We are still living on the hard standing at Shelter Bay Marina.

Spirit of Argo in the work yard of Shelter Bay Marina

As you can see, the humans have been ‘lying down on the job.

The humans were very naughty and left it a long time between lift outs.  It was an ecological disaster when the boat was lifted out of the water, as the Marina lost an entire reef system.  You do not believe me, check out the picture below.

All that is missing is a bit of hard coral.

Just a few more jobs to get through, besides the hull.

Prop, cutlass bearing, forward looking sonar ect., ect.,   We may be out of the water for a while?!?!?!

I am very happy to tell you that rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.  As you can see I am ALIVE AND WELL.

I never realized that my lack of correspondences would prompt a lovely couple from the US to fly out to Panama and come to Shelter Bay Marina looking for me.

“I am so sorry for worrying you Richard and Diana, but admit it, you were looking for an excuse for a holiday anyway”.

I really do not have a good excuse for neglecting the blog. I am sorry guys. It just seemed to me that the ‘day to day’ routine of the humans working was……well…..a little boring.

If you really are interested, than I guess I should take the time and tell you what we have been up to.


Eat, drink, work, repeat


Of course there is lots more to living and working in Panama than that!

But the whole purpose of us all stopping here, before heading off to the Pacific, was to make some money and get some work done on the boat.

I am happy to say, with my help, the humans have managed to do both.

*Note to anyone with out a boat yet

*******************    You are never done fixing your boat!   *************

But we have had lots of fun along the way and made some great new friends.

Here is a little run down of how a typical day goes around here at Shelter Bay Marina.

Morning starts with me trying to get a bit more of a ‘lie in’ while the humans participate in the Marina’s morning net for visiting cruisers.

Broadcast on the VHF radio each morning it lists

-the weather

-canal notifications

-local information, discounts and the Marinas free bus service

-activities in the Marina

-and the popular ‘buy, sell and trade

Than we are all off, skipping the morning yoga classes so I can have a good run on the beach.

One of the humans heads over to open The Sail Loft for business and get the free herb garden watered.

The humans could not get the budget to paint the old theatre building, in which the Sail Loft is housed.  So they invited the cruisers  to paint it themselves.  It is quickly getting covered in boat images, boat and crew names and any other paintings the cruisers fancy leaving behind.


While everyone else is having fun, I put the humans to work.  If they are not working in The Sail Loft than I have them working on our own boat.

Some body has to supervise them.

4:15pm I have them leading Aqua-fit in the Marina pool.

Then it is back to The Sail Loft in the busy months or a more relaxing evening in the slower months.


The cruising lot are social butterflies and many are willing to share their talents and skill.  There is something to do every evening in the Marina.  Movie nights, information talks, BBQs, games and music.

There are some specially organized trips, festivals and the occations shopping trip to Panama City, but that really sums up what you have been missing.

See, I told you it was all very boring.


it is going to get a little crazy soon.  Lift out time.  The dreaded ‘life on the hard’.

Do not let the palm trees fool you. That just means it is hot.

Image result for image ladder on boat in boat yardImage result for image bucket instead of a toiletA reminder of just two of the inconveniences when you are living on a boat lifted out of the water.

You think that is bad.  Well it gets worse.

Image result for image Copper Coat

The humans have decided to Copper Coat the bottom of the boat in preparation for our cruise around the Pacific islands.

Sounds like a great idea, until you hear that they want to do all the work themselves.

Image result for image paint suit and goggles


I am sure you will want to know how that job goes.

I promise I will keep you informed.


In the mean time:

If you have any questions about ‘stopping and working’ while you are cruising, please add them to the comments section and I will do my best to answer.

10. July 2016 · 12 comments · Categories: Panama

3-Shelter Bay Marina

The humans have stayed busy running the Sail Loft.  But all work and no play make them boring dog owners.  Do not get me wrong, as far as my doggy life style goes, all the jungle trails and  beaches surrounding Shelter Bay Marina are all I need in life.

The humans did take a day off and joined in on the festivities surrounding the Grand Opening of the New wider Panama Canal passage that follows the older sections.


Despite having modern equipment at their disposal, these new MEGA locks took as long as the original canal to build.


But now the modern giant container and cruise ships can pass through the isthmus.  If you are interested in engineering, you should really look up information on how these new locks work.  It is really quite fascinating.

