Arriving in Panama

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It’s time to start the blog with some praise for our ship. Since February 14th we call it our own for 1 year now. The SAN has carried us 9778 nm over the water so far. Hopefully the teething troubles are behind us and Mathias alterations are more and more things that are „nice to have“.

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The ample space on the ship is great, and for the purpose of „living on the ship“ it is still the best choice I have seen. Also the sailing characteristics fit, we are gently rocked through the wave, heeling is the exception.

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The SAN is not a little red speedster like our Dragonfly, the Red Pearl, was, which you can fall in love with and which responds sporty and fast to the tiller steering. No, the SAN is a big lady that looks impressive and sails safely. She is almost always steered by autopilot and even though she is capable of fast sailing, safe sailing is more important with her. A compromise that one gladly makes for a world tour. We feel comfortable on our Neel 51.

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After a long time at anchor it was good to be on the go again. In the Marigot Bay of St. Martin one does not lie very calmly, often bigger waves roll through the bay, or a motorboat passes much too fast and causes waves.

Especially Mathias, who was alone on board for a week in the bay, was happy when we could sail again.

Picture: Birte in Hamburg

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During the first day and the first night the wind was good. We had set the red Parasailor. We can handle the setting much faster now and almost frictionless (we only forgot to release the storage hook on one side, but this was quickly corrected).

On the second day the wind decreased and the sailing became cosy, it was just a little hot. We spent the night, armed with a blanket, on the couch of the sun deck. From there we can see the sail, have a look at the plotter from time to time and also the panoramic view is easy. So during the watch there is a lot of time to look at the starry sky or to have short naps. Finding the right sleeping rhythm is still a challenge. Going to bed between 18:00 and 19:00 does not always work out well.

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During the trip we got into an area with rough seas and a bit much wind. This happened due to a communication error, which I don’t want to analyse further in this context. Result: The red Parasailor is now being repaired by us.

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After 6 days at sea we reached a new continent. I have never been to South or Central America before. (Except for a half-day trip from Texas across the border to Mexico as a teenager). It felt like a new adventure started. And indeed, the next milestone of our journey is coming up soon, the Panama Canal.

But first we reached the San Blas Islands:

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The San Blas Islands are an area off the Panamanian coast that offers what you would expect from the Caribbean: Lonely, mostly uninhabited, palm-fringed islets and turquoise waters. The area belongs to Panama but is managed independently by the indigenous people. The Guna live here. According to (another) travel guide they still lead a traditional lifestyle. But the travel guide, updated for the last time in 2015, mentions the settlement near Rio Diablo, to which you have to travel to clear in. Here live Guna, who have given up their traditional lifestyle. A diesel generator very noisily produces electricity, many huts have satellite dishes for TV reception. There are shops and bars, a school and a waste problem.

While we were travelling in the island world, we saw few traditional dugout boats under sail. Many were powered by outboard motors.

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In any case, the smartphone has found its way into the everyday life of the Guna, even on the outer islands there was still mobile phone coverage, even if there was only enough bandwidth for WhatsApp reception.

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Craftsmanship is evident in the clothing of the Guna. There are quilt works, the „mola“, which are sold in rectangles to the tourist boats.

Here is an example that we purchased. The fineness of the stitches and the variety of patterns are very impressive, but I know someone whose quilts look even more neat from the back….

The Mola artist and seller was called Venancio. He was so kindly received by us that he repeated several times what a „nice man“ Mathias was. At the SAN he showed us a large selection of his works. I made a shortlist and he told us the prices. Venancio spoke enough English to make himself understood. But I guess he doesn’t have much to do with Germans. Mathias and I discussed which Mola we could buy from him with our last dollar cash at the prices mentioned. But he looked at us, explained repeatedly that complicated, labour-intensive Mola are more expensive and that the price could still go down. So he wanted to hassle. Unfortunately, he constantly rearranged the mola, so that in the end nobody knew how much each piece should cost. Nevertheless we reached an agreement. We were rid of our dollars and had thus supported the local handicraft. He would have liked to sell more, but he did not look dissatisfied. The Mola artist had become aware of our ship because we had still attached the ARC+ banner to the side. Shortly before us he had done business with the fleet of World ARC ships.

The World ARC ships were also supervised by the agent who will organize our Panama Channel crossing. This will be our next big task.

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It’s even hotter here. The thermometer just reads 33°C !!

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Dieser Beitrag hat 2 Kommentare

  1. Moin moin, schöne Berichte wie ich finde, macht Ihr gar keine Videos für Birte films mehr?

  2. Video ist in Arbeit. Das erste bis zu den Kanaren ist fast fertig. An Film 2 und 3 arbeite ich noch. Das Filme Editieren kostet sehr viel Zeit, aber ich hoffe, zumindest den ersten Teil noch von Panama aus veröffentlichen zu können.

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