12 nm to the West Holandes Cays and Miriadiadup


After 8 days in the San Blas, always anchored with at least 4-5 other boats, we were looking for a little isolation, so we chose to go to the Western Holandes Cays, to an island called Miriadiadup, rather than to the popular "Swimming Pool" in the East Cays, which we will visit later.

There was no problem getting to Miriadiadup, but once we got there, we found that it was a bit tricky to find a good place to anchor. The channel is some 30' deep and only about 200' wide and is bordered on both sides by hard coral. After searching for about 30 minutes, we finally decided to drop anchor in the middle of the channel in about 25'. This means that in order to let out the minimum 4:1 scope, or about 100' of chain, there was a chance that we could swing one way or the other into the coral heads.

So one of the first things I did after anchoring was to don snorkeling equipment and dive our anchor and explore around the boat. Once in the water, I was able to ascertain that our anchor was well placed and firmly set, and to swim the circumference of our swing. I was pleased to find that there was a little more room than I had first thought, perhaps 150' in every direction, so in the end it turned out to be a good anchorage.

Almost as soon as we anchored, a couple of Kunas came by in an ulu to sell us some Molas. We invited Trini and Prada aboard to examine their wares. Without being offensive, it is worth noting that Trini and Prada were both transvestites (as was Mola Lisa who had visited us at Chichime). The Kunas are unfazed by, and very accepting of, these folks, and for some reason there is a high incidence of transvestisism here. In any case, they were really nice and we spent about an hour going through their molas (cloth panels) and winis (bead bracelets), selecting a few to purchase. I even got involved and selected a nice mola-ized button-up shirt for myself, and a mola cap as a gift for a friend.

Later that day, we went snorkeling. I wanted to go to this particular reef, in front of RHAPSODY, that I had seen when I had dove the anchor, and so we donned our gear and went directly from RHAPSODY's swim step. As we got to the reef, I noticed that I had lost my under-water digital camera! It must have come off from around my neck while we swimming to the reef.

So I sprinted the 100 yards or so back to RHAPSODY and gave a quick look around. Couldn't find it. I wasn't even sure if it floated or sank, and was pretty depressed for a few minutes. The housing had cost nearly $100 and would be hard to replace, much less the digital camera itself, a nice Canon SD350 that I really liked. Nonetheless, we kept looking for it, me trying to dive the 25' water around the boat in case it had sank, then getting in the dinghy and followed the current to see if had floated. I was very relieved when after about 10 minutes we found it floating about 100 yards down-current from the boat.

We re-organized ourselves and went snorkeling again, this time on the reef just behind RHAPSODY. As luck would have it, when we got there, I discovered that the battery in the camera was dead, and so was unable to take any pictures. But it was a very nice snorkel nonetheless, and we just enjoyed it very much for what it was worth.

The next morning, our only full day in Miriadiadup, I got up and went snorkeling by myself as soon as the sun was high enough to take good pictures - about 9:00 am. I went back to the reef behind RHAPSODY and got some nice pictures of the beautiful coral, many fish, and other interesting things there. In the afternoon, we took the dinghy to nearby Mordup, a small island which has apparently become uninhabited, due to the sea encroaching upon it. There is evidence of two small Kuna shacks that are partially submerged on one side of the island. Thus we came to call it, jokingly, NoMorDup.

As we returned to the boat that afternoon, some Kunas from the mainland came by in a gaff-rigged sailing ulu and offered us some lobsters. Even though they were not really large, you can't beat the $1/lobster price, so we bought all they had, which was six medium bugs. We cleaned them up and had a nice little lobster feast, with Kuna Bread, and fresh green beans. The next morning, our last in Miriadiadup, I had to run the Wednesday SSB Net at 8:30. Nothing out of the ordinary there, so at 9:30 or so we raised the anchor and said goodbye to this anchorage and headed over towards the "Swimming Pool", in the East Holandes Cays.