Morodup, San Blas Islands, Panama
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!
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
Still no wind!
It was a hot one!
There were always clouds over the mountains
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
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
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
The shelter built by the locals for gathering and cooking on
Coconut husks make great tinder
We are not sure what "Moro" meant but
"dup" is Kuna for Island and "Isla" is island in
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
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
Thumbs up! This is Ahhhhhhhhhhhsome!
Capt Mark all wet