Bookmark and Share
Cruising with HappyCat
Robsons, Gerti, San Blas

Justino, a native Kuna from the Robsons group was our guide. At 8:30 we all gently piled into a large ulu dug out and motored down to the river mouth. The river, is more of a dredged creek created by the American banana co. some 80 years ago, Along the sides are the remains of pillions that used to support large wharfs.
Shortly we came to the end of the creek, and began our gentle 5km. walk to the Kuna village, walking through native bush , with surprisingly little wild life.
It was really interesting to see how the Kunas live, in their palms houses. We were also fortunate to sit through a christening ceremony, which was a very haphazard 'organized' affair, of drinking 'chicha', a crushed fermented sugar cane and coffee drink, smoking cigarettes and another herb, and... sucking on lollipops!

Robsons, Gerti Island, San Blas

The atolls of the Robsons are completely inhabited, with neat and tidy palm houses hugging the edges of the atoll. Dead coral is used as infill, to protect the atolls, and maximize the small parameter of space.
The first few hours of our arrival was entertained with one ulu after another of primarily children, 2-3 to an ulu, rowing to the boat, just to say hello, beaming with smiles. in hopes, of course that we might give them something. We came prepared with crayons and pencils and a few lollies. When we thought we had seen the last, another lot came! We were really amazed how these young girls and boys 4-7ys old, would row around with their brothers and sisters and nephews, in an unstable dug out, and with quite a task to get back against the wind!
Met Monty and Chris and heard about the arrangements for the river trip we were lucky to join.
The dug out in the foreground has 3 children, ranging between 3-5 years old, in total balance, and what strength to row against the winds!

Mar/21/2012 | Christine
Hi, hope all is well and looking forward to an update ....seems a while and we are wondering how the river trip went xxx
Mar/21/2012 | Christine (Jims sister)
Hi, has anyone heard from Jim and Marina since their last blog 29 Feb???
Mar/21/2012 | Christine
Just had an email and they are both fine!
Green Island, San Blas

Great sail over to Green Island! A tight reach with 18-22kts of wind, and a sea of gentle rolling waves. Now we are starting to see the appeal of San Blas. And Green Island anchorage was great, well sheltered from swell, and o.k. on wind.
Had a walk around the small atoll, no houses, just coconut trees, and at the end, met Jerry and Terry, Canadians, who kindly gave us a few tips, and even arranged for us to join their friends on a river trip from Robsons Islands. (Thank you, for it turned out to be a wonderful experience.)
Pic. shows a typical cluster of palms of a tiny atoll, and yes a family live there!

Lemon Cays, San Blas

So, on we went, in search for shelter, and Venancio suggested we head here. Whilst the coral surrounding these islands protects one from the swell, there is not much to protect one from the incessant winds.
The atolls have a scattering of houses, made of different palm leaves. The walls, and the roofs. Sand for floors, and hammocks, and thats about it!
There were quite a few boats in the lagoon, feeling the grunt of the wind, but our anchorage was on the South side of the atolls, tucked as close to the palm trees as we could.

Mar/14/2012 | Lynn
That is quite some wind!
Chichimay, San Blas

Now why is it that no one warned us to make sure you pick your time when heading to San Blas from the West? As predicted the winds were rising, but we had no idea that the swell could truly be as large as forecasted, 3-4mts! At least the winds were never over 22kts. The skies were hazy and on one occasion a volumous amount of water poured on us, which we welcomed to wash away the dust of Colon. A bumpy unsettled 9 hr. ride, got us to the isloated island of Chichmay. We found as much shelter as we could from the howling winds, the coconut trees struggling against the winds. Stayed on the the outer side of the leeward island.
San Blas is home to the indigenous Kuna Indians, which are one of the few remaining authentic indians in the Americas. They are short, and slender, extremely friendly and happy, beaming immaculate white sets of teeth. The ladies generally dress in their original colorful garments of various molas. They arrive to your yacht rowing their dug out 'ulu's' selling you these applique swatches of fabric, made by sewing and cutting different layers of cloth.
We were very lucky that Venancio, the master 'mola' maker, who is gay, (Being gay, or even a transvestite, is totally accepted in the Kuna culture) came by our boat, with his young driver, and showed us over 50 of his molas. He carries the higher prices, but his craftsmanship is unparalleled. It was tough to decide which to buy.

