It is 7:00am and we are both still laying in bed listening to the waves crashing on the reef in front of us. We have been out exploring with our snorkels, spearing fish and combing the beaches for treasures for five days now at this beautiful anchorage and on top of the usual boat chores, it has been a lot of exercise. Our bodies are both incredibly sore, but they feel good laying here in the V-berth. I can feel new muscle growing. It feels good. It is evidence that we have been doing more than just the cliché idea of cruising in the Caribbean, which is laying around sun tanning and drinking. Even when we are not out exploring in the dinghy, we find ourselves pretty occupied here in the boat. The anchorage that we have found is very tranquil despite the 15 to 20 knot trade winds blowing outside. It is the perfect place to catch up on some boat maintenance as well. The oil and transmission fluids need changing. Some pump seals need tightening and lubing. I am certain that some other task is hiding from me under the engine cabinet lid as well.
Kim fills in a lot of the extra time by baking us bread and cooking up all kinds of incredible dishes that she never would have tried back at home. Strangely enough, it’s not that she has more time for cooking. More likely, she just has much more energy for doing that sort of thing. That, and we don’t have available to us the countless thousands of processed food products on the store shelves. In the most developed village nearby, we can buy only the very basics, but it is worth it because we do seem to be anchored in paradise. The boat is situated behind a reef which just barely pokes out through the surface. To our left is a perfect little sandy island covered with palm trees and flowering shrubs. The depth at the white sand beach immediately drops off to about 30 feet deep as it enters the waters edge. This produces the stunning effect of the island being surrounded by a glowing tourqouise-blue neon tube when the sun is high. Similarly, neon colors flow off of the back of the island behind us along the extended reef jutting out along that end. There is a slight break in the reef about 30 feet wide and almost directly behind us where the water is a nice cobalt. That is where we came in. The reef continues around behind our right rear quarter until it joins the island on our right.
Looking back from our boats cockpit across the rainbow hued reef in the foreground, is the sharply silhouetted skyline of Panama’s Cordillera Range. There are usually great puffy cumulus clouds swelling with Caribbean moisture high above their peaks.
On our right, a small cupped bay faces us. It is also lined with an underwater neon tube. This one is lime green or about 5 feet deep. The edge of the bay is lined with thick mangroves where the snappers are hanging out. The warm waters along their shores are choked with clouds of small bait fish which explode into big openings when a barracuda tail comes sweeping through. Back behind the mangroves are towering nispero and mango trees whose canopies are full of hawks and tweeting birdies in the morning. Our morning alarm clocks.
Along the front edge of the island, the water becomes very shallow, about 1 foot deep, and covered with turtle grass. The turtle grass ‘lawn’ bridges the gap between the two islands in front of us. It stands about 300 feet wide stretching from the big breaking reef out in front all the way back to about fifty feet in front of where we dropped our anchor in 20 feet of water in some thick sand. Any big ocean swell that somehow manages to make it over the reef, has to make it across this huge lawn of shallow turtle grass. We are sitting pretty.
I always wonder how it is we find these places. Even more, I wonder how it is that we get sick of them.