Sunday, 27 January 2019

San Blas Paradise

After a much easier last 24 hours with a moderating sea and respectable
winds (ie 15-25 knots), dawn broke in a cloudy grey sky with
scattered black squall couds that we are becoming used to. But
apart from a little rain, there was no real menace in them. Then the San
Blas islands came into view: low lying little islets with palm trees,
and as we approached the incredible colours of the water became
clearer despite the clouds above.

Once behind the protective outer reef of the East Holandes Cays, and
with the benefit of more daylight, we cautiously made our way past the
uninhabited islands and coral reefs of Quinquindup, Ogoppiriadup,
Kalugirdup and Banendup to the stunning "swimming pool" anchorage. Rob
took the helm with Nicki on the charts navigating, and Jo and Richard on
the bow and up on the granny bars to provide eyeball assistance. We
made sure that Rob understood that if we pointed in a certain
direction, it was at a reef not at a clear passage -
so he knew that he needed to turn away from it and not towards it! We
are now anchored in 3m of clear turquoise water (with Tintin's lifting
centreboard we are only 1m deep, which makes it less hair-raising to
navigate shallow channels). Swell is breaking against the outer reef
and the waters here are calm.

The perils of navigating through coral were demonstrated by a yacht
just ahead of us which went aground on the reef (kindly showiing us
which way to avoid!) Thankfully they managed to get the boat off pretty
swiftly, using another boat to pull on a halyard and tip the hull. The
tidal range here is small (about 30 cm) so you can't depend on the
next rising tide to float you off.

A perfect place to relax after our passage from Santa Marta. We were
invited for breakfast by Patric and Birgitta on board Mango, another ARC
boat - a wonderful welcome for us.

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