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From shopping test to paradise

Having safely arrived in Panama City, we were one of the few boats to have a smile on our faces, as not many boats seemed to enjoy themselves in the locks. Our buoyant team spirit was soon to be tested. This was our last good provisioning stop for five months! "Divide and conquer" we decided. I was on drinks, Nic on fresh food, Lesley on dried and canned stuff and Karen on non food items and troubleshooting. Karen armed with a walkie-talkie imitating Julie Walters from the "two soups", sketch kept spirits high and ensured the supermarket was entertained.

After several hours scavenging we returned to the boat to start the mammoth task of creating a storage list and trying to bring an assemblance of logic to our unpacking. I opted to top up the fuel with numerous jerry cans while the ladies did a great job logging and stowing.

By 7 pm we sat down with a rather large G&T to celebrate the largest bill ever and five months ahead where we wouldn’t have to do that again.

Now poor Saorsa loaded to the gunnels, (literally), with full water, fuel and every storage space chock full, we waved goodbye to Panama and set sail for Las Perlas Islands.

What a day we had. It started with Big Bertha in full flight, but after an hour the wind dropped and on went the engine. Karen baked some beautiful bread and while all three of the crew were down stairs preparing lunch, the fishing line started shaking. I shouted out to slow the boat and over the next 30 min we managed to haul in a huge Mahi-Mahi ( 17 lbs!). This was truly exciting and chaos, I hauled it, Karen got the gaff in its gills and got it on board, Nicola fetched the gin, knives, tray, buckets, plastic bags, and Lesley was on clean up with the hose pipe. As we gutted and filleted by committee the wind got up so – sails were set and off we went again.

The night we arrived in the Las Perlas islands we proudly fed 14 on the beach with our catch. Anchoring just off the beach between Chapera and Mogo Mogo, with 4.3 meters under our keel, we poodled ashore to find a large log smoldering. We had arrived first and nabbed prime anchor position, and as time progressed more ARC boats joined us. The following day we facilitated yoga on the beach for the ARC boats and suggested BBQ on the log from sundown. A fun night, and yes the Mahi-Mahi, expertly seasoned by the girls, was a very tasty treat.

The full moon was spectacular, although true to form it caused a rather large tidal shift and for 30 min we sat beautifully on our keel in soft sand and were able to stand on our anchor – a first. Surrounded by turquoise waters we just basked around the reefs and beaches watching stingrays and reef fish - a world away from the shopping of two days ago. Next passage: 6 day sail to the Galapagos which will include a visit from Neptune, as we cross the equator!

Below - our beach with Saorsa anchored off.