The Pearl Islands, Panama

5/15/2017This morning I awoke to the sound of High Climber’s engine starting. While rubbing my sleepy eyes I peered out of the hatch above me and watched as the clouds moved by quickly, or more so as we moved quickly by the clouds. “I guess we’re off!” Kyle said enthusiastically. I laid in bed another half hour or so before grabbing a cup of coffee and heading on deck. We were a couple miles away from the Balboa Yacht Club and headed towards the Pacific. Having little to no wind we motor sailed with the main sail up, allowing us to travel at a consistent 6 knots. I cooked breakfast, eggs and potatoes, while everyone else hung out on deck. The auto pilot is working now, so no one has to steer the boat- it’s pretty miraculous- everyone just doing their own thing, keeping an eye on our surroundings but otherwise not having to touch the wheel. Knowing that we would be arriving to the Pearl Islands around 4:00pm we all spent most of the day on deck. I lounged in the sun on my yoga mat, listening to music and drifting in and out of sleep. Itai and Max were busy setting up fishing poles, and within an hour caught a medium-sized tuna. For those of you who don’t know, I have a rather hard time with the idea of fishing- killing animals, even bugs, really upsets me. I had to prepare myself for this because I knew that everyone on board was excited about fishing. So I stayed strong and watched as Itai and Kyle brought the fish on deck. I then asked Itai to explain to me how he was going to kill it, and watched as it happened. I accidentally named it haha.. which didn’t help me feel any less sad for the fish. Anyway, 30 minutes later they were eating pan-seared tuna with some seasoning and soy sauce. I had a delicious veggie sandwich. With Panama City behind us small islands began to show on the distant shore. The water was calm and we all giggled as sting rays jumped 5 feet in the air, doing multiple flips on their way back down into the water. None of us had ever seen anything like it.

 Around 3:30pm we began approaching the island where we planned to anchor for the night, Isle Pedro Gonzalez. The luscious green of the trees and jungle lining the shoreline was a stark contract to the white sand below. The sun was shining, causing the water to glisten, a strong smell of flowers and jungle filled our noses, and Itai had just caught another fish- this time a mackerel- which made the guys really excited. For a few moments there it seemed as though there was nothing else in the world but our pristine surroundings. Arriving at our anchorage we got rather close to shore before dropping the anchor, and before the engine was even shut off I was swimming in the water. Kyle climbed up the mast and jumped off the spreaders while Itai cleaned the fish and prepared it for dinner. This time I cried- I tried so hard not to, but I just can’t help it- I feel so bad for the little fish, swimming so happily in the beautiful ocean and then just being yanked out and killed. Haha I was also laughing at myself while tears filled my eyes because I know it’s a bit ridiculous. Oh well, I’ll be having pasta for dinner. 🙂

 After swimming for a while and taking fresh water “showers” with our sprayer we rowed ashore to the beach. Max, Kyle, and Itai immediately went searching for coconuts- Max getting motivated enough to scale up a palm tree and knocked down 6 or 7. I was rather impressed with how quickly he got up the tall tree. We wandered the beach a bit more before hopping back in the dinghy and rowing along the shoreline to check out a rocky, tree covered small cliff face. Four people in a small dinghy is definitely not the most stable, but not once have we flipped! As I write this I am sitting the v-berth taking some time to myself. Kyle just cracked open a coconut and I am munching on the most delicious fresh coconut pieces and sipping on some coconut water. Itai is busy fishing, and Max is lighting up the grill to cook the fish that was caught earlier and has been marinating. The sun is setting below some thunderheads causing the sky to erupt into the colors of fire. A bird of some sort is singing a rather interesting song, causing me to laugh. This entire journey hasn’t been super easy for me, a lot of different factors have made it so I’ve been having a hard time adjusting, but right now at this moment- all the pieces are falling into place and I am feeling filled with joy and gratitude at where I am. Thank you to the universe for providing such a brilliant life and planet. Cheers!  


The water is a turquoise green, a new color now that the sun is out. There is a slight breeze, so that in the shade the temperature is just right. Max is doing yoga on the foredeck, Itai and Kyle are getting ready to go spear fishing, and I am sipping on some warm coffee, sitting cross-legged on the cabin. We are surrounded, almost 360 degrees, minus a small opening that we entered through, by cliffs, black sand beaches, jungle, and rock covered beaches. The rain that was here this morning has dissipated, the sun bursting through and causing the full trees to glow in a luscious green.

