Exilded to a Perfect Paradise
Trip Start Jul 31, 2009
86Trip End Feb 27, 2010
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Panama City to San Blas
We woke up before dawn and started loading all our gear into the jeeps which were taking us to the port where we would board our yacht. We had been to the supermarket the night before to buy food and alcohol. All together there were over 312 cans of beer and 28L of spirits, far too much piss to fit into the two jeeps they had supplied us with. The drivers called for back up and we had to wait another hour for a ute to arrive so we could load it up with the rest of our supplies. On the way we stopped at a supermarket and decided to be safe we would buy another 144 beers.
Not long after leaving the supermarket we turned down a dirt track and our convey of three jeeps and one ute (the third jeep was for another crew who had only six beers between them) spent the next few hours cruising through the jungle roads, going up and down mountains and driving through rivers
I thought the jeeps would take us all the way to the port, but instead they dropped us in the jungle by a river. We loaded our bags, the food, 28L of spirits and 456 beers into a giant canoe and drifted down the river. The river was brown and on both sides we were surrounded by jungle. All of a sudden we left the jungle and the water turned blue as we entered open sea. We rowed past some islands and up to a boat where our Captain greeted us with a smile. His smile disappeared when we took off the canoe’s protective tarp and revealed our infinite supply of alcohol.
We passed everything onboard before climbing up to meet the Captain and his first mate. Now I will introduce the crew. Including the Captain and his first mate there were ten of us. First there was Brad, a Canadian who was recovering from a freshly broken heart. Then there was Kealan, and Irish lad who loved Lead Zeppelin and would commonly fall asleep on any ground surface, regardless of how uncomfortable. Kealan was going out with Carol, an Irish lass who would party all night and hibernate all day. Then there were three Irish amigas who were travelling together. Amy who had a healthy addiction to swimming but an unhealthy addiction to Chitoes (those little cheese ball chips). Martha who mixed her Irish accent with an interesting way of emphasising words to make her a fantastic person to listen to. And Ruby who often enjoyed reading other peoples books instead of socialising but was great fun when she put the book down. Then there was Nigel an Australian bloke who knew everything about everything but wasn’t annoying (as most know –it-alls are) and of course Jasper, and Australian senior who was the only person on the boat comfortable with skinny dipping, and who had spent the last two months on a rapid pace through Latin America and was looking forward to five days of no responsibility, and sailing through paradise.
Immediately after the initial ‘’get to know you’’ meeting with the captain the entire crew could tell he was a complete toss. All I remember him saying was that he was the boss, we had to listen to him, and that we had to go easy on the beer drinking. I also remember him being a disgusting perv and that he said something about the water tank being only one quarter full. Lazy sod. Who takes an overcrowded boat on a five day sailing trip with only a quarter of the water tank full. He also had on board another paying customer, Wayne, who was doubling as a first mate (I think the first mate wanted to start up his own sailing company). Wayne was a slime ball. The kind of greasy bastard you would never trust with anything. We didn’t know this at first, all we could tell was that he was a perv, but we still decided to give him a chance. Even though none of us liked the captain, we decided we would give him a chance as well, we were judging very hastily and would be stuck on the boat with this guy for the next five days so the better we got on, the better journey we were likely to have.
With the sun on our skin and the wind in our hair we took off. All of us were disappointed to see that instead of sailing the boat (which the advert said would happen) the captain just turned on the motor and put boat on auto-pilot. He said we would sail later and we didn’t kick up a fuss. At that moment we were just so happy to be on the boat with a cool group of people and over 400 beers at our disposal.
The beers were all warm and we wanted to put some in the fridge but the Captain and his mate said the fridge was full of food so we couldn’t put any beer in it. It looked like we had five days of warm Balboa and Atlas (Panamanian Beers) ahead of us. We did our best to keep the beer cold by putting it in the part under the boat that water comes through. I don’t know why there is a part in the boat, Nigel (the 38 year old Australian in the crew) would know. For lunch we had tuna sandwiches, I was expecting a lot of seafood seeing as we were sailing, but five days later I would be disappointed when I realised this canned tuna was the only seafood I would eat.
By the time we reached our first destination we were all pretty drunk. It had only been a few hours of sailing but we had created a decent pile of empty cans. This stop off was the first of the San Blas Islands. The San Blas Islands were little islands spread along the rout through the Caribbean from Panama to Columbia. Each Island was tiny, the kind of island that is made of sand and if you stand on one side you can already see the other side. The only vegetation on these islands were patches of dry grass and palm trees. The only produce, coconuts and sole inhabitants, the Kuna people. I will get more into the people later.
On our first day at sea we went to the most populated of the San Blas Islands. The first Island was the immigration point. This meant it was where the Captain had to board the yacht’s dingy and motor it to the island to get our passports stamped. He took a few of the Irish girls and the other Aussie with him. I didn’t realise it until now, but I had always dreamt of jumping off a boat and swimming to a desert island, so I dived in. The water was beautiful, not too warm, not too cold, crystal clear and calm. After sitting in the sun for so long it was just the refreshment I needed. A moment later Kealan, the Irishman who was happy to sleep on any surface jumped in. We were drunk but not drunk enough, so before Brad, the heartbroken Canadian dived in we asked him to throw in some beers. There were three beers he threw into the sea before diving in himself. We splashed around and tried to drink our beers, but I think before we finished them we accidentally dunked them under the water so they were all salty. We still tried to drink them but with 400 fresh beers at our disposal it didn’t seem worth it. Instead we asked Amy, the cheeto addicted Irish las who was still sunbathing to throw in some more. She threw in four more beers before jumping in. At this point the Captain still hadn’t made off with our passports to the island so he threw us in a boogy board which acted as a floating bar. The four of us held onto the board and had a skulling competition. We were now out of beer again so screamed out to Wayne, the seedy first mate, to throw in some more beer. With fresh beers in our hands we decided to try and make our way to the island. Being drunk and holding a beer in ones hand is a difficult way to swim and even though it was only a few hundred meters (if that), it took us a long time to reach the shore. Kealan and I were the slowest and when we got closer to the sure we split up. I took the board over to try and catch a 15cm high wave over the coral and into shore while Kealan just swam directly to the sandy beach. I was kicking over the coral when I yelled “Fucking Shit Fuck” and two of my toes collided with a sea urchin and took off a whole lot of spines. It hurt like the broken heart of a Canadian. Carefully I swam the last few meters to shore. As soon as I reached dry land I forgot all about the boogy board I had ridden and the empty beer cans I was holding, all I could think about was laying on the sand and examining my throbbing toes. My big toe and the toe next to it had more little spines dug into them than I could count. And it hurt so much. Brad, the Canadian with a pained heart leant me his knife and I tried to get the prickles out. It was no use, as soon as I touched them they began to brake. It hurt so much that I figured I had been injured to such an extent that the rest of my five days in the Caribbean would be hindered. Somehow Amy, Brad and Ruby made it to shore without a scratch (or maybe a tiny one. Kealan however stood right on one of the little bastards and ended up getting more prickles than me. We lay on the beach howling in pain for the next hour or so, then Amy and I swam back to the boat.
