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Shepherd Moon - Wedding bells



I am sitting in the cockpit in the pitch dark, with just pinpoints of light from the other boats in the anchorage and from the shore. Shepherd Moon is gently rocking from side to side and, in the distance, there is the faint sound of surf breaking on the reef. It's all very soporific, or at least it was until the peace and tranquillity was shattered by the wild whooping of monkeys. There is a troop that lives on the nearby island and, according to the guidebook, they are very friendly when you arrive, but get very upset when you try to leave. Jacob and I rowed over earlier to put this to the test, but there was not a monkey to be seen. Clearly we weren't looking hard enough.

We are heading west towards the start of the Panama Canal after a very enjoyable four-day exploration of the San Blas Islands. Imagine a picture-book desert island, with a white sand beach and palm trees and that's pretty much what the San Blas look like. A reef surrounds each island and so navigation is challenging (not least because the charts are very unreliable), but as long as you stick to the deep bits, all is good. We did find ourselves in big breaking seas with not a lot of water below the keel, but that was down to the stupidity of the skipper, at least according to Vanessa.

When we weren't scaring Shepherd Moon, we spent our time snorkelling or going ashore. There was such an abundance of marine life you sometimes didn't know where to look. The highlight for me was joining a shoal of sardines and then diving down through the middle of them so they formed a doughnut around my body. The local people are called Gunas. They are small (Second only to pygmies, apparently), friendly and happy living a very simple life. They make the small amount of money they need from selling fish, lobsters and molas (intricate embroidery) to passing yachtsman. One notable visitation resulted in a Guna lady clambering aboard the boat with a bucket full of her handiwork. She was very keen on knowing how old Jacob was and, having established that he was of marriageable age, whipped-out a smart phone from the bottom of her bucket and insisted on having her photograph taken with him. If relationships with outsiders weren't strictly prohibited, I think Vanessa would be hunting for a hat.
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At 19/01/2018 16:30 (utc) our position was 09°30.80'N 078°36.90'W






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