Monday 12 January 2015

Kuna Yala; Part 'Dos' !

Crystal clear waters of the Kuna Yalas

Monday January 12th 2015

Is there anyone out there ?! Woah, I feel like I’ve just gone through some sort of detox, this is the first time we have had internet in over 3 weeks !  So I am hoping that the world outside our tiny bubble has not imploded and that there is still life out there, able to read this blog.

She’s-a-blowing !  

For the last 7 days, the winds have averaged 25 knots gusting to high 30s with big swell,  and in an area such as Kuna Yala where the reefs abound,it is not ideal for sailing, so we took shelter in a bay in the East Lemon Cays. Judging by the amount of other boats here, many had the same idea! Today we sailed to El Porvenir to check into Panama officially-even if we have been in Panama waters since Dec 18th! They aren’t too worried about delays here. 

We have seen as many as three boats which ended up on reefs in our 3 weeks in Kuna Yala. The charts are not accurate and using daylight and eyeballs in most important here !

One of the 3 wrecks that we have seen here. This one happened 2 weeks before our arrival.

Off the beaten track:

For the last month we have been living without much outside influence. This, like most things, has its share of good sides and bad sides; Good: We spent more time reading,getting interested in old and new hobbies (cross-stitching, learning to crochet with plastic bags!) and breathing more deeply! Bad : We missed communicating with loved ones and our blogs have been delayed/piling up. Good: I realized today when we checked into immigration that, without even noticing, we had not worn shoes in over a week. I had to dig them out!  Bad: We may never want to wear shoes again (especially Matthew) !  

Slowly becoming amish. I have cooked home made dinners for 28 days in a row now, somebody give me a medal !!!  I know, I know, you guys probably do that all the time, but do you do it without going to the grocery store ??? And is your fridge less than 9 cubic feet ? We had two opportunities in these 27 days, to get a few vegetables and fruit from the Kunas, oh, and we bought a fish and some lobsters from them too one day, but that’s still pretty good right ?!  I know this may sound silly, especially since for many cruisers this is hardly an achievement, some go for much longer (and some without any refrigeration on board!)  but for ME it is an achievement to be proud of ! 

Meghan learns how to clean a lobster ! 

Usually we eat out about once a week to give me a break, but since there really is no where for us to eat out, this has given us an opportunity to test our ability to plan meals and store food. The last time we went grocery shopping was in Cartagena, with the exception of the small provisioning we did as mentioned above.I am happy to say that, (in my opinion) we have eaten well, without feeling like we have had to “go without” anything. We have had all the essentials covered and we have even enjoyed quite a few treats too! Being able to make dinners and feed two growing teenagers with only what we have stored on board,and with what we have caught in the ocean or what we have baked with our own hands sometimes feels a little “Amish” but it is also extremely satisfying to me and,has been terrific for the budget too!

Living on a shoestring :

It’s true ! Sailing in the Eastern Caribbean in the first 8 months had not been cheap, not only because of our boat expenses but also we found that daily living expenses were high (groceries and such). But since we have arrived in the Western Caribbean and Central America our spending has decreased dramatically which is a welcome change !

Making our way across this beautiful Archipelago:

The more we travel Westwards through these idyllic islands of KunaYala, the more beauty we seem to find. There are so many perfect little “deserted Islands” to go to “get lost” on, that if we were to stop at each one, we would be here for months and months !  

Recently we have been to Coco Banderos, Green Island, Holandes Cays and Lemon Cays and these have all been particularly picturesque places to see. We have been hanging out with our fellow cruising families, and every day we seem to meet a new family. We now have a large group who gather daily for an afternoon early evening at the beach. The kids play, dig holes, ride their boogie boards and enjoy the natural settings, the “grown ups” chat and swap sailing stories, share plans and ideas and have a few laughs. After spending Christmas in Coco Banderos (see last blog entry) and a quick stop in Nargana village, then it was on to Green Island, a short day sail away. 

Sharks, Crocodiles and... Sharks , oh my !

As soon as we set our anchor down in Green Island on December 28th we were immediately greeted, as usual, by Kuna indians in their dug out canoes, offering us everything from Live Lobster, Crabs, or hand crafted *Molas. (*See last Blog entry). Soon after the Kuna greeting party left, our friend Gonzalo (SV Kazaio) showed up to welcome us 'to the neighbourhood' and to give us the ‘low down’ on this newest anchorage. He told us that a 4 meter crocodile was spotted swimming in between the islands, that some divers had seen a Tiger Shark (outside the reef) and that others had witnesses a Bull Shark eating a ray (Geez !), and all this in close vicinity to where we had anchored !  Luckily the water is quite clear around our boat and we are told that a crocodile attacks here are very rare, but still, we were feeling nervous about letting Matthew swim for long periods of time, we supervise and keep watch when ever he is in the water. We go to the beach often, so that the kids can swim, together in the knee deep sandy and clear water in front of us as we scan the deeper waters for what may be lurking below.

A small but typical deserted Island of Kuna Yala, over flowing with cocnut trees ! 

The tiny Kuna village on the East side of the Island.

After Green Island we then went to Hollandes Cays (West) one of the furthest (off shore) Islands in Kuna Yala. We found yet another beautiful beach on a semi deserted Island (there was a tiny and lovely Kuna Village situated on the East side) and some great snorkelling too! It is nice to see a healthy reef with many varieties of live coral and NO CROCODILES ! We had a delightful New Years Eve gathering on the beach with our cruising friends, complete with an enormous bonfire, compliments of Gonzalo (S/V Kazaio).

Still heading West, our next anchorage was in the Lemon Cays where we found the largest gathering of cruising boats yet.There are more crowds here, probably because we are getting closer to civilization, and because it is so darn pretty here ! It’s hard to believe there is still more beauty to be seen, after all those other gorgeous islands where we’ve been in the last two weeks, but Kuna Yala keeps on delivering the pristine, beautiful islands and reefs !

On the horizon: We are headed towards Portebello tomorrow which might sounds like an exotic type of mushroom , but its actually a historic port town on the coast of Panama where the infamous Captain Morgan had looted and pillaged and where most of the stolen inca gold and silver came through before being shipped off to Spain. It is a town which we are pretty excited to visit !  The wind is still strong and we have seen quite a few boats in the last two days who weren't so lucky and hit the many reefs around here, we will be careful ! As for our plans for the remaining cruising year: Amelie IV is headed west towards the main coast of Panama and its famous canal by the end of January, and after this, who knows ? Perhaps down South, to the West coast of South America and to Ecuador and Peru ???  We are not sure. All we know for now, is that this crazy journey continues...


1 comment:

  1. Conquering the seas sounds similar in intensity to conquering Alberta highways during an intense snow storm. You watching for how many boats got beached, us watching for how many cars/trucks are in the ditch. What does a boat have to do as its next protocol if it gets beached?

    I am VERY proud of you for your cooking endeavours! That's a huge achievement at home, while camping, while sailing. No matter how you put it or where, that's tremendous! Add your remoteness and lack of storage space and refrigeration to it and wow! Hats off!

    We are watching your journeys closely and praying for and thinking of you daily when you are out of service area. God bless our ability to communicate with you occasionally, living vicariously through you and smiling at your achievements and this lifelong lesson for the kids.

    Incidentally, if/when you do return to Canada, I would love to see a photo of our tanned little Meg and Matthew next to one of our winterized pale looking Canadians ;-)

    Off to work. Much love and hugs across the miles
    Us up north