All this was fun and entertaining, but my humans really craved a little get away.  Some place with a little history and culture perhaps.  One place to find that is in Panama City.

So I sent them off on a little over night city break.

3-Panama City

Shelter Bay Marina is on the Caribbean Sea side of the Panama Canal, while Panama City is on the Pacific Ocean side.  It only takes between 11/2 to 2 hours to cross the entire country of Panama here.

3-Map of Shelter Bay marina to Panama City The humans dropped me off  with ‘willing’ neighbours and caught the Marina’s free weekly shuttle (Wednesdays) to Panama City.

The shuttle dropped them off at Albrook Mall.


Albrook Mall is not only the largest mall in both the Americas, but the transportation hub of Panama City.  You can get anywhere in Panama from here.

My humans had a ‘nose about’ and then caught the subway into the City proper.


Fast, clean and cheap (35cents) the subway beats trying to get around Panama Cities busy streets.  The humans were off to visit the Fish Market just two stops away.

3- fish market walk

Just a short walk from the subway stop you will find the bounty of the Pacific Ocean.

3- fish market hall

Looking down on only a small section of this thriving commercial market

3-fish market yfin tuna

Whole yellow finned tuna.  Yum!

3-fish market prawns

More than just fish, there is also a huge assortment of lobster, crabs, mussels, clams and, of course, prawns.  Yum, yum!

All this great sea food only wets your appetite.  You can dine at the restaurant on the top floor of the Fish Market or outside at the many kiosks that line the walkway between the market and the docks.

3-fish market boats at docks

Busy docks as fishing vessels unload their cargo.

3-fish market outdoor venders

The humans choose to sit outside and ‘people watch’.  If you choose the kiosks with the most locals seated at it, you can not go wrong.

3-cups of ceviche

You can get a full cooked meal, but the humans choose to slowly eat their way through the entire ceviche menu one cup at a time.  At $1.50 a beer and cups of ceviche starting at $1.50 it was a fun, delicious and economical way to while away the afternoon.

But then a walk was in order to work off all that food.

3-walk to view of city and docks

If you follow the waterfront Panama cities Old Town is only a 30 minute walk away.  Along the way you get great view over the water the skyscraper dominated city centre.

3-walk view to new city

On the other side of the peninsula here you also get a view over the water to the walled in Old Town.

3-walk view of old city

The humans picked a hotel right on the edge of the Old Town.

3-hotel-Casa Panama

Casa Panama is a lovely hotel, but the male human had an ulterior motive for choosing this hotel.  It is right beside a pub that brews its own fine selection of ales and stouts.  More on that later!

3-hotel tastefully decorated

Like most Spanish architecture of this era the hotel structure was dominated by a beautiful central courtyard.  But the high light of this hotel is the views from it’s roof top restaurant and bar.

3-hotel roof bar city view

From the roof you get fabulous views out towards the main city centre and also back into the old quarter.

3-hotel view to old city

So off the humans went to explore.

3-ot day rod iron balconies

Narrow streets, old buildings with rod iron balconies and little urban parks dominate this quarter of the city.  Local and tourist interest in the area has lead to major regeneration projects.

3-ot day - more balconies

Most of Old Town has been lovely restored, especially the churches.

3-ot day church exterior

3-ot day church interiors restored beautifully

The historical, cultural, religious and economical influence of the Panama Canal is evident everywhere.

3-ot day church canals role

But there is more to see than just history and architecture here.

3-ot day street art

There are lots of street art and galleries.  Restaurants and park side cafes.  Boutiques and souvenir vendors.  But where did the humans end up after their walk?  You guessed it!

3-pub interior

A little ‘parched’ they ended up at the pub trying out Panama’s version of a good pint.

3-pub with a pint

You can forgive them as it has been a few years since they had a sip of a fine ale.  They were entertained by the stories of an expat who had been based in Central America for a few years.  Lots of learn from those that had ‘been there done that’!

3-ot night streets busy

The streets of Old Town are even more ‘alive’ at night.  Even mid week.

3-ot night church lit up

Beautifully lit up, tourists and locals alike pile into this quarter of the city to enjoy the restaurants, jazz bars and cafes.

3-ot night hotels and barsThere are places to stay and eat in the Old Town to match any ones budget including a youth hostel and grocery stores.

