Sailin the San Blas

Trip Start Sep 09, 2010
Trip End Apr 03, 2012

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Flag of Panama  , Kuna Yala,
Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Once again I am delayed in updating.  I apologize...  Soon after sending my brother Dan home from Panama City, Mom and I boarded the "Cool Runnings II," a 14 m sailing yacht captained by Austrian George and his girlfriend Sandra.  We sailed for 5 days through the San Blas Islands, then across the Caribbean Sea to Cartagena, Colombia...  A trip to remember for sure. 

We were part of an 8 person "crew."  Along with us and our trusty co-captains, there were 4 Aussie kids, and a Dutch and German couple.  With such a small amount of space for 10 people on the boat, it didn't take long to get to know our captains and fellow crew members.  (Unfortunately, it didn't take long for us to tire of their smelly smoking habits either...  Mom and I were amongst the minority of non-smokers aboard; since George and Sandra were smokers themselves, it didn't seem to occur to them to mind enforcing the "smoke only downwind" rule.  That was one of the few unfortunate aspects of the trip.)  George and Sandra were extremely kind hospitable hosts, and they served us some of the best home-cooked meals I have had in a long time.  The Dutch/German couple were friendly, fun to hang out with; the Aussies were nice, but YOUNG.  Even I felt they were obnoxious in their youth, I can only imagine how Mom saw them.  We made the most of it, though.  Each time George took us (by dingy) to visit an island, we would pretend we were on the show "Survivor" and discuss who (ie which of the Aussies) we wanted to vote out next. One of them had a birthday on the trip.  Of course there was much drinking involved in the celebration.  That was actually a pretty fun night.  I guess you could say Mom and I got drunk enough on the captain's rum punches to appreciate the young humor of our fellow crew members that night.  :)

We were anchored for much of the first 3 days, in various spots among the islands.  With the dingy excursions with George, we set foot on three separate islands, each with names so hard to pronounce I won't even attempt to spell them.  They were gorgeous though, pure tropical paradises, each and every one.  The water surrounding us was the clearest, warmest sea water I have even been in.  In some places it was downright hot!  There was a shipwreck about 50m off of one island.  We walked along a sandbar out to the deserted yacht.  That was pretty cool.  I also snorkeled there for a looooong time.  Saw some of the biggest sand dollars ever, as well as many different colorful fish of course.  On another island we had a bonfire.  A cormorant waddled up to warm/dry himself by the fire.  It had no fear of us.  One of the crew actually went up to it and touched its wing and it just sat there.  Crazy bird!  My favorite island had nothing on it but sand and palm trees and one small Kuna hut.  (The Kuna are the indigenous people that live on the islands.)  You could see all the way across the island from end to end.  We watched schools of flying fish skim across the water as we lounged on the beach. 

In the middle of the 3rd night, we were woken up by one of the Aussie's loud, incoherent, and utterly deathly sounding moans.  You see, he is diabetic.  He was having a severe hypoglycemic episode, to the point of near coma.  It carried on for at least an hour if not two.  No one knew what to do, and he was too far gone to tell anyone what he needed.  George was tearing through all the guy's bags, trying to find his blood-testing kit (at that point no one knew if his sugar was high or low or what exactly was going on!).  The guy's friends were pouring sugary soda down his throat, along with glucose tablets, and all the while he continued with the moaning and wailing and...oh my gosh it was scary!  George started up the engine on the boat.  We were about to turn around and head back to a hospital in Panama when all of a sudden, the guy just snapped out of it.  The sugar kicked in, apparently.  He was fine and back to normal.  PHEW!  By then it was about 4:30 in the morning.  The plan had been to set sail early in the morning for the crossing to Cartagena anyway...  So, rather than turning off the engine and going back to bed, we set sail right then (only an hour and a half ahead of schedule, thanks to the diabetic scare).

It was a long hot crossing.  It was a trip once we got far enough out to where I could see no land.  With the sun beating and reflecting relentlessly on us, we all scrambled and fought to sit in the few incehs of shade on deck.  As night fell, I experienced cooking dinner in a sweltering 1.5m square kitchen on a moving stove as the swells grew.  (An experience I wouldn't mind if I never had again.)  The waters got downright rough in the middle of the night, and in the oven-like conditions that were our cabin, I remember having some pretty crazy dreams about flying out of control.  I have no doubt that my being tossed around in bed had everything to do with that.  A couple times I heard the motor turn off and George working with tools in amongst the engine parts.  A little un-nerving, but--half asleep--I was able to keep my faith.  Twenty-seven hours after setting sail, we arrived in Cartagena.  Our top priorities upon arrival: checking into a hotel with AC, cooling off, and getting a shower!

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Kim on

It looks beautiful! So hot and sunny. Where are you know and where are you going next?
Have fun!

Diane aka Kimi's mom on

Wow!! Just wow!

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