Exploring New Anchorages

After our stay in the eastern Holandes, anchored in the Swimming Pool and then Hot Tub, we were ready to explore more of the many anchorages here in the San Blas islands. Our friends, Dave and Sharda, (s/v Morgan) were anchored in Esnasdup, located in the southeast area of the San Blas, so we decided to head over and join them.

The Guna islands of the San Blas have very unique names. Many end in dup (pronounced “doop”)…Esnasdup, Miriadup, Salardup, etc. We’re told that “dup” means that there is a well located on the island.

More than one of these islands have the same name. There are several Banedups, Miriadups and Waisaladups, just to name a few. This can make trying to meet or locate friends challenging…”which Banedup are you anchored off of?” “Is that the Waisaladup in the western Holandes, or near Green Island?” Cruising is a constant state of learning and adjusting.

To get to the southeast islands, we had to come out from the protection of the reefs, and cross open water. We rolled across the large swells, and I was glad to have taken time to secure things for big water. Soon we were behind the protection of another reef, and in sight of Esnasdup. These islands are closer to the mainland of Panama, with views of the mountains in the distance.

In keeping with the multiple names theme, Esnasdup has a “pool” of it’s own, located between two islands, and just behind the reef. Dave and Sharda were anchored in the pool, and we dropped anchor there to join them. It was great to enjoy views of the reef off our bow, and still have the mountains in sight behind us.

As usual, the islands surrounding us were beautifully scenic, and we often saw the locals in their ulus, fishing in the area.

There was talk of a full moon trash burn on a nearby beach, so I spread the word to make it an appetizer pot luck as well. I wracked my brain to come up with some sort of table, because the alternative was for everyone to hold their dish in one hand and pass it around, drink in the other hand, while trying to eat at the same time (this has happened).

I came up with my own “MacGyver” idea, to fashion a table from items on board Sea Life: a piece of plywood we had under the couch cushions, and some milk crates that were being  used to store provisions…well done me!

As expected, Scott was less than thrilled to have to empty said milk crates of their contents, and to use his piece of plywood, but he helped me gather the stuff, and then hauled everything over to the beach. He also went over early in the day, to clear the sand of driftwood and other things, opening up more usable beach space.

Everyone was very happy to have somewhere to put the food, and the night was great fun. All trash was burned, and the moon was beautiful. I was busy talking and eating, so unfortunately, no moon photos.

Scott came up empty for fish or lobster in the area around Esnasdup, so we purchased eight lobsters from a local fisherman…for 15.00! Howard has become very intrigued by lobsters, and he had quite a stare-down with one of this bunch.

With more windy days predicted, we decided to leave the exposed location we were in and head for an anchorage nearby, off of Green Island; there was also talk of very good internet there. We didn’t find the good internet (none at all, actually), but did find a scenic spot to anchor off of Kuigaladup (say that three times fast), near Green Island, still enjoying the mountain views behind us in the distance.

Scott took the dinghy over to Green Island, for a walkabout (not all of the islands are cleared well). It doesn’t take long to cover these small islands, but he had fun wandering around for a bit, and stretching his legs.

Scott burned our trash, and we took the time to sew up some canvass covers for our grill and the inflatable dingy motor; he cuts, I sew (Howard’s latest sleeping/fighting box is under the table).

