Day 139, Year 1: Happy Birthday to Me
Date: Sunday, March 5, 2006
Air Temperature: 82 degrees F with 15 knot winds in the anchorage
Water Temperature: 70 degrees F—Coming Up Slowly
Location: Espiritu Santo, Isla Del Ray, Las Perlas Islands, Panama

Mark surprised me this morning by hanging our Happy Birthday banner just outside the cockpit. We have had this banner for 20 years and have used it aboard all 3 of our sailboats. After I was served a great breakfast, we listened to the net, did some work on the boat, and then got ready to go snorkeling. Just as we were getting into our dinghy, one of the boats in the anchorage went motoring by waving and telling us that they would see us in the Marqueses. Remis, the fourth boat in the anchorage, had decided it was time for them to leave. We had not met the couple-German woman, Swiss man, Hungarian dog, and French boat-but Doug and Sylvia had. They cannot stop in the Galapagos because they have a dog onboard, so they have a very long trip in front of them. We wished Remis a safe passage and then got into the dinghy and went to check in with Aqua Magic. Doug and Sylvia from Windcastle came over as well, and then we all took off and landed our dinghies on the beach. We walked through the trees and vines to the other side of Espiritu Santo. Just as we were getting into the water, Doug warned us about the stingrays in this area. Someone on Contadora had told him to be on the lookout, so we shuffled our feet as we walked into the water. Unfortunately the water was cloudy and there was very little coral and no fish to be seen. I did swim over 2 stingrays as I headed back into the beach and was very careful as I got out of the water. We tried a different entry, but still there was very little to see, so we gave up and headed back. To get back to where we had started, we either needed to snorkel or walk over the rocks. I chose the rocks, not wanting another close encounter with a stingray on my birthday-or any day for that matter.

Aqua Magic and Windcastle came over for dinner around 1800 and we all thoroughly enjoyed Mark’s cooking. He had hoped to grill salmon steaks, but it was just too windy to grill. He had to cook the salmon steaks on the stove top, but regardless, they were great.

It is supposed to be very windy for the next couple of days, so we are thinking of moving a little further south on Isla Del Ray tomorrow morning to a more protected anchorage. And then we are actually contemplating leaving the Las Perlas as early as Thursday to start our voyage to the Galapagos. It is very nice here, but we are all getting anxious to get to the Galapagos. We have enjoyed our time here watching the bird life. There are the very graceful pelicans flying in formation, skimming the top of the water, and then plunging into the sea. And then there are the beautiful white egrets that fly overhead and the Magnificent Frigates which soar in the sky high above us. There are also black butterflies that are decorated with neon blues, greens, oranges, and yellows that constantly fly over the water, visit us on the boat, and then continue on their way. There are beaches everywhere and jungle-like trees and vegetation lining the shores. All of this adds up to a very subtle beauty that surrounds us. It would be easy to stay here for a much longer time, but the South Pacific calls us.

060305 Day 139 Panama–Espiritu Santo, Las Perlas