Once back at the boat I remembered about the boogie board. I scanned the shoreline but saw nothing except Ruby who was no longer reading, but paying a Kuna (one of the native islanders) to row her back to shore in a canoe. Somewhere in the distance I could also see Kealan and Brad wandering the beach, also searching uselessly for the board.
When the Captain and the rest of the crew came back on the dingy with freshly stamped exit passports, I chose to keep the lost boogie board a secret. But that rat first mate dobbed me in for letting it drift away. What a scum bag. What’s worse, the other two blokes joined forces and pitched all the blame for loosing the board on me, proper ass holes. The Captain now had his most hated crew member, who would remain the most hated for at least the next 24 hours, and up there in the three most hated for the rest of the trip. Because he was such a jackass I took pleasure in causing him this pain. Still, I felt a little bad about losing his board and promised to buy him a new one when we got to Columbia. I would have much rather spent $5 on a new board than go fishing around the sea for the lost one, but the Captain had a power trip and insisted we had to go look for it. With Nigel, who unsurprisingly knew how to work a motor boat, and that prick of a person Wayne (trying to win me back by helping me search moments after he ratted me out) I cruised around the ocean looking for the board. We asked at the island but no one knew anything about it.
That night we took the motor boat over to another of the islands. This was the most populated of all the San Blas Islands. Every square inch was taken up by a little village that the Kunas had built. The village was made of sand paths and palm huts. A few minutes after arriving on the island a Kuna came up to me and mimed the image of a boogie board. I nodded and he ran into his hut returning a few seconds later with the board. He sold it back to me for $3, bargain.
With the boogie board crisis over I explored the island (this took all of five minutes) then sat on the jetty and drank beers with the rest of the crew and some of the locals. The water looked stunning and Martha with the cool way of talking jumped in and went for a swim. After a good session of swimming she noticed something brown floating past. Her heart started beating pretty fast as she swam up to examine it. Her heart sank when she saw it was a floating turd. A long and solid poo. We then realised that all the little jetties that lead off the island and had little rooms at their end were actually huts with holes in the bottom for going to the toilet. The waste plopped right into the sea and would float past whichever screaming Irish tourist was swimming in the water and then continue out into the sea. I should let it be known that there were not many tourists on any of the San Blas Islands we visited. Only us eight backpackers. For reason unbeknown to me, the Islands remain untouched paradises. They are never visited by cruise ships, have no hotels or resorts, and simply ignored by most of the world. The only visitors they receive are backpackers who decided to sail from Panama to Columbia or just whoever else has their own yacht and happens to be in the area.
Even with poo in the water, the island jetty was a perfect and very surreal place to sit and drink. The Captain seemed to take a shining to Brad and asked if Brad could help him take a drum of gasoline he had bought off the locals back to the boat (he was such a retard he had not filled up with gasoline before we left). Brad felt he had no choice but to agree. While we sat and drank with Kuna’s on an island, the poor fool was dragged back to the boat where he would spend the night keeping the captain company. None of us had ever been anywhere like this fantastic place before, a tiny island covered by a little village crowded with indigenous people who lived by their own laws. The vibe quickly died for some reason an hour after the sun went down and we all wanted to get back to the boat.
The Captain had taken the motor dingy back to the yacht so the rest of us paid a Kuna a couple of dollars to take us back in his canoe. On the trip back Carol, the Irish girl who slept all day and partied all night, started freaking out about the canoe capsizing (fair enough because she could not swim). To calm her down the other Irish lass’s started singing Irish folk songs with her. At this point I am going to have to stop using the word surreal. The entire San Blas experience was surreal, each and every moment I could have looked around (an often did) and say “I never could have imagined I would be here experiencing this”. So whenever you read any part of this blog, imagine me looking around in amazement at where I was. For example, a Kuna was canoeing me along in pitch black darkness through the Caribbean while I listened to three Irish girls singing folk songs together. Eventually they had to be a little quiet so I could yell out into the surrounding blackness, a few moments later a call came back and we worked out in which direction the boat was.
We got back to see that Brad was cheerily helping the Captain cook up the mince and pasta we had bought the night before at the supermarket. Even though his heart was crushed, Brad was a really cheery guy for the entire trip and at no point brang the mood down. Ruby had decided to stay on the boat and read her book while the rest of us went to the island. By the time we returned her eyes must have got tired so she also helped out with the dinner, a little bit. Dinner was eaten on deck under the stars and was delicious, especially the nicely chopped capsicums (Brad’s contribution to the dinner). Canadians sure know how to chop capsicum (or pepper as the rest of the world knows it as).
