Around The World Voyage : Commentary : Leg 4

May 24, 2002

There were no reports from me on Wednesday because we were very busy maximizing our too short stay at the San Blas Islands. PAE is doing a great job at demonstrating the qualities and capabilities of our Nordhavns, but we are lousy examples of what cruising is all about. If we were cruising, NORDHAVN would still be anchored in the lovely lagoon that we found and settling in for 2 or 3 weeks of lazy days filled with snorkeling, exploring, reading, socializing with the other cruisers and eating $1 lobsters. It was very difficult to leave after our quick 24 hour stop. I am definitely returning someday to this idyllic spot with my own boat and wife and will stay for WEEKS.

I had a vision and a hope for what I wanted and expected the San Blas Islands to be. The reality far exceeded it. The islands were BEAUTIFUL, EXOTIC, and a small slice of paradise on earth. They were actually better than I remembered. I didn’t make it through the night on deck because the rain came, but while I was there it was fantastic. Similar feeling to the Marqueses- but better.

In the morning, we motored into the lagoon formed by the 6 islands of this group. The chart made it look like it was impossible, but there were several boats in there so we knew that we could do it. With Mike and Jeff on the bow and me watching the depth sounder, we threaded our way into this gorgeous area with crystal clear water. We nearly ran aground (the depth sounder showed the depth to be 4 feet at one point) but made it in and anchored in the perfect spot. We jumped in and swam to cool down and then launched the dingy and motored over to the one island that looked like it had some life. The huts we had seen were abandoned, so we walked around the island and found a little village on the other side. There were 6-8 huts, about 10 naked children swimming in the water, about 6 women and the “chief”. The chief asked for $5 as a landing fee, which we happily paid. Then the mola trading began. The Kuna women are notorious for their fierce dealings. About 90 minutes and $200 later, we departed with many molas, but the women were tough and never gave an inch. One young lady (about 25) who was oblivious of her 3 year old trying to suck her flopping breast would gesticulate, sulk, pout and argue as I tried to negotiate her price. In the end, I paid full price.

We visited several boats and then departed for the capitol island of Porviner. No sooner did we drop the anchor than two canoes approached full of women and children. The canoes were dilapidated “dug outs” and barley afloat- it is a wonder that the small children don’t drown. We were totally “invaded” as the women swarmed aboard chattering, pushing, pointing and offering their various molas, bracelets and clothing. The women were brightly dressed in molas and beads. We kept them confined to the cockpit and at one point Mike, who was trapped there, alone as Jeff and I fetched more money from the safe, cried out for help as he was pushed into the corner by the aggressive women.More molas purchased and again, no discounts as we paid the going price of $10-$20 each depending on the complexity of the design.

With time running out and with the need to navigate a complicated path thru the reefs in daylight, we reluctantly departed with the setting sun.


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