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We've arrived in Contadora and eventually found a spot to anchor. It's a rather small bay struggling to accommodate the onslaught of WARC yachts that have arrived today. After finishing off the last of our activities in preparation for the start of Leg 3 to Galapagos on Friday, we headed ashore for the welcome drinks and food. Unfortunately the latter was non-existent, but we did enjoy seeing everyone, most of whom we haven't seen since leaving Panama City. By the time we got back to Paw Paw though, we were absolutely starving. Given the lateness of the hour, we had to settle for toasted cheese sandwiches. We did, however enjoy having Nina (Lynda and Steve) aboard for a night cap.
Change of plan again. Instead of spending another day and night in Cacique while we waited on the high tide to enjoy the dinghy ride up the river, we decided to head for Isla Canas, where we could service both the engines, given the developments that occurred with the generator. To be sure, to be sure we didn't encounter any other unforeseen issues. We were in the process of anchoring when we received the message that Into the Blue had run aground not far from where we were. So, it was a case of lift the anchor rather than waste time trying to get it set, lower the dinghy and, while Elaine circled Paw Paw out of harms way, Roy raced over to assist. Fortunately his help was not needed as Into the Blue managed to get themselves afloat again. Once that panic was over and we were all anchored safely, we received an invite from Into the Blue to join them onboard. While we enjoyed afternoon tea and freshly baked cupcakes, Roy managed to assist them in getting their dive compressor working as well as their AIS. After a shaking start to the day, it ended very well indeed! Tomorrow it'll be an early start to make our way to the rendezvous in preparation for our next passage - the Galapagos Islands, where we're looking forward to reconnecting with Ondular (Isabel and Mick), whom we last saw in Martinique prior to last Hurricane Season.

Our plan was to clean Paw Paw's bottom, make water and finish up the last little chores before going out to play. We were looking forward to a walk on the beach, which we haven't done in a while, followed by a dinghy ride up the river. Well, it wasn't meant to be. Within minutes of starting the generator we were breathing in plumes of black smoke. We spent the rest of day trouble-shooting, overhauling and praying, which all seemed to work, as we eventually got it running properly again - thank goodness! All this activity did mean we were a tad late for our beach bardeque with Into the Blue and Wishanger II, but at least we ended the day on a good note and thoroughly enjoyed the company ashore. 

On a falling tide we tipped toed out of our anchorage at Isla Bayoneta and headed for Cacique on Isla Del Rey. Although the winds were strong, they were directly downwind, so we decided to motor the 30 NM. This allowed us to "kill two birds with one stone" - getting to our next destination while simultaneously getting our well overdue chore of cleaning Paw Paw done.

Las Perlas is not at all what we expected. The islands of this archipielago are very wild and rugged. Definitely not your typical tropical islands. They are, however, beautiful with plenty of sealife and birds. They got their name when spanish conquistadores Gaspar de Morales and Francisco Pizarro robbed a large amount of pearls from the indigenous King Toe. In 1515 the defeated the king and enslaved his skilled pearl divers. The 31 carat "peregrina" pearl of Queen Mary came from these islands.

They are also, for the most part, uninhabited, with only two main villages; Esmeralda on Isla Del Rey and Isla Contadora, which is the most developed island and a favourite weekend destination for party revelers from Panama City who enjoy lots of jet-skiing. Although this is our rendezvous point, we can't imagine anything worse, so, for now, we're enjoying the tranquillity of our anchorage in the company of just two other yachts, who happen to be WARC participants as well - Into the Blue and Wishanger II. Heaven!

We had a lovely tranquil sail to Isla Bayoneta, Las Perlas, today on headsail alone.  Negotiating our way around the rocks and shoals was interesting, but not as interesting as what developed late in the afternoon.  With a tidal range of 10ft, we anchored in depths to accommodate the change and ensured our scope (aka the length of chain we put out) was sufficient. It was rather disconcerting then, a few hours later, to witness a rather large collection of rocks appearing as the tide dropped. Fortunately we have avoided them, but we're a little too close for confort, especially with stronger winds than what was initially forecasted. So,  we've decide to change anchorages first thing in the morning, following which we'll give Paw Paw a good cleaning inside and out!

We did, however get to enjoy sundowners aboard Two Fish this evening who are the only other WARC yacht here - Peaceful!

After enjoyong a long overdue "lie-in" this morning, we headed to the Albrook Mall, the largest one in the Americas, where we caught up on some much needed retail therapy ie new shoes for Elaine, since all her others have totally disintegrated in recent months for some weird and wonderful reason. That was followed by yet another grocery trip to top up on our provisioning to last us to the Marquesas. Then it was back to Paw Paw to try and return our "lives to  normal".  Well almost.  At least everything is back where  it is suppose to be.  Cleaning will just have to wait another day or so!

Tonight we enjoyed a romantic "dinner for two",  the first in months, while overlooking the magical skyline of Panama City across the Causeway and enjoying the fireworks display which signified the start of Carnival. Spectacular indeed, not to mention the delicious dinner!

Tomorrow, however, we say goodbye to this beautiful city of old and new as we head to Las Perlas for some much needed R&R (aka quiet time away from the madding crowd).

Although it was really sad to say our goodbyes to Keenan, Brooke and William this morning, we are grateful that we had the opportunity to create such wonderful memories together this past week - priceless!

We did enjoy a lovely afternoon though, after taking a taxi to El Casco Viejo (The Old City), founded on 21 January 1673 after the destruction of Panama La Vieja (Old Panama)  in 1671 by pirate Henry Morgan and 1200 men who sailed up the Chagres River to the city which they then plundered and reduced to ruins.

El Casci Viejo is a fabulous old town in which to stroll around, with the most amazing old buildings that have been beautifully restored. After a delicious lunch we, of course, then treated ourselves to a Panama Hat each. Our taxi drive back to our anchorage in La Playita afforded us the pleasure of seeing entrepreneurs at their best - vendors in the middle of the street selling refreshments to motorists stuck in rush hour traffic.

Tonight we joined all the other WARC party revelers on a Party Bus which took us on a ride around the new city where we enjoyed the magical skyline while dancing (and drinking) the night away - What a blast!

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