Martha, bless her, went down under the deck to wash the dishes. What a nice gesture to help out the Captain. We herd the unmistakable crash of a plate breaking. No one was worried, we all knew there were plenty of other plates and that the mess would be easy to clean. All of us except the Captain. All he knew was how to be a miserable sack of tiny, smelly balls and not make friends. He growled down into the cabin in a mean and cutting way, I would never bother remembering his exact words, but it was something about how we were nothing but trouble and he didn’t want our help. From here on he will be referred to as Fucktard instead of Captain. This was also the point that he had his first strike in Nigel’s book, and if you reach three strikes in Nigel’s books you are most likely a loser. Nigel is an extremely nice Aussie who seems like he has experienced a lot in his 38 years of life, and knows a wanker when he sees one.
Later than night Nigel approached Fucktard and told him he should not speak to the girls, or anyone, the way he did. Fucktard just told Nigel to get out of his face. That was strike two.
Half the crew dispersed down below to their bunks and the other half remained on deck with Fucktrad. Upset by how cruelly Fucktard had spoken to Martha, Carol decided to have some sweet revenge. She began by asking Fucktard about family and girlfriends, he apparently had a 16 year old girlfriend in Columbia. He wanted to show us pictures but we managed to stop him before he could. The conversation quickly turned to prostitutes and that conversation quickly turned into Carol blatantly insulting Fucktard about being a paedophile.
Then it got awquard, the rest of us still on deck remained silent but Carol didn’t let up on the well deserved insults. A short time later at about 10:00pm Fucktard decided he had fallen too far into Carols trap and that he was sick of being insulted. He said it was his bedtime and therefore bedtime for the entire crew. He had given us a curfew! We were eight backpackers on a sailing boat we had paid $450 each to be on, and lets not forget all that beer we still had to drink, there was no way we were going to bed. Instead we moved up to the front deck of the boat, it might be called the stern I’m not sure, damn, where’s Nigel when you need him.
Up on the front deck we plugged an ipod into the little battery operated speakers the girls had brought with them from Ireland. We didn’t dance much, just sat and talked shit under the stars. Already, after less than a week of knowing each other everyone had become such close friends, and after only a few days of knowing the crew, I felt like I had found a group of people I could definitely say were the kind of people I would be great mates with if I met them back home. It is not something I have experienced much of while travelling. No offence to all the other fantastic people I had met. But everyone in the crew just got on so naturally. I never even had the “where you from, where you going, and how long are you travelling for” conversation that comes up with most backpackers I meet. It wasn’t until a few days into the boat trip that I found out Brad was from Canada!
After a few hours of partying up on deck Fucktard came out and told us to be quite because he “had to get his REM sleep”, something to do with needing to be well rested for the next day of sailing. Respecting that fact we turned off the music but continued talking, it was only midnight (two hours after curfew) and we still had a lot of party left in us.
Even though the conversation was flowing, the sound of stillness all around was a little unexciting. The ocean is quiet at night, a little to quiet. Such sounds blend perfectly with Daft Punk. So, as you can imagine, all of a sudden we were dancing drunk around the front deck again to all our favourite party tunes. The stars were shooting and the beer was flowing/spilling. A few of us put life jackets on in case we fell overboard. Others used the life jackets as seats of pillows as we relaxed amongst the party.
First mate Wayne was still sitting around drinking our beer and partying with us at this point. As far as we knew he was still ok, we didn’t mind too much he was drinking our beers, and his company wasn’t entirely worthless. He was just a rat. After the Captain got up for the second time and demanded we turn off Daft Punk, First Mate Wayne went to bed.
Again we talked and watched the shooting stars and phosphorescent molecules flash in the water. To our delight, and the captains disgust, the music came back on. We decided not to dance anymore, the vibrations of our feet kept waking up Fucktard, instead we put on some sing-a-long songs and belted out a bit of this, a bit ofVelvet Underground and a bit of that. It must have been around 3:00am when Fucktard stomped out of bed and demanded we go to sleep. I offered him my ear plugs, he pretended not to hear me. If he couldn’t hear me right next to him, how could he hear me on the other side of the boat. I still held the title of most hated crew member.
Brad, tired from chopping the capsicum, went to bed and now it was just Carol & Kealan (the only couple on the boat) Martha with the great way of speaking and myself. We didn’t have music so we had to sing instead. Before he went to bed Brad gave us a much applauded version of the Canadian National Anthem. The three Irish sang some truly beautiful traditional Irish songs and they threw their heart into it. They had great voices and it was a pleasure to here them sing, especially because they all knew all the words and would join in with each other at particular spots in the song. Hearing them reminded me of the crowds around the campfire at Glastonbury and T in the Park. Although I am embarrassingly bad, I am no stranger to singing out loud, but after witnessing all the fantastic singing all I could muster was a quick rendition of Give me a home among the gum trees.
Was it my awful singing, or the fact that Carol and Martha could not for the life of them talk in whispers that caused Fucktard to get up and rouse on us again. I’ll never know the answer, but I do know that he is a wanker. He couldn’t possibly expect a boat full of backpackers to be in bed by 10:00pm every night (or 5:00am for that matter). He said something like “For Gods sake shut up”. If only he had used ear plugs, he wouldn’t have had to get up and interrupt us at 5:00am.
True to his style, Kealan had passed out on the deck and now it was just Martha, Carol and myself. The sun was beginning to rise and spread it’s orange and red rays through the clouds while simultaneously turning the water pink. It was beautiful and Martha and I couldn’t help throwing ourselves into the sea.
Enjoying a Caribbean sunrise while floating naked in the pink sea with a fantastic person by your side after an intimate all nighter on a yacht surrounded by beautiful little islands is an amazing and unforgettable experience that I can not recommend enough. I just found myself thinking, where on earth would I rather be right now? And there is no one I know who would not be wriggling with jealousy if they saw me right now.
In a drunken state Carol tried to steal the motor boat and zip off to one of the nearby islands to buy some ice so we could cool our beers. Fucktard woke up for about the fifth time in the last 12 hours and made an angry fuss about Carol sitting in the dingy before she got out and he took it away and tied it to the front of the boat, out of reach of the crew. I dried myself and found some clothes while Martha and Carol sat at the back of the boat (maybe that is the stern) and expressed loudly how much they hated the Captain.
