Sailing in San Blas, Again (Part II)

Sailing San Blas

Baby monkey

So I left off last time eating some crab.  It was delicious.  Afterward I visited the island I was anchored next to, where I found some interesting Kuna folk.  Prado (pretty flamboyant) and his mother were the resident mola artists.  I took a look, but I’m not really into nick-knacks and souvenirs.  Here’s Prado modeling, this is right before he made some pretty overt advances.  It’s funny though – he wasn’t ostracized, made fun of, or treated any differently than the straight Kuna.  Maybe they’re a little more advanced than us, socially.

Sailng San Blas

Prado, the model

The other little family on the island I gave my saltwater-tainted gasoline to, so they could use it to burn trash and clear brush.  They were stoked.  I asked if they dive, one guy said yes.  I asked if he wanted to kayak around and dive the next day – he said yes.  Win.

Then I decided to do something I’d been threatening for awhile:  put up a hammock onshore and watch the sunset over my boat.

Sailing San Blas

Not bad, eh?

The next morning I woke up early and went and picked up my Kuna guide.  He took me to two spots to dive – the first being very shallow and unproductive, the second having a wall and being more productive.  The first spot had a nice Mutton Snapper on it, but my Kuna guide blew the shot.

Spot # 2 had a wall, one side being 0-5 feet deep and the other as deep as 60 feet.  Far more productive, but I wasn’t pushing it as my Kuna guide wasn’t watching – being more interested in shallow lobster hunting.  It was cool watching him dive in gear from the 60’s.

I made a few good, deep dives and blew it on a giant Schoolmaster.  There were a ton of snapper on the reef – but when you dove, they dove.  Clearly they’ve been hunted before.

I cut our dive short as I needed to head back to Chichime to stage for the sail back to Puerto Lindo.  Then my Kuna guide challenged me to a kayak race.  He lost.  We said our goodbyes, I left him with a fish.

Chichime Again

The sail to Chichime was uneventful, besides my autopilot, wind, and depth instruments going berserk and then failing completely.  I decided to sail into Chichime and deal with it at anchor.  Of course that meant that I was guessing on the depth, and also on anchor scope – but not a big deal.

Chichime was crowded.  Too crowded.  I should have just turned around and left.  But I didn’t.  So I tried anchoring, but kept ending up too close to other boats for (my) comfort.  I’m still new at this game and really don’t want to pull anchor into somebody else’s boat.  So I raised anchor and moved into deeper water, away from the other folks.  Here my anchor pulled, and didn’t set.  So I raised anchor again and tried once more in the deeper water.  This time it stuck (finally) and I was comfortable with the distance between myself and the closest yacht.  Finally.  Then I played with my instruments and got everything working, then took a dip.

Sailing San Blas

Cooling off

I went to shore, played a pickup game of beach volleyball, and had the first beer of the night.  Onshore there were a ton of charter captains.  It was so nice to hear about their problems with their much larger and much newer boats.  This whole boating thing is about solving problems onboard.  A boat is a floating problem, no doubt.  Bigger the boat, bigger the problems. New doesn’t mean it won’t have problems.

I noticed a Canadian flagged Lagoon 410 when I pulled in and met the guy onshore at the beer-buying spot.  Greg was his name, and his yacht is Oceana.  He’s a surfer, spearo, and roughly my age.  Nice to finally have someone my age to talk with.  After a few minutes he asked if I had a website, I said yes.  He asked the name, I told him.  He got really excited and said he’d been reading and hoping we’d catch up at some point.  He’s heading through the canal to the South Pacific soon as well.  The goal being to spear, surf, and explore the South Pacific.  I have a feeling we’ll be dive/surf buddies for a couple of years.

The party soon moved to Oceana.  We talked boats, sailing, and fishing.  I looked at his layout, and got a little jealous of his sailing performance and space.  The 410 is a great live-aboard, for sure. That night we all tied one on.  Not quite a real shitshow though.

The next morning I woke up a bit hungover, but nothing serious.  I was in a hurry to get underway though, to avoid what happened on the way into Chichime (anchoring at night).  So I pulled anchor and hauled ass out of Chichime.  There wasn’t much wind.  I hate light wind sailing, but I needed to get back… so I raised sails and put on the engine.

sailing san blas

No wind, throttles forward

The damn autopilot, wind, and depth instruments went out again.  So I switched the relay, but it still didn’t come back on.  So I monkeyed with connections – and got it working again.  Note to self:  rewire that stuff, it’s important.  Shortly thereafter I realized I couldn’t find my sunglasses.  Seems I left them aboard Oceana the night before.  Polarized sunglasses are a must, and they were sorely missed.

Back in Puerto Lindo

Sailing San Blas

Coming into Puerto Lindo

Pulling into Puerto Lindo was nice.  I know the spot, the people, and know that my anchor won’t drag (I’m on a mooring ball).  It’s also pretty protected, and the Dutch guy (Hans) cooks a mean chicken dish.  The downside is the monsoon-like weather, which I was reminded of shortly after pulling into port.  They were also out of water in Puerto Lindo, which is a bummer because I’d been rationing water and don’t have my watermaker operational yet.  I had enough to drink, but not much else.

Stuck in Panama City

I need a million things for the boat.  Including groceries, rum (I’d also left that on Oceana), and some boat parts.  So I fired up my not-so-trustworthy SUV and took off.  But I now have a pretty serious medical complication that began to make itself known on the way to Panama City.

It started as a small red bump with a small dark spot in the middle.  I passed it off as a bug bite, hardly anything to worry about.  The next day it was inflamed and very painful.  The next day even worse.  So I got on WebMD and started trying to figure it out.  I came to the conclusion that it’s either Staph or FHD (fish-handler’s-disease).  Both are bad news.  Both are pretty serious.  If you haven’t heard of Fish-Handler’s-Disease, please do yourself a favor and check it out here. It’s really serious and more common than you’d think.

Check out the progression below (unless you have a weak stomach).  It’s gnarly, and super painful (especially when I’m typing):




So now I’m holed up in a hotel, in Panama City.  I’m staying here, close to the hospital until I can get this figured out.  The ER wasn’t very helpful, so I’ve been consulting with friends and family who are doctors in the States.  I’m on two pretty strong antibiotics, and they appear to be slowing the infection down.  But it’s still super painful and tender.  If it gets worse, rather than better, I’m headed Stateside.

I really hope it doesn’t come to that. And after driving in Panama City, I realized how important that middle finger is…

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