We had very little wind the day we traveled the 38 miles from Panama City to Las Perlas. We motorsailed the entire way in seven and a half hours.
These islands were named ‘The Pearl Islands’ in 1515 when Spanish conquistadores Gaspar de Morales and Francisco Pizarro defeated the indigenous King Toe and enslaved his pearl divers. The islands have a long history of pearl production, and they still produce pearls.
These islands are mostly uninhabited, and those that are inhabited have small populations. They are heavily wooded and very pretty. They have a huge pelican population, and we were constantly amused by them.
We arrived at the northern end of the island chain – Isla Contadora. This is the most developed island, and it is a weekend destination for many in Panama City. It has an airstrip (one of two in the islands), restaurants, and a stinky power plant.
We had a storm blow over us our one night there. The lightening was remarkable, and the anchorage got very rough. We did not get as much rain as we would expect with that amount of lightening, but the boat bounced around unmercifully all night long. Not a very pleasant introduction to these pretty islands.
The next day we went in search of a better protected anchorage. We anchored in a narrow channel between Isla Del Rey and Isla Espiritu Santo. Isla Del Rey is the largest island in the group. It includes the largest population settlement in the islands at San Miguel, and it has the islands’ other airstrip. Isla Espiritu is uninhabited. The channel has a bit of current running through it, but it is otherwise quiet. We spent two nights there.
We were expecting light winds from Panama to Galapagos, so we wanted our biggest head sail up. We have been having some problems raising and lowering those sails (we don’t do it very often), and the sail jammed at the top of the mast this time when we tried to lower the yankee. It was time to fix the problem. So Bud dragged a few tools up the mast and spent a few hours hopefully fixing this ongoing problem. We got the yankee down and the genoa up.
The islands are pretty, but we were both ready to leave Panama and head offshore. We did one day of chores, and we said goodbye to Panama on May 23 as we headed off in to the Pacific. We planned to make a brief stop at Colombia’s Isla Malpelo on our way to the Galapagos Islands.