Baja Mexico, Panama Canal, San Blas Islands Panama, Columbia, Aruba, Trinidad
We left San Carlos, Mexico in the Sea of Cortez bound for Trinidad in May. Tim the owner, Dan, Greg and myself were starting yet another adventure. Tim was a great owner to have on board.
He was very mechanical and easy going. Dan and Greg made some terrific meals and I lost a few pounds. We started in winds directly on the nose and had to tack our way out of this body of water. We stopped in Cabo for a few parts, then went on down the coast of Mexico stopping in Acapulco and Huatulco. The winds were in our favor after Cabo. We made it across the Bay of Tehuantepec and Papagayou without incident and stopped briefly in Costa Rico. We wanted to keep moving so we could spend more time in San Blas.
We arrived in Panama, provisioned, did some repairs, bought parts, transited the canal, etc. I have wanted to visit the San Blas islands for many years. We left Colon and stopped briefly in Portobello and then onto San Blas. San Blas is a collection of several hundred islands about 70 miles from Colon, Panama. It is reminiscent of what we imagine the South Pacific was like a century ago. The homes are primitive, life is simple, people are very nice, no cars or motorscooters, few outboards. Many beautiful anchorages, islands, sandy beaches, unique photo opportunities, seafood, etc. The people have their own stories to tell. We had a guide who was very colorful and it would take a chapter to tell his story. The first island we went to is the most populated and it is small and somewhat crowded. It is the only island near an airport so this is where they make their income from the tourists. The runway is a grass field very short and scary. The other islands have very few homes and few people.
The boats are primarily dugout canoes and a few have sails. There are some islands that you can visit and live in a sort of hostel for a week or more in a communal sort of living. It is all very rustic, and simple. No Holiday Inns or McDonalds on these islands. We left San Blas and went to Columbia for a few hours for some fuel and supplies. This country is a mix of wealth and poverty. It seemed to me that in the brief time I was there everyone was trying to hustle us in some way or another. We had a few things stolen.
We then turned east and into the true trade winds. There is no way to get to Trinidad from Panama without going to windward. From the time we rounded Columbia to Trinidad we had 15-30 knot winds on the nose. We motor sailed into 6 – 8′ seas for 8 days. We stopped in Aruba which was a big change hotels, casinos, restaurants, etc. When we arrived in Trinidad we were all a bit tired and ready for a long rest. Tim’s wife met him there and they eventually sailed north to the BVI. The rest of us flew home.