San Blas Islands, Panama


Four weeks anchored in the San Blas Islands have left us relaxed and lazy which is why the website has not been updated. The San Blas Islands are truly unique in our travels thus far. There are not enough adjectives to describe the beauty of these palm treed islands with white pristine beaches. There are a total of about 360 Islands and most are uninhabited and the others have Kuna Indian villages. The Kuna’s rule these islands that are part of Panama and their culture today is nearly the same as it was in the 1800’s. Coconuts from the trees planted by the Kuna provide income as they are sold to the Colombians. Dugout canoes are still the primary mode of transportation and some have sails and a more recent development is the use of outboard engines. The women produce an art form called Molas which are beautiful reverse appliqué fabrics that are made by cutting and sewing different layers of colorful cloth. Each Mola is unique and often depicts marine life or events in the Kuna life style. We have bought several Molas as Kuna women come to the boat selling them where ever you cruise in these Islands.

We spent our four weeks in an anchorage called the Swimming Pool. It is in the outer Islands where the water is crystal clear. We were in about 12 feet of water and you could see the grains of sand on the bottom. We traveled to the San Blas with Mike and Sara on Wayfinder and Bill and Laura on Chantelle and as a group we had a lot of fun at happy hours, rotating dinners and exploring new islands and reefs for snorkeling. One highlight was a super bowl party aboard Seabird with satellite TV in the middle of nowhere. It was a lot of fun even for the Chicago fans aboard Chantelle. A real sense of community develops at this anchorage as one of the Islands is maintained by a cruiser and everyone that visits lends a hand to keep it park like. The Island is known as Barbecue or Pot Luck Island because every Monday there is a pot luck cocktail gathering and a controlled bonfire for burning our trash. It is a great time and a good opportunity to meet and learn from other cruisers. The Island has one Kuna resident, Edwino, and we would give him our aluminum cans, fill his water jugs and help him gather coconuts that he will trade. Steven fixed his outboard motor so he could earn a living fishing and selling his lobsters and crabs. His lobsters were delicious!! Once a week we were also able to purchase produce from a small boat that came to the anchorage. On our last day there Steven caught a nice black fin tuna that we grilled and invited others to join us….Yum!!

We left the San Blas on 2/24/07 and with a dolphin escort (several traveled with us for miles) made our way to Colon via a small coastal village anchorage called Portobelo. It was here that we wore flip flops for the first time in a month and I realized it was time to provision when I made Steven an international sandwich: ham and cheese from Trinidad, bread from Colombia, peppers from Aruba, tomatoes from Panama and chips from Curacao.

We are currently at Shelter Bay Marina in Colon and are 4 miles from the entrance to the Panama Canal. After much discussion we have decided to stay in Central America for the hurricane season. Next week we will go to Bocas del Toro and then back to the San Blas until June when we will leave the boat in Colon and travel. The canal transit should be in August and we will slowly make our way to Mexico by November. As always our plans are subject to change almost daily it seems so please stay tuned………………..

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