After being at anchor since early December we’ve settled into island life. The days seem to melt together punctuated by boat chores, snorkeling trips, dingy adventures, pot lucks and the occasional trip to town. We’ve moved from one idyllic anchorage to another whenever the whim struck us. Here’s a typical day:
Robin is the early riser. She’s up with the sun making coffee and sitting in the cockpit in the cool of the early morning. When we’re in an area that that gets internet this is the time that it works the best. We get internet through cellular and there are two towers in the San Blas. During the day the system gets overwhelmed and you yearn for the days of dialup on AOL but before 7:00 am it’s usually pretty good. At some point Mike stumbles into the cockpit with a cup of coffee and we survey our realm until the sun gets to intense. That’s usually a little after 8:00 and we move on the Panama Connection net. The net is on the single side band and comes on at 8:30. We get a weather update, local news and information and where people are and where they’re headed. After the net we fire up the generator to charge the batteries for a couple of hours. Robin is often starting the bread machine so we’ll have fresh bread by lunchtime and cooking what we will eat later in the day. The rest of the morning is all about boat chores. There’s always something to do from tinkering with the engine to polishing the stainless on deck. Many days we are visited by locals in their ulus (a dugout canoe) selling whatever they have caught that day: lobster, conch, crab, octopus and an occasional fish. Believe it or not, we have grown tired of lobster and Robin has been perfecting different recipes for conch fritters and crab cakes.
After lunch it’s playtime. We often start with a little chillaxing before heading out. Usually it’s off for a snorkel on a nearby reef, a walk on one of the white sand, palm lined beaches or a get together on another boat. Mike has been on a mission to identify every fish on the reef for several weeks and has spent many hours poring over his Caribbean Reef Fish book. Robin just likes to look at the pretty fish. Over the past few weeks we’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with Lanny and Ginger on Swiftsure as well as Kyle and Shelly on Blowin’ Bubbles. Kyle and Shelly were dive instructors for many years and Kyle had a compressor onboard to refill tanks. He and Mike spent many days diving on the reefs near Esnasdup where Kyle took it as his personal mission to rid the reef of Lionfish, an invasive species that is decimating the fish population in some areas. Lanny and Ginger, both very experienced divers, joined them for one of the dives while Robin and Shelly snorkeled nearby.
Back at the boat we get a shower on the transom and the sun sinks it sundowner time. Over the past month our favorite has been rum and soda with the juice of half a lima. A lima is a cross between a lime and an orange. It looks like a large lime but the meat is orangish and the flavor is a refreshing mix of orange and lime. Of course, it’s not always cocktails on Mermaid. We put away a few brewskies on Blowin Bubbles and you can’t beat Lanny’s gin and tonics on Swiftsure.
Most nights find us reading or watching the stars until cruiser midnight or around eight o’clock. However, we’ve enjoyed several jam sessions aboard Blue Sky with Breeze playing the guitar, Mike blowing the harps, Robin pitching in on a variety of percussion instruments along with other cruises. One night we even had an impromptu jam session on the Mermaid with Blowin’ Bubbles and their guests. Kyle and Bob played dueling ukuleles, Kelly had dynamite vocals and Mike tried to keep up on the harmonica. Big Fun was had by all.
It’s great to meet other cruisers but part of the deal is that cruisers are transitory. Both Swiftsure and Blowin’ Bubbles headed for the Panama Canal to transit to the Pacific and head for the South Pacific this spring. We’ll miss them but look forward to new friends and new adventures.