3-ot night grocery stores

My humans returned to their little bit of luxury after feasting at an ‘all you can eat’ sushi bar.

3-ot night view hotel

No late nights on the terrace for these two.  They had an early start in the morning to catch a very special train.

3-Panama Canal Railway

3- train entrance

Welcome to the Panama Canal Railway.  A train service that runs once a day from Panama City to Colon following the entire length of the Panama Canal.


This railway has become so popular with tourists that they have built a special ‘glass topped’ carnage.  Check it out!

3- entering train

3-train dinning car

3-train Cain and I

Not the most economical way to travel at $25 a ticket.  But it does include a breakfast snack box and coffees.

3-train snack box

And, short of traversing the canal yourself, you will not get better views.

3- train canal view

The train weaves in and out of the jungle, along the canal and over the giant flood plains of Lake Gatun in the centre.

3-train seating car

3-train picture postcard

They even have an ‘intermediate’ car where you can step outside for a breath of fresh air and unobstructed views.

3-train rounding corner

3-train flood plains

And that was it.

The humans caught a taxi ($3) to the Shelter Bay Marina free shuttle bus parked outside the grocery store in Colon, and travelled back to the Marina arriving at noon.

A short and sweet break, but perfectly ‘doable’ by any visiting yacht to Shelter Bay Marina before doing their canal transit to the Pacific.

The humans got their holiday, I got spoilt by the neighbor and we are all back to work again with smiles on our faces.


More later from your roving reporter.

Did you all check out the July 2016 issue of Caribbean Compass?


There are two articles on Panama. One on the Bocas del Toro area and one on the San Blasé islands. The San Blasé article ends in Shelter Bay Marina. And if you look at the end of that article you will find a little story about the Sail Loft. The first article ever written by my female human and she got it published.
Admittedly it is rather short, and obviously a ploy for publicity for the Sail Loft.

06. June 2016 · 14 comments · Categories: Panama


Sorry its been a while since I updated the Blog. But you can see your roving reporter has made a full recovery from his ‘near death’ experience!!

The good news is that humans have taken over running the Sail Loft at Shelter Bay Marina.

Its been a very busy couple of weeks getting things organized and running smoothly.  There has been a great deal of interest and plenty of work coming through the door.

Clipper race boats

Shelter Bay Marina is the last opportunity for work to be completed on boats transiting the Panama Canal,  and heading out in the Pacific. They are often on a tight schedule and need a speedy, but quality service. If you face crossing the Pacific, you want to make sure your sails are up to the job.

The female human has been very busy meeting those deadlines and has had lots of positive feedback on price and quality.

Working away on a Spinnaker Repair.

Sail loft

Rescuing a completely ripped Genoa. Before Shot

CIMG5725 And the after shot. Fully repaired.


So it looks like we will be here awhile. You would think the female human would not want to get back into her pre-cruising business life. But Shelter Bay Marina offered a great opportunity for her to utilise her skills and years of experience to provide a great service to fellow cruisers and top up the cruising kitty. The Pacific and French Polynesia can wait…..just a little while.

Not too long now or I will loose my four ‘Sea Legs’!

17. May 2016 · 8 comments · Categories: Panama

Sorry guys.

I kind of left you hanging there wondering how things went with the jobs at Shelter Bay Marina.


To tell you the honest truth we do not know any more than we did when we wrote you last.  Despite a lot of running a round, talks and a few sail repairs we know less about the job offer than before we left.


Lets just start at the beginning.


Center map
Google MapsGet Directions

We left the harbor of Portobelo for the short trip to the mouth of the Panama Canal.

You know you are getting close when you are joined by hordes of anchored cargo ships awaiting their turn to transit to the Pacific Ocean.

1-Approach to Panama Canal

1-shipping close to channel

You weave your way through these and approach the giant break water that protects the mouth of the Panama Canal on this side.

Center map
Google MapsGet Directions

The Marina is just inside and to the west (left) of the main opening in the breakwater.  Do not worry.  You can not miss the channel markers.

1-harbour breakwater and markers

Everything seems to be built to a grand scale here!

Once inside the breakwater you have all the docks of Colon City.  The major Panimanian port on the Caribbean side of the Canal.

Colon harbour front docks

And the entrance to the Panama Canal straight ahead.

