Sorry no pics for this one, it was that boring.
We started the crossing in Panama on March 19th and it took us 2 days and 2 nights to get to Providencia, a Colombian island near San Andres and Nicaragua. If there was a road and we were driving, it would be about the same amount of time as driving from Tallahassee to Fort Lauderdale. We had rough seas for the first few miles but then it calmed down and we had calm seas the rest of the way, getting calmer as we went. We saw no dolphins or whales or even fish and the trip was pretty uneventful. We didn't even have to tack or jibe which made the trip flat out boring. The most exciting thing was seeing Azonic (our buddy boat who has been with us since the crossing from Cartagena to Panama) on the horizon and counting the minutes before he disappeared again. On the second day the sea was pretty much flat but we had good wind and at a couple places we hit 7 knots. We spotted the island about 1:00 am and arrived at about 3:30 am. We anchored in the dark and went to sleep for the few hours before we had to get up in day light to drive farther in to get out of the swells. We are now in Providencia and will probably be here for about a week before heading over to the Caymans to pick up my brother.
Sorry no pics for this one, it was that boring.
In the year 1880, the idea of building the canal came into reality when the French made a treaty with Gran Colombia (Panama was a part of Colombia at the time) to dig a long trench through the skinniest part of the country. However, the french lost all the money they needed and everyone got sick so they where forced to abandon their work. Before the canal started, it was just a footpath used by the Indigenous. It then became a railroad, and finally, a canal. The U.S picked up the work of the French and made a treaty with Panama a week or so after they declared their independence from Colombia. They built the canal with three sets of ‘ship steps’ or ‘locks’. These locks are pretty much big rectangular prisms that drain and fill up with water to allow the ships to go up into the lake that is in the heart of panama and then back down to sea level. Mom, Dad, a friend and I all went to Panama City (witch is on the Pacific side) to the the first (or last) set of locks called Miraflores. The canal is approximately 80 kilometers long which is about 50 miles. The types of ships that go trough the canal are car carriers, tankers, cargo ships, fishing boats, sail boats, and cruise ships. Do I want to go through the Canal? Maybe if I was on a cruse ship or one of the bigger ships where I could see more, but on our little sail boat, I would feel like a mouse and may still get sea sick. The panama canal has just opened its new locks which are bigger and can fit the newer and bigger boats. Maybe someday they’ll make a cool crane sort of thing that lifts the boat up and over the land from one ocean to the next.
Every day that has coral, we snorkel. We will snorkel in 5 feet of water or 30 feet of water. Dad is a big snorkeler and knows how to get out of traps in the coral without panicking and sinking. He is also the one who usually drags us into the traps. We see quite a few things snorkeling from squids to grass. Today we watched a conch smack a clam on its own shell to get the shell loose so it could reach inside the clam shell with its foot to grab the animal inside. Snorkeling also doesn't mean just coral. You find different things in different places, you will normally find conch, squid, and certain kinds of fish in grass while others like parrot fish you will normally find in coral. Mackerel and tuna you will find in deep water while starfish and small crabs are in the shallows. We have been to many big reefs but there are bigger yet to see.
Arkeen, a man and friend of ours from the indigenous tribe of the Panamanian islands, the Kuna, took me out in his dug out sailing canoe for a sail. We were heading in to the town and drove by his canoe. I switched boats and we put the tiny sails up. We were cruising along and Arkeen told me to grab a tangled up rope that was hanging in the front, untangle it, and pull. The rope was tied to the middle of the mast so that when I pulled on it, it acted like a the sheet on the big boat and pretty much tightened the sail to make us go faster. By this time we were going faster than the dinghy and were almost to the bridge that connected the island (the town covered the whole island) to the main land. Right before you went under the bridge there was a broken down dock to your right where the canoes tied up. The dinghy dock was on the other side of the bridge so Mom, Dad, and Roberto motored under the bridge while Arkeen and I tied up at the canoe dock. We met Arkeen’s wife and kids at their house. They had a calico cat and three calico kittens (all girls). The rest of the day we spent visiting the grave yard where we saw a dog sitting by what we assumed was his owner’s grave and Arkeen’s sister and nieces and nephews. We had to tow Arkeen and John (from Azonic, our buddy boat crossing to Panama) back to where the boats where anchored, and swam the minute we got there. We also made a couple fish friends who used us as a bus to cross the deep parts of the bay and still be protected from predators. Smart fish. Right now we are in Nargana and will be gong to Green Island later today. We cannot swim in Nargana because of all the trash in the water so we are all excited to get to Green Island.
Yay! We’re finally in the San Blas. We finished the over night crossing not seeing much except a double green flash and a sail fish swimming next to our boat. We spotted land at about 7:00 AM and strained our eyes to see the tiny islands of the Guna Yala (the Guna nation(also known as the Kuna). As we got closer, Mom, Roberto, and I stood on deck to help dad maneuver around the reefs. When we got into the calmer waters, I actually had to sit down because I had land sickness. We anchored in sand about two hours before Azonic, our buddy boat for the trip, came and anchored straight on a bunch of mountains of coral. His chain literally rapped itself around one of the smaller mountain and we had to help him get off the next day. We swam the rest of the day and had a delicious lentil soup for dinner. We are now on an island right across the channel and closer to the town. Tomorrow we will head north.