Our journey was tame in comparison as we cruised west to Central America for 36 hours across the Caribbean Sea to the beautiful San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama, for three days of island hopping, exploring deserted tropical beaches, swimming, snorkeling and meeting the local Kuna Indians. With eight years of experience sailing the Caribbean we knew we were in safe hands with Manfred and Petra.
Our worst fear was being stuck on a small boat with people that we didn’t like. We were lucky to have joined a great group of backpackers, three Germans, two Swedes, and a New Yorker. Life on the boat was relaxed and carefree. We enjoyed plenty of cards, beers on the deck, reading and sleep time to while away the hours. Come night time, as darkness shrouded the Mintaka, we would play drinking games and a fabulous murder mystery game where Treeny and Victor unwittingly became serial killers every round, and to which Manfred humorously declared “this is the stupidest game I have ever seen played on this boat”.
Unfortunately we were very unlucky with the weather. Although we didn’t get any heavy rain, the dramatic looking clouds looming over us certainly dampened the mood – we didn’t quite get the brilliant turquoise water we had seen back at Playa Blanca and Tayrona. We didn’t let this stop us from jumping off the boat any chance we could into the warm Caribbean water. The bad weather did make snorkelling a little more challenging in choppy waters and reducing visibility. Despite this, there was still an abundance of marine life and coral to feast our eyes on surrounding the magical deserted islands inhabited only by palm trees and a few abandoned canoes.
We couldn’t leave of course without Iain climbing that darn mast! After asking hundreds of times the conditions were finally right and Manfred granted Iain his dying wish. Climbing into the Bosun’s chair, Victor and Olle hoisted him up into the sky some twenty metres above the deck. The top of the mast is a very small place, the boat below feeling worlds away and the swaying of the mast throwing Iain back and forth. The view from the top was magical for Iain and an incredible experience he can now tick of his must-do list.
Next stop we visit the biggest engineering feat the world has seen the fascinating Panama Canal in Panama City…
Check out our photo gallery of Sailing Colombia to Panama here.