16.5 nm for 2 nights at Ensenada Grande, Isla San Jose
We left Pedro Gonzalez at about 10:00 for the short, 3 hour, 16.5 nm trip
to the east side of Isla San Jose. Now that we've had some time
to decompress, we've begun to develop a plan for surveying the
many many islands in the chain. We've decided that we'll visit the
three largest islands first, working our way to the southernmost end
of the chain, then come around the east side of Isla Del Rey, then
visit the smaller islands on our way north back in towards Panama City.
By going to San Jose next, we were visiting the 2nd of the three largest
islands in the chain.
We chose the Ensenada Playa Grande anchorage because, once again, it seemed
to be about the best protected from the south and west, and it worked
in well with our emerging plan. When we got there we had the whole,
large, perhaps 3 mile wide, bay all to ourselves. Isla San Jose is
privately owned by "Aeroperlas" owner G. Novey. Though there is a resort here (on the west side of
the island from us) and a few scattered residents, the island is largely
uninhabited, so here we finally got some of the primitive experience
we were hungry for.
We dropped anchor in about 25' of water, perhaps 250 yards from shore.
The anchorage was a little rolly though, particularly in the middle of
the night when the slight current and breeze turned RHAPSODY sideways into
the small swell. But the rolly night was worth it when we got up the
next morning, did the dinghy drill, and went to shore for some exploring.
We found ourselves on a long stretch of beach that we had all to ourselves.
After walking perhaps 1/2 mile along the beach we came to a cut in the jungle
where it appeared a path led inland. Donning our rain gear, which we wisely
had brought along, we hiked along the path, which turned quickly into a well maintained
gravel road, as a heavy tropical rain began to fall. I know it doesn't sound
like much, but we were both very happy to find the trail/road and be able
to walk thru the jungle, occasionally protected by the canopy of palms overhead,
while the fresh rain fell all around us. It was quite beautiful!
We walked perhaps a mile and a half, up to a ridge line, then along its ridge,
until we came to a river that we realized was flowing to the other side of the
island. We must have crested the island, crossing the watershed for the
river. We spent several hours just walking along enjoying the sights,
smells, and sounds of the jungle.
We got back to the boat and had another rolly night at anchor, so, the
next morning, we decided to leave Isla San Jose.