Yesterday after a lazy morning at Isle Pedro Gonzalez, we pulled anchor in the rain, not turning on the engine, using the sails to quietly glide away from the anchorage. Once the rain stopped, so did the wind so the last couple hours were under engine, but it was a beautiful cruise regardless. Around 2pm we spotted the small opening to the cove we planned to spend the night in on Isle del Rey, the largest of the Pearl Islands. I found myself with my mouth hanging open in awe at where we were headed. Sticking to the south side of the opening to avoid rocks, we motored into a small cove, and pulled almost up to the beach. The water here is so deep that in order to find good anchoring we have to pull really close to shore, which is rather different than anything in the Caribbean, and is a bit exciting. Within 30 minutes Kyle and I had lathered up in sunscreen and hopped off the side of the boat. We swam over to the rocky shoreline and climbed up on the boulders protruding from the water. Scaling the side of a small cliff we made our way over to a beach covered in large and colorful stones. The waves have crashed on these stones for hundreds of years causing them to be smooth and gentle on our feet. Walking along the large stones we headed for a cave we saw on our way in. Due to the waves crashing in through the opening we were unable to venture into the cave, but observing it from a distance and listening to the waves crashing was awesome. Max came swimming over to meet us, while Itai stayed on the boat to fish. Kyle, Max and I swam off the beach and headed towards another beach, this one black sand instead of large stones. We explored for a bit, picking up long pieces of bamboo and attempting to get some more coconuts. Hearing Itai yell at us from the boat, I realized he had something very big on his fishing rod. We could see him fighting with whatever he had caught, and he yelled that he needed help. As we swam closer he informed us that it was a large sting-ray. I felt so sad for it and Kyle and Max quickly climbed in the dinghy to aid Itai in freeing it from the hook. Knowing that they can be very dangerous because of their stingers Max and Kyle put on gloves and got pliers to hopefully cut the hook so it would come out. At this exact moment a small panga with 3 guys in it seemed to come out of nowhere and motored into the cove. Fortunately Itai speaks Spanish and he was able to communicate with them. They had seem him fighting with something on his fishing rod so came over to see if he needed help, which he did. Thank goodness for these guys because none of us knew what to do. They stuck their fingers up the stingrays nostrils so that its stinger could stay in the water, a safe distance from anyone. They then took their knife and made a small incision in the stingrays mouth so that the hook could slide out. I sat in the front of the dinghy with my eyes covered- these are the reasons I don’t like fishing. Fortunately the stingray was free of the hook and was let go, but I couldn’t stop thinking about him swimming away with a bleeding mouth. It made me sad, but we were so thankful for the locals who came to help. There is a small village on this island of about 500 people who live there, and that is where the guys in the panga came. They asked if we had any alcohol to share, but we only have water on board, so laughed and asked them the same question. After showering and cleaning up a bit, Itai, Kyle, and Max had a BBQ and cooked their tuna they had caught earlier. I read my book and headed to bed early.

This morning I awoke to the sun shining through the hatch above me. I poked my head out and noticed a light drizzle, but still some sunshine and a warm breeze. I quickly hopped up, made some coffee in the small french press, grabbed some mugs, packed a simple breakfast, and loaded the dinghy. Quietly I woke Kyle up and asked if he wanted to row to shore with me. With Max and Itai asleep aboard High Climber, we climbed into the dinghy and I rowed us to the rocky beach, a light drizzle creating little ripple effects on the water’s surface. Tying the dinghy to a log we poured ourselves some freshly brewed coffee and sat on the log munching on buttered bread.We then spent the next hour or so walking around the rocks, wading into the crashing water coming in from the cave, and found beautiful stones to bring home. For a while it felt as though there was no one else out there, just the two of us surrounded by rocks, cliffs, and dense forest. The drizzling eased and the sun burst through the clouds. Suddenly our surroundings came alive in vivid colors. We climbed up on a big boulder and I closed my eyes, letting the sun shine down on my face with my arms outstretched. The waves getting a bit larger due to the tide, came barreling through the cave creating thunder as they echoed off the rock walls. It was a spectacular, romantic, and refreshing morning. Feeling like Max and Itai would be waking soon, we climbed back in the dinghy and took our time making our way back to High Climber.

This afternoon we are leaving the Pearl Islands and heading North. In about 200 miles, and 40 hours we should be arriving at Isla de Coiba. An island that is a national park and is supposed to be quite amazing, based on our readings and talking with some people who have been there. To be honest, I am not really looking forward to the 200 mile hop. It will be two full nights and two full days, and I just am not feeling the offshore sailing anymore. But oh well, 40 hours will go quickly, and before I know it we will be in Coiba. After that there is just a 100 miles hop to Golfito, Costa Rica! I can’t wait to be in Costa Rica, I have been looking forward to it this entire trip.

**We are currently in Golfito, Costa Rica at an awesome little marina. We’ll be here for 5 days waiting for a propane refill so I’ll post updates on Coiba and Costa Rica soon!**

3 thoughts on “The Pearl Islands, Panama”

  1. What a journey! I love the thought of these islands with few or no people on them. The open water and clear beaches. I long for the wide open space of the ocean as I sit in a large city with cars, planes and people. Working with so many people and kids as I do this looks wonderful. Lake Superior is my large water get away and I won’t be there until mid to late July. So will just look at your pictures once in a while to rest my eyes on open water.

    I can how ever hear you need to be off the wide open seas and back on land for awhile. Safe travels on this next leg of your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just so you know that there are us out here who you will never meet but who look forward to and enjoy your posts experiencing through your words this incredible journey you are on.

    Liked by 1 person

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