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.


james said...

Amazing underwater shots of the San Blas reefs. Looks like an amazing place!

Larry Knight said...

Hello, this is Larry Knight, the sailor who, together with my fellow crewman James Fahlbusch, initiated the search for the Kuna child with a cleft lip that we had met on a sailing voyage back in September of 2008.

S/V Passat II helped out in the search in March, 2009 by helping in a radio relay of our call for assistance to other boats, and Barrie also pointed out that the initial coordinates I had sent out were inaccurate, which was a big help.

I am happy to report that, finally, in April, 2010, the Kuna child we first met on S/V Electric Leopard, Abdias Velasquez, had his cleft lip surgery in the city of David, Panama, courtesy of Operation Smile. After Heather and Chris on S/V Legacy tracked him to Niadup, James and I arranged pre-operative visits with Operation Smile in Panama on Corazon de Jesús island, and finally got the surgery scheduled. Unfortunately, there was a frustrating two year delay, as two different surgery missions in Panama had to be canceled due to H1N1 flu outbreaks. But, perseverance finally paid off !

Barrie informed me in one of his radio messages that he was a Rotarian, and so it was in his nature to help out in the effort to find this child again.

If you wish to read more about the story, or contribute to more Kuna surgeries, go to the Operation Smile website for him at:

Thanks, Passat II, and to everyone who helped in the radio relay and search - Larry.