 After the winds subsided a bit, we headed back to our spot in the pool at Esnasdup. I talked up a gathering on nearby Gorgidup, a tiny little island with a gorgeous beach. Most everyone in the anchorage planned to go, this time sans food. Our friends Jack and Monique, on s/v Aloha, offered to take several of us on a short sail over to the island. It was a terrific way to arrive!
We enjoyed the afternoon on this beautiful island, and also had a pretty serious sand bocci tournament!
As the sun set, Aloha was waiting, to sail us back to our boats. It was a great day with our San Blas friends.
The coming forecast was for winds to nearly die off for at least four days, so we set our sights on the Coco Bandero Cays. The anchorage is pretty bumpy in most any wind, so with calm conditions coming, it seemed the perfect time to visit the islands. We approached the Cocos, and were immediately excited about them…what a beautiful sight!
There are five islands that make up the Coco Bandero Cays, and we anchored close to one with a “resort” on it. Overnight visitors were dropped off and picked up several times during our stay, which initially worried us. Thankfully, we hardly noticed or heard them.
The rest of the beautiful islands were uninhabited, except for a modest fishing shack used by local fisherman traveling through the area.
Our friends Jon and Shannon (s/v Prism) were anchored behind us, and Jon “shared” our generator power, to do a welding project for his wind generator. It’s definitely not the first time our cockpit has been used as a workshop!

As usual here, after a few hours of work is done, it’s time for play, so Scott, Jon and Shannon headed out to the reef on a fishing mission. Shannon came back with a crab and a huge lobster, and Scott speared  more crab than we could eat!

These big guys taste just like the blue crab that we get from the Chesapeake Bay back home, so of course, we ate them Baltimore-style! (fyi, the wooden mallets were not enough, so we had to break out the hammer from Scott’s tool box)

I spent two days on the beach of my favorite cay, while Scott explored the reef. The calm winds made it brutally hot, but the views were worth it; and, cooling off in that gorgeous, clear water was heaven.

I’m the first to say that our trip is much more of an adventure, than “living the dream,” but on days like this, with a beach all to myself, and the only sounds from nearby birds and gentle waves lapping at the shore, I definitely feel “dream” vibe.

We had another trash burn gathering on the beach with our friends, and then moved toward the back of the anchorage, allowing us to leave early the next morning, without having to worry about traveling through coral in the low light as we left the area.

Our overnight spot was just as scenic, and Scott enjoyed a snorkel on some nearby patch coral.

We loved our time in the Cocos, and are so grateful for the stretch of near flat wind while we were there, something very, very rare this time of year in the San Blas. Here are more photos.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

17 thoughts on “Exploring New Anchorages

  1. Good to hear from you again – I thought of you guys just a couple days ago and was worried because we hadn’t heard from you for awhile. Be safe, have fun, Cheers, Mike and Dawn kk42 Cirila

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  2. So…who thought of carrying the welding equipment onboard, was it Scott or Jon? In any case, that’s a well prepared man. Thumbs up!

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  3. Great to hear from you. We are supposed to get snow and wind here in bowleys quarters tomorrow. I was on my trawler today and thought I had better check your site. Good timing, as I needed some palm trees!

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  4. It was great to hear from you. Great photos! We were worried!
    What an experience! Hard to believe you have been gone about a year and a half!
    Colin loves Scott’s fishing adventures! Harold looks as though he is enjoying life!!
    We will head to the Keys on the 20th. Not as exciting as your adventures, but we are excited. If you have time and servicecould you send some recommendations? I will try to go back and view your posts while there.

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    • Happy Valentine’s Day to you two! I cannot believe it’s been almost a year and a half since we left either, and I missed seeing you two when I was home in Sept. H

      Howard and Scott are both enjoying boat life here in the San Blas. 🙂

      Will email you Keys info.!

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  5. Gorgeous islands. I am jealous of all the crabbing and lobstering, Scott you bastard! it looks awesome.
    Happy V-day guys. Weird February here. No snow this winter and in the mid sixties and seventies in February. Bizarro. Hope all is well. When are you going to start your own island kingdom? maybe begin with a restaurant. Caroline cooks, Scott fishes. Drinking Pena Coladas tonight thinking of your Carribean adventures.

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    • Hey Laddie!

      Scott has definitely enjoyed his time in, and under the water!

      A restaurant is a damned good idea, as the are few and far between here, and offerings slim. Getting food and drink to said restaurant would be the biggest challenge. That, and actually making ourselves stay onsite to run it!

      Glad to hear that winter has been kind to Baltimore. Hopefully it will continue for St. Pat’s parade and Day….celebrate for us!

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