20th January 2023
Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica – Gallego Cays, Bocas Del Toro, Panama via Marina Carenero, Red Frog, & Bahia Honda, Bocas Del Toro, Panama
The dynamic duo of Batman and Robin fought crime whenever they were summoned by Commissioner Gordon using the Bat Ray. As they found criminals every righteous fight was accompanied by overarching signs proclaiming ‘Pow’, ‘Biff’, ‘Blap’ and ‘Sok’s which then resulted in the bad guys being arrested and our hero’s returning to glory in the Bat Cave. Back in the Bocas Del Toro, we are visa legal again so are not going to chased by our duo, instead we’ve tried to hunt them down in the Bat Cave.
Leaving the marina behind us and finding peace in the depth of the mangroves the only duo chasing us were Helen & Steve on Cerulean. This was like nowhere we’d anchored before; the mangrove lined bay was littered with 1000’s of tiny islands which looked like scattered seeds and they calmed the seas to a flat calm offering us and hordes of insects complete protection.
As Cerulean joined us they celebrated their 3 year wedding anniversary and nothing says love like setting off on an adventure where fears would be tackled head on, personal limits pushed to the edge and the opportunity of getting covered in mud or other worrying brown fluids. Romance on this important day wasn’t dead.
Approaching the end of the bay on Brock the mangroves looked impenetrable. Just as we were running out of water a tiny channel opened up and we ducked under branches and pushed through fallen trees to enter the inner sanctum. Around us crabs scuttled across bright red roots and birds took both flight and fright. Nothing stirred in this mangrove forest and we were the only sign of man.
Running out of water Brock was tied up and we followed a muddy track into the forest, past trees full on monkeys and a canopy bursting with birdlife. Then, in amongst this bright green forest a black hole opened up promising nothing but a fearful entry into another world. Could this be the Bat Cave?
Before our eyes could adjust to the inky blackness, cold water sloshed over our feet and every noise we made travelled deep into the earth only to return seconds later. Worryingly the returning sounds we heard were not just ours.
Venturing deeper and deeper into the inky blackness we heard and then felt the beating of uncountable wings. Every surface was alive with bats and those who couldn’t find a space flew around us intrigued by our exhaling breath and the warmth of our bodies.
As the water grew deeper and deeper the walking turned to wading and the wading turned to swimming. Any natural light was absent and as our torches passed over the huge stalagmites that hung from the ceilings, their sweeping shadows added to the foreboding.
These growing stalagmites started touching the water’s surface and we now had to swim underwater, while underground, to reach even further into the earth and towards a thundering noise. Resurfacing from our dives this menacing environment felt less menacing as at least it offered air which we were starved of while pushing our way through the submerged tunnels.
With every step and stroke the deafening noise was becoming ever more deafening and suddenly we were face to face with not just a waterwall, but a waterfall underground. The darkness hid the top of the cascade and the black water in the plunge pool gave no hint as to its depth. Floating in this extreme environment it felt like we were in ‘limbo’ between 2 worlds, with an unknown force above and an unfathomable depth below.
Retracing our steps, the water grew shallower and life started to return. The bats continued to swoop and we slowly came to the realisation that the ‘mud’ that covered every surface wasn’t ‘mud’, but was a rich guano. The nutrient rich goo provided a home to all manner of creatures that were perfectly adapted to an environment that, clearly, we were not. With a single step we emerged from Batman’s hideout, back into the world of the living, a world of colour and a world of noise.
As we continued sailing through the little islands of the Bocas Del Toro it wasn’t just Batman who had the ability to use sonar to find safe passage. Our new toy ‘the SonarPhone’ was opening up new passes, allowing us to venture into uncharted areas and at the same time give back to the cruising community.
With Ruffian safely anchored we loaded up Brock with a whole plethora of technology and motored around bay after bay. With the SonarPhone connected to iPhones and iPads with Navionics running, Infront of our eyes new charts were drawn and the seabed mapped. The technology told us when the seabed changed from weed to sand and showed us every undulation and then, through the wonders of the internet, sent this to the worldwide community.
So, although we failed to find the dynamic duo in the Batcave it feels like Cerulean and Ruffian are the aquatic version of Batman and Robin. We’ve faced our dangers and used new superpowers which have resulted in joyous ‘Woops’, ‘Yehahs’ and ‘Booms’ and we have made the cruising community happier.
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