Adventure Sail to Panama


Isla Morodup, San Blas Islands, Panama


October 16-17, 2007

Leaving Whichub Huala, we headed East for about 20 miles to the Holandes Cays.  There was absolutely no wind!  Just our luck, and to make matters a little more difficult, it was probably the hottest it’s been so far.  90 degrees in the shade, and we were all feeling it.  We could see the mountains of Panama along the coastline and many shallow reefs along the route.  After motoring for 15 miles or so, late Tuesday afternoon, we arrived at what’s known as the  “swimming pool anchorage” between the islands of Morodup (BBQ island) and Banedup.  This anchorage has been reported as the clearest waters in all of San Blas with the best snorkeling, fishing, and reefs. A local family came by in 2 Cayucos, paddling up to the boat to hang out and talk.  The “mujer” or the lady Kuna, dressed in the traditional way, asked for coffee, salt & cigarettes.  We gave it all to them with a couple of Pepsi’s and very quickly, we had made some Kuna friends.  There was a young man of 21, his wife 16, and their 2 year old, then the grandmother or abuela, who was 63 and two boys who were 10 & 11.  They were all smiling and laughing and bailing their Cayucos, which were constantly taking on water.  We were enjoying the opportunity to speak Spanish – the Kuna father was enjoying the opportunity to learn some English – and we were all enjoying the interaction of cultures, each of us fascinated by the other.  Ahhhhh Paradise!     

 Morodup Island was very close to us – close enough that we could swim there from the boat.  The island was uninhabited and one of the prettiest that we had ever seen, truly a paradise!  The green grass seemed like that of a golf course with no under brush at all and towering coconut palms shaded the whole island nicely.  The island looked like it had been manicured by the natives with the coconuts that had fallen gathered into piles and sand swept by palm fronds - they had really taken care of the island and there was not much trash at all here.  The white sand beaches were reminiscent of the Bahamas with their pink coral flecks throughout the white sand.  We explored the island from one side to the other, finding some small treasures – some beautiful shells, some unique Kuna artifacts and a partially broken, but beautifully carved Kuna paddle.  That evening, we had a great dinner of chuletas (pork chops), did some filming with Walter, had a few drinks and headed off to bed so we could explore the next day. 

The following day we snorkeled, swam and broke the dinghy again!  Walter, Mike, Kate & Stuart went out for a swim while Capt Mark took care of business on Stray Cat.  The dinghy motor died as we were headed out to the reef and it would not start again!  We decided the best thing to do would be to go ahead and anchor the dink anyway, go for a swim to see what we could, and maybe by the time we had finished swimming, the motor would feel better.  Fortuitously, there were reefs and coral heads all around, so we snorkeled for a while, tried and failed to start the motor again, and then swam the dinghy back to Stray Cat.  It was another case of water in the gas.  The guys all worked together to filter the bad gas and after Capt Mark took apart the carb, yet again - the problem was solved. 

Later, Capt Mark dropped Mike Kate & Stuart off at Morodup, and he and Walter headed out in the dink for some shots of a wrecked sailboat up on the reef.  As they were zooming over to the boat, the family from the day before flagged them down.  The families were in their Cayucos and were asking for a tow back home.  Capt Mark said sure, and invited the Kunas to climb into the dinghy – he towed the Cayucos behind and even let the young gentleman drive the dinghy, which more than made his day.  They got a tour of the island where the family lived with about 3 huts on it.  It was very primitive and Capt Mark and Walter enjoyed being let into the huts and experience the Kuna way of life.  Mike & Kate had spent the afternoon relaxing in their hammocks on Morodup.  The island was a tropical paradise and swinging in a hammock between swaying palm trees is a great way to enjoy the day.  Only the lingering threat of “death by coconut” had them packing up and heading back to Stray Cat. 

In the afternoon, everyone grabbed snorkeling gear and headed over to “the wall”.  The entrance to the “Swimming Pool” anchorage has a narrow channel to traverse to get inside.  The narrow channel consists of a wall of coral on either side, making a perfect place to snorkel and explore all of the little nooks and crannies.  That is where we all spent some time snorkeling and had a great time!  Some of the coral had died because of the shallowness and one could see that the occasional heavy storm had broken up the coral, especially the fan coral.  But, there were plenty of fish and it looked like the perfect place to find lobster, but we did not see any.  That night we filmed a bit more with Walter, had a great dinner & drinks and hit the sack.  We did experience a few light showers overnight, but we have not had any bug or mosquito problems as of yet.  The next day we headed for the Coco Banderos Cays.

On the way to the Holandes Cays there were many islands with just 2 or 3 huts on them

Capt. Kate

No wind!

Still no wind!

It was a hot one!

There were always clouds over the mountains


The Doldrums!

Life is hard!

Laundry day on Stray Cat

Stuart, the laundry master, -chillin'


This guy was probably 4 ft long - HUGE!

It was soooo hot, thank God for Frogg Toggs! They Work!

Island Hopping at it's finest

Anchor Boy

Capt Cool

Morodup or BBQ Island

No one lives on BBQ Island, but there is a nice shelter set up for lounging & cooking


The Swimming Pool Anchorage

Morodup was absolutely picturesque

Our local visitors, they paddled over from Morodup, they had a boat full of Conch

The Mujer or the Kuna Woman in charge

The Mujer was the grandmother and she wore traditional Kuna dress, she wanted many things such as salt, coffee, & cigarettes, she bailed the boat constantly 

Puffy clouds over the palm trees

Capt Mark on BBQ Island with Stray Cat in the background

Morodup looked more like a golf course than an uninhabited island

It seemed that the locals took good care of the island and even swept the sand with the palm fronds

A rainbow off of one of the reefs near the swimming pool anchorage

The shelter built by the locals for gathering and cooking on Morodup

Coconut husks make great tinder

We are not sure what "Moro" meant but "dup" is Kuna for Island and "Isla" is island in Spanish 

The roof was made of palm fronds and the walls of bamboo

Stray Cat in paradise

Swimming Pool anchorage at dusk

Fan coral on the reef in Swimming Pool Anchorage

The Trumpet Fish has great camouflage

A huge ball of brain coral

God was here

Mikey in the sea grass

Walter with the video cam in it's plastic baggie

Yellowtail Snapper School

The Stoplight Parrotfish

There were many varieties of coral and fish, most of the reefs seemed healthy 

This coral looks like organ pipes

A Bahamian Conch covered with coral and home to a million hermit crabs, you can see them all gathered in the opening

Mikey swimming the dinghy back to Stray Cat

Stuart in tow


Gettin' a tow in

Stray Cat in the "swimming pool"

Fixing the fuel problem in the dinghy with Mr Funnel

More water in the gas

Stu & the banana tree - notice some are yellow and some are even missing!!

Laundry day in paradise

Walter recovering from a long flight - Poppy Alert!

Relaxing in Paradise

This does not Suck!

I could get used to this!

The view from the hammock

Blue toes in Paradise - what could be better

There was a reef surrounding Morodup

We saw many fishermen diving in this area

The Palm Tree jungle was perfect on a sunny day

Mike had to bring his island tunes for relaxing in paradise

The view straight up

Locals fishing on the reef

The double hammock could engulf you

Can we move here??

The sound system

The nap in paradise

Anchored in Paradise


The Crew on Morodup

We were not sure what the name of this fish was, but the colors were striking!

Mike about 25ft down in the clear waters of the swimming pool

Going up!

Thumbs up! This is Ahhhhhhhhhhhsome!

Capt Mark all wet


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