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Friday, December 19, 2008

Isla Mogo Mogo to Panama City

17 December 2008

The evening before leaving the "Survivor" islands we were bathing off the boat and watching two of the tent campers preparing to swim the channel from Mogo Mogo back to their camp on Chapera. The current was running swiftly and it would be dark soon. Even though they wore fins and masks we were a little concerned about their safety. Also I happened to be in the water without a swim suit and hoped they would pass Nakia quickly so I could get out and rinse off.

Instead the two guys headed straight for us to stop and ask if they could hitch a ride to Panama City with us. We had spoken to Anton on the beach earlier in the day and mentioned that we were heading there on Sunday. Oddly enough John later asked me how I would feel about offering them a lift. We discussed all the cons of having very little fresh food left; what if they're late; they and all their gear would be covered in sand and salt; four extra people is a lot for Nakia to handle (our cockpit is made for two), etc. But I agreed with John that it would be a wild and crazy thing to do, so when they showed up to ask us we were already prepared to say yes.

As soon as it was light enough Sunday morning John launched the dinghy and made two trips to get the four people and all their gear. Sure enough they brought half the beach with them. We stow our inflatable right side up on the foredeck so it was easy enough to fit their big backpacks and dive gear in the dink when we brought it up on deck. After we got underway John put them to work washing the sand off the side decks with sea water so we wouldn't track sand into the cockpit and down into the cabin. I heated water for coffee, tea and hot chocolate, and we sailed out of the islands with a light breeze.

The three guys were in their second year of medical school in Montreal and Emily (Lionel's girl friend) was about to begin a Master's program. They were on a camping/spear fishing school break and were headed to the Caribbean side of Panama next. They were covered in bites from no-see-ums which they said had flown right through the no-see-um netting of their tents. We offered them showers down below and Lionel went first. Emily followed him but by that time we were motoring through sloppy tidal chop and it was a bouncy ride, especially for someone shut in a tiny bathroom at the bow of the boat. Poor Emily finally made it back up on deck where she promptly threw up over the side. She was a trooper though and after some time in the sun and fresh air she felt much better.

We had just enough bread left to make sandwiches with lunch meat, cheese and one big tomato sliced six ways, and a packet of cookies each for dessert. After subsisting on nothing but fish and rice for the previous couple of days our new crew was most appreciative of our simple fare. After our early lunch Lionel and Anton played chess while Emily and Mahmoud snoozed on deck until the wind really picked up at 1 PM. For the next two hours we blasted along at six and seven knots, catching three big crevalle before John declared fishing season closed. The crew were all excited about the fish but we don't keep crevalle and we were heeling and sailing so fast that we didn't want anyone getting hurt trying to land a fish.

We sailed through all the huge anchored ships up to the La Playita anchorage surprising our friends with our mystery crew. After two trips to the dinghy dock and many thanks we got everyone unloaded. We then picked up Sarana to go ashore where our crew treated us to beers and sodas. The day was a success and we were happy to have saved the four hitch hikers from the expense of paying a panga to take them to Contadora and then a flight from there to Panama City. They brightened our day and broke the monotony of getting from one place to the next.

Linda and John