Porto Bello, Panama

We had a hard time taking ourselves away from the comfort of Shelter Bay, but if we did not leave today, chances were that we would never make it to San Blas. There are strong NE approaching, getting worse as the days progress. We managed to sail most of the 20nm there, and it was nice to feel the seas again. We had been told that the setting of Porto Bello was lovley, and it did not disappoint. The long natural harbour is surrounded by low lying mountains, lushly vegetated with tropical forest. Despite the amount of yachts at anchor, there was plenty of room. As the sun set we could hear the settling of the monkeys howling away in the jungle.
And early next day, before dusk, James awoke to hear once again the orchestrated sounds of these creatures, amongst the many sounds of the birds. Wonderful

Shelter Bay, Colon, Panama

As we left San Andres for Panama, and were nearing Bolivar Island 15nm SE of San Andres, our Raymarine screen litteraly overheated in the afternoon sun, and packed up. No radar or charts. So we decided to anchor in Bolivar, and leave at 5a.m., making our journey one night rather than two. We have the iPad Navionics app. plus some other charts on the computer, just in case it still did not work by morning. - which it didn't but we were covered. Great run, beam reaching all the way, with barely 1.5mt. swell.
Ahhhh but the check in process!! Makes Greece and its paper work look like a walk in the park! Hours at the tiny cubicle here at Shelter Bay, and today, hours at the immigration office, in Colon, (almost missing the shuttle bus) with their 'new' requirements! 3 stamps in our passport, and we are in! And $143 later.
But Shelter Bay marina, ands its surrounding, an abandoned Marine base, is wonderful. The old ancient tall palms, and manicured grasses, the sound of the birds, and monkeys, all makes this a special place.

San Andres Island

Just came back from a fun trip around the island on a super quad 'mule', with our friends from Trumpeter and Orion. Delicious local lunch in San Luis.
It is truly a small island and it wont take you long to get to know the place. It grows on you, and look beyond the chaos, you will soon love it.
James keeps on wondering why we came, but I say, if anything it was to meet some lovely new friends!
-On our mule, touring the island-

San Andres Island

-2-3-4-5-6- our coordinates, fun!!
Unbelievably as we approached San Andres, once again a pod of playful dolphins came rushing to great us. And I am sure I recognized one particular dolphin as being the same one from the beginning of the trip 7 days ago! White nose and a circular blotch near is upper fin!!
Beautiful approach, to be done through the coral circle, and out lying island, with crystal clear aqua waters.
Have met already the only other two cruising boats anchored in this friendly quirky island bay.
-The island as you enter-

Passage to San Andres, Caribbean Ocean

What a great run we are having. After a few hours of a jibing main, on the first day, we decided to drop it, and have not raised it ever since, just sailing with a combo of Genoa, Genniker, or both. We've clocked our fastest 24 hr. run with the help of 2-3mt. swell pushing us along from behind. Its been a bit jerky, with no real brakes, so not much room for activity. A lot of lounging and reading, between watches. 175nm per 25 hoour 3 days in a row!
On the first morning we were visited by a pod of very very playful dolphins. I have never sean so many jumps and belly flops as they played in the braking swell in front of our boat.

Road Town, Tortola

Provision up, and check out was the aim here, and, a treat, dinner at 'The Dove'. Also met Gemma, a potential crew to Panama, but unfortunately she could not join us. Lovely girl.
Anchored just out of the break wall of Moorings marina, a very tidy little area, behind which there is a supermarket which is big, clean, and very well stocked, of primarily US goods.
And that night, on the old main street, in a cute little original island cottage, was 'The Dove'. As Gemma said, great happy hour, best in town, in its little court yard. And the food was sensational. I was in heaven, an xmas present to ourselves. (Prices were really reasonable, we thought, too.)

Peters Island

Another bonus for us at this anchorage is a good signal of internet, ( with our little wifi booster, unfortunately not for Mac's though). A lot of catching up was done via internet.
On Peters Island, there are some lovely little roads, leading up and around from one bay to the other. Made in the 60's by Conrad and 3 others, when the original resort was built. (Conrad still lives here, half blind, in his original shack of a home, which looks very out of place in the flash surroundings.) This road comes with scenic bench at the top of the hills under a thatched roof. Along side, in its own shaded unit, a tub of iced water and paper cups! Now why can't we have this at the top of Te Mata Peak?
We felt no need to hurry out of this lovely anchorage, but do come with provisions, there is nothing to be bought, though on our last day, the 'deliverance' boat showed up, with beverages, a bit of fruit, and a few baked goods. Also took our rubbish, at a minor cost.
The coast guard boat did its rounds on all our boats, inspecting the paper work. They were pleasant enough.

