Pictures of the San Blas

Mike and Liz Downing
Mon 25 Jan 2010 01:40
Now we have wifi we can send pictures. These are a few of the San Blas Islands. There are over 300 islands scattered along the coast in groups around cays or reefs. The Kuna Indians live on quite a number of the islands, but mostly those close to the mainland where they get a lot of their food and building material from. Some islands have huts shore to shore, others may just have a few.
The Western Holandes. Our first landfall in the San Blas Islands - anchored in 50+ feet of water, it gets deep very quickly!
 It's thick with palms and uninhabited.
Eastern Holandes. A lovely colour, but very few fish. We think the Kuna Indians must have over fished the area.
In the Holandes group there are about 20 separate islands, all connected by a 7 mile long outer reef.
The colour of the sea was a bit special. You can just see the breakers on the outer reef.
One of the islands close to Porvenir (where we had to check in), with a few inhabitants.
Once behind the islands there is little swell and the sea just has a wind blown chop on it.
Nalunega - one of the fully inhabited islands we anchored close to. If the sea level continues to rise, these
will disappear. One of the punishments issued by Kuna chiefs to wrong doers is to collect dead coral rubble
to increase the height of the islands.
And another inhabited island.
One of the Kunas paddling out to the reef to go fishing.
3 generations of the family (we think). They came alongside to sell molas (fine stitch embroidery, which they
are famous for).  The canoes have to be bailed out at regular intervals.
Paddling away after a successful sale - we bought 2 molas! 
The island of Porvenir and the anchorage in front of it. The white building is the airport! There is a grass
runway behind the trees for prop planes. You cannot anchor in line with the runway as the planes (one
every day or so) come in just above the water before touching down.
The chartplotter showing Porvenir and us (the black boat in the middle) in the anchorage. The charts are out by about
0.1 miles on latitude and 0.25 miles on longitude, so you can use the chartplotter to get you close, but then it's
eyeball navigation. Never like having a reef just behind us!