Blue Pearl - Blue Pearl-Las Perlas
It is a beautiful morning at our Contadora anchorage in the Las Perlas Islands. Lyn and John our new and delightful crew from Australia have taken the dinghy to go ashore and explore this small island which is a weekend beach destination for the Panama City Crowd.
The Las Perlas Archipelago is a short daysail from mainland Panama where we departed from yesterday morning after staying at the LaPlayita marina for 4 days. Based there we explored Panama City both new and old and the bit destroyed in 1671 by pirate Henry Morgan. The City has done an amazing job of turning Henry's handy work into a beautifully maintained and educational museum site (Panama la Vieja). It is always disturbing to see how destructive violence ruled so much of the Middle Ages. Have we learned from this?
In any case Panama City was very much worth our while, especially the Old City which is a lively and exciting place. We would gladly spend more time there.
Getting to Panama City was even more exciting. Transiting the Panama Canal must count as the highlight of our trip so far. First it is stunning to realize that this infrastructure project was completed over one hundred years ago, second, it is amazing to observe the constant flow of traffic through the Canal and lock system with each of the larger ships paying $1,000,000 for the privilege but third taking our little 54ft sailboat rafted with two other 54ft sailboats through the locks and the Canal was an amazing experience.
We were privileged to have Ricardo on board as our "advisor", every boat has one. He was upbeat, very knowledgeable, and great at telling us exactly what to do and when. In the locks our raft of three boats was held in place by 4 line handlers on shore securing heavy lines on bolders while boat crews ease and tighten the lines as the raft moves up (Atlantic side) or down (Pacific side) with the locks filling or emptying.
Maybe it doesn't sound very exiting but it was.
We will be in Las Perlas until Friday and then leave for the Galápagos Islands, a sail of approximately 850 nm's to the South West. The equator runs right through the Island group so we are now reading up on the appropriate activities to celebrate "crossing the line"