Caribbean

Guna Yala

Guna Yala

San Blas – The Mystical Paradise of the Guna

From Providencia, we’re cruising 270 nautical miles to San Blas, Panama. The archipelago consists of over 350 islands and islets and is governed by the indigenous Guna people, who call it Guna Yala. We clear into Panama on the main island, El Porvenir, and pay our contribution to the autonomous Guna authority. Porvenir is tiny, with little more than an airstrip and a few houses. While clearing in, one officer is mowing the grass while the other stamps our passports. Here, everyone does a bit of everything.

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Posted by Karin in People & Country, 0 comments
Charming cocaine island

Charming cocaine island

On the nautical chart, you’ll only see Providencia if you zoom in very closely; that’s how tiny and charming the cocaine island is. Although Providencia belongs to Colombia, it’s much closer to Nicaragua. Here, traditions are upheld, and mass tourism is nonexistent. In 2020, a hurricane nearly devastated the island’s infrastructure, yet the islanders didn’t complain; instead, they considered the hurricane a blessing.

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Posted by Karin in People & Country, 0 comments

Traffic jam at the Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is one of the most important bottlenecks for international shipping. Approximately five percent of world trade is now handled through the canal, and two thirds of all ships that pass through the canal come from or go to the USA. Thanks to the Panama Canal, international shipping routes have been shortened by weeks or even months. Merchant ships, cruise ships, sailing ships and warships no longer have to sail around Cape Horn, which is feared as a ship graveyard with its wild storms and untameable waves, but can cross the continent in a day. The canal is fed with fresh water from two reservoirs: Lake Gatún and Lake Alajuela. These also supply the two million Panamanians who live in the center of the country. The population and the ships compete for the water. For a long time, this was no cause for concern, as tropical Panama is one of the rainiest countries in the world and the reservoirs were always well filled. However, everything changed last year with the El Niño climate phenomenon.

Published in the magazine “Reportagen”, issue #77.

https://reportagen.com/reportage/stau-am-panamakanal

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Posted by Alex in Publications
Night ride through pirate territory

Night ride through pirate territory

After four and a half months at the shipyard in Guatemala, we leave. We are relieved and sad at the same time. Relieved that we can leave the heat, the endless boat problems, all the work and the shipyard behind us; sad because we are leaving our friends Riki and Martin and their daughters Naia and Kira, as well as single-handed sailor Thomas, behind and probably won’t see them again for a long time. Again and again we have to say goodbye, but then we actually are sailing from Guatemala to Providencia.

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Posted by Karin in Sailing, 0 comments
Gallery – Cayos Albuquerque

Gallery – Cayos Albuquerque

We say goodbye to Panama and set off for the Cayman Islands with our friend Lea. This is right on our planned route to the Bahamas and makes an ideal stopover. On the very first night, water spills into the forward bathroom in the middle of the night, so we sail to Cayos Albuquerque to dry out and seal Mabul again. A completely unexpected paradise awaits us here. Two small islands in the middle of an atoll surrounded by crystal-clear water. We meet the Colombian army and coast guard, spend time with the local fishermen and experience and hear many a curious story.

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Posted by Alex in Gallery, 0 comments
Gallery – Panama Canal

Gallery – Panama Canal

Then plans change: We decide that we and Mabul are not yet ready for the Pacific and that we would stay one more season on the Caribbean side. Of course, we still keep our promise to be line handlers for SV My Motu during their Panama Canal transit. So we moor Mabul in the Turtle Cay Marina and go on board SV My Motu. Together we make our way to Shelter Bay Marina in Colon. This is the first (almost) necessary stop before heading into the canal. There, the final preparations are made, large fenders and long lines are delivered by the agent and we get a briefing. Then we set off shortly after four o’clock in the morning.

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Posted by Alex in Gallery, 0 comments
Gallery – Panama

Gallery – Panama

There are different places one can go cruising in Panama. We visit San Blas and Portobelo and dock Mabul in the marinas of Linton Bay and Turtle Cay. Preparations for the Pacific are in full swing. Together with the crew of SV My Motu we rent a car to make various trips to Colon. In Shelter Bay Marina I pick up our new anchor chain, deliver lithium batteries from sailors in San Blas and in return get Canadian passports for people in San Blas. We buy food and alcohol in the Zona Libre, I get our liferaft serviced and pick up packages from the US. Before the second San Blas round with Georges, we visit Portobelo, a small town with a great history, and after transiting the canal on My Motu, we explore Panama City while Mabul lies patiently waiting for us in the Turtle Cay Marina.

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Posted by Alex in Gallery, 0 comments
Gallery – San Blas II

Gallery – San Blas II

After all the jobs in Linton Bay Marina and Colon, are done, Mabul is equipped with a new 80 metre long anchor chain, six brand new AGM batteries with a capacity of 630AH and an incredible amount of food. Karin returns from Switzerland with not only some boat parts, but also her father Georges. We spend a short time in the marina and then set off under engine in total calm. If you ask the people here, you quickly realize that this is the best way to cruising back to San Blas. Once again we drop anchor off some small sand islands, snorkeling, cooking, drinking… Georges is doing amazingly well on board and brings new vigour to the galley.

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Posted by Alex in Gallery, 0 comments