Monday, July 25, 2011

San Blas, Panama, Snug Harbour N 09.19.600 W 078.15.130 to Porvanir N09.33.462 W 078.57.022 Feb 27 – April 17

What can we say about Snug Harbour we haven’t already said?  At the risk of repeating ourselves, it is simply our favorite stop in the San Blas.  Besides being isolated and providing a quiet safe anchorage it is one of the prettiest spots on earth. 

We were somewhat surprised, however, to find 8 boats in ‘our’ anchorage.  When last we visited we were the only boat…so much for progress.  We rested up before heading to Porvanir to pick up our friends and guests Tom and Jane from Vancouver. 

En-route to Porvanir we stopped at the small island of Cambobia.  This was our first time here and just when we thought it was a perfect day we learned that “Murphy” was riding along with us.  We had had a perfect sail from Snug Harbour and when getting ready to transit the channel into Cambobia we turned our engine on and it sounded like someone had thrown a bucket of bolts into it.  We soon discovered we had smoke and sparks flying from the engine alternator and so shut down the engine and sailed into the bay.  We were met by our good friends Aaron and Lyla from Sv Blow Me Away and new friends Jim and Betsy on their beautiful Mv Two By Sea.  We had a fun couple of days with them while I tore off the alternator and readied it for shipping to our friend Roger in Panama City.  Roger is the ex-Manager for the Panama Yacht club or should I say the former Panama Yacht club.  Roger speaks excellent English and lives in Panama City and is a cruisers best friend.

En-route to Porvanir we stopped at the East Lemons and heard our friends John and Marie-Andree on the radio calling us.  They were in the West Lemons, only three miles away,  and had traveled all the way from Cuba to re-united with us after our first fun meeting with them a year ago.  They came by dingy to see us and it was a fun reunion as we planned the next two weeks to buddy boat with them thru the islands.

John and Marie-Andre Sv Sete Mares

Finally the day we had been looking for arrived when our friends Tom and Jane flew into Porvanir.  They are good friends from Vancouver and as it is with good friends it’s like you were never apart.  We were looking forward to spending a couple of weeks with them getting caught up.

Tom & Jane arrive Porvanir San Blas

We immediately departed for ‘the pool’…otherwise known as Eastern Hollandaise…by either name it is a very neat place.  Actually, we anchored just outside the pool in the ‘burbs’, designated so because it is just outside the ‘bar’ of the pool…you have to be there to get all the geopolitical positioning just so, but needless to say it is a fun spot on the outer islands of the San Blas just inside a beautiful stretch of reef that is home to some of the larger variety of ‘take out’ fish…angel, trigger, grouper, snapper, hogfish, shark…the list goes on and on…and it’s not too hard to invite a nice 20 pounder home for dinner…yummy.

We enjoyed a few days here and Tom and Jane used our new two person kayak…action took it on its maiden voyage around the island and had a blast.  

Tom & Jane Kayaking

We were still in company with John and Marie Andree and their beautiful 65’ Cat Sete Mares.  

The beautiful S/v Sete Mares (laundry day?)
We had the unexpected pleasure of hearing a little girl voice calling from a boat name ‘Guppy’ on the Radio calling for directions thru the reef and anchorage.  I’m not kidding when I say it sounded like a little girl…it was a little girl. Her name is Laura Dekker, and altho her voice sounds like she is about 10 she is actually 15 and sailing single handed around the world.  She is from Holland and you can read up about her travels by going to

Laura is an amazing example of what a young mind and spirit can accomplish. 

Marie-Andre, Tom, Laura Dekker, Gary & Kaija
It was determined that a party was in order to celebrate this young lady’s tremendous achievement and so without much ado, a party was had.  It was a great time with all the cruisers in the pool, the hottub, the burbs, and many of the surrounding anchorages within miles joining in the fun.  Everyone brought a dish and we raised enough money to outfit Laura in a beautiful Mola made right there on the island.  

Cruiser/Kuna Party for Laura Dekker

We left the following day for Nargana which is one of the larger Kuna village towns on the mainland.  It is a good place to provision, buy diesel and gas and even has an airport.  During our visit they had a festival and killed and slaughtered three big bulls to feed the crowds.  

Tom & Jane, John & Marie-Andre
 One of the locals named Fredrico was in charge of killing the bulls.  Fredrico is also the local launderer so it wouldn’t’ take long before he was cleaned up and ready to party.  However, unfortunately for Kaija he was ‘into the cups’ in his blood spattered gear and feeling somewhat amorous and took quite a shine to Kaija who wanted no part of ‘what he was offering in his blood spattered duds.  However, it was all quite innocent and fun to watch his advances being rebuffed by Kaija who couldn’t get away quite fast enough.   

Fredrico & Kaija

The final exciting episode happened during our departure from the Nargana anchorage.  Gary was slightly distracted talking with Jane and Tom and wasn’t paying attention to his ‘track’ leading us safely out of the anchorage and all of a sudden KaijaSong came to a rather sudden stop…atop an outcropping of coral.  Despite best efforts, KS was stuck and our good friends on Sete Mares very carefully nudged up close enough to catch a line and pull us off.  The moral of the story is…even in safe protected waters…PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR DRIVING CAPTAIN!... so nothing damaged except the captain’s pride…OUCH!

We stopped next in the West Lemons which was one of my favorite stops.  I say was, because three years ago Doc and I spent 6 weeks here, the only sailboat in the bay and had a wonderful time getting to know a local Kuna who was the island keeper and his two dogs.  His name was Augusto and for those of you who have been following our blog you’ll remember he made some of the best sour dough bread I ever tasted.  Along with his two dogs Kimba and Negrita, Doc and I would join Augusto each morning with a fresh carafe of hot coffee, peanut butter and strawberry preserves (Augusto’s favorite) and he would bring the bread.  He spoke no English, I spoke no Kuna, but we had a great time teaching each other a few essential words.  I tell this sadly now as only shortly before we arrived in the West Lemons Augusto passed away leaving his two sweet pups, Kimba and Negrita as orphans.  Doc and I visited with them daily, keeping them fed and groomed and trying to spread the word amongst the other cruisers of the need to help them.  We will miss Augusto but we look forward to Kimba and Negritta on our return.

Kimba & Negritta

It’s amazing how fast time flies when you are having fun and before we knew it we were saying goodbye to John and Marie-Andree and their beautiful Catamaran as they departed for Colon to provision for the Panama Canal Transit into the South Pacific and beyond.  Then we were sailing back into Porvanir and dropping Tom and Jane off at the airport as they continued the adventure heading to Bocas on the west side of Panama for some surfing and Spanish lessons and into Costa Rica to a Kite Surfing camp….oh the joys of youth…well their not kids..They are high energy.  We sure enjoyed having them aboard and missed them greatly when they left.

Jane & Tom Bakker

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