On the 12th of May and after a month of preparations on the Captiva, and a year in the making, we sailed out of Bocas Del Toro with 6 passengers on board. James and John friends that we met at Deep Blue Divers in Honduras travelled and changed plans so they could join us on our first voyage. Mike and his brother James from Houston booked from Bocas along with Siani, James’s girlfriend from Costa Rica. Rounding off the seven was Beth from Essex and Yoni the Israeli commando.
Day 1 took us about 50 miles east to two very remote islands known as the Escudas. These islands were out first taste of paradise before the San Blas, and we were greeted with an amazing anchorage surrounded by flower pots that had been detached all along the reefs coastline. The snorkeling in and out of these channels and vegetated areas they create was a new experience for everyone.
During the next day the boys went in search of coconuts, a few crabs were speared and a few fish missed, the crew got some rest in the afternoon to prepare for our first overnight passage to the port town of Portobello.
As daunting an experience as it seems on your first passage, Jeremy guided us through getting comfortable with the boat, and we took our turns on watch to sail her through the darkness, light by the moon, and guided by the compass. After a few sleep deprived hours it was an amazing experience to be at the helm and watch the sunrise whilst passing the Caribbean entry to the Panama Canal. When passing container ships………………… an 80 footer doesn’t seem that big!!
After a couple of nights getting to the much talked about San Blas Islands it was hard to wonder if they could actually be as good as what everyone says. Have a look at the pictures and make up your own mind.
The 340 San Blas Islands are home to the indigenous Kuna Indians. It’s well known that the Kuna Indians have been able to best preserve their culture out of any of the tribes in the entire Americas, although living within Panama the government gives them total autonomy in their way of life and governance of the islands.
They trade mostly to cruisers with all kinds of seafood and coconuts, a large lobster that would fetch $150 on a plate in a Sydney restaurant can be grabbed for as much as $5, and often you can pick up a dozen for $20 – $25.
Each of the small islands typically have a family or two occupying them and we are starting to meet the families near the anchorages we will continue to visit. We have had a few beers with the younger lads that bring the seafood to the boats, and on the way back we will be stopping in to a family that have asked for some supplies during our return.
On our first night in the San Blas we had a chance meeting with Capitan Felipe, those that know Phil will be pleased to hear he is living the dream, and has been operating a 55 Beneteau through the San Blas for the last 6 months, with a game plan to get his own vessel in the not too distant future. We were able to team up on board Captiva and his guests helped us put a dent in our cash bar, great to catch up in paradise Phil, see you soon!
After 3 nights in paradise, swimming with dolphins, overdosing on lobsters, night fishing, bonfire explosions and extended hammock time for our guys we pulled the anchor on the afternoon of the 8th day to set off for Colombian waters. The GPS showed us 170nm and a sailing time of around 24hrs. After dinner was served Carls relieved Jeremy and sailed us off into the night for her 6 hour shift until 2am.
After a night in the Rosarios to clear the cobwebs we sailed again into the entry of the Cartagena harbour, greeted by dolphins on our bow wave for about half an hour I spotted a monster of a military submarine 500m from us leaving the entrance we were navigating to, not the first expected ship to see entering the harbor.
Now in Cartagena Columbia the South of America definitely has a different flavor all together. We have about 3 weeks here then restock, fuel up and get to do it all again,
We hope you enjoy the pics as much as we enjoyed taking them.