Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sailing the San Blas

A sailing trip in the San Blas Islands offers a far better value than doing the trip across to Colombia. You can save a lot of money by doing a trip with me and buying an airline ticket to Cartagena. I will take you to the exact same spots in the Western San Blas that all the boats crossing to Cartagena visit.

My trips are geared towards the traveler who is willing to help with the work in exchange for a lower priced trip. There are many other higher end full service oriented San Blas sailing trips and you can contact me for a recommendation.

Meals are not provided. You bring and cook your own food of choice. The boat, Pelican, has a full galley(two burner gas stove with oven) including a small refrigerator perfect for cooling drinks and vegetables but not ideal for bringing loads of raw meat... It is possible to buy live lobsters, conch and fish from the Kunas. I´ve got basics like salt, sugar, cooking oil, etc so you don´t have to go crazy with the provisioning. Drinking water is also on board, straight from the tap in Portobelo. I drink it and so do all the locals in town... If in doubt, you can buy bottled water.

Pelican can sleep three comfortably, four is possible and five starts to be crowded. There is a spacious V berth forward that sleeps two and there is a settee in the salon. I have also improvised a sleeping area in the cockpit that has the advantage of being outdoors. Another option is to sleep on one of the islands with a decent sized two person dome tent I have onboard. There is a small toilet but no shower. I have very basic dive masks and snorkels and only one set of fins... There is also a JBL medium length speargun and a Penn International 50 reel and rod for trolling. Plenty of assorted gear for hand line fishing. There is one eight foot hard rowing dinghy and another Avon inflatable eight foot dinghy with a small 3.5 hp two stroke outboard. There is also 220 volt or 110 volt electricity for charging laptops, cell phones, ipods, etc..

The trips I have done in the San Blas tend to be about three days long. First day is an overnight sail from Portobelo to Chichime. The second night is spent at Chichime and the following day we do a day trip to Dog Island (2$ per person Kuna charge) and then sail to Banedup in the afternoon. We spend the night in Banedup and the next day we sail to Carti. Transportation from Carti to Panama City is available for $27 or $28 dollars($2 or $3 for the launch and $25 for the jeep). It may also be possible to sail back to Portobelo with me. The Robeson islands are very close to Carti and additional days could be spent exploring this group. I am very open to other destinations and if there is a specific group you are interested in, contact me, so I can see if I have the relevant Nautical charts.

Transportation from Panama City to Portobelo is cheap and easy. Take the express bus from the Albrook Mall for Colon. The cost is $2.50. Get off at Sabanitas, which is a busy T junction. Infront of the Rey supermarket(this is where you buy your food for the trip), wait for one of the local buses going to Portobelo. Portobelo is clearly written on the windshield. The cost is $1.00.

It is best to call instead of emailing as internet is not so realiable in Portobelo. Cell phone in Panama (507) 60837084

The boat, Pelican, is based in Portobelo and if you want to couch surf for free while in Portobelo before heading out or just to come up and check things out, put in a request through the CS site.

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