in the air. After a while he got sick of fighting the wind, so he let go and our new friend flew off back to his boat, kicking up huge waves in his wake. He knew how to go fast!

Before we moved closer to him, we decided to explore our unconventional anchorage. We were anchored in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by turquoise blues and nothingness.
I had dropped the hook on top of a little sand bank, the only shallow bit in amongst lots of deep water. There was a tiny sand island* not too far away, so the next day we hopped into the dinghy and went over to explore it. I love tiny islands! You could run around the whole thing in less than a minute, and this one even had some greenery in the middle. And just like the last sand cay, the reef around this tiny island was absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful coral and fish awaited us just below the surface.

After I’d been around the whole island underwater, I came back to the start and discovered the biggest school of fish I'd ever seen. They were the tiny fish that the locals usually pick up as bait, but the whole water was filled with them. I just sat and watched them swim around me for ages. They made swirling patterns in the water, splitting off into different directions as one big group and then twirling back around to go a different way. It was mesmerising. I've played in big schools of fish lots of times, but this was different - instead of the fish swimming In the water, it looked like the water was second to the fish. There wasn't an inch of free space, which is why they were making such interesting patterns in the water - they had to move out of the way or squish closer together for the rest of the school to pass by. It was like one giant game of snake, twisting around trying not to run into itself.

A trumpet fish sticks it’s head out as a Garth dives down

So many fish!

After we were done playing with the fish, we re-anchored closer to Stefan and the island of Yasaladup. On our charts it was marked as ‘Stefanadup’, which we had totally forgotten about. Liesbet had written it in nearly a year ago because this is where Stefan usually hangs out, off the little island of Yasaladup in an area where the kite boarding is great.

While we were there we actually managed to catch the vege boat. It goes to the same places every week on the same day, but we had been moving around so much we missed it the previous two times. Not this week! The boat was huge and it was filled to the brim with all the perishables we could ever want (including whole chickens in an esky full of ice, which we decided not to buy. There were plenty of fish and veges, which are much cheaper than chicken). We loaded up on as much food as we could, and the boat sat alongside us for ages as they sorted themselves out. They cut up some pineapples and handed me over two halves once they were ready, using the stalks as a handle like the locals do in Fiji. I was so happy to have pineapple again! They also had a huge bag of eggplants that were starting to go bad. I had bought some and asked to swap a few for nicer eggplants without rotten bits. They emptied the bag, chucking the really rotten ones over the side. Then the friendly vege guy asked if we wanted them. Hells yes! They were too iffy to sell, but the soft spots were removable. So I ended up with a huge bag of eggplants! I cut the rotten bits out, chopped the rest up, coated them in breadcrumbs and we had eggplant chips for dinner. Hooray for free food!

Vege boat

We actually managed to catch a fish trolling around the East Lemmons as well. It was a Big eyed Jack, and everything I found online said it wasn't great to eat. We were obviously going to eat it anyway, so Garth cooked it well with some lemon and butter and he made a fresh salsa to stick on top. Absolutely delicious. So the new lures I bought in Panama actually work!

Big-eyed Jack (we think)

Xxx Monique

*The tiny sand island was mentioned in Bauhaus but I don't have the coordinates. It's half a mile SE of the main island in the Chichime group and our 3rd edition book said that the island had 2 palms on it - he may have changed it in the newer versions to reflect the lack of palm trees on it now.

Click here for LOTS more pictures!

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