Settling Down In The Pearl Islands
02 September 2007 | Contadora, Pearl Islands, Panama
The last two days were definitely fun and exciting and we are in very good spirits. While in Taboga waiting for wind, Chris bumped into a Russian man named Maxim, and discovered he was attempting to circumnavigate as well. Maxim set sail from a small town outside St. Petersburg, Russia and has made it to the Pacific side of Panama in is his mid-80's, Taiwanese-built sloop. He travels with his wife and 1.5 year old daughter (Usenia), who was born aboard with limited medical treatment. Scary stuff! She is a beautiful little child with the most incredible little sea legs I have ever seen. She climbs, rolls, and jumps everywhere with no fear. Her hair is bleached blond from the sun. She cruises around the decks of their boat bare-bottomed, which I find hilariously cute. Another young couple from Russia (Ivan and Katja) joined them and have plans to help them bring the boat around. As Chris and I were throwing together another Mexican scramble meal, Maxim came over to our boat and invited us for dinner, which his wife Natalia had prepared. Chris and I hopped in their dingy and bobbed across the bay to their boat, "Filioque".
Natalia prepared a wonderful "Sche" soup (pronounced "she". Spelling is wrong: I encourage anyone to email me with the proper spelling and recipe!), which was excellent. She also made a sweet and tasty desert of fried bread sticks and sugar. Andrew had a difficult time refraining from eating too much desert as the big bowl was placed directly in front of where he sat.
We talked about their prior travels and discussed their adventures in store. Apparently the boat was a sponsored expedition at one point, but has since lost the contract, and funds are no longer provided. The family lives very humbly and has a great challenge ahead. However, Maxim and his wife are truly dedicated to the task and have a wonderfully positive outlook. Having dinner aboard was very special and something I will not forget.
The next morning the entire family came over for coffee and to see Cisnecito. They were clearly impressed with the boat and very interested in the various systems onboard. Maxim and Chris discussed the SSB radio system and the ability to send email while underway, while I showed Ivan and Katja our fishing gear and what works best for these waters and fish. They are a very able and eager group of individuals, and I wish them a safe and well journey.
After coffee and a few photos, Chris and I quickly pulled the anchor and got underway to the Pearl Islands. We had a good weather window and hoped to sail the majority of the way, ultimately conserving precious diesel, which we may need later. After just one hour and twenty minutes we landed a good sized Mahi Mahi, which provided an excellent dinner last night, and hopefully a better one tonight. As anticipated, the wind picked up nicely and we sailed all the way into the anchorage. The boat handled 10-20 knots of wind beautifully and it was a glorious day. The highlight of the trip was our welcoming committee upon arriving in the small bay of islands. I was preparing to pull down the mainsail when suddenly a huge humpback whale and her calf appeared just off our port beam. We were so close that we had to steer to starboard in fear of running them over!! We couldn't believe it and quickly grabbed our cameras. We circled around the bay a few times and watched them with awe. PHENAAAAAAAAAHMENAL! One of mother nature's true gifts.
Today we will set up the dingy and motor over to smaller and more secluded islands, fishing along the way. There is an incredible amount of activity in these waters with beautifully colored Wahoo regularly skipping across the water, rays below, and birds above. It looks like we'll be here for at least 4-5 days which will give us ample time to explore and discover these beautiful islands. Unfortunately I have not seen Jeff Probst in his straw cowboy hat, but will continue to keep a close eye out.