Silly mid-off.

Simply sensational.

16th November 2022

Isla Mono, San Blas, Panama – Snug Harbour, San Blas, Panama via Aridup, San Blas, Panama

Each sport has a smattering of unfathomable rules. Football has offside, basketball has its timeouts and yacht racing has a whole book dedicated to the intricacies of infringements. Above all these, for bizarre rules and indeed bizarre everything is cricket. In cricket you can have a draw after 5 days of play, if a team doesn’t score enough points then they’re simply allowed to bat again and if the weather isn’t quite perfect, then ‘rain stops play’. Rain has stopped some play on Ruffian, but when the weather has been perfect play has resumed.

With the heavens opening, rain stopped our play and we hid inside fearing that we’d dissolve like Asprin, ‘Altimate’ were brave enough to venture out in it and we were then completely alone. We could see no sign of man ashore, hear no sign of man in the air and the only smell we had was being washed away by the torrents of water the fell from the sky. We were truly alone.

As outside play was off the cards Fiona got out the needle and thread and started being creative with the molas that she’d acquired. Fiona did her best to match the craftwomanship that created these fabric-based works of art, but no matter how hard she tried their stitches were always smaller, more invisible and more intricate than hers. After hours of hemming and rehemming, under Larry’s eye, Fiona stood back and admired her amazing work. It transpired that we’d bought molas that seemed to pay homage to our errant Llama!

As the rain cleared, play could once again begin and our little flotilla of Ruffian, Free Spirit and Basta played together. We took adventures up rivers where we hoped that alligators would rest on the banks and then menacingly slip into the water or where birds of prey would swoop down from the heavens and pick unsuspecting fish from the water. We didn’t get either of those but we find a forest that seemed intent to walk into the river and a river that was valiantly trying to flood the forest.

The play continued as Ruffian found herself anchored behind the most perfect desert island that was fringed with reefs and where fish found amusement in anchors and any snorkelers who ventured into their realm. The desert island also gave us a brand-new anchoring experience.

As usual Fiona found the perfect spot to stop Ruffian. The anchor landed on the seabed and dug into deep hard sand keeping Ruffian safe, unfortunately the sand quickly ran out leaving the chain laying on top of coral and threatening to wreak destruction on all millions of tiny critters that together made the reef. We had to do something to allay the destruction of the beauty.

In the dim and distant past Fiona had read about suspending chain above a coral bottom by using fenders. Fiona duly directed Iain to the chain that lay 10 meters below the surface and ropes were tied through the links and taken to the surface. The fenders slowly lifted the chain and disaster for the coral and our consciences had been averted.

The play on our desert island was the best sort of play. The water was warm, blue and teemed with life, the beaches were white, soft and fringed with palm trees and Ruffian was safe, secure and blissfully dry. Unfortunately, rain would once again stop play.

Waking from a night of slumber on Ruffian we found that the reef that had been safely in front of us was now dangerously close behind and the blue skies with their distant horizons had been replaced by threatening clouds and approaching rain. Without hesitation we bailed out and sought shelter and safety.

Under grey skies with flat light, negotiating the unmarked reefs into Snug Harbour was nerve-racking and the tension only grew as we were racing the approaching rain. Just as we entered the shelter of the islands we were enveloped by a wall water. Visibility dropped to zero and with it the anchor was dropped into the murky depths. Soaked through and nearly shivering, we waited and slowly the edges of the harbour came into view. Miraculously we’d found ourselves in the perfect spot where once again our buddies on Free Spirit and Basta could join us.

As play has been constantly stopped and resumed and the sky has either soaked Ruffian or dried her, we think we played hard enough to avoid the ‘follow on’ and after 5 days we think that we’re in for a draw.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

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