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Monday, April 06, 2009

Contadora to Espiritu Santo

We continue to play the waiting game, hoping our life raft will be serviced and returned to us "any day now." We delivered it to the local shipper on March 16. Having heard no news of its whereabouts by the 27th John played the squeaky wheel and phoned up for a status report. Turns out Aries Global Logistics sent it out without a bill of lading as if the Winslow office was supposed to intuitively know when it arrived in Miami. So the raft could have sat there for days waiting for someone to pick it up, if John hadn't started doing people's jobs for them. When will we ever learn not to assume that people will do what we pay them to do? We expect to hear something from Winslow this week, or John will be emailing them for news.

In the meantime we are enjoying our third visit to the Perlas islands. After an extensive hike through the woods at Otoque and another happy hour on Nakia we said goodbye to our friends on Sarana and motored 37 nm to Isla Contadora on March 25. Friends, Buzz and Maureen, had us over for a delicious chicken curry on Encore that evening to catch up with each other after parting ways last year in Ecuador. The next evening we hosted Encore and new friends, Guido and Patrizia of Damischa Ridda, for drinks on Nakia. Both boats left us for the delights of Panama City the following weekend.

Days have been spent on the usual boat chores and a few special projects. John fixed an AC electrical outlet that had literally burned out. Then he spent some time with string and a tape measure on the foredeck measuring out the pieces needed for an awning/rain catcher, and drew it all out on a diagram. From a previous visit to Contadora we knew of an abandoned building just above the "nude beach" anchorage which had plenty of tiled floor space on which to spread out a large project. Armed with wet rags, fabric, scissors, tape measure, and more string we cleaned a patch of tile with our rags and an old broom we found in the building, and laid out the fabric to be measured and cut. It was sweaty work but it couldn't have been in a more beautiful setting. While we were working I saw two white-tailed deer bound up the gravel road and green parrots squawked in flight outside.

The building appears to be an abandoned club or restaurant open to the elements through uninstalled door and window ways. Located on a short rise it overlooks the white sand beach and turquoise water of the shallow cove we anchored in when we first visited the island in December. Though there was one restaurant open on the beach and booming loud music for the holiday "crowd," even then it had a somewhat deserted feel to it. Now everything is unfinished or being torn down except for one condo property at the far end of the beach. The large abandoned ferry boat has been joined by a smaller high speed ferry beached high up on the sand. It's quite sad to see such a lovely spot going unappreciated but the entire island is ringed by elegant homes with no signs of life in them, waiting for the occasional weekend visit from their wealthy owners.

The next few days John sewed while I cleaned, and we started reading again in the hot afternoons. Shared Dreams gave us several seasons of the "X Files" TV show and we've been glued to that in the evenings. It's been very interesting to watch the show's style evolve from the dry, straight forward sci-fi delivery of the first few years to a gradual tongue-in-cheek, let's not take ourselves so seriously attitude later on. And we arrived at the first Mulder/Scully kiss last night - finally! These are exciting times indeed.

Last week we were invaded by antipodean boats (at least that's what one man called them). A group of Aussies and New Zealanders stopped at Contadora enroute from the Canal to the Galapagos and Marquesas. Most of them are in the home stretch of their circumnavigations and have known each other since such exotic locales as Turkey, Tunisia and Morocco. They invited us to join them for "sundowners" on the beach and we experienced the novel sensation of being the only Yanks in a group of cruisers. John and I were speaking Down Under for days, although we had one or two minor miscommunications (John thought a woman was talking about "shacks" around Contadora when what she had actually said was "sharks"). It was great fun sharing information with them, and they were a lovely group of people to meet.

We tried sailing to Espiritu Santo on Friday but the wind wouldn't cooperate so we made an unscheduled stop at Isla La Mina instead. The ongoing construction of new vacation homes on nearby Isla Viveros makes this an uninteresting stop and we completed the trip here on Saturday. We immediately set out to the nearby stream to do some laundry, and after John's net Sunday morning we went back to do another load. This time we also filled our jerry jugs so we can use the water for showers and more laundry on the boat.

In the last week and a half we've watched water temps jump from 70-72 degrees F to 78-82. We've also seen rays jumping, lots of fish and bird activity, and tons of something like moon jellies in the water (which remains an uninviting murky green in most places). John has been cleaning the bottom a bit at a time, and keeping the water line free of grass and gooseneck barnacles requires constant attention. The warmer water means we're back to running fans at night to keep cool since the cabin temperature doesn't drop below the high 70's now. We're keeping our fingers crossed that we can get up to the Western islands of Panama before the rainy season officially begins.

Linda and John