GREEN ISLANDS, SAN BLAS
The San Blas islands are a vast archipelago on the Atlantic Panama eastern coast composed of 340 islands. The area is cut off from any road transport and nearly everything has to come in by boat or small plane.
The area is inhabited by the Kuna Indians, who are physically very small people and have managed to preserve their unique culture and customs. The people are very friendly and it is extremely safe as crime is nearly unheard of. The villages that they live in take up the whole island with small palm thatched huts closely packed together. The men spend their time fishing in dugout canoes or tending their small cultivated patch of land located up the coastal rivers on the mainland; while the women make molas by sewing and cutting different layers of colourful cloth which they wear themselves and sell to the tourists.
We have been in the san Blas islands for 2 weeks now and are beginning to think it is one of the best places we have visited in our circumnavigation to date. The climate is perfect around 28 to 30 degrees with a cool breeze blowing. There are no bugs, as long as you don’t get too close to the mainland, where you can be eaten alive by ‘No-See-Ums’ -a small bug that can get through the mosquito screens.
Behind the coral reefs the seas are calm and there are lots of beautiful anchorages you can go to. A typical one is a small island about a couple of hundred metres long covered with palm trees and surrounded by beautiful white sand. On the windward side there is usually a shallow reef extending about half mile, while on the other side you can anchor the boat in 10 metres of crystal clear blue water. The only thing you have to be mindful of is that the charts aren’t too accurate so it’s best to leave an anchorage around midday when the sun is high so you can easily see the sand bars and coral reefs.
Our time here hasn’t been all sunbathing and swimming – the social life has been rather hectic of late. Firstly the arrival of Voyageur (ex Stella), David and Susan who are doing their second circumnavigation with the World ARC,
When we spent a good week cruising together catching up with all the latest gossip and doing a great deal of partying and just as they left to go through the canal ‘Joule’ arrived from Cartagena to continue our nightly revelry.
Because of all the socialising we are beginning to run out of supplies and there is nowhere to go to restock. We rely on the occasional veggie boats that come randomly to the island. The wine stocks are becoming quite desperate and it looks like we might have to drink that Sri Lankan whisky after all!!
We did have a bit of drama a couple of days ago when we were on route to Snug Harbour in the east of the San Blas. There was a request from a lone female yachtswomen whose engine had broken down and was drifting close to the reef. She said she was unable to sail as there was no wind. As we were only about 4 miles away we went to assist and ended up towing her all the way back to Nargana, from where we had left five hours previously!!