Moonlightsailing    

 

SAN BLAS ISLANDS OF PANAMA:

We finally departed Colon area after "hanging around" five months in the Panama Canal area.  There was a stop at an island called Isla Linton along the 75 miles there.  Some cruisers stay in the San Blas for 8-10 years or even a life time.  It is easy to see why as the islands are so inviting for just relaxing and enjoying a true isolated tropical paradise.  

The San Blas islands (located at 935'N, 7846'W) are over 340 islands stretching along Panama's Caribbean Coast over the eastern part of the continental shelf.  We visited only six.  They are home to the indigenous Kuna Indians, who have preserved their culture and traditions out of all the tribes in all the Americas.  This is one of the most untouched stretches of virgin rainforest and cruising ground with incredible beauty all in one place.  This area is called Kuna Yala and they effectively control this quarter of Panama.  There are no fences nor does any of the tribe members control any of the island land.  Kunas treat their forests as we treat an anchorage.  You can pass through and benefit but do not claim possession.  This is why the area looks much the same as when Balboa first arrived in the 1500's.  

The Kunas are physically small, compared in tribal shortness only by the pygmies.  They are beautiful people who have boundless energy and healthy and very friendly.  The women dress in a beautiful tradition that makes them gorgeous and pleasant to look at.  The one thing they own are all the coconuts on every palm tree one can see on every island.  As visitors we are not allowed to touch the coconuts for fear of becoming "single-handed" sailors literally.  Their machetes are razor sharp.  

We stopped at the first set of islands called Chichime.  The islands were everything everyone claimed they were.  And the Kuna Indians were quick to show their inventory of Molas.  We also met up with some dear cruiser friends on Hebe, Tim & Ariel and their new crew member David.  Here is Hebe at anchor on the far right on another beautiful sunrise. and we enjoyed their company while in Chichime.  we had to have a photo op on a local white sand beach deserted island Tim must have found something off the camera.  Now they both see it - what could it possibly be except the bathing beauty about to arrive.  Well, maybe not but it makes for a great story line.  But, they had a perfect weather window so off to Providencia, Columbia for them.  Looks like Tim had the first reef watch.  Now Yen & I had to find some way to entertain ourselves.  So we sat on the same palm tree.  By the way, that is not Jabba the Huge there with the shirt on.  It has to be the bagginess of the sun protecting shirt.  You believe that, right.  This has to be a destination for future SI photo shoots so we wanted to be first.  We finally sailed off to the next set of islands four miles away, Lemon Cays with incredible snorkeling.   And then a nine mile sail to the Western Holandes for more white sand beaches and palm trees.   Of course, we had to anchor right next to the beach in 20 ft. of water.  A typical hut on these islands consist of local materials and are waterproof.  Everyone sleeps on hammocks so they appear very comfortable.  The accommodations were sparse but location, location, location.  The other interesting fact about the San Blas Kuna Indians are their little question of who they are - a boy or a girl.   We noticed that on every island especially in the Western Holandes the boys thought they were all girls  and when they were in their dresses and make-up they were still very ugly but it made them interesting and fun to talk to.  Those are all boys standing with the Yen and Moonlight on the water.  Then it was time for the Swimming Pool in the Eastern Holandes.  This a huge anchorage with 8-10 ft. of water and just a little stunning in every way.  Even the daily yoga classes were a treat for Yen. The resident cruiser who says he is now a live aboard in the Swimming Pool is Reg (on the left) who has been here for nine years.  His boat is Runner and he cares for BBQ island where great pot-lucks occur every Monday night.   Overall, the swimming pool in the eastern Holandes were our favorite anchorage. These are a few of the magnificent views we had to put up with everyday.  Here is BBQ island where the daily yoga classes take place and weekly potlucks and every jumping roping sessions.  Simple things in a cruisers paradise.  Swimming or snorkeling was 2-3 hours a day activity to stay cool.  Grocery shopping in San Blas was along side the boat - everything from cucumbers to chicken to gasoline all in one boat at good prices.  So all that resulted in Yen being creative again and making some "Martha Stewart be jealous" pizza.  These were inspired from the pizza at Hebe one night.   The egg plant and pineapple/ham were gourmet delicious and now have become a stable aboard Moonlight.   But on April 20th after a year in Panama, we decided to sail north as the winds were about right for Yen (nothing) and the seas flat as a piece of glass so off we sailed 275 miles to the NW towards Providencia.