Great Harbor, Peters Island

A fun little sail over to Peter's Island. I was at the helm, really deciding to finally give this a go at learning how to sail, and as we rounded in front of Soppers bay on Tortola, a squall came through, out of the blue, with a gust peaking at 42kts! I have to say, I did not pass the test in handling this event! Bizarre weather going on here, more rain and winds than normal.
Great Harbor is a fabulous anchorage, we tucked ourselves close to the little bay and threw out a stern anchor. Just as well for the winds picked up over the following days, but we were nicely secured.
That is not us in the picture by the way....

Little Jost Van Dyke

On our walk over Jost a few days ago, we saw this anchorage in front of Little Jost, and decided to give it a go. After dropping anchor in white sand, we took the dinghy over to this little island in the picture, and had a snorkel around the area. Dinner at Foxys Taboo was a perfectly cooked piece of tuna.

White Bay, Jost Van Dyke

We tucked ourselves into this beautiful little anchorage. The water is so crystal clear, and the sand so white. We enjoyed a casual buffet barbq dinner at Ivan's.
-Perhaps though, for $3 more the next day you can eat at Foxy's for what seamed a better fare. And you ate out of real plates as opposed to plastic.-

Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke

Jost Van Dyke has definitely got a more laid back feel, with some of the original unaltered beach bars. We anchored in Great Harbour, and today had one of the most beautiful walks on the old road up to the ridge, and than down to White Bay. The path/road is like a manicured lawn, with amazing views. Grasses like in the field of NZ, just growing lushly, and no one grazing them.
At White Bay, after our must have original 'pain killer' rum cocktail, we discovered Ivan's Beach Bar, at the East end. We liked the more sedate and quiet feel to this place. Tomorrow we hope to drop anchor here.

Gorda Sound, Virgin Gorda, BVI

Early start, and a very gentle nice day down wind sailing to Spanish Town, British Virgin Islands. Check in was the most unpleasant so far, with the highly pressed uniformed officials with a bad attitude.
Already one feels the proximity and influence of the US. The supermarket in Spanish Town is full of US products, unfortunately not the best of their products! The quick, convenient, mass produced 'stuff', and imported fruit and veg.
Next day we had a great sail to Gorda Sound, a very nice large protected bay. Anchored, and went ashore to Saba Rock for a drink and a bite. I am beginning to understand peoples reluctance to BVI's, we felt like we were in a mini disney land.
Great walk up the road, than path to the Gorda Peak, well worth it.

Road Bay, Anguilla

I think we will always have fond memories of Anguilla. A flat island, with a sad state of stagnation. Bad politicians and bad timing, has stalemated a lot of 'grand' projects of making Anguilla a holiday destination.
We anchored in the sheltered Bay, and delighted in the check in procedure, with super convivial, lovely ladies, and as long as we stayed put in the bay, we were not charged a dollar!
We decided that exercise was in call for after all those French pastries, so we headed out on foot, to the beautiful beaches of Shoal Bay, ( and back)! Which seemed endlessly far away, as we lost ourselves in a shingle quarry! But its always good to see the country on foot, one learns a lot!
Limited super market 15min. walk from bay, on top of 'plateau', with good veggie stand before you get there, produce all from Dominica.
We met anchored next to us, John and Caroline Charnley, owners and creators of Discovery Yachts. They were on Hull No. 1 of the Discovery 50, catamaran. It was amazing, I still can not stop thinking about it, and also what a lovely couple they are... I am dreaming....

Marigot Bay, Saint Martin

Great chandlers, electric shops etc. and James is in heaven. At least we are anchored in the crystal clear waters and sandy bottomed large bay of Marigot. But I just don't get this place, and I am struggling to find a supermarket at walking distance. Fabulous bread shop though....

Gustavia, Saintes Barths

Great sail North to St. Barths along the Eastern side of St. Kitts. Nice to have a calmer passage for a change. Perhaps these Xmas winds are truly subsiding!
Fantastic anchorage in out of Gustavia harbor, We chose the Northern side, and found ourselves with a back drop of all the super yachts and mega super yachts. We are constantly entertained, as they display for us there flash dinghies and fun display of night lights, shining into the clear waters.
Very tidy, easy and friendly check in. While, yes, St Barths has countless of flash shops and obvious wealth, there is an unpretentious nature to the island.
A few more days exploring would have been nice. Great 'boulangerie', the best pain a chocolat, and a very tidy and well stocked super market! And.... one of the best deli, filled with every conceivable delicious bottled, jarred, tinned, frozen, or dried scrumptious item from around the world. Incredible, and all at incredible prices....
Taxid over to St. Johns, crazy that there is no footpath through the hill!

Newer ]  |  [ Older ]


Who: James Joll & Marina Jackson
Port: Napier, New Zealand
View Complete Profile »

Powered by SailBlogs