The East Lemons - anchored off Nuinudup and BanedupOne

From Chichime, we decided that we would go to Yansaladup in the East Lemon Cays. We could see a number of boats at anchor by Nuinudup, the main anchorage in the Lemons, and felt that Yansaladup, being a little more off the beaten path, would provide us with a bit more privacy (see the detailed charts for island locations). So, we put away the tarps and upped anchor, motoring out of the Chichime anchorage, around the main island of Uchutupu Dummat, and lined up to enter the channel leading to Yansaladup. The cruising guide showed the course as a fairly easy passage between a couple of reefs, so with the FLS (Forward Looking Sonar) on, we made 4-5 knots and, being only a few miles away, were soon in the channel.

We were following the path from the Bauhaus cruising guide, checking our course on the electronic chart plotter, and had crossed a bar of 12' or so, when all of a sudden, the FLS showed no clear water ahead of us. Even though the guide and chart said we should have been in 36', before we could slow down, the depth finder did its heart-rending countdown, 10-9-7-5-2-0' in a matter of seconds, and RHAPSODY slowed to a halt with a scratching noise as we went aground on a sand shoal. We immediately threw the transmission into reverse and gave it a big burst of power and luckily were able to back off the shoal into slightly deeper water. Perplexed, we spent about 20 minutes going around in small circles trying to find the channel, within view of the boats anchored at Nuinudup about 1/2 mile away, but with all of our best efforts, we could not find the channel to Yansaladup.

So, we opted to turn around and go to the main anchorage at Nuinudup instead. However, even though it was only 1/2 mile away, directly to the south as the crow flies, we had to retrace our track westward almost all the way to Chichime before getting to another channel that would cut south through the many small islands and reefs, in order to safely get to the anchorage.

Then, being gun-shy after our grounding, as we pulled into the channel between Nuinudup and Banedup1, even though there were 4-5 boats at anchor, and, once again, we had the cruising guide and electronic charts to help us, we pulled up short as the channel shallowed to 10-12'. Note that there is (there is more than one island in the SanBlas named "Banedup". For reference purposes, I call this one "Banedup1"). Using the FLS, we tried to find a way into the anchorage, spending about 20 minutes going in small circles, poking and probing to find the deeper water. Finally, we called BLUE SKY on the radio and asked them about the channel; they told us we just had to be brave and that after we crossed the 10-12' bar, we would find ourselves in 20-30' of water again.

So, gritting our teeth, we plunged forward, and just like Breeze had said, after a few yards of relatively shallow, 10-12' water, we crossed over the bar and into the anchorage at Nuinudup, where we finaly dropped our anchor in about 25' of crystal clear water. When we had left Chichime, we had been expecting a short, 1-2 nm, easy 20 minute trip to Yansaladup. In the end, however, we ended up logging 8 nm, going aground once, and stressing to get into an anchorage. By the time we had the hook down, it was almost beer-o'clock!

The East Lemon anchorage is very, very pretty. There are 3-4 small islands in a circle all around the anchorage, each with one or two Kuna families living in palm-frond shacks. The islands are uniformly pretty, palm covered, sand islands, with the waters a sparkling light green, and, once again, clear enough that we could see our anchor chain on the bottom in 25'.