It was while I was drying myself and looking for my pants that first mate Wayne started blabbing on about how we shouldn’t stay up partying and that we had to grow up and look at things from Fucktard’s point of view. This was the point at which we lost what respect any of us had for the creep first mate who from this point on shall be known only as Slimy Turd. It probably reads like we were the ass holes keeping everyone awake all night and then giving the miserable pricks horrible names. But one was a perverted, anal retentive, angry (especially towards women), stingy control freak who cared only about himself and not the joy of any of the crew who were each paying $450 to be here. In fact it seemed he preferred we weren’t having fun. The other was much the same except he was also a rat who could not be trusted, would stab you in the back without hesitation and lather himself in a bath of grease then try to slide back into your good books. They were just horrible people. Some of the worst I have met on my travels.
Monday, 24 September, Day 239
Sailing through San Blas
After I found some pants Carol slapped Fucktard. I don’t think I ever found out why, something to do with him being an arsehole. But I think that slap coming straight after her and Martha sat on the back of the boat slagging Fucktard and Slimy Turd helped Carol leap frog me and jump into first position as most hated member of the crew. Even with the slagging and plate breaking, I am pretty sure I was still slightly ahead of Martha as Fucktard’s second most hated person on the boat.
We desperately needed ice to put in the esky to cool our beer so I went to the local island that had been covered in straw huts and went around asking the Kuna people if they had any ice I could buy. No one had any. Unfortunately Slimy Turd had to come with me because there was no way Fucktard was going to let me drive the motor boat, and with good reason, I have little doubt that I would have run it into a reef. As expected, Slimy Turd spent the entire ice hunt trying to sliver into my good books.
With no ice we returned to the boat ready to pull up anchor and set sail through some more stunning Caribbean waters. Today there would be no sailing, apparently Fucktard didn’t get enough ‘’REM’’ sleep so we had to start the motor and let autopilot guide us.
We had a good few hours of motoring ahead of us so I escaped to the front deck where Brad and I chilled, got our tan on and listened to Xavier Rudd. When the sun became too intense and not even my sarong could protect me I went back to the cabin. Carol had passed out on a seat and rolled out onto the floor where she lay sleep talking in Spanish. She can’t talk Spanish while she’s awake, so it was extra entertaining hearing her speak it in her sleep.
By now Martha was asleep as well and this meant that I was the only one who had not slept yet and therefore done my part in helping Australia maintain its well deserved reputation as some of the worlds most enduring partiers.
I can’t remember what we had for lunch but Fucktard made it, so it was probably no good. He made no good food on the entire journey.
It was around mid day when we decided to stop at another of the San Blas Islands. I had already finished a few warm beers since breakfast and when I jumped into the crystal clear water it was a struggle to swim. Still I had another beer in the ocean then jumped back on the boat where I joined a few of the others who were putting on flippers and masks ready for some snorkelling. We dived back off the boat and into the sea then paddled around the Western side of the island exploring the coral reef. I don’t know if it was the Western side, it just seemed like it was. The reef was nice, I saw a stingray and a whole lot of other tropical fish. Normally I would have spent a long time exploring the untouched reef but I was kind of drunk and had not slept for a day and a half so snorkelling was a bit of a struggle. I swam back towards the boat and bumped into Amy who was swimming to the island. I joined her on her swim to shore and together we explored the Western side of the island.
This was definitely my favourite of the San Blas Islands. It was surrounded by beautiful reefs but didn’t have any of those pesky see urchins. It had a nice flat white sandy shore. There were about 14 Kuna people living on the island one of whom owned a sports bar. I know what most of you are thinking, and it is the same thing I was thinking when Fucktard told me about the sports bar. Why would you want to visit a sports bar while on a dessert island far away from Western Influence where the culture is indigenous and the only tourists come on small private boats. As far as I was concerned, Sports Bars belong where you get plasma tv’s, big shots on their mobile phones, macho footy players, and the princesses who match these sort of people. But as I am about to explain, this sports bar was cool, and the most unique bar I have ever been to.
So Amy and myself were exploring the island and we found the most beautiful beach volley ball court I have ever seen. It was a tattered net hanging between two palm trees. To the side of the net was stunning blue Caribbean water with a Jamaican flag themed canoe lying on the shore. We were definitely going to return to play volleyball later.
Behind the most beautiful beach Volley Ball court was the most unique sports bar. It consisted of a table with two benches besides a palm leaf hut where the coolest Kuna we met lived and kept cold beer for the backpackers. The reason it was a bar was because we could give him money and he would come out of his hut with a beer and the reason it was a ‘sports’ bar was because there was a volleyball net. There was also a basketball hoop (which must have washed up once on the shore) secured to a palm tree. Apart from that it was where the Kuna lived. He had a pet duck which he would take out not for walks, but for swims. When I first saw him swimming behind the duck in the beautiful water I thought he was trying to catch it, but he was just making sure his pet didn’t swim out too far and get lost in the Caribbean. He wore whatever clothes washed up on the beach and this meant his outfit consisted of one flip-flop, one of those weird Croc shoos, and a pair of grey Y-front Jocks. That was it. There was also a pig in a pen and he had a little wife, or maybe she was his daughter. The two of them played both basketball and volleyball with a ball made for neither of those sports which also probably washed up on the beach. Kind of like Wilson. This guy was as cool as they come.
After marvelling at the Sports Bar Amy and I swam back to the boat. Alongside Ruby we sat on the front deck and basked in the sun marvelling at the picture perfect paradise we found ourselves in. While we relaxed on the yacht the rest of our crew enjoyed some refreshing cold beers at the sports bar. It must have been nice for them to enjoy cold beer. All the beer we had on the boat was still warm.
About now Fucktard came out of his den and told us that we cause too much trouble too be aloud to spend another night on his boat and that for the next 24 hours we were banished to the nearby Island. We were banished to a desert island…cool.
The rest of the crew came back to the island and together we loaded the motor dingy with cartons and cartons of beer, some music, a few sleeping bags and whatever else we thought we might need to get through a night on a desert island.
Some of us took the motor dingy to the island and the rest of us almost drowned trying to swim whilst drunk and trying not to get salt water in our warm beer.
