13.5 nm for 2 nights at Cocos Anchorage, Isla Del Rey

From San Jose, we crossed the straight about 12 miles over to Isla Del Rey, the largest island in the Perlas. There was another squall to skirt as we started out, but by the time we rounded the southern point of the island, the rain and lightning had let up and it was smooth going on a nice, partly cloudy day.

We chose the Cocos anchorage as our first stop on Isla Del Rey, due once again to it having good protection from the south and west. On the charts, it reminded us a little of a place called "Fourney Cove" in the Channel Islands, California, where we had visited when we first started sailing. We were very pleased when we pulled into the anchorage and found it to be nice and flat and calm.

As sometimes happens, as we pulled in, there was already another boat in the anchorage. It looked like some kind of a ferry or small cargo ship, and, of course, it was anchored right in the best place. Be that as it may, the anchorage was quite large, so a few minutes after we arrived we dropped the hook a couple of hundred yards away from the ship, closer into the shore. Looking around, we could see that it was nice, but not as uninhabited as San Jose. Our feelings were confirmed when, a few minutes after anchoring, a small dugout canoe arrived with a young man asking us if we needed anything, trying to sell us vegetables, etc. Once again, I graciously said no, but as this guy, Manuel, was very friendly and seemed like a nice person, so I offered him a Coca-Cola which he accepted and we chatted with him for a while. After he left, another panga came by, this one piloted by a man named Martin, who offered us more vegetables and other sundries. We told Martin that although we didn't need more veggies, if they happened to come across some Langostas (Lobsters), we would like that.

As we were talking to Martin, he managed to convey to us that we had come at just the right time for the big party. He said that by the end of the day, the boats from the annual Yamaha Panama Classic Fishing Tournament would all be coming here to Cocos to end the 2nd day of fishing and weigh in their days' catch. Yikes! We realized that soon we would be surrounded by 40-50 motor boats and a bunch of fishermen. After Martin left, we had a hasty conference but decided to stay. We were, after all, looking for private island time, and the last thing we would have planned was to be here during a fishing tournament, but now that we were here, and well anchored at that, we might as well stay.

Sure enough, a few hours later, the "mothership", a large motor yacht pulled into the anchorage and dropped anchor about 100 yards from us. Then a helicopter landed on the beach and disgorged a number of people. We could see and hear several small planes landing on a airstrip just inside the jungle, presumably bringing people from the mainland to the tournament. Soon there were 10-20 pangas zipping around the corner to the village of Esmeralda and back, ferrying tents, people, and supplies for the party on the beach. They all gathered at the mothership for what appeared to be an instruction session and to get T-Shirts. Then the fishing boats started coming in!

Sure enough, where there had been basically no-one a few hours earlier, within an hour or two there were 40-50 motor boats in the anchorage. Many were anchored all around us and more were milling about, dropping people and fish off on dinghies and pangas to take them into shore for the weigh-in. We could see a crowd of about 100 people on shore and occasionally hear a roar of approval as a big fish was weighed.

A panga came by who had apparently heard about our desire for lobster because they had 3-4 very nice large lobsters for sale. We selected the largest two, almost two pounds each, and paid the guys for them (as well as giving the 5 guys on the boat cups of ice-water). As the powerboats kept coming in, the fish got weighed, the people gathered and partied a bit, and we cleaned the lobsters and had our own little party on RHAPSODY.

The unexpected crowd ended up being more exciting and fun than we thought it would be, but nonetheless were not disappointed when most of the fishermen went to bed early so as to be out bright and early at daybreak. The next morning when we woke up, through the intermittent and sometimes heavy rain, we could see that virtually all the powerboats had left the anchorage. By 10:00, the mother ship and supply ship pulled up anchor, leaving us the whole anchorage to ourselves for the 2nd day.

Altogether, we stayed 2 days and nights at the Cocos Anchorage on Isla Del Rey. On the 2nd day, after the tournament had left and the weather straightened out a bit,

Images from a walk on Isla Del Rey