1- Panama Canal entrance

To get to the Marina you ‘dodge’ west and follow the well buoyed break water.

1-marina bouyage

Give a shout on VHF channel 74 and the marina staff we give you directions to a berth and have some help to catch the lines inside.

We stopped off at the Marina entrance and paid a visit to the fuel barge.

Center map
Google MapsGet Directions

And then headed over to the slip they assigned us.

1-marina berth

You would be proud of my humans.  They made it in without hitting anything.

1-boats in the Marina

So we made it safe and sound.



Before we started taking jobs at Shelter Bay Marina we had a quick celebration to have.  One of my humans got another year older.

1-Aprils Birthday

She was a bit to embarrassed to model her gifts.  But you all know I love a bit of ‘dress up’, so I did the honours.  I can not stand letting anyone else get all the attention.

1-Quinn modeling presents


Well the marina was not so sure on that.

Although we had been invited to come to the Marina to run the sail loft, it turns out they had already another couple doing the job.  They had to talk to them first.  But they were out of the country and on holiday at the moment.  Would we mind completing a few ‘out standing’ jobs’ until they got back and had time to sort it out?

So we did a few jobs in the interim.


This time it was me instead of the human.  And to keep up tradition in this family.  I did it in style.  I managed to collapse both my lungs and almost suffocate.  The fancy name for this is:

pneumothorax (pneumo- + thorax; plural pneumothoraces

Here is a link for you:


Of course I managed to show symptoms, that something was wrong, two days after running into a piece of rebar.  And on a bank holiday.  So, after surviving the night they rushed me off to the University Veterinarian Training Hospital in Panama City where they stabilized me in an oxygen rich tent.

1-Quinn before

The fussy stuff is lung tissue, or the lack of!

The initial x-rays were not good.  I had less than 1/4 lung capacity on one side and half on the other.  It took them all a few days to figure out it was caused by trauma to chest cavity.  As soon as they started to suck the extra air out of my thorax, my lungs could start to re-inflate again.

1-Quinn after

Back up to 80% lung capacity I was happy to be able to go home to the boat again.

1-marina facilities

It will be a few weeks before I will be chasing any balls.  And I will do my best to keep a better look out.


We are unsure at the moment.We will tell you what happens at the end of the week!

24. April 2016 · 6 comments · Categories: Panama

We love the cruising life.1-beach with Quinn

I love the beaches and swimming, while the humans love meeting new people, seeing new places and exploring below the waters surface.  There has always been a new adventure around every corner.

But unfortunately it takes money.

No mater how cheaply we try to live and eat the boat always takes up the majority of the budget. Major systems are always wearing out and maintenance is always required.  Unfortunately every time they put the word ‘marine’ before a product label they also add a few ‘zeros’ to the price tag.

So nothing comes cheap, especially when we rarely have an address to have it sent to.  Do not forget that most of Central America does not even have a postal system!

Send to:  Sailing Vessel Spirit of Argo,  anchored somewhere off the coast of Central America?

Chart of Panama with Portobela marked


So here we were anchored up in Portobelo stocking up to return to the San Blas Islands for a ‘at least’ a few more months when one of my humans spotted an employment opportunity.

Sail repairs

Not about to walk away from an opportunity to ‘top up the kitty’, of course she inquired if they might need an extra hand.   Casa Vela is a bar/restaurant on the waterfront with a sail loft in back.

Casa Vela view out to bay

Casa Vela run by Birgit and Ray

Picture of Ray and Birgit

The German owners Ray and Birgit were mad enough to hire her.   Ray runs the sail loft and Birgit runs the bar/restaurant.  You can guess where my other human hung out.

Every little bit helps towards affording to replace some worn out systems on the boat.  So the humans were happy to make a little extra money while Ray was happy to have some free time to work on his own boat.

Besides, Portobelo is not so bad.  It is a bit of a ‘run down’ town that needs a ‘bit’ of a clean up.  But there are good enough grocery shops, hardware stores, restaurants and bakeries.   Fresh fruit and veggy trucks visit most days and their is a cheap regular bus service to the next biggest town, Sabintas, where there is a large ‘American style’ grocery store.  Or Panama City if you really need something from the Capital.

Bus to grocery store

One of the colourful old school buses that plow the route along the Panamanian coast and Colon City.




