Having left the vibrant City of Santa Marta, the World ARC fleet travelled into Panamanian waters and on to the San Blas Islands which are located to the North West of Panama facing the Caribbean Sea. Arriving at the north east of the archipelago, the fleet had the opportunity to cruise through the Kuna Yala, a territory made up of 375 islands scattered around an area of approximately 100 square miles.
Not yet discovered by the massive tourism industry, the islands offer untouched beaches, stunning anchorages and a friendly welcome from the gentle native people called the Kuna Indians.
Only the larger islands are populated by the Kuna Indians who have best preserved their culture and traditions out of all the tribes in the Americas and they independently control all the San Blas islands.
Of course the locals like to take advantage of passing yachtsmen and are always keen to sell their wares which they do so by visiting each yacht in dugout canoe. The local ladies sell patches of Molas, which are brightly patterned pieces of cotton along with jewellery made of long lengths of highly coloured beads and traditionally wrapped around the Kuna ladies legs.
Although the islands are small it is possible to visit local villages on some of the bigger islands such as Nalunega, where boats were able to restock on fresh produce such as fruit, vegetables, eggs and bread. Surrounded by rich fishing waters the Kuna Indians are great fishermen and the locals took great pride in selling prize sized lobsters to passing vessels.
Having been together for nearly a month now, the World ARC fleet anchored together in smaller groups off the islands of Chichime, East and West Holandes Cays and Lemmon Cays where they enjoyed snorkelling, walking along palm tree lined shores, impromptu barbeque parties and having fun playing beach games with the ARC children. When asked, Jo and Nicki on Tin Tin summed up their stay by saying “it’s just beautiful here.”
Before heading over to Shelter Bay Marina to prepare for their transit through the Panama Canal, each boat visited the small island of El Pourviner, where participants cleared Customs with the local authorities into Panama. The World ARC team travelled ahead of the fleet to ensure a friendly welcome to the islands and provide a smooth check-in process into the country.
With the Panama Canal transit looming the World ARC 2019-20 fleet are excited to be crossing from the Caribbean Sea through to the Pacific and the next stage of their adventure.