A bit more of an update!

Norman Carter
Thu 25 Feb 2010 18:51
We left Cartagena after 3 days and set sail for the San Blas Islands. En route we successfully tried out the parasailor which I had swopped with Jerry from Ralah for a smaller, more easily handled sail.
Approaching San Blas and travelling through the islands should only be done in good light as eyeball navigation is essential.
luckily we managed to pick up The Panama Cruising Guide by Eric Bauhaus which is an essential reference as the paper and electronic charts are very unreliable.
Our first stop was Islas Pinos where we overnighted but shamefully did not go ashore. Next stop was the inhabited island of Mamiputu where I wrongly doubted Bauhaus and created a new route between the islands that we now call "Norms' passage"- I think it wiser that I don't give the waypoints, but thank goodness for the little Kuna indians in their dugouts for showing us safe passage!!
We spent a few days here and it was our first experience of dealing with the Kunas in their dugouts which they handle with such skill. We bought about as much bananas and limes as we could carry.
On Mamiputu we met a Kuna by the name of Pablo who was the only person on the island to speak English, although I did try my hardest to speak some Spanish.
Pablo owned the local hotel which comprised a kitchen, open sided dining area illuminated by one low energy led fed by a car battery fed by a solar panel, and two grass huts, each with a double bed, dodgy mattress and a mud floor. Los banos were two bamboo rooms conveniently poised over the sea! 
Pablo became our guide on the island and took us into the Kuna village to meet the chief and also his familly. There  are over 200 people living in this palm clad village, a high proportion of them children but as Pablo says that with only one led and solar panel between them the only thing to do at night is to make babies.
We did have a supply of sweet lollies on board and after checking with Pablo that it was in order to give them to the kids Norse was visited often!
The Kunas are a fascinating people who do not allow marriage outside of their own community and meet each evening at the Congresso ( like a community hall) to discuss all issues affecting them
They have automy with Panama and are self governing and are very dependent on the land and especially the sea for their economy.They have a growing population and are naive about conservation with the belief that if the white man makes it then it must be safe to throw into the sea hence mucho bolsa de plastico!
Our journey continued through San Blas, we bought lobster from a fisherman in his dugout and barbequed them at anchor at the tiny island of Aridup. Next stop was the Hollandes Quays which are without doubt very beautiful with such changing shades of blues and greens but this area is much more popular with sailors and more crowded.
Next stop was Porvenir wher we were to spend the next 6 days and Adrian was to return home.It was here that many of the Blue Water Rally Yachts were to converge and we were to meet some for the first time and others who we met in Gibraltar.
Time to passage to Shelter Bay, Panama.
I wanted to anchor at a little bay called Green Turtle Bay where there is a partly constructed marina but access to is difficult and work on has stopped!, but there was just too much swell so we cautiously moved on to Playa Damas. It was getting late and although Bauhaus doesn't recommend overnigthing here I thought it prudent to do so. We were the only boat here and after a drink and something to eat we settled to watch the full moon that had been hidden by a heavy curtain of cloud emerge with the evening breeze, illuminating our lonely little yacht with an incandescent glow of moonlight.
Next stop Portobello and that's a  different story