January 1st to 10th, 2013, Bocas del Toro archipelago, Panama
We started the New Year with 10 nights of gunkholing around the many little islands of Bocas del Toro.
There are multiple definitions of gunkholing, but this one* best describes our gunkholing:
“… gunkholing is a more earthy term for anchoring your boat on a pleasant out-of-the-way cove or creek. A simple cruise with peace and quiet, beautiful surroundings, tranquil waters and none of the usual daily grind as your destination.”
Each night, we anchored in a different place, but never very far from the night before. We had mixed weather, always warm or hot, but some sun, some cloud and some rain.
High points were:
- Dolphin bay: We didn’t see many dolphins (Pete saw one heading out of the bay in the morning and a few at a distance). However, we enjoyed sailing very gently around the bay — which was more like a lake. It had a very narrow entrance and was perfectly flat. We put the jib alone up and tried (not very successfully) to sail On Delay like a dinghy. I found it so relaxing drifting around.
- The night we anchored off an eco-resort called Al Natural and joined the guests for dinner at the long communal table. It was such an interesting mix of people: young and old, couples and families, Europeans and Americans (all the Canadians had left the day before). The owner-couple we met, Michel and Michelle (he from Belgium, and she from the Dalmatian coast), were delightful, and gave us their contact info in case we ever find ourselves and On Delay in Croatia.
We arrived at Al Natural in time to see the monkeys come for their nightly bananas. The little monkeys took the bananas directly from the children’s hands.
- Snorkelling at Crawl Cay. This is an amazing snorkel site for coral and sponge lovers. There is a big, dense, coral reef, very close to the surface. With the reef close to the surface, the colours are so vibrant (water filters out all the reds at depth). The selection of blues, turquoises, greens, yellows, oranges, and reds (perhaps all in one coral head) were spectacular. And, the reef was covered with thousands of brittle stars — an odd kind of starfish which I’ve only seen rarely elsewhere.
* Definition of gunkholing lifted from this “ContinuousWave”.