Grand Cayman and
San Blas islands, Panama
weeks in England, having
medical checks (boring) and seeing friends and family (fun) were enough and
flying back to Grand Cayman and to Snow
Leopard was like coming home! A big thank you to Kate and Peter, Mike and
Martine, and Bosh and Liz for looking after us in the UK. Once back in Cayman, a few
glasses of white wine and a chat with Nicole sent us happy to bed on Snow
next few days were occupied with a mix of bottom cleaning (the boat’s),
which had grown a veritable garden in our absence, and socialising. We were
invited to The Cayman Sailing Club, a great barbeque with Judy, Cati and Adella
(lovely to see them again having met up first in Grenada) and had splendid lunch and
dinner with Candy and Simon in their beautiful house overlooking the North
Sound. Thank you to you all for making us so welcome, but especially to Pam and
Nicole. You were both simply wonderful and we will always have such great
memories of you both and hope to meet up again soon.
Pam, plus three most important components – cigarette,
G&T and phone!
Nicole, our delightful host on Grand Cayman
sail from Grand Cayman to Isla Porvenir was
600 miles and took almost exactly 72 hours. There was a big swell on the beam
combined with a cross sea on top, which made for a pretty uncomfortable trip
with a great deal of banging and crashing.
The San Blas archipelago
arrived in the San Blas archipelago and anchored in the lagoon by Chichime Island. Again, what a contrast to Grand Cayman. Tiny islands covered with palm trees with
the only inhabitants being the local Kuna Indians, paddling around in the
dugout canoes, ‘ulas’. This was more my image of the Pacific and
like nowhere else in the Caribbean. The Kunas,
an indigenous tribe, organised a quiet revolution against the Panamanian
government some 25 years ago and now run their region, Kuna Yala as a semi
autonomous state within Panama
with their own rules and customs. They care passionately about their environment
and are enormously proud of their land and unique culture which they defend
strongly against any undue outside influence.
hadn’t expected to see so many boats in the San Blas. We had 16 in the
Chichime anchorage and over 20 in the east Holandes Cays. The other surprise
was the length of time people spend here. We met Americans and Canadians who
have spent up to 12 years in the San Blas, and in the East Lemmon Cays was an
Italian community of 9 boats which all seemed to have spent many years in this
area. Lovely as the islands are, they are all effectively the same tiny
palm-tree covered islets with the occasional Kuna family living on a few of
them. Undoubtedly one could continue to find new anchorages amongst the reefs
and islands, but I’d get board very quickly.
The blue flag (RSYC this time) still flying high, in San Blas, Panama
Kuna islander starting construction of a new dugout
have had a bit of a disaster – the fridge has packed up. It’s bad
enough not being able to keep any meat or fish fresh, but what about cold beers
and ice for the G&Ts?
were about to set off for Colon, about 70 miles away, to find a fridge engineer
when we heard from one Canadian yacht that there was a very goon Italian Fridge
engineer living on his yacht currently about 4 miles away in East Lemmon Cays.
We jumped in the dinghy and hammered across to see him, but only after putting
in a couple of waypoints into the hand-held GPS so that we would not run into
the reefs en route. Piero was not going anywhere and was happy to look at the
fridge and to help deal with the problem, so we dinghied back to Snow Leopard
in Chichime, up-anchored and drove round to anchor next to Piero in Lemmon
after the initial examination was not confident. No refrigerant gas and oil leaking
from the pipes as well. He re-gassed the system and it started to immediately
cool down, but as soon as he stopped the gas leaked away. We obviously had a
big crack in the system which was going to require a new evaporator plate. A
quick satellite call to Tony in the UK (he is joining us in a couple of
weeks) and he is on the case getting the necessary replacement parts. So now we
just have to live with no fridge for the next couple of weeks – it is
amazing how quickly you can get used to warm beer. The San Blas islands are not
the most convenient place to be without a fridge as there is really nowhere to
buy fresh meat and you grab fruit and vegetables whenever they are available
– sometimes from a passing Indian canoe or sometimes from one of the
extraordinary villages that cover entire islands, with houses overlapping into
Carti Islands – overcrowding!
writing this at the ‘swimming pool’ anchorage in the eastern
Holandes cays, whilst it is pouring with rain as it has been doing all day. So
it rains in paradise - at least its warm rain.