Shelter Bay Marina, Colon, Panama 09:22:04N 79:57:04W

Zipadedoda of Dart
David H Kerr
Fri 25 Jan 2008 01:25

We arrived in Shelter Bay Marina late this morning after a very boisterous downwind sail from Portobelo, some 24 nm east of here.  We had spent two nights in Portobelo, after our wonderful experience in The San Blas Islands.  


We had arrived in the San Blas Islands at the official port of entry, Povenir.  This is a hanky sized Island, but has an airstrip and the Customs and Immigration into Panama.




Within minutes of arriving and still waiting to ensure the anchor was well dug in, dugout canoes navigated by expert Kuna Indians appear, and in a very nice way engage in pressure selling Molas, and other paraphernalia. Molas….hmm, well they are embroidered cloth, about 15 to 18 inches square. They have many and varied patterns, but virtually all of them are red and yellow and blue. Some people buy them to make cushion covers, others used them as framed wall hangings whilst the Kuna Indian women dress in them and use them as head gear.





In the Lemon Cays we anchored off one island (of the many) which has wooden model boats, bobbing just of the reef, to indicate where it was safe to anchor. Ashore on this Island was Waily Lodge.




This has some thatched bungalows on stilts and a lodge which doubled as a bar come restaurant come scene of one of our BWR parties. We managed to drink the bar dry. Well actually his total stock of beer cans (the only thing they stock) was 40 tins. At 2 USD each. Well we did have some 35 folks there that night!  The owner was a very happy chappy, at selling his total stock in one night!




Earlier in the day, crew had sampled the delights of hammocks, beer and coco nuts! That is after wriggling her toes in the brilliant white soft sand. Oh and watching the Pelicans diving for fish….took bucket loads of pictures of them, but none as yet in focus!



This Island had electricity and a well. The water was pumped up into a large water tank. Which looked very incongruous on this idyllic little Island. However the reason for this was that none of the other Islands in the Lemon Cays has any fresh water. Some of these islands are tiny with maybe one family living there. So each evening they would load their dugout canoes with all manner of plastic buckets, canisters and jars. These would then be carted ashore and filled to the brim with water, and then loaded into the canoe and then paddled back to the home island. Interestingly it was always women and children who did this work.  Sounds to me like these Kuna blokes have got it well sorted…………………………




We had a stunning sail from Lemon Cays to Portobello. 60nm and one of the fastest passages we have ever done with speeds regularly topping 9 knots.  We had a bit of every thing with a beat to start with (loads of tippy uppy, so crew were less than ecstatic), then a reach then a broad reach (crew now happy) and finally a lovely down wind finish, goose winging on flat water with 25 knots of apparent wind, as we roared passed Drakes Island at the entrance to Portobello, dodging the very nasty reefs.  


Then there was Portobello…..bizarre place, steeped in fascinating  history. More of which anon, as your skipper is cream crackered now and so is going to sign off until tomorrow.