I knew there would be a game of volleyball soon and that in my current sleep deprived state there was no way I would make it through a game. Therefore, while everyone else sung, danced and drank in the sports bar, I found a secluded patch of dry island grass under the shade of a palm tree, closed my eyes and let the sound of the ocean washing up on the shore lull me to sleep. An hour later I woke up feeling refreshed. Nothing gets me back into gear like a LLD (Little Lye Down). When I opened my eyes and looked around I saw Slimy Turd sleeping next to me, using a plank of wood as pillow. What is the point of having a secluded rest on a dessert island if you are going to sleep right next to the only other person sleeping on the island? He was such a bozo. And why use a plank of wood as a pillow?
Energized I walked back to the sports bar just in time to join the others in a picturesque game of beach volleyball. The Kuna’s joined us and were surprisingly awful. Worse hand-eye coordination than me. It was Brad, Kealan and Myself vs. Nigel, Slimey Turd and the Kuna people. Others floated in and out of the game including the sole other tourist we saw on the island. He was a yank and threw a tantrum then stormed off across the island back to his boat when someone stole his shot. What a loser.
With the help of A LOT of cheating, Brad, Kealan and myself won the game. By now the sun was setting so Nigel took the girls back to the boat to collect some dinner. Normally this kind of job would be reserved soley for the girls but Nigel was the only one who knew how to operate the motor dingy without crashing into a reef so he had to go with them. Brad, Kealan and myself chilled at the sports bar celebrating our win and having man-to-man conversations. We probably should have spent the final minutes of light sorting out the bon fire that would be our only source of light for the night, but we were on holiday and couldn’t bring ourselves to do work.
Nigel and the girls were gone for a lot longer than expected and when almost two hours later they finally returned with sandwiches the sun had completely disappeared. Slimy Turd wanted to come to the island and join us in exile, but he had been such a backstabbing dick the whole trip we didn’t let him. Plus there was no way he was going to give us any cash for the alcohol he was drinking. We ate the sandwiches in the dark then most of us ventured out into the island scrub to find wood. A boy scout with a chest full of badges in his childhood, Brad lead the expedition. Most of the vegetation was palm trees but together we managed to get enough material for a decent fire. The wood was of such a poor standard that even with Brad’s impressive Boy Scout history we couldn’t get the much needed fire lit. Nigel, a man who was my hero on countless occasions on this journey had the brilliant idea of taking some of the gasoline from the motor dingy and using that to get the party started. And it did. WE HAD FIRE.
The night started pretty relaxed while we all chatted, wore silly cowboy hats and got stuck into the beers. It was, according to the Irish, Arthur Guiness’s (the man who first brewed Guiness) birthday and we celebrated by drinking a few special warm Guinness’s while singing the Cranberries song Zombie. At these early stages we were joined by that cool Kuna dude in the jocks, flip flop and croc. We gave him one of the glittery cowboy hats to wear as well and some of the champagne we also had. He really hated the champagne, I’m not sure if he had ever had it before, he seemed very surprised by the bubbles. Instead he stuck to warm Guinness.
While the party was getting started, Ruby, finished with her book, was ready for an adventure and came on a quest with me to explore the other side of the island. We came across the a little palm leaf hut on the other side. As we came near it the door opened and we saw the shadow of an old Kuna lady. She beckoned for us to come into her hut. We nodded and entered. The hut had an incredibly warm and cosy feel. It was no more than four or five meters in diameter/length. In one corner was a burning fire place from which the only light came. By the fire a child slept in a hammock. Other than that it was just Ruby, myself, the old lady and an old man. I can’t really explain why, but it was really, really, really cool.
Back at the party it was some time past midnight and we were all pretty wasted. The Kuna had gone back to his hut but said he didn’t mind at all if we kept partying noisily through the night. The sing along anthems of the “sailing trip” like Tiny Dancer, Sun is Shining and anything by Neil Young were replaced with some dance. Prodigy came on just as we noticed a number of far off but incredibly bright tropical lightning storms. We raved. Or at least those of us who had the energy to jump around to anything by Prodigy, Daft Punk or any of the crews other dance anthems like Superstyling and Over and Over did. These anthems I am mentioning we heard again and again, it made such a nice change from that Gasolina song.
Between our spurts of raving we watched the various lightning storms edge nearer. We cheered on the opposing wind but it wasn’t strong enough. Soon the millions of stars disappeared behind a blanket of black clouds and it started raining. The rain was light so after hiding the ipods we embraced it by continuing to dance under the cool droplets. Then it poured and the fire went out. We had no shelter so all ran to the nearest palm tree and huddled under it while the rain smashed all around us. To keep our spirits high the Irish sung their folk songs and then we all sung Oasis. It was warm and pleasant huddled around that palm tree singing in unison and we were slightly saddened when the rain stopped and there was no more reason to cuddle under the tree.
We got the fire burning and the party raged on. Slightly before dawn Nigel and Brad decided to do what any swashbuckling pirate would do and board the Yacht. They were ready for bed and didn’t want so sleep on the sand so took the dingy to the Yacht and successfully snuck on board and went to bed. Amy went with them but once the pirate adventure was over and she was back on board she realised how much fun she would be missing by sleeping on the boat. Instead she swam back through the black but glowing (more phosphorescent) ocean to the island. By now the fire had gone out and Kealan was passed out on the sand.
The pre-dawn temperature had dropped and for a short hour it was cold. We lay around on the sleeping bags and talked until we the sun began to rise and the palm trees were silhouetted by a pink sky.
We moved over to the Eastern tip of the island to get the best view of the sunrise. The view was even better when we went swimming in the reef.
