San Blas to Panama

Published on 3 February 2024 at 20:06

Amanda's last blog highlighted some of the problems at San Blas - but that shouldn't take away from the fact that it was as amazing as the pictures suggest - we were feeling "Wow" as much as all the comments have said!!


We moved to another island which was a little more developed (it had a bar!), lovely having a drink in a wooden hut with your feet dangling in the sea!


There are clearly concerns related to climate change - some of the reefs have died, and there is clear concern over rising sea level. And worrying to see some of the rubbish accumulating on the smaller uninhabited islands, and how the locals have no option to dumping their rubbish in the sea. 


But overall it was still an amazing location. Some of the reefs are still alive and amazing the fish were wonderful where the reefs were still alive. The best one had a really strong current, I could only just stay stationary when snorkelling hard, and Amanda didn't snorkel, but it was fantastic. And we did see other wildlife - numerous pelicans, a few parrots, a couple of small whales and a number of turtles but only from a distance , whilst other boats saw shark and barracuda right under their boats. 


We then had an overnight sail from San Blas to Shelter Bay Marina at Colon in Panama, at the start of the Panama Canal. Actually a good sail, our first sail across the wind so we were well heeled, and it was also quite bumpy so we didn't get much sleep! Amanda came on shift at 6am having not slept, and was not in the best of moods - but everything is good again now!


It was fascinating arriving at Panama. Unsurprisingly the entrance to the canal is a bit busy. Attached photo was from our AIS screen as we arrived, we had to pick our way through that lot! 


It was quite unnerving when a 366m long freighter decided to turn straight towards us then sound 5 blasts - they were very loud! And they got so close I couldn't see their bridge windows over their bow as they headed straight towards us. 


But we arrived safely, at Shelter Bay - the first marina I have ever been in which is infested with crocodiles (although I haven't atually seen any!) but divers or anyone in the water is strictly forbidden.


We've done 3 days hard work fixing issues on the boat, all ready to go again now. We've also been travelling and learning a bit more about the area - you can walk straight out of the marina into the jungle, with lots of monkeys, butterflies, capybara - and snakes and spiders! We've also travelled visited an indiginous Emberas village in the Chagres National Park, travelling up the Chagres River in dugout canoes . We have tattoos to prove it!! They still try and live their traditional lifestyle as much as possible, although they are no longer allowed to hunt nor cut trees down, so have resorted to tourism to give them some income to allow them to deal with the outside world. But the biggest change is the drip in river level as water is taken for the canal - which will get much worse in the future as more schemes are introduced to collect more water for the canal


We leave at 4am our time (9.00GMT) tomorrow (Sunday) to transit the Panama Canal. There are actually webcams of each of the locks so if anyone was interested (Mum?!) in theory it should be possible to watch us going through live.


Webcams are at

We will be going through the Gatun locks (the 3 on the Caribbean side) between approximately 06.30 and 08.00 (11.30 and 13.00 UK time), in a group of 3 yachts side by side, in the same lock as a big cargo ship.


No idea what you'll be able to see (if anything!) on the webcams!

Enough for now - I'll write a separate blog with more detail of the canal and our crossing later

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4 months ago

Back in Wi-Fi, great to catch up on your adventures. What a trip you are having! Looks like we missed the first set of locks, may be able to catch you later though we are travelling for the next couple of days (expecting an unplanned stop in Miami as we only have two hours between flights!).

4 months ago

Bill, that’s a bar code not a tattoo (you obviously need one of those as you seem to always find one wherever you are!) good blog - thanks!

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