We've moved to a new anchorage in East Lemon Cays. It's positively crowded with yachts (about 15 from lots of different nationalities) and there's even a small bar on a nearby island where a couple of the local fishermen had enjoyed a beer or two too many last night. Otherwise, it's still pretty idyllic with a reef about three quarters of a mile to windward protecting us from the ocean swell and a smaller island providing an ideal spot for a bbq.
We are delighted that Matt and Charlotte on Gallinago have caught up with us after finally resolving their gearbox problems in Grenada. They had a very fast, 7 day non-stop passage here and so we met up yesterday afternoon. Luckily their arrival also coincided with that of a grocery boat (another open motor boat, rather less well stocked than the last) so we managed to buy some beers, vegetable and a chicken which neatly solved the bbq menu plan for the evening. We'd introduced ourselves to the sole occupants of the island (Fernando and his wife) so were surprised that Snr Fernando arrived as we were eating on the beach with another yachty who acted as interpreter and explained that Fernando was upset that we were using his island without permission. Eventually, after much embarrassment, Fernando realised that we were actually the people who had come to see him and that the objects of his displeasure were a bunch of other yachties, who had by now left the island, who had built a huge bonfire of fallen palm leaves at the southern tip of the island without seeking any permission. He left, all smiles and apologies but the incident made us realise how little, thoughtless acts by visitors must have a big impact on these charming people. Certainly we were shocked to find four or five black bin bags of yacht rubbish leant against trees as though the bin men would magically come to collect them in the morning. Unbelievable.
This morning we have been visited by Venancio, Master Molas Maker, who brought a huge tub of beautifully hand-stitched Kuna embroideries and proudly showed us his work in a magazine. Unlike most that we've been offered so far, he doesn't use a sewing machine and the stitching is almost invisible (Graham's mum, a mean embroiderer herself, would be impressed) so we succumbed to his patient salesmanship and bought four to be stashed away for cushions when we return home.
Anyway today will be our last day in the islands as we are heading west to Colon (specifically Shelter Bay Marina just inside the breakwater at the site of the old US Army base of Fort Sherman). We'll break the passage into a 50 mile and a 25 mile leg, stopping at a natural harbour called Portobello so that we can arrive at Shelter Bay in daylight – the approaches will be very busy with ships using the Canal. Our brief period of relaxation will be replaced with more boat jobs, lots of paperwork and officialdom and re-stocking the boat for the long Pacific legs ahead of us.