15 March 2008 | Aridup
Swingin' on a Star is bound for the South Pacific and it is getting to be time to cross the canal. Both Em and Margaret are looking forward to crossing the canal with us and we'd like to be out in the Pacific by April if possible. All of this added up to us needing to do some larger hops.
We decided to shoot for Aridup today. Aridup is the last island along the coast before you get to the central San Blas. We were underway at first light, slowly backtracking out of the anchorage. Chart Plotter Track Lines aren't a guaranteed safe route but they are certainly reassuring.
Once out of the anchorage we headed for deep water and motor sailed up the coast, leaving all of the islands and most of the shoals to port. We saw many Kuna out in their canoes fishing and traveling about. They seem to get up very early in the twilight hours to head out.
We picked up the Bauhaus waypoints at 09 17.029N, 078 06.160W and headed back inland to cruise through the islands off of Playon Chico. As we came up to the waypoint at 09 18.019N, 078 10.620W we noticed an amazing little harbor back in the Achudup area. We couldn't resist pausing to explore it.
We came in from the southwest around the small islet and reef system south of the harbor. Then we headed east and tried to get in from the south. You can make it most of the way but just before you get into the lagoon there is a reef across the entire entrance. Maybe you could row through in a 105 with the motor up but we had to turn back.
We refused to be beaten however and proceeded with the entire crew spotting on the bow. We followed our track back but broke off and followed the island around to the north staying inside Tacherdup. Coming around from the northwest we found a nice break in the reef and glided into the lagoon.
This is a fantastic anchorage located at 09 18.410N, 078 10.410W. You can drop your anchor in sand 10-15 feet deep in the northwest corner of the lagoon and lay back on good scope. There's just enough room for one 50 foot cat. A perfect lunch spot but fine for overnight as well with very good protection. You might not get out if the seas come up from the north though. After enjoying the fantastic little lagoon for a brief bit we headed back out to Aridup.
Aridup is a beautiful island with a couple of small satellites to the southwest. Just as you might picture the perfect desert island, wonderful beaches sprouting with coconut palm trees. The anchorage shown in the Bauhaus guide is south of the island in 20-30 feet. We decided to see if we could get lucky again and pressed on toward the cove farther up the southwest coast.
It is important to explore this area in good light as there are reefs just below the surface all over the place. Usually they break but in the dark calm of a new moon you can't even tell they're there. There are also some isolated coral heads but these are typically deep enough that you wouldn't need to worry unless you had a fairly deep draft.
After carefully working our way back toward the beach and surveying the bottom we decided that we had found paradise. The bottom was perfect sand with some eel grass patches here and there (easy to mistake for reef if you don't have good light). The edges of the lagoon consist of a beautiful palm lined beach with a view through to the Caribbean Sea, and surrounding reefs teaming with fish and other creatures. We came to rest at 09 22.18'N, 078 15.55'W.
There's probably room for only one boat, maybe two good friends, but that was fine with us. Just like the Carreto anchorage we saw no more than two or three other boats all day (not counting Kuna canoes) and anchored alone.
Once setup we contemplated bringing a coconut tree line ashore. We were about 400 feet off of the beach though and after a snorkel around it seemed that we had plenty of swinging room for the conditions.
There are a couple of Kuna shelters on the island but I didn't see any people when I explored. The girls decided to take Roq for a hike while I looked around for Lobster.
As I snorkeled about I noticed a canoe approaching. I popped my head up and three Kuna men came to speak to me. We had the typical friendly greeting followed by lots of chatting with neither party understanding what the other was saying. In the end I successfully communicated that I was trying to spear lobster. They seemed more interested in fish but after a bit more discussion one of them jumped in to hunt with me.
After about 20 minutes of joint searching, fruitless I might add, my Kuna friend decided he'd had enough. The three of them said goodbye and went ashore for the night. Shortly thereafter I speared my first one. I looked around on the outside for another hour but the cold I'd been battling was starting to make it hard for me to equalize and I could get past 10 feet. I saw a couple of nurse sharks on the prowl, known for eating lobster, and decided to leave them to it.
Em, Hideko and Margaret were all enjoying some great snorkeling as well. Margaret is very industrious and cleaned the water line for a while as well. I turned in early but the girls enjoyed one of Hideko's wonderful Mahi Mahi creations with a lobster appetizer.