Sail away, sail away, sail away - Having a Blast in the San Blas
San Blas Travel Blog› entry 103 of 134 › view all entries
After a lot of agonizing, researching and procrastinating I finally met the infamous "Fritz the Cat". After clearing the bank balance i paid my $820,000 pesos ($395 USD), handed over my passport and stepped aboard the Catamaran with sea legs firmly attached.
The captain of "Fritz the Cat" is Fritz, not to be confused with Fritzel, which would frankly be rather alarming. Fritz is part chef, part trumpet player and all Austrian Captain. Larger than life and a true character he put me at ease and filled me with confidence straight away. Despite unfavourable reviews online i found him to be entertaining, straight talking and a great personality. For the faint hearted, yes you might take offense, but he is everything i would want from a Captain.
The 15 passengers were an interesting bunch, two Argentinan guys biking from Ushuia to Alaska and another German couple doing the same thing (so technically we had three more passengers in their bikes). Oliver and Dagma, a German couple who were frankly rude, uptight and lacked any concieveable sense of humour, patience or interaction skills. Anne and Rhys a lovely Australian couple who I liked instantly, despite Rhys´s interesting facial hair! Adding testosterone to the boat were three Swedish boys - Nicholas, Henrick and Phil who were thoroughly entertaining and then there were Jenny, Hannah and Susanne a lovely trio of girls who i met in cartegena and Taganga and who were sure to make fun sailing buddies.
After our safety briefing and instructions (including the only showering for 90 seconds every 24 hours rule!!!) we set sail and left the shores of Colombia and South America for pastures new. It was an emotional moment for me, but i will return to Colombi and South America. We settled into the boat which was fortunately very comfortable. With two trampolines at the front, a cock pit with a large table (although not large enough for everyone to sit around) and a large sofa inside there were plenty of places to spread out to and relax. So we settled in to enjoy our idyllic five day sailing trip.
The Carribean sea is not to be underestimated. It can be rough and downright hellish if the winds are bad. Fortunately we were running from Cartegena to Panama which is meant to have more favourable winds and an easier passage.
Day three broke with clear skies, sunshine and Fritz playing the trumpet announcing our arrival to the San Blas islands. There are 365 islands that form an archipelago off the Carribean coast of Panama.
The 3 days in the San Blas were truly idyllic and relaxing. However, we never really got the opportunity to stay on the islands or interact with the Kuna people which for me was the only real disadvantage of the trip. So much said about the islands revolves around its native people that i felt I missed out on a big part of the experience.
Eat, swim, snorkel, eat, snooze, swim, snorkel, eat, drink, pass out.
So playing in the San Blas had all the ingrediants of a good time!
NOTES IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING THE TRIP
From Cartegena to Panama you have to pay $25 USD to get a jeep to Panama City on top of the fare. It is included if you go from Panama to Cartegena.
Despite reviews about the reliability of the boat and Fritz´s ability as a captain, in the indominable Captains words himself ... "things break, i fix them. It´s a boat. The thing to remember is we always arrive"
The cabins are pretty small and being underneath the boat can make for a rocky ride, although a catamaran is smoother than a yacht.
The food is excellent! There is a big net full of fresh fruit and veg which you can help yourself to whenever you wish. There is plenty of food at all meals and any dietary requirements are really well met. I was amazed at how much good food comes out of the tiny kitchen .... even a birthday cake for Hannah!
There is only tap water from Cartegena aboard. We never went without water and there was no shortage of water available but some of us did get sick which we suspect was from the water. I suggest you bring your own, have purification tablets just in case or discuss with Fritz about alternative options.
Don`t forget this is a backpacker option and you are at open sea. There are some things beyond anyones control and it`s certainly not a luxury liner. However, with the right people and the right attitude you`re bound to have a great time.