Sun was shining and we walked back to the party sight. It was now messy, smelly, covered in sandflies and pretty much just uncomfortable. It took us less than 24 hours to ruin a patch of paradise. Thank god these islands are still so untouched. Even though we were feeling nasty we stayed in our camp for as long as we could bear because we didn’t want to go back to the boat and see Fucktard and Slimy Turd. We woke Kealan and he stood up, muttered something, walked around in a circle and then fell back down behind the canoe for another sleep. We watched the cool Kuna leave his hut set for a day of diving for lobster, swimming his duck, playing volleyball and selling cold beer to tourists. He was still in his trademark outfit of one flip-flop, one croc and a pair of jocks, except now he had added the glittery cowboy hat we had given him. Seeing him keep our hat and get use out of it gave us all a warm feeling inside. Eventually the sandflies became too much so we cleaned up, got Kealan into a functioning state and ‘Cooeed’ Nigel. He was awake and rode the motor dingy over to the island where we all got on board and went back to the boat.
We returned to the Yacht little earlier than our banishment aloud but it didn’t matter. Regardless of what we did, Fucktard would have been a grumpy prick. Apparently we kept him awake from the island! There is no way we did that. Either he had supersensitive hearing and needs to invest in ear plugs or he is an insomniac who needs sleeping tablets or he will make up any excuse not to sail his yacht. He also noticed Nigel and Brad had pirated onto the Yacht in the night and was mad about that. They had made a special effort not to go near Fucktard but he didn’t care. That was his third strike in Nigel’s book. Now he was officially a jackass to everyone.
Sunday, 25 September, Day 240
Sailing through San Blas
We tried to ignore Slimy Turd’s rants while Fucktard made his trademark breakfast ‘Eggy Bread’. Even though it was far from tasty, I munched down a lot of his week replacement for French Toast and tried to block out Slimy Turd who was going on and on about how the Fucktard needed his sleep and how we shouldn’t be partying so hard or making any mess on his boat and help out with the cooking and cleaning. The girls done plenty of cleaning and it was never appreciated by Fucktard. Also, if we’d done all of that there would be no work for Fucktard to do. He certainly wasn’t doing any sailing. He spent most of the days putting the boat on auto-pilot and resting. If he wasn’t doing that he was finding a way to be rude to the crew.
Because Fucktard had left Panama with less than a third of the tank full of water, we had run dry. Poor old Brad was roped into going with Fucktard back to the island to buy barrels of water off them. The rest of us lay on the front deck of the Yacht enjoying the morning sun. We listened to dance and mixed the wastedness most of us still felt from the previous night with a new wastedness we were getting from the warm beers we were getting stuck into with breakfast.
When Brad returned from his chores he jumped in the dinghy with Kealan, Nigel and myself. We took the dinghy to a tiny island about 100m away. The island was an almost perfect image of a cartoon desert island. You know the ones where a guy with torn clothes sits atop a tiny mound of sand surrounded by ocean with only one palm tree to shade him. It wasn’t quite that small but still the tiniest island we had ever been to, with room for only about five palm trees. We stepped foot onto the island and really got the feel for what it would be like to be that poor stranded soul. Watching us from the yacht, the girls got pretty upset that they didn’t get to come with us. They were invited but must have been too caught up in being wasted to pay attention. Shame they missed out, it was an amazing island to be on.
For some reason we didn’t raise the anchor and head to the next island until about midday. Fucktard wanted to be lazy and recommended we stay at the island we were already on. He said that was because it was the best island, but we knew he just couldn’t be bothered pressing auto-pilot on the boat and we demanded we see another island.
So off we went. The motor chugged, the sails stayed down, and we all lay about the boat in an after-party state. It was like we had all come back from clubbing and were at someone’s house kicking on into the day. Except we hadn’t been clubbing, we had been raving on a desert island and we didn’t go back to someone’s house, we went back to a yacht (I should remind you that the yacht in perfect Caribbean waters).
The day of sailing is very hazy in my memory. Somewhere in the day I had a sleep for about 45 minutes. I remember a lot of bagging out of Slimy Turd and Fucktard. There were many incidents when each one would have all there horrible attributes compared in detail. On a boat the size of ours you can hear everything. And there is no way either of those two bastards on our boat didn’t hear what was getting said over and over and over and over (like a monkey with a miniature symbol) again. There was a point where I was lying on one lounge while Ruby was lying on another and Slimy Turd had his back to us looking out through the glass windshield at the ocean. His bum was there for so long and we just couldn’t help it. He caught us looking and laughing and thought Ruby was keen on him. Fest.
The boat trip didn’t revolve solely around hating Fucktard and Slimy Turd, we just clashed so badly with them that paying them out was a constant and always entertaining point of conversation. They didn’t help the matter by continuing to be ass holes the entire time.
We also spent the day singing and talking about other things. There was not much dancing, we were all pretty tired. One of the many good things about being on a yacht with eight quality people is that there is always someone interesting to have a good chat to. By now we had demolished all the rum but not the vodka. We were also getting pretty sick of warm beer. But there were still hundreds to get through so we kept drinking.
We passed so many perfect looking islands and we kept asking Fucktard to stop at them so we could spend more time in paradise. I’m not sure wether it was just to spite us or because he just wanted the trip to be over as soon as possible, but whatever the reason, he took us to the geographically last of the San Blas Islands. It was a nice island, definitely part of paradise, but it just didn’t compare to the last island we were on, or to the many of the other ones we passed.
Brad and I somehow swam to the island while the rest of the crew crowded into the dinghy. Some of the girls fell asleep as soon as we got to the island so Nigel, our taxi driver for the week, took them back to the Yacht. The rest of us were having a nice time relaxing on the beach, eating and drinking, when we saw the dinghy return. This time it was Fucktard. He marched up the beach and the first thing he said to us was “I’ve made an executive decision and rather than spend another night in the San Blas, we’ll ‘sail’ through the night.”. To which Martha with the cool accent said something like “Fock You, You Cont”. He was such a cock. Once we left this island that was the last of the San Blas, it would be two days of ‘sailing’ through open water. We had paid $500 each to spend three nights in the San Blas, he could go get fucked, by Slimy Turd. Fucking arsehole.
We negotiated for the one more night which we were paying for, but we had an early start the next day. Fucktard was so beaten up by not getting his own way he made it clear that if we were not back on the yacht by 6:00am he would be leaving without us.
