Sunday, March 14, 2010

147 Nautical Miles to San Blas, Panama--Part I

We have company! Friends “Inspiration Lady” & Jackster arrived in Rosario yesterday afternoon. We were invited to Inspirational Lady for Sundowners and mentioned we were leaving tomorrow morning for San Blas. They also will leave in the morning. Some of us will go to the South Eastern Islands while others will head for Hollandes Cay. We figure our trip will take 24-30 hours at 5-6 knots.

0500…We’re up, getting last minute chores done for a 0700 departure.

By 0645 we’re out of the anchorage, foresail is out full and we’re doing 4.5 knots. By 0800 hours we decide to put up the main as we don’t have enough wind which increases our speed to 7.1 knots. We decide to cross the shoal on the north side.

Before dark we reef in the main as the seas are really confused and the winds are anywhere from 20-30 knots. Inspiration Lady off our starboard.

Sure enough by 1710 we’re already half way to our destination and need to slow down. By 1820 we had to bring the head sail in even more and we are still flying along anywhere between 6-10 knots---the 10 knots being our “surfing” the waves which are between 7 and 12 feet with the largest swells occurring every 20-30 seconds.

We make contact with TARA and INSPIRATION LADY every few hours.

0600 hours we’re “laying a hull” off Isla Pinos awaiting more light. We’re tired and wet from the sea crashing us broadside.

Twenty five hours later we are anchored off Tupbak, which means whale in Kuna, Isla Pinos. There are two other boats in the anchorage along with HIGH STATES & TARA and it’s naptime for us. Waking up at noon we noticed the boat that was in front of us has left and NEVERLAND has arrived. With the weather deteriorating we decide to move up for a bit more protection and when we’ve got four feet under the keel we re-anchor.

The next day we go ashore to discover the village of TUPBAK which has a population of 241.

With Erno and Frieda (TARA) we found the village very clean.

The pigs are kept in self cleaning cages along the shoreline as are the outhouses.

The scenery is magnificient.

We meet up with Sheila and Bob (NEVERLAND) and all decide to go on a hike.


This is a cane press used to extract sugar cane juice for the intoxicating drink “chichi” used for spiritual events.

We’ve met David the “tourist operator” for Isla Pinos who invites us to his mother in laws home for a traditional Kuna lunch of rice, beans and a local sea snail.

Kuna are prohibited from either settling or intermarrying with non- Kuna people. In fact, theirs is a matriarchal society with men marrying into the females’ family.

We are so excited----we are in San Blas….A vast archipelago of more than 350 islands along over 200 miles of the Panama Caribbean coastline. San Blas is home to the indigenous physically small Kuna Indians; second in stature to the Pygmies. We have read the Kuna’s in fact do not like the name San Blas, preferring Juna Yala, as San Blas was the name given by Spanish Invaders.

The population of approximately 55,000 is only 1/10th of their original populace of 550,000 prior to the invasions by Spaniards.

The Congreso is the town hall, usually the largest straw roofed hut in the village. The majority of the inhabited islands have a very strict hierarchy. Each village has three Sailas (chiefs) who lay in hammocks inside the Congreso surrounded by wooden benches. Each evening a meeting takes place with everyone expected to attend. Grievances are aired; decisions are made for the good of the whole community. The Sailas also have medicinal knowledge, are oral historians and spiritualists. Kuna’s are officially part of Panama yet retain themselves as an autonomous nation. Next; Part II

1 comment:

Dance Aweigh said...

Welcome back guys! Looking forward to Part 2.
Margaret & Rich.