Freedom to roam
Once checked in we had a little more freedom to roam. We were given permission to cruise the Jardines de la Reine, an extensive coral reef system further east. There are no permanent settlements, just coral, mangroves and perfect white beaches. The nearest town is 80 miles away so self-sufficiency is essential and we became heavily reliant on our watermaker. In four days’ cruising we saw only three yachts and a fleet of identical, grey fishing boats which looked straight out of the USSR. We were all sheltering from a strong north easterly in Cayo Cuervo, a huge circular island with excellent shelter inside.
As soon as the wind dropped we set off for Cayo
Algodon Grande. It was poorly charted so the dinghy went ahead and found a deep water channel into a mangrovefringed lagoon. Once inside we had perfect solitude and set about exploring. The pilot guide mentioned a mile long dinghy channel to an abandoned holiday camp. Neal returned after an hour. “It’s more of a ditch than a channel,” he reported. It had clearly silted up since Nigel Calder was writing 20 years ago. There wasn’t much left of the resort, just a few lumps of concrete, but there was a beautiful windswept coral beach.
We made it ashore for sundowners and started ferrying