Most of what I remember about the afternoon is going for one last swim in perfect San Blas water and Slimy Turd turning up to the island and trying to socialise with us. We managed to get rid of him by deciding to build a fire. The thought of helping collect some firewood scared him off. People kept falling asleep and then waking up and wanting to come to or get off the island. Nigel must have done at least eight trips taxing people on the dinghy. What a great guy.
When night fell we all went back to the yacht, Fucktard had promised us a vegetable curry. The thought of a proper meal had us all very excited. As it turned out, the curry was just the bad potato salad we had had for lunch (just potato and mayo) with curry powder added. Shocking meal.
The five or so of us who were left went back to the island and lay under the stars by the fire. At what I am guessing is about 10:00ish I decided it was time to call it quits. I had been awake for the past three days with only about 1:45 minutes sleep. I could hardy function anymore. Nigel, bless him, took me back to the boat. There was a bed for me, but I hadn’t slept on it for the first two nights and as a result I had spread my bag and all its contents over the mattress. It seemed much more appealing to sleep out on the deck, surround by blackness with a roof of ten million stars.
Later that night I was awoken by rain on my face. Another storm. It was light rain and I just went back to sleep. A few minutes later I was awoken again by heavier rain. I looked around, it seemed that everyone was back on board. Brad was also above deck, we decided it was time to go under. One of the girls beds was empty so I stole that. It was probably empty because the mattress felt like it had the black plague.
Those who managed to stay awake a little longer than I did that night were rewarded with a mind blowing electrical storm off in the distance. Would have been great to see.
Saturday, 26 September, Day 241
Sailing through San Blas
I woke up a few hours later to the ups and downs (literally) of ocean ‘sailing’. I stuck my head up on deck and saw it was light and we were motoring through the edges of a storm. Above deck, those of us who had woken up watched the lightning in the distance and laughed about how we were travelling at 0 knots. The current was so strong against us that even with the motor going, we were travelling nowhere. Following the lead of everyone else I took a seasickness tablet, just in case. Everyone around me had fallen back to sleep, then I did the same.
Late in the afternoon we all began waking up. It was a little strange how we all fell asleep at the same time and woke up at the same time. Some of the crew had slept A LOT more than I had and had no reason to sleep all day. The conspiracy theory we came up with as we sat on deck that night was that the seasickness tablets Fucktard had given us had some sort of sleeping tablet side affect. He had drugged us.
The next few days all sort of blend together, as days do when you’re on open sea. But I think this was the night we saw the dolphins. The sun was setting as we were all sitting up on deck talking away when Nigel said “did you see that?” and we all looked around, no one else saw it. Then he saw another, and this time I saw it too. So did a few others. Then almost everyone saw one. Skimming atop the water, keeping in line with the boat were a pod of dolphins. They stuck around for about ten minutes and we all just “ooed” and “ahhed” at them. What made this dolphin sighting so special was that one of them jumped up out of the water and skipped along for a second on his tail. He was fully vertical and out of the water just skimming along. Like you would see at sea world. But this was out in the middle of the ocean. Sooooooo cool.
Even though we had slept all day, most people called it a night pretty early. Kealan and myself were up on deck enjoying the night breeze when Fucktard went downstairs and woke Brad. He needed someone to keep watch while he had a half hour nap. Apparently it was only fair that Brad shared the responsibility with Fucktard and Slimy Turd. The look on Brad’s sleepy face as he came on deck to keep watch was a sad sight. Fucktard had no need to wake Brad, Kealn and I were awake. But he knew Kealan wouldn’t have done it, and I think I was his most hated person again. Or maybe it was Martha now, either way we were both hated with a passion. There was no way he was trusting me. I tried telling him that we didn’t need someone to keep watch and that there were no ice burgs in the Caribbean. He had obviously been watching too much Titanic. Probably his favourite movie.
On Brads watch we spied a ship way, way off in the distance. At this point it was just a tiny light on the horizon. When Fucktard woke a while later he was very excited about the ship sighting. He woke Slimy Turd and together they ran around like headless chickens trying to sort out the problem of the ship way way off in the distance. It was like watching a slapstick comedy, or a Monty Python skit. They radioed the cruse ship saying something like “change course change course, collision immanent”, there may as well have been red flashing sirens and a computerized clock counting down to our death. We could tell the cruse driver must get crackpots like Fucktard all the time. There was no way the ship was going to crash into us, Fucktard just wanted to be known. He had both little man and little boat syndrome. The cruise ship overtook us way way in the distance, it never came close to hitting us.
Kealan got some sleep, Brad got a little sleep, but then had to wake up every hour and search for ice burgs. I sat up the back of the boat for hours enjoying the open sea. I tried to sleep up on deck for a couple of hours but it was no use. I kept sliding from side to side and bumping into the railing or the whatever bumps were on the deck. The sea was too choppy.
Eventually I climbed back down the mattress which had the black plague and caught a little sleep.
Sunday, 27 September, Day 242
Sailing through San Blas
Everyone woke up feeling a bit irritable today. The perfect vibe of the San Blas Islands was in the past and now cabin fever was setting in. The choppy waves, close quarters, company of Fucktard and Slimy Turd, bad food, lack of sleep and warm beer was getting a bit too much.
In a hope of making ourselves some decent food Brad and I watched Nigel go through Fucktard’s fishing box and tie a lure to a line. There were no sinkers, no rod and not even a hand reel. All we had was the reel of a fishing rod, just big enough to stick our fingers through. We through the lure overboard and watched it skim across the ocean for the entire day. No matter what lure we tried we didn’t catch anything.
Today was the day that we decided to look through Fucktard’s little fridge to see if we could find some decent food. What we found will chill you to the bone. The bar fridge that could have been keeping beers cold the whole time was full of uncooked pasta and a life jacket! What the fuck was dry, unopened pasta doing on the in the fridge? And why on earth was there a life jacket underneath it all? Good Lord. Fucktard never stopped surprising us with how much of a dick he was. We took out some pasta and filled the fridge with warm beer.