Festival in town

Festival action in the town centre of Portobelo  (Opps,ignore the faulty time stamp)

Anchorage off of fort

Anchoring on the north side of the bay, off the fort, gives me a beach and trails to run about on.  It is also cleaner water for the humans to cool off with a swim after a long sweaty day in the sail loft.

NOW that the idea of perhaps WORKING during the summer had come up for the humans, they decided to research what WORK was available out there.

That is when they found an old advertisement for a sail maker at Shelter Bay Marina.


Shelter bay Marina map to

ShelterBayMap close up


Situated at the mouth of the Panama Canal they have a ‘captured market’ for boats needing work before passing through to the Pacific.

Remarkably they were still looking for someone to develop their canvas and sail loft.  Us ‘cruising lot’ do have a habit of ‘sailing off into the sunset’.  And that is exactly what the last few people running the place had done.

Shelter Bay were offer ‘quite a bit’ more pay,Shelter-Bay-Marina-in-PanamaPool at Shelter Bay Marina

but with that ‘quite a bit’ more ‘head aches’ and responsibility.  Did my humans really want that?  As nice as the Marina is, did they want to give up beaches. snorkeling and any chance of privacy?

Needless to say they needed to take some time to decide.

Unfortunately, just as my humans were trying to make a decision there was a  spree of thefts in Portobelo Harbour.  A French boat was robbed at gun point and Ray’s boat (owner of the sail loft) was broken into and the generator and some tools were taken.

All of a sudden things did not feel very secure remaining in Portobelo.  The humans felt it was time to leave.  Either back to the San Blas Islands or on to Shelter Bay.

With another 10 years before anyone on this boat sees a pension and expensive systems breaking down and work available, the logical choice was to try and see how things panned out in Shelter Bay Marina.  So the humans called up the Marina, accepted the job and gave a weeks notice to Ray at Casa Vela.

Since accepting the job, Portobelo Harbour has again become a safer anchorage.  This is primarily due to the persistence and efforts by Ray.   He traveled down to Colon police head quarters to complain about the situation here.  They set up daily patrols by the navy and arrested the group of thieves.  A thorough search retrieved the gun, the generator and a majority of the stolen goods.

Sunset in Portobelo Harbour

Our last few nights at anchor.  My humans will soon be joining the rest of you lot in full time employment.  At least we will not be needing any jumpers or catching the Go train!


Portobela is a very handy anchorage for stocking up.  What you can not find in the local shops you will find, only a short bus ride away, in ‘Rey’ supermarket in the town of Sabinitos.


All the busses have their destinations clearly painted on the front windshields.  They will pick you up anywhere along the main road if you wave your hand.  There is a shaded seating area in the central square in town, in front of (what everyone calls) the second Chineese market.  You wait on the shop side of the road for busses going in the direction of Sabinitos and Colon.

You pay when you exit the bus.  Try to have small bills or exact change.  The fair was $1.75/each way at the time of writing.  Buses seem pretty regular both ways.  We never waited longer than 15 minutes for a bus.  They do get very ‘packed’ at peak travelling times.

You pick up the return bus right outside the Rey supermarket.  The bus will have ‘Portobela’ clearly written across the front.  They are usually pretty full before they leave Colon, so expect to have to ‘squeeze’ in.  They emply on the way to Portobela, usually, but you do not want to be carrying many groceries.


You have two choices.

  1. You take the bus to Sabinitos and a taxi back with your groceries.  There is a queue of taxies waiting right outside Rey’s supermarket.  At the time of writing it was about $20 for the trip back to Portobela.
  2. You can pre-book a return taxi driver from Portobela who will wait for you, and hold your purchases from town, while you shop.  They know where the good automotive supply and hardware shops are.  You usually finish off at Rey supermarket last before returning to Portobela.  At the time of writing Tommy, fluent in English, (507-6765-4845) charged $30 for the round trip.


We are going to have to get used to saying goodbye to friends as they head on through the Canal to the Pacific.  That is what a majority of the boats that come to Panama have come here for.

CIMG5597Most of this crew we met in the Rio Dulce, Guatemala last hurricane season.

Gene and Bill (furthest to the left) are taking their boat (s/v Out of the Bag) through the canal with the help of friends Sue and Brian (s/v Sea Rose) and Becky and George (s/v C-Level).  Their friendly faces my be familiar to a few of you.

