We left our anchorage just southwest of Sugdup around 9 a.m. on Thursday morning, the 20th. The nine and a half mile passage to the Chichime Cays would not take long. Just before our arrival, two big, beautiful dolphins played in the water at our bow. In less than two hours, we had dropped our anchor in 35’ of water in the middle of the busiest anchorage we’ve visited in San Blas. There were 13 boats here when we arrived. Wow! Wasn’t it a beautiful anchorage, though! We were situated between the two islands which make up the Chichime Cays, Uchutupu Pipi and Uchutupu Dummat. Paradise!
In the afternoon, we kayaked over to Uchutupu Pipi for a walk around the island. The white sand beaches, aquamarine waters and graceful palms made for a beautiful stroll through the shallow waters near the shore. There were two or three guns families which lived on this small island. Cindy had made brownies earlier in the day, so we shared them with the Guna folks we met. She also brings small toys back to the boat from the U.S., to give to children we meet along the way. So, we gave out three bouncy balls to children as we completed our perambulations.
This day was a special one for the Carey crew. October 20th is our anniversary. Thirty-seven years ago, on this day, we pledged and committed our lives to one another. By the grace of God, almost four decades later, we have kept our promises. And we were rewarded with a little bit of heaven on earth in the San Blas Islands. We had planned a special dinner aboard consisting of surf and turf — we had purchased some filet mignon before leaving Cartagena and bought lobster from the Guna this afternoon. Our steak and lobster, along with mashed potatoes and corn, were paired with a wonderful Chianti. We enjoyed our delicious meal by candlelight in the cockpit before sitting out on the foredeck, staring up into a clear night sky in which we could see the innumerable stars and the milky white band we call the Milky Way. We finished off our anniversary celebration watching a romantic movie, The Lake House. I didn’t know how remarkable a woman I married thirty-seven years ago, but the fact that she is here with me on our sailboat in the San Blas Islands of Panama testifies to love and commitment to me as well as to her understated spirit of adventure. Who knows where we will celebrate 38!
When we arose from our slumber on Friday morning and looked out over the anchorage, the water was calm and glassy. It was a perfect morning for a two-mile dinghy ride over to Dog Island, for a little snorkeling. Submerged in just a few feet of water is the wreck of a cargo ship which sunk here in the 1950s. The ship was taking on water as it passed San Blas, so the story goes, so the captain intentional beached his ship with full power to at least save his cargo. The cargo, which included rum, was transferred to small freighters and taken on to Colon. It was cool to snorkel over and alongside this wreck in crystal clear waters.
On our way back to our anchorage, we spotted a very small island dotted with a few palm trees, which was begging for exploration. So, we dinghied over to this small cay, called Corgidup, relaxed, took some photos, and enjoyed the beauty. From there, it was a short ride back, avoiding the scattered reefs as we went. Before returning to Beatitude, however, we went to visit some neighbors. The evening, prior, we noted a catamaran in the anchorage called Pura Vida. We recognized it as our Brazilian friends with whom we made our acquaintance while moored off the coast of Bonaire. They seemed truly happy to see us again and invited us aboard their 42’ vessel to show us around. They, of course, speak Portuguese and a little English. We speak English and no Portuguese. Fortunately, they speak excellent Spanish and I speak un poco. So, we were able to communicate just fine. They, along with their small son, are enjoying their cruising lives aboard Pura Vida.
After a quick lunch, we hopped back into Dalí for another snorkeling expedition, per the recommendation of Peter, aboard Pura Vida. We journeyed 2.5 miles to the north side of Yansaladup where we found a sandy channel, about 15-20 feet deep, which is bordered by a coral garden. I didn’t see much at first, so we followed the channel all the way out toward the outer reef and anchored just south of the breaking waves. Here, there was an abundance of coral and fishes. There were several massive porcupine fishes, lionfish, filefish, and a hungry crab, in addition to a bounty of other reef fishes. Once sufficiently waterlogged, we returned for a relaxing evening aboard, first swimming off the back of the vessel, then making a rum cake for our pleasurable consumption, and hanging out on the foredeck, luxuriating in God’s grandeur.
Our Saturday in the Chichime Cays was a rainy one. The rain was unabating, at times just a sprinkle, at times a downpour complete with ferocious thunder and lightning. It was a good thing we satisfied our exploring and snorkeling urges on the previous two days because this final day in San Blas was a washout. The plan was to leave at first light on Sunday morning to begin our passage to Colon, where we would dock Beatitude in Shelter Bay Marina while we return to the States.