Thursday, 23 April 2009

March 20th to April 02, 2009 - San Blas Islands, Panama

After 17 days anchored at Isla Linton we finally got a break in the weather and made the overnight passage to the San Blas Islands (Kuna Yala). The Islands are in Panama, but controlled by the Kuna natives, many who live the traditional lifestyle.

The traditional Kuna either live in family groups on small islands or on a densely populated larger islands. They paddle or sail Cayoucos (canoes) and survive on fish, coconuts and on the sale of molas (native cloth art). The best molas seem to be done by transvestites.

There are a very few towns that have opted for a more western lifestyle, (ie Nargana) with bridges, phone shed, central squares, etc. We are entertained at a tienda (store) by three of the cutest girls. The homes backing on the water have their outhouses on docks over the bay.

Food and fun with the usual suspects. Dave & Linda off SV "Starshine" and Tim & Paula off SV "Hooligan".

World class snorkeling in crystal clear water. We also saw a nurse and reef sharks, but they were camera shy.

Good grief, its a reef!!! We saw many, many wrecks. A constant reminder to be vigilant.

Monday, 13 April 2009

February 27th to March 19th, 2009 - PORTOBELO, ISLA LINTON & ISLA GRANDE

Mike & Cathy joined us from Victoria for 10 days. The original plan was to take them to the San Blas Islands for a snorkeling holiday. We spent most of the time in harbours, waiting for weather. The two times we did short hops we were beaten up by head winds and standing seas.

Waiting for weather activities included rebuilding another bilge pump, installing a foot new foot pump in the head and cleaning the boat`s bottom. Many thanks to Mike for all his help!

After a rough passage, sleep, smoke (for Cathy) and a great meal are the orders of the day.

Portobello is a world heritage site. It was the port the Spanish used to assemble their treasure fleets from Spanish America to Spain. As a fort it was not very successful, having been looted by Drake, Morgan and others. As a result it was rebuilt and expanded several times. You are greeted at the dingy dock by a young man offering to take your garbage and watch your dingy. We later saw him salvage what he wanted and throw the rest in the bay. This is a common practice in some areas. One cannon is sited on Passat II. Whats with that?

Dingy trip up the estuary with Jan (a young German fellow crewing on SV "Starshine"), Mike & Cathy. We also passed by the fort on the other side of the bay.

Sites in town include the museum, a great $3.00 US lunch, bus watching and the "Black Jesus" shrine. Dave, Linda & Jan took in a festival featuring devils that wiped people in short pants. We missed this pleasure.

Linton Anchorage, with Dave cleaning the hull of SV "Starshine". Our first location was so rolly that we had our rocker stoppers out. When we moved to a better location we found a Remora fish attached by its sucker to the bottom of one of the rocker stoppers. We were entertained by three monkeys on the island each pm. You had to be careful as they did bite!