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Cruising with Vida Dulce
Holiday Beach Potluck
Susan / mostly cloudy, 88 degrees F
04/08/2012, Eastern Holandes Cays / Swimming Pool, Kuna Yala, Panama

Our dance card has been unusually full here in the Swimming Pool. Everyday there's an opportunity to snorkel with a group, every other day there's been a get together on BBQ Island (the Kuna call it Isla Tortuga now), every third day we enjoyed yoga led by Suzanne, and also dinners with Gris Gris and Nautibear just before they departed, with others waiting in the wings for a mutually open day for a happy hour or dinner gathering. Todays social event is an afternoon potluck on the island. For those celebrating Easter, Easter potluck dinner. It's a beautiful day here in Paradise, mostly cloudy and hot but a nice breeze has filled in making it quite pleasant. The other part of our days have been spent in the usual way: boat maintenance and cleaning, and other projects. I've taken Jerry up the mast three times in two days to end-around the halyard and repair the lazy jack lines. On one of the trips up, Jerry's sunglasses fall off; they hit the hardtop with a terrible sound and the lenses fly in separate directions. One lands on the sun shade strung above the trampoline, the other goes into the water and sinks into the sand under one of the hulls. Thankfully neither broke and the frame while dented, repairable. We hunt down a pair of glasses tethers before he makes the next trip up.

During holiday weekends rich Panamanians join us cruisers in Kuna Yala. They're easy to spot in their mega-yachts. Of the 22 boats in this anchorage, two of them are mega-yachts, one of which looks like the Presidents'. The Kuna Congresso take this opportunity to collect their monthly fee, $20 plus $2 per person. Everyone is suppose to go to Porvenir each month to pay this Kuna Yala permit fee but it's just ridiculous to think that over one hundred cruisers would navigate those reefs to anchor in a small, deep, poor holding anchorage just to pay it. When the Congresso representatives come to Vida Dulce, Jerry tells them we've just arrived from Portobello. "Welcome, $24 please." If the Congresso representatives visit all of the popular anchorages this holiday weekend, their coffers will be full.

Full Moon Friday
Susan / mostly cloudy, 91 degrees F
04/06/2012, Eastern Holandes Cays / Swimming Pool, Kuna Yala, Panama

We wake to mostly blue skies and calm winds. The roar of the waves breaking over the outer reefs is also subdued which gives us glassy calm pool colored water in the anchorage. It's easy to see schools of fish swim by, even the nearly translucent houndfish, and to see the many yellow and red-orange starfish. In the late morning, many of us gather under the palm trees on one of the nearby islands for yoga led by Suzanne, s/v Nautibear. We'll both miss these sessions when Suzanne & Hans leave Kuna Yala in a couple of days. After yoga we work on a couple of boat projects then have an early dinner because Jerry needs to be fueled and ready to join the group going for a night snorkel at one of the larger reefs inside the anchorage. As the three dingys head for the reef, an orange full moon rises between the cloud layers in the west while the east skies are streaks of pinks and purples; a beautiful sunset. The moon doesn't reappear unfortunately during their snorkel, just too many clouds. They all have underwater lights, of course, and the report when Jerry's back to Vida Dulce is that they saw lobster, crab, octopus, eels, lots of fish and Suzanne had a near encounter with a huge turtle.

Change Of Seasons
Susan / overcast, 91 degrees F
04/05/2012, Eastern Holandes Cays / Swimming Pool, Kuna Yala, Panama

The rainy season begins in April, and unlike the end of the last one, this change is noticeable. Squalls the other morning then complete calm today and calm conditions are forecasted for the next five days. A nice change, especially for those making passages yet very hot and humid, even in this anchorage which has only reefs and one small palm island between it and the open ocean. One benefit of the calm winds is the wash doesn't threaten to fly away when I hang it outside on the lifelines to dry so today is wash day. Probably tomorrow as well as the pile is rather large. I also hoist Jerry up the mast for maintenance and mall repairs, another really good thing to do when water and winds are calm. Midday Jerry drops by s/v Nautibear to assist again with the diagnosis of their Raymarine (electronics) failure before the groups assemble for an afternoon snorkel.

Morning Squalls
Susan / overcast, rain, 82 degrees F
04/03/2012, eastern Holandes Cays / Swimming Pool, Kuna Yala, Panama

Shortly after we wake a squall line moves directly overhead, the boom of thunder simultaneous with the flash of lightening has everyone quickly closing hatches and checking electronics. The storm brings a fresh water wash down for Vida Dulce, and also dirt from where ever the clouds picked it up. Light drizzle continues throughout most of the day nevertheless everyone gathers for the Happy Hour beach party; this one to say hasta luego to a couple of boats leaving tomorrow and to celebrate a birthday. There sure have been a lot of cruisers with birthdays these past several months.

Belated Celebration With s/v Gris Gris
Susan / overcast, 90 degrees F
04/02/2012, Eastern Holandes Cays / Swimming Pool, Kuna Yala, Panama

Julie, s/v Gris Gris, and I share a birth day. In late January, we made a plan to gather in the same anchorage and have a beach party with whom ever else was there to celebrate. It was not to be. On that day, Julie & Tom were back in the State due to a family emergency, and we were just arriving back in Kuna Yala after being stuck in Portobello longer than planned. We and s/v Gris Gris have been ships passing in the night ever since, with them in Kuna Yala when we're in Portobello and they away when we're here. The only good part of this is we've been able to pass net controller duties between us to keep our assigned day(s) covered.

With both of us in the Swimming Pool, Tom & Julie invite us to dinner. Yesterday there was a cruiser beach party and tomorrow there's another to say Hasta Luego to several friends, including Tom & Julie, who are departing Kuna Yala in the following days, so today is our only chance to get together. We bring a bottle of champagne and desert. They do the rest, serving a fantastic New Orleans style fish dinner. Music plays in the background, which is lovely and reminds me to do that more often for ourselves. They have Sirius radio and listen to music, dinner theater, radio shows and most importantly Saints games. We may check out the equipment and subscription costs for ourselves, and of course we'd be listening to Seahawks games.

The Swimming Pool
Susan / overcast, 90 degrees F
04/01/2012, Eastern Holandes Cays / Swimming Pool, Kuna Yala, Panama

The anchorage known as the Swimming Pool is the most popular anchorage in Kuna Yala in settled conditions. The Holandes Cays are the farthest from mainland giving the anchorages clean clear water behind the extensive reefs. The Swimming Pool is at the eastern end of the Cays between four palm islands. In the areas where the bottom is sand, the color of the water is swimming pool blue and clear enough to see to the bottom. This morning we see a spotted ray glide by. A bit later we see a large squid hanging out by our anchor chain. The surrounding reefs have tons of creatures of the sea, making the entire area a snorkelers paradise. Conditions are perfect today and are forecasted to remain so for the next several days. We arrived yesterday, bringing the number of boats anchored to 12. By late afternoon, there's 20 here.

04/02/2012 | Linda
Hey! Don't all those boaters need to go to work or something?! Ha. Sounds awesome! I want to snorkel.

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