Sailing Cartagena to El Porvenir with Gypsy Moth

Trip Start Sep 30, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Gypsy Moth

Flag of Panama  ,
Wednesday, November 9, 2011

We got delayed one day, instead of leaving Thursday we had to wait until the Friday. Amy (Gypsy Moth) had had her passport stolen some time back and was still waiting to get one last thing sorted with the Colombian authorities. They informed us a day before we had arranged to meet so we were prepared. So on the Thursday we met up with Sym, the captain of the Gypsy Moth to drop off our passports to get them stamped with the departure stamp from Colombia. We met up at 10am and had a chance to meet with the rest of the "crew", Hannah and James from Australia, Jenn from Ireland and Adam, Angela and Stephanie from the UK. Sym covered a few doubts for the next day and we arranged to meet at 1.30pm on the Friday at the Club Nautico to drop the backpacks so he could run them over to the Gypsy Moth with the small dinghy while we went to the supermarket to get some drinks and snacks. We spent the rest of the Thursday getting seasickness pills, new mosquito spray and changing pesos for dollars which we were going to need to get ourselves from El Porvenir to Panama City.

The Friday we had an early lunch in Cartagena before taking a taxi to Club Nautico to meet with Sym and the rest of the guys. Sym got the backpacks on the boat as we all headed off to get provisions. Plenty of beers, rum and snacks in order to spend our last pesos. Then it was time to see our accommodation for the next 4 nights and to meet Amy and Hallie. Hallie is Syms and Amys baby daughter, she is only 14 months and have lived most of her young life on the Gypsy Moth. They were of course both lovely and we all got about settling in on the Gypsy Moth and taking out only the most necessary things from the big backpacks to store them away to save space. Hannah and James got a double cabin right at the front of the boat. Me and Ramón got the double which is usually the sitting area right next to the kitchen area with Jenn and Stephanie in bunk just across the aisle. Adam and Angela had a small cabin next to the kitchen with two bunks. Amy, Sym and Hallie sleep at the back of the boat. Sym had planned to leave at 4pm however we had to wait for the port authorities to give us the all clear which meant we didn't actually leave until just before 8pm. That gave us plenty of time to get used to the boat and get to know each other a bit. We had dinner before leaving Cartagena, pasta carbonara with chicken instead of bacon. Then with a lot of excitement we sailed out of the Cartagena bay. We arranged that Ramón and I would do the first night watch and then swap with the girls, so Sym could have a rest. This is the usual procedure during the nights at open sea. We went to bed early since we were to be woken up by Sym when he was tired. I was struggling to get used to the movement of the boat and I think I was high on adrenaline to finally be on the boat. I am not sure if I slept much but at 1.50am it was our turn for night watch. I am so happy we got to do this, is it great so experience the sea in full darkness and complete tranquillity. We literally just had to keep an eye out for lights on the ocean that were not showing up on the radar while the autopilot just kept our route. There were several storms all around us and we had some amazing lightening and then it started pouring down with rain and we had the quickly close all the hatches so the other ones didn’t get soaked as they were sleeping. By 2.20am I really needed some sleep so we woke up Jenn and Steph.

The next morning everyone was up fairly early and Amy and Sym had left coffee, tea, cereals, milk and bread for toasting out so everyone could just prepare what they wanted as they got up. Since this was going to be a whole day at sea, we all just put on bikinis and swimming pants and put on plenty of sun lotion. Most of us couldn’t read because of the movement of the boat so we just spent the day chatting and eating. The day we spent at sea we couldn’t swim so it is just hanging around the boat chilling out. For lunch Amy prepared baguettes with ham and salad for the meat eaters and veggie baguette for the non meat eaters. In the evening we had a lovely lentil stew with or without pork and with rice. We realised fairly early that we were doing really well with time and were going to arrive to the San Blas Islands at around 1.00am or 2.00am between Saturday and Sunday, which is way ahead of schedule, especially since we didn’t leave until just before 8.00pm on the Friday. We were all fairly tired since I think that the first night none of us slept that well and we all went to bed early. Around 1.30am we heard Sym putting down the anchor and got up to see what was going on. We had arrived in paradise!

The first day we spent anchored just off some of the outer San Blas islands with just one island with a Kuna family. In the morning we swam over to one of the uninhabited islands to just chill on the sun and snorkel a bit. It was full of starfish on the bottom and the little island was beautiful. There was a reef a short swim away so we had a snorkel around it and saw some fish. In the afternoon we swam over to see the Kunas. Hannah and James saw a dolphin while we were out in the deep water. Maybe it was better I didn’t see it in case I thought it was a shark. The Kunas are indigenous people living in the Kuna Yala region which includes the San Blas Islands. In the Kuna community, each community has a woman as the head person. If a family only has sons, the youngest son will be brought up as a girl and they live their lives as transvestites. That evening we had a lovely veggie curry with roast potatoes and rice. As everyone was feeling a lot better since we were not sailing we had some beers and rum and played some Trivial Pursuit. The next morning we took off again to sail to the more inhabited islands and a sunken ship that we could explore snorkelling. It was amazing, lots of little colourful fish and Adam showed us how too hold our breath and swim down below the surface and then clear the snorkel as we got up. After lunch we moved to another part of the islands with some Kuna families that we could visit and take a stroll around the island, which literally took 10 minutes. The weather started getting worse and we got back on the boat, the plan was to have a bonfire but as the clouds got darker and darker we just stayed on the boat and had a lovely dinner of freshly caught fried fish that Sym bought from the Kuna. Since it was Ramóns birthday, Sym and Amy had prepared a surprise chocolate brownie birthday cake which was so sweet of them! I think he was well surprised! That evening we had to get through the last rum that we had left, which was a lot!! We spent the rainy evening drinking rum and playing Cranium and Poker. James beat us all at poker and was the proud winner of 5 US dollars from each person. We went to bed thinking we still had nearly a whole lovely sunny day in the San Blas on the Gypsy Moth.

I think we were all woken up several time during that night from the storm, it was pouring down with rain and we could see plenty of lightening. We were all hoping it would pass by the morning, this was unfortunately not the case and all our last day was cloudy and grey. We still enjoyed a bit of swimming and Ramón and I went with Sym and Hallie to the El Porvenir island to get our entry stamps for Panama. After lunch the Kunas picked us up in a speedboat and brought us to the mainland. From there we took 4WD jeeps through the jungle to the Interamericana highway and straight to Panama City. We all feel like we have arrived in some strange parallel version of the USA. They even use the US dollar here!!
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annette brondin on

sailing with the Gipsy Moth sounds absolutely fabulous! How much, roughly, did this cost?

emelie78 on

We paid 475usd per person for the sailing which includes everything from the moment you get on the boat. That also includes the exit and entry process for the passports. In Cartagena there isn´t really any extra costs, just a taxi to Club Nautico which costs close to nothing. However in Panama you had to add some costs. They drop you in El Porvenir, from there the Kunas pick you up in the speedboat for 10usd per person, then you have to pay a National Park fee, another 2usd per person. And finally the jeep that takes you to Panama City from where the speedboat drops you costs 30usd per person. To us it was well worth it!! Hope you are well!!

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