14 March 2008 | Suledup (aka Isla de Oro)
We had a relaxing breakfast aboard today and enjoyed the tranquility of Carreto bay. Some Kuna came by to get a look at us and say Bueno Dias. We have not seen any women out on the canoes, only men and boys. An older man and a boy came by offering Avocados for sale. They were huge. Hideko purchased four, each of which made some tasty guacamole.
We ultimately invited them aboard for a glass of water. They ate some grapes we offered with quite a bit of interest, as if they had not seen such fruit before. They pocketed the seeds indicating that they would try to plant them. They were also interested in acquiring some magazines so we gave them a few older sailing mags. I wondered if the chief would be ok with westerners spreading propaganda in such a way, but they wanted our Panama Cruising Guide originally which I just couldn't part with. They were both very polite and courteous.
Margaret had noticed that our port jack line running under the bridge deck was loose. I jumped in to check it out and it seemed to have been rotted away in the middle with the aft section completely missing. These lines are great for pulling yourself along the boat as you scrub the waterline or what have you. The port line was always a little longer than the starboard line and would get wet unless the water was flat. I can only assume that it just gave in to the sea as it didn't look to be cut. Definitely on my list of things to fix.
We decided to get going around 1 in the afternoon. It was a nice day to sail but our sailing was upwind. We slowly tacked up the coast at 6 or so knots in 10 to 12 knots of apparent wind.
I was struck by the amount of plastic trash floating about. I don't think I have ever seen a coastline with so much junk in the water. This whole area is amazingly beautiful in all other ways. I suppose if you make everything from natural objects like trees, plants and rocks you're used to being able throw anything into the ocean without recourse. I worry about what it will be like in ten years though and wish I had made it here ten years ago, before the trash and anchoring fees.
The Kuna people are rich in culture and there is no real concept of poverty. That only comes in when people begin to want things. I have seen people with much more than the Kuna who are certainly in the poverty bin. The Kuna we have met all seem happy, content and rich in the most important ways.
Many Kuna villages in the southeast are traditional blending in with the environment. There are many on islands as well. Some (as pictured) seem to overflow the shores. The great thing is that they denude and build out to the waterline on one island but leave those around them (as pictured) completely pristine.
We didn't get far today in our trip up the coast but it was a relaxing sail. We decided to put in at Suledup after consulting the navigational aids. Our charts of the area are medium scale and good for planning but not close in to shore. The Navionics electronic charts are in the same bucket. Both have huge areas that simply say "unsurveyed". The BauhausGuide is the indisposable gem here.
The Panama Coast is very rocky and reefy and there are lots of hazards about. The detail, accuracy and coverage Bauhaus provides makes getting around a lot safer. The Guide also sets out many anchorages not found in other references.
We crept up around the reefs and islets to the south of Suledup, Isla de Oro on the DMA chart. We saw 7 feet idling through some of the reef breaks but once inside it was a really nicely protected harbor with about 20 feet of water. An American trawler was already anchored inside. You could have probably squeezed another two boats in but it was nice with two.
We had sailed all day with overcast skies so the batteries needed a little boost. We ran the genset and played dominoes for an hour or two after sunset and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings.