Estrogen in the San Blas Islands

Such a wonderful week with bestie captains, Diana Klybert, Sarah Cavanah, and Teri McKenna.

They arrived at night, we drank and stayed up late and the next am at 4 we departed for SB.

It was upwind in fairly big seas. As we exited it got really rough with the bow pitching high and low.  The going was slow to prevent damaging the boat.  Plus with no mainsail we headed right into the teeth of it.  Pounding is no fun for anyone including El Gato. Normally we would not go out in this, but we had to meet our mainsail and there were only a few days that we would have access to it.

By noon we hadn’t gone very far and when the port engine quit we opted to head into Linton Bay for a small rest.  Eric had it fixed in no time but we needed everyone to get settled.  Seasickness can hit the best of us after flying, drinking (dehydration), not enough to eat, and not enough sleep.  Eric and I were fine but the others were wiped out. IMG_8387IMG_8388Nothing like removing the enemy, the big seas, to get settled.  We explored Linton by dinghy, spent the night there and continued the next day. It was a good call.

Seas were on our beam instead of the bow, wind 15 kts, sun  shining.  As we ticked off the miles Eric and I got more and more excited.   We had a sail to rendezvous with!

Like many sailors doing a passage we threw out the fishing lines and caught a tuna.  I handed the line over to Sarah and warned her it was big.  Little did I know.  A 6′ shark had decided to eat the tuna! Dinner was NOT going to fish tonight.IMG_8395

Sarah worked hard and brought it up to the boat.  Luckily for Eric who normally takes the fish off the hooks, it got loose on its own after the photo ops. Nothing but the tuna head left.


We rendezvoused with Captain Jack who had our mainsail on Sovereign Grace, a backpacker boat.   He shared coordinates before he left Cartagena of where he would be each day with his passengers. 

As we rounded the corner and saw the yacht it was such a welcome relief. To FINALLY get our mainsail back after so much angst and worry was the best feeling!!!


 They hoisted it up with a halyard and lowered it onto EL RATON.  We then hoisted it up with our halyard and the happiness was felt all around. IMG_8409IMG_8410

From there the first anchorage was the Swimming Pool, BBQ Island, East Holondes area where our friends Reg and Deb live on their yacht Runner.  They came over for a lively dinner where they entertained us with stories and laughter. Their favorite boat wine is a box of Clos and Reg likes to say “it’s not French wine, but it’s close”. IMG_7372

The following day we headed to the Esnasdup, aka the Lagoon. We swam over to friends Mike and Laura, the couple from South Africa we met in St Andres.  An invitation to come aboard and then it was disclosed sometimes crocs have been spotted in the lagoon. Laura said if you see a log approaching swim faster to your boat.  OMG.  Dinner on board El Gato with Caren Edwards from Serenity who we met back in Grenada, and Dianne and her husband from Kokopella who are practically locals.

The next day we went for a group snorkel on the reef. 

The virus was in the background but had not affected anyone here. Yet. 

There are a handful of boats that stay down here all season and they really know the people and the places.  I always bring my phone with me to make waypoints on Navionics, and to take photos.  

Kokpella sent over some mola makers and we really enjoyed shopping for art right on board!  

IMG_8455The 2nd boat had Mola Lisa onboard.  The Gunas are a matriarchal society and Lisa was born and man but brought up as a female.  Too many men born that’s what they do.  We organized to meet her the next AM for a waterfall tour. IMG_8475IMG_8470IMG_8467IMG_8469

Eric joined all the girls and after a 45 minute ride on their panga we hit the trail. It wound through the jungle, passed through a graveyard, and Mona Lisa picked pointed to and picked plants to show us.

and Mona Lisa picked pointed to and picked plants to show us.

The best were the flowers that we modeled as big red lips.


The waterfall was a welcome relief after hiking for an hour. We slid down rocks and enjoyed our lunches which we shared with our guides.



IMG_8541Heading down we followed the fall instead of a path.  Much cooler. Eric and Sarah found a vine to play Tarzan and Jane.



We stumbled upon an almost finished ceremonial dugout on our way back down.

IMG_8578Lisa invited us back to her village to meet her niece who lives with her.  IMG_8583

IMG_8631It was the nieces week of celebration and after school she would be part of a ceremony in her home.  

IMG_8589She wanted me to take photos of her niece to record one part of the event.  When a girl gets her first menstruation cycle the rites of passage begin.  Possibly embarrassing but the whole village is involved.  We were not allowed to stray from the house and would not have witnessed anything if it weren’t for the fact it was Lisa’s house. 

IMG_8593IMG_8591IMG_8590She had the authority and permission to bring us in.  We felt very honored.  After a full tour of the house we were taken into a special room decorated with fresh banana leaves.  It was dark. There was a ceremonial dugout filled with water and chocolate.  IMG_8594

Lisa explained that the gourds on the floor were used by the women to cleanse the girl.  But where was the girl?

As I peeked around the corner in the dark I could not see anything yet Lisa told me the girl was there. So I took a photo and lo and behold there was a girl sitting on a large turned over bucket for a stool. 

IMG_8599 A pretty young shy thing waiting for the elders to come and cleanse her.  They take gourds, dip them in the ceremonial canoe, and rinse her off fully clothed. 

IMG_8606 I imagine back in the day they may have been naked.  As I said it was dark in there and she would sit in there for the next few hours getting rinsed every 30 minutes. 

IMG_8610 Teri and Dianamal are not normally the chefs and took great delight in trying to feed us all.  Listening to them trying to figure things out was great entertainment for Sarah and me. :-).

IMG_7377IMG_8417 If you are wondering how Eric handled all the estrogen he was a champ.  He knows all the women well and we’ve sailed with them enough to know there would be no drama.  Just eager helpers in any endeavor.  The best kind of crew. And of course, they love him too. What’s not to love?!?


A few more days of island exploration…


IMG_8689IMG_8635IMG_8638IMG_8641IMG_8642IMG_8643IMG_8644combined with lots of giggles and appreciation for being together, we headed back to the Canal entrance area and Shelter Bay Marina. Marci and John Forgrave would be flying in to join us for the canal crossing. That was confirmed to happen in 2 days. 

And right after we departed the San Blas, it was closed to visitors due to the virus. 

We were staying one step ahead.  

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