When we went down to collect the beer we found Fucktard had taken the beer out and put the pasta back in. This gave us the opportunity to take the pasta out and put the beer back in. We hid the beer towards the bottom and it stayed there until we were ready to drink it.
Oh the joys of cold beer. After living off warm beer for four days, cold beer never tasted so good.
We were supposed to reach Columbia today but because of the strong back current and because we never used our sails we were not going to arrive until tomorrow.
At one point Fucktard did try and use one sail, but it must have been his first time because he fell off the mast cutting his leg open. Karma baby.
We were so hot today, and the water looked so cool. We asked Fucktard if he would turn the engine off for a moment so we could have a quick dip in the cool, shark infested ocean. It would have been amazing to swim out there with no land anywhere in sight. The thought of sharks would have meant we swam only for a wee bit, but it still would have been great. Of course Fucktard wouldn’t have been able to live with himself he gave us a moment’s happiness. We never stopped for a swim.
In the afternoon Nigel spotted more sea life. A moment after he pointed out to the ocean we noticed how we were surrounded by big fish swimming just under the surface. Every now and then one of them would jump out of the water with a splash. We figured they were getting attacked by some bigger creatures of the deep. Again we asked Fucktard to turn off the engine so we could try and catch some of these fish. Nothing would have grinded Fucktard’s gears more than watching us eat an enjoyable meal so he didn’t stop.
We started arguing with him, and like always Slimy Turd interrupted and made the situation worse. He started blabbing about how we can’t stop for half an hour to catch a fish, the captain had a cut in his leg and was apparently dying. We had to get him to hospital. He said that the cut was the reason why Fucktard spent most of the day sleeping and just left the boat on autopilot. Everything he said was bullshit, there was no need for hospital, and Fucktard was just a lazy sod. Then Slimy Turd walked over behind Ruby and snatched a pillow out from under her head. Kealan was ready to deck the Slimy Turd but it slid away before he could, leaving a trail of grease behind it.
To spite the pair of ars holes, Martha decided to cook a nice, enjoyable meal. With the poor ingredients she had at her disposal, she created a masterpiece. Pasta with bacon and a creamy sauce. To this day I don’t know where the bacon came from. The fridge I am guessing. It was by far the best meal we’d had all trip. A few people helped her, I think I turned the oven on, but it was definitely Martha’s fantastic creation.
Our last night on the boat we hit COLD beer hard. We had a memorable afternoon sitting on the back of the boat celebrating our unforgettable and unimaginably awesome ‘sailing’ trip through paradise. We sung but didn’t dance, it was too choppy. At one point I went up to have a piss of the side of the boat and Fucktard went skitzo about how I can’t be trusted to stand up and that we were not aloud to stand on the deck anymore. “IT’S MY RULES”, he screeched. You could tell by his psycho tone that I was his most hated again. Sorry Martha and Carroll, but don’t worry, he still hated you heaps and heaps.
At 11:00pm it was time for bed!?!?! Apparently it was too rough up on deck. We were all safe and sound sitting in U shape against the railing of the yacht. After another half an hour we gave up arguing with Fucktard and continued the party downstairs. Somehow Nigel and Brad fell straight to sleep as soon as we got down. The rest of us enjoyed a few more hours of drinking secretly (we were forbidden to consume any more alcohol), dancing and singing together. We sang a beautiful rendition Elton John’s Your Song and dedicated it to Fucktard. We could see him spying on us from up above, lurking in the shadows, poking his head around the door, trying to catch a gimps of the untrustworthy backpackers below. When we saw him, we all joined together and sung at the top of our voices “HOW WONDERFULL LIFE IS NOW YOU’RE IN THE WORLD” and asked him if we minded putting it all down in words. It is my favourite memory of that song.
Every wave could be felt down below deck and we were beginning to feel a bit seedy. Kealan vomited in the sink. I somehow snapped the tap off. I am not sure what damage the girls done, but over the week I know they would have done a bit.
We were not sleepy but because of the uncomfortable feeling of below deck, and the fact we had been partying heavily for the last five days we became too annoyed with each other to continue partying. We all lay down in separate beds and just stared at the roof.
Monday, 28 September, Day 243
Sailing through the San Blas
I woke to the cries of “Land Ahoy”. I stepped out onto the deck where everyone else was already up and getting their shit together. Before I knew it the first dinghy load of people was being transported to land. I quickly squished everything into my bag as a second boat load of people departed. In the end it was just Kealan and I left on the boat. We did a once over, the boat was in a mess. It looked like it had been the venue of a party the night before. It gave us pleasure to know that Fucktard would have to spend a lot of time and effort cleaning/reparing the boat. Not that he would do much cleaning, the beds all stunk and had some unexplainable stains on them when we first boarded. Still, it won’t be easy fixing that tap. Unfortunately we never made it through all the alcohol and there was still about 100 cans of beer and two bottles of vodka left. There was no way we could be fucked transporting it all so just left it on the boat. As the last person off the boat I couldn’t bare to leave all the alcohol behind so grabbed one of the bottles of 3L bottles vodka and jumped into the dinghy.
There were no handshakes, no “take care”, no goodbyes, not even a smile, or a look in the eye. We just left Fucktard and Slimy Turd and never looked back. The poor bastard who was motoring us to shore heard the same story of how much of a twat Fucktard was from all three groups of people he took to the mainland.
The San Blas islands are one of the best experiences I have had on my travels. I never thought I would be on a desert island in the middle of the Caribbean. Maybe if I was old I would go to an island on a cruise ship, but it would never have been as remote, untouched and genuine as the San Blas. If I was a religious man I would thank God for the unbeatable crew I had the fortune of meeting and thank Ganesh for the perfect wether we had. Bad wether or a bad crew would have changed the whole experience. If I were a religious man I would also leave the church of Scientology, blaming them for the wanker of a captain and his right hand testicle Slimy Turd.
I Just have to mention again how amazing the San Blas Islands are. If you ever get a chance, take the trip. The San Blas Islands are a paradise that you think only exist in dreams and movies or for the mega rich. AMAZING