They stopped into Portobela to do a stock up and we were able to quickly catch up with them before they left.

20. April 2016 · 3 comments · Categories: Panama

Well the humans friend Steve, finally has to leave and head back home. I will miss his company. He was very good to play with and had a very comfortable lap for me to lounge on.

Steve’s flight was out of Panama City, so I sent the male human off to accompany him and explore the city, before his departure. They left Portobello taking the local bus to Colon. Then an express bus to Panama City. Total cost $6 each. The bus dropped them off at Los Andes shopping mall, but you can stay all the way to The Albrook Mall. Both malls were overwhelming to the male human who has not seen so many shops since the USA.

Panama City has very good subway system. It is one line that runs through the centre of the city. You buy a card for $2 and put credit on it. The boys put $3 credit on each and it lasted them two days travelling around the city,


They got to their hotel and had a quiet few beers and a good local Pizza. The next day they set off exploring.

First stop The Panama Canal. An engineering marvel linking the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. It was begun by the French in 1880, but financial troubles and diseases made the initiative fail. After its independence in 1903, Panama negotiated an agreement with the United States for the construction of the Canal, which the U.S. finished on 15th August 1914 and managed until 1999.

At noon on 31st December 1999, Panama took over full operation, administration and maintenance of the Canal in compliance with the Torrijos-Carter Treaties negotiated with the United States in 1977.

You can visit the Canal by Land at The Miraflores Locks. The last locks before the Pacific Ocean. There is a visitor, with a very good museum and a great view of the locks. The easiest way to get there is to take the subway to Albrook Station and then a taxi. Taxi is about $8 for two. Entrance fee to museum and visitor centre is $15. A bit steep but worth it.

Steve outside Miraflores Locks

Unfortunately no ships were in the locks when they visited and the next was not scheduled to arrive until 3pm, so with limited time, they left to explore Panama City.

Miraflores Locks

Tug in Lock

Plaque Panama Canal

They headed off to the fish market

Fish Market


Cain at Fish Market

They had an excellent meal in the simple restaurant upstairs.


They then set off on foot and walking to the old town, Casco Viejo. On way they got great views of the new city and development. Reminiscent of a US City Skyline.Boats and City close up

Steve and Panama CityThe old town has a wall surrounding it.

City Wall

There are plenty of beautiful Spanish Colonial Style Buildings

Square Building

House with Palm Trees



Church and Statue

There are also some in need of restoration

old house

There are a few artists who are selling their works.

Reflecting on Paintings

Even a Kuna Stall.


The views of the new city from the old were great.

Cain on Wall

All this walking about got the boys thirsty. They were tempted to cool off in a courtyard pool they found.

Steve by pool

But instead they stopped at a BrewPub called La Rana Dorada and enjoyed a couple of pints of excellent English Style Pale Ale.

La Rana Dorada

Steve had to fly out the next day. Where did those 5 weeks go? He was great company and generous and hardworking crewmember. The male human is particularly upset that he is backing doing the dishes! Take care Steve we hope your return visit wont be too long

Steve from old city to new



We were a little concerned about coming to Portobelo.

Center map
Google MapsGet Directions

Some people said the place was horrible, mostly because of the thieving cruisers who anchored their sinking ships there. Others said the place was rather nice. Old forts, museums, a few  restaurants and easy access on the bus to a big grocery store.

We decided to give the place a look see. Steve had gotten very San Blasé about all the lovely desert islands so we thought a little history culture and civilization was in order.

a-near fort view of anchorage

To get to Portobelo is a simple day sail about 50nm down the coast. Unfortunately it was a rolly beam sea to start and everyone aboard, including me, was a little ‘green around the gills’ except of course our company Steve. And this was his first ‘biggish’ sea voyage. At least we were rewarded with some fishing luck finally.

a-fishing success

We anchored up in the harbour just off an old Spanish fort and were rewarded with the symphony of bird song and the roar of howler monkeys.

After a good night sleep we were off to explore the area. First stop was getting me ashore for a walk. The boys were entertained by the hill side Spanish fort here and the great views out over the harbour.

a-anchorage from new fort

Next stop for the humans was town.  a-arial view of town

A little small and a little run down it still had its high lights. The church of the Black Christ, the town fortifications, the museum. A couple of mini-marts, bakeries, bars and restaurants. What more do humans need?

a-fort and anchorage

After their hot and sweaty day looking about they headed back to the boat for our last meal aboard all together. The boys are off to Panama City tomorrow. Steve’s holiday has come and gone much too fast.




