20th -27th Jan – Guna Yala or San Blas Islands

Eventually the winds eased so more favourable for making the passage eastwards. Weighing the anchor I passed out of the bay and took good care to keep clear of the unmarked Lavandra Reef. A long tack north out to sea then I could tack east. I think 15 knots is my favourite sailing breeze, light enough to set all plain sail, not too strong to kick up much of a sea but strong enough to make reasonable progress.
By early afternoon I was in the vicinity of Green Turtle bay so I put in here and anchored awhile. It was as I expected too rolly to stay but I could prepare a meal before weighing anchor early eve and set off for a night passage.
Another long tack northwards away from the coast before tacking east again. The trick I find is to be far enough offshore not to worry about inshore shoals and danger but not too far so you are playing with the big boys, the tankers and container ships. Dawn saw me within sight of Punta San Blas. I had planned on anchoring at Chichame Cays but on approach it looked a bit crowded so carried on. However aiming for the Eden Channel I got a bit of a scare when I got the islands confused, went off line and strayed over a shoal patch. Maybe I was to tired and dim witted after the night passage with no sleep . I headed back to Chichame, entered the lagoon it was busy but enough room and anchored, time for some rest.

Beautiful though it was here, sandy palm treed islands, it was a bit like westerners doing their being on holiday thing. So next day I went in search of the real Guna Yala. I anchored off the island of Acuadup. Ashore was a traditional Guna village, palm leaf thatched huts, Guna indians in native dress, lots of dugout canoes. I bought some bread.

Moving on next day I passed through the well populated and busy Carti islands. I was put off anchoring here as you anchor in 17 m and have you ever tried pulling up min 3×17 m of 8mm chain and an anchor by hand? ( total wt about 85 kilos in case your wondering) Well I didn’t fancy it one bit.

one of Carti Islands

I went to Soledad Mira another traditional village and anchored. Unfortunately the holding here was not good, anchored on a small sloping boulder shelf, so left after a while and went to Los Grullos, anchoring off Kuandiup, just another sandy palm tree island. There was a Guna restaurant here so treated myself to a fish dinner.

Kuanidup

On to Mokame, a populated traditional island. Here I spent some time talking with a Guna guide who told me of some of their traditions, beliefs, and of the shaman and showed me around the village, the meeting hut or congresso, his hut and his Nuchus, small carved wooden statutes a link between the physical and spiritual side.
They live on the islands because they are free from insects and other things in the jungle on the main land but the tend gardens in the jungle for their produce paddling over there in their dugout canoes.

lobster man

Lobster for dinner bought from a free diver.
On then to Salardup an island in the Naguarandup Cays, a group of mostly uninhabited islands scattered along a 6 mile long barrier reef, further offshore than the inhabited islands. Salardup is in a lagoon approached through a gap in the surrounding reef. None of the reefs in the San Blas are marked, mark one eyeball navigation is required spotting the colour of the water to show you the depth.
I completed a circumnavigation of sorts of the Naguarandup Cays, sailing down the inland channel then out past Kanlildup or Green Island towards the Coca Bandera Cays then back westwards to the Lemmon Cays to anchor between three islands with a very shallow approach. A long days sailing through beautiful islands, so many islands.

One thought on “20th -27th Jan – Guna Yala or San Blas Islands”

  1. Amazing! Keep watching out for those scary reefs…
    You’re in the best possible place – far far away from the woes of the world. You certainly won’t want to come back to the Mayhem we have here!

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