Posted by: Sailing Camelot | December 23, 2012

Porvenir, San Blas Islands – December 9th

It turned out to be the right decision after all. We leave Isla Grande at 7 am precisely, and already we can see angry clouds dropping in formation, the winds pushing them in a perfect position to dump their load on us.

We run unscathed for a few hours, we even manage to SAIL for two hours; good to see Camelot’s sails again, it’s been a long time!

Then we hit a series of squalls, one after the other, after the other. The sea is confused and choppy, visibility is shot. It’s easy to get disoriented. We can’t tell where the sky ends and the sea begin; all we see is an endless, seamless wall of grey… A strange, monochromatic world that doesn’t really agree with me, a vivid color kind of gal.

Another adventurous soul out there...

Another adventurous soul out there…

 

It’s a pretty miserable trip: we get wet, we get bounced around, we get grumpy, but we hold on to the promise of blue skies and perfect tropical views ahead, and get through it.

Seven hours of that crap, but we get to destination safely. Well, a few hair-raising moments were had by all aboard… Welcome to the San Blas Islands, peppered with shallow coral reefs invisible on a cloudy day, and a few visible shipwrecks to remind you that shit can happen if you’re not paying attention.

God bless Eric Bauhaus, author of a very precious guide to this corner of the world. With German precision and Teutonic perseverance he charted the whole area and provided safe waypoints to follow. It’s a little like that tale where you follow the breadcrumbs… Still, it’s mandatory to keep a sharp outlook. My eyeballs are just about ready to pop out of my head.

 

Local means of transportation: the Ulu

Local means of transportation: the Ulu

 

Our view of Isla Porvenir

Our view of Isla Porvenir

 

With immense relief we find a spot to anchor. We made it! With huge sighs we blow out the tension, then we take stock of our surroundings. There are at least twenty boats around us.

Porvenir is the official check-in spot for Kuna Yala, the local name of the territory known as the San Blas Islands. But it’s Sunday, and the officials are not available until tomorrow. Fine with me!

After a very restful night we wake up to sun peeking thru puffy clouds. We get the dinghy in the water and go to the island to complete formalities.

 

Looking out from the Port Captain's Office

Looking out from the Port Captain’s Office

 

The officials are all very friendly and welcome us to their domain. We sit briefly with the immigration official who quickly sends us to another official. There we get our cruising permit for a month, renewable if we want to stay longer. Twenty dollars for the boat and two dollars per person. Twenty four bucks for a month in Paradise, not bad!

Finally we meet the Port Captain, still welcoming but somewhat less smiling. This is the guy who has to sniff out the drug runners and the smugglers, so we understand his demeanor. But it’s quickly determined that Camelot is just another innocent cruising boat, and we’re sent on our way with a heartfelt “enjoy your stay!” by the Port Captain.

 

The Airstrip - coming in

The Airstrip – coming in

 

Same Airstrip - Going out

Same Airstrip – Going out

 

Before returning to the boat we want to visit the small island. Porvenir is really tiny, basically an air strip surrounded by very little land, the only buildings the ones we just visited, a couple more huts, the very small Kuna Museum and a tiny restaurant. We’re done within a half hour, and that was dillydallying, taking our sweet time.

 

Kuna Yala Museum on Isla Porvenir

Kuna Yala Museum on Isla Porvenir

 

Another soothing view of Porvenir

Another soothing view of Porvenir

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