San Blas Islands Part Two. 17 January to 6 February 2019
San Blas Islands Continued
Thursday 17 January 2019 – Coco Banderos just a 4 mile hop, bringing our total mileage since departing Falmouth in August 2016 to 12602. Position: 09o 30.69N, 78o 37.02W
Lady rebel anchored between 3 small islands – Coco Banderos, Olosicuidup and Dupuala, with some other rally boats. An amazing aerial shot by rally boat Gemeaux.
A similar shot forms the cover of the Panama Cruising Guide by Eric Bauhaus, so we were extra keen to visit these particular islands and see if they are as amazing as the book shows. They certainly are! These islands are, sadly, slowly decreasing in size due to erosion.
……..and beautiful white sand sums up these islands! Local’s Transport
Off one of the islands was a small reef where the snorkelling was amazing. Lots of corals and fish.
A wonderful day was rounded off with 17 of us enjoying drinks aboard Lady Rebel, watching the sunset.
Our next destination was East Holandes Cays, an island called Banedup, just a 9 mile motorsail. We weren’t cruising these islands as a group so some boats went to different islands and we met up with others who had visited other islands. The strong winds had built up the seas which was noticeable for the short time we were outside the protection of the reef.
Banedup anchorage was however very well sheltered and absolutely stunning. We were surrounded by lots of other islands and reefs. The water was perfect for daily ‘Noodling’ (exercise with a tube shape floatation device).
Photographs in no particular order; I couldn’t stop clicking away with the camera, it was all so beautiful!
Adix of London arrived into the anchorage, on route to the Panama Canal and New Zealand. The skipper plus 12 crew invited some of the other rally boats for a beach bbq. The two chefs so generously spoilt us with lobster tails, lamb and beef kebabs all in delicious sauces plus lots of beer and wine. It was interesting to hear of their travels; another great night under the stars.
Sailing Yacht Jackster, on the right, not a rally boat but we met them previously in Trinidad!
A dinghy ride to Tiadup Island where just 3 families live, selling fish, coconuts and molas.
Suzie Too Sunday on neighbouring BBQ Island
Isla Porvenir was the next island in the chain for us; a wonderful 17 mile sail, averaging 5.36 knots. We anchored and rushed to check in with customs and immigration before they closed at 12.00 midday for lunch.
Although we’d been in the San Blas for a while, this was the first Island we’d arrived at with check-in facilities. We had been previously informed that this was fine provided we didn’t go to Panama mainland, which we didn’t. Arriving at the offices at 11.45 hrs we could relax, however, we were turned away until 2.00pm and stung for $20 overtime! We also felt we were fleeced by the veg boat, charging us more than he originally priced the items. Having finally checked in after 2pm we had a drink at the ‘hotel’ which appeared not to have any residents, followed by a lovely basic meal of fried fish, rice, beans, coleslaw and a very small amount of lobster, with four other boats.
The veg. man More beautiful Molas for sale
Hand made beaded bracelets wound around the wrist so the beads line up to form an intricate pattern!
Salardup was the fourteenth island in the San Blas we visited including the five by dinghy, where we didn’t anchor Lady Rebel. The anchorage was beautiful. Eleven non Suzie Too rally boats were already anchored here and several more rally boats arrived during the two day run up to Australia Day. Steve, on La Mischief, being Australian had organised fun and games in celebration. Firstly we enjoyed a lengthy, very competitive game of cricket, then some boule and volleyball, rounded off by an obstacle race which basically involved running to a dug-out canoe, kindly loaned by a local Kuna, paddling along the beach, drinking a can of beer, paddling the canoe back and sprinting to the finish line. BBQ and a few drinks made the day even more superb!
Paddling back along the beach Arriving back at beach ready to jump out …..
Marcus heading out to sea. Margy to the rescue. Safely back at the finish line!
And onto Cambombia, just 7 miles away.
Panama mainland in the background Another ideal location for paddle boarding, noodling….
……. swimming and walking
…… and boule (which Ken was very good at).
We chose our dinner that the locals cooked for us, a whole crab each. Some had conch, some had lobster. Delicious. The children, who are normally on the mainland during the week for school, were on holiday and were very proud to sing and dance for us.
1 February 2019 – Cambombia to Banedup, East Lemon Cays.
12 miles, 2.5 hrs, 4.8 knots ave.speed, 1.4 engine hrs. Total Miles: 12658
Position: 09o33.78N, 078o51.6W
I could think of a lot worse things to be doing on our 8 years together anniversary!!
There was a lot of radio communication regarding a German catamaran that had taken on water and was sinking. The skipper had the foresight to beach her on a nearby island. With assistance from many rally boats loaning pumps, generators and physical muscle she was eventually bailed out, re-floated and towed to safety. That evening the owners hosted a ‘thank-you’ party at the Red Roof bar.
The Red Roof bar became our home for the next few days; amazingly we were able to watch the start of the Six Nations Rugby on their small TV! Many rally boats also congregated here for the Superbowl so we caught up with a number of people we’d not seen for a while.
A dinghy trip to one of the neighbouring islands
We’d not had wifi since arriving in the San Blas Islands! This was becoming very frustrating as we had business matters to attend to back home! Fortunately we were able to find phone signal and I was able to talk Mum through accessing my e-mail account and responding to the urgent matters.
Noodling and paddleboarding was part of the daily routine, plus dinghy trips to explore nearby islands including snorkelling a wreck on Dog Island. We did have to find time to polish (filter) our diesel (Ken had built a mobile polishing system) as some dirt in one of the fuel tanks had blocked the uptake and stalled the engine. Not great at the best of times!!
Chichime, in the East Lemon Cays, was the last island we were to visit in the San Blas chain; a 3 mile motor, making 20 islands in total, including those by dinghy. After diving on the anchor to ensure it was holding well we congregated on rally boat Deep Blue to eat the fresh Snapper they had caught that day.
Wednesday 6 February – We made the decision to depart the San Blas Islands two days earlier than planned due to high winds and large seas forecast to come in. A quick walk ashore the following morning, an afternoon of boat preparation and we were ready for our 76 miles overnight passage to our next exciting destination: Shelter Bay Marina, Colon, mainland PANAMA!