Isla Banedup, San Blas Islands Panama
February 7-22, 2008
N 09 33'42.4", W 07851'37.0"
We arrived at Chichime Cays on Thursday February 7thafter a nice motor-sail from Isla Linton. We left the Sloths and a couple of new friends behind but I am sure we will return in the weeks ahead. We followed the inside passage and other than carefully navigating around the Escribano Shoals it was an easy 5 hour motor-sail averaging over 7 knots. The kids played games and napped while I chewed my fingernails, this is all still so new. When it was all said and done it was a good passage and our first longer trip on Mima went well.
Sailing into the SanBlas is reminiscent of a scene from a 1940's Hollywood movie. The islands are covered in coconut palms all placed atop white sandy beaches. The indigenous Kuna Indians still live in huts constructed of palm fronds and the primary mode of transportation remains the Cayuco or dugout canoe. Most of the islands are clustered together forming beautiful cays and all are protected inside a large barrier reef providing lovely anchorages protected from the ocean swells but benefiting from the ocean breeze.
We had no sooner arrived, I mean the anchor had barely touched bottom, and we were visited by the local children in a dugout saying hello and welcoming us to Chichime. The fact that we have children aboard quickly delineates us from most of the cruisers and certainly has attracted attention from many of the local kids. We spent 3 days in Chichime snorkeling,walking the islands, playing with the children and getting to know Ceto and his family. I had the privilege of diving with Ceto for lobsters and crab. Well I guess what I should say is Ceto did a lot of diving and I did a lot of watching. He is almost as comfortable underwater as I am above.
After diving it was a pleasure to have Ceto aboard Mima for mid-morning coffee and cookies. Although communication was difficult, Ceto speaks Kuna not Spanish, we consider it a treat to welcome aboard those whose country we are guests in. Ceto provided us with fresh coconuts during our say and later his wife made me a traditional anklet of beads that I now proudly wear.
We moved to the East Lemon Cays for the next week and again enjoyed great snorkeling and scenery. The local Kuna family (Lydia, Anasio, and Florina) have a small tienda and restaurant and bake Kuna bread daily. We found ourselves just enjoying being somewhere and not moving. We had a traditional Kuna lunch of smoked fish and green bananas boiled in coconut milk with Lydia. It was fun to try but we all agree we will stick with our regular food. Fresh bread warm from the oven was great and at 10 baguettes for a $1.00 we treated ourselves daily. We even had a visit from Lisa Harris, the famous transvestite master mola maker, while at anchor and purchased a couple of her molas.
While at the Lemons we finally got our cell phone working again and were able to contact family. It was during this time that I learned my dear friend Gary Skaggs had taken a turn for the worse and I arranged to return to Idaho to see him. The next day I learned my Grandmother (96years old) fell and broke her hip so I will be making a one day trip to Phoenix to see her while back home for a week. Sue and the kids will stay with the boat while I am gone and with all the cruisers around to help out in case something comes up I am sure they will be fine.
We left the Lemons to visit the Holandes Cays and one of the most famous anchorages in the San Blas Islands called "the swimming pool". We had a nice ride and en-route we hooked a 33inch King Mackerel. Our first catch while sailing and a load of fun for all of us as we scrambled around trying to take pictures and land the fish while underway. Upon arriving we anchored in 10 feet of crystal clear water over sand and immediately knew why the name. It was like anchoring in the middle of a great big swimming pool with a light blue bottom. We were immediately surrounded by very large Ocean Triggers and while I was cleaning the Mackerel Marshall noticed a large fish approaching. Upon closer inspection he began yelling "shark, shark". It was indeed a 6 foot nurse shark and as soon as we identified it Amy and I got our mask and snorkel on and Marshall proceeded to bait a hook and try to catch the shark while Amy and I got in fora closer look. It was very cool and Amy has quickly gotten over much of her fear of sharks and I think has a newly found appreciation for them. We explored and snorkeled with Spotted Eagle Rays, Giant Stingrays and tons of cool fish. The coral was beautiful here and we enjoyed four fun days at two anchorages before sailing back to the East Lemons to prepare for my return to Idaho.
We gave the kids a few days off from school while in the Holandes and they will double up on school work while I am gone for 9 days and they are stationary. Sue and I are beginning to feel like we are adjusting to the new lifestyle and pace. The kids continue to struggle with school. The hardest part seems to be the lack of structure they were used to.
We have been without internet for a couple of weeks and I hope to return to the boat with the necessary equipment to get us up on email. We think of you all often and certainly miss the luxury of frequent and easy contact. On the other hand we are learning more about ourselves (some good and some not so good) and each other and remain committed to our time afloat. Thanks for journeying with us and know you remain in our thoughts and prayers.
You live life beyond your PC. So now Windows goes beyond your PC. See how