And what a fantastic trip it has been – from learning a whole bunch of new stuff to experiencing a part of the world I had never heard of, much less thought about visiting, prior to Cain and April sailing here. Thanks to them for all that they have shown me and for being gracious enough to host me for so long and affording me the chance to catch up properly with them after so long apart.

It would be impossible not to fall in love with the San Blas islands; genuinely they are picture postcard perfect. You sense that time may not, however, be either on their side or kind to them – development and modernization looms large. They are not easy to get too but they reward you for the effort many times over.

This journey now nears its end but, as is so often the case, as this one draws to its close another looms for me. Spirit of Argo’s will take them elsewhere and not, for the immediate future, on the same path – sail well, sail fair and sail safe.

3-mig bitesMany of you regular readers will remember that we left our visitor Steve escaping crocodiles and succumbing to the thousands of hungry mouths of the sand flies found on the islands of San Blas.
Our mission, should we choose to accept it, was to find him an island where he would no longer be ‘eaten alive’.  We accepted entertaining Steve aboard the boat, but not his thousands of ‘little friends’ who had taken such a shine to him.  Poor Steve, we did initially fail him.  But you will see we did learn from our mistakes.

Center map
Google MapsGet Directions

We left our anchorage in the Eastern Holandes Cays and initially made our way west to the Middle Holandes and anchored off the rarely visited reefs off Wichubuala Cay.

Center map
Google MapsGet Directions



During his visit, Steve become became very good at snorkeling and kayaking and even went so far as to learn how to combine the two.

1-Wi anchorage

Reefs run the full length of the island offering great snorkeling opportunities.

1-steve on Win beach

We had been to Wichubuala Cay before and had no problems.  But the sand flies here could smell Steve coming a mile away. No sooner did the poor guy come ashore than every sand flee for miles was alerted to the possibility of a free lunch.

So we did not stay here long.

1-sailing along the way
The search for an island or cay without sand flies continued.

1-island along the way

With Steve’s present ‘midges magnetism’ I would not even want to bring him any where near an island with even a single tree on it.

1-island with no migges

Finally we found Steve an island with minimal chance of infestation. Welcome to the cay we fondly renamed Kuna-Henge.  Do not laugh.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.

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1-Kuna stone hendge and Quinn
We found this little gem in the Eastern Lemon Cays. We were warned ‘You do not want to go there, it is too touristy’. But we found the snorkeling very good. In fact, the best yet in the San Blas Islands if you want to see a wide range of fish.
Being in a touristy section of the San Blas Islands is not all bad.

1-boys off for a last snorkel

After some snorkeling in the Lemon Cays we moved over to the south side of the Chichime Cays.

1-Chichime Cain on beach

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1-Steve at Chichime

This anchorage had two great advantages. First it put us in an easy launching position for a trip west down the coast to Portobello and second the island here has a Kuna bar, open to the wind to keep the midges away!

1-chichime beer

1-last chance to buy a molarMy humans could not resist heading in for an ice cold pint.  Not too much mates as we have got an early start and a long day tomorrow.

We leave the lovely San Blas Islands behind and head off to the Panamanian port town of Portobello.
Wish us luck!


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So the search for the ‘holy grail’ of San Blas islands that did not currently have an infestation of midges continued. And it appeared that this quest was answered when we did indeed stumble upon Kuna Henge. A small remote island that was uninhabited, had NO VEGETATION and NO STAGNANT WATER that should equate to NO BUGS. Nirvana for a man with more than 150 bites about his person.
What was even better was that the modern temple erected on this site looked worthy of a visit. So we headed over and as we approached it became clear that there was a sign erected here to greet us lowly pilgrims to this remote and surely most holy of places. What enlightenment would it afford us?
We got ever closer with due reverence (and a bottle of bug spray just in case) and hesitantly stepped forward to receive our future spiritual and moral guidance. What would these words of wisdom say? Would we be able to understand their true meaning? And the words said upon to us…


1-enlightenment (2)
And finally, with the beer once again running mysteriously running short, this is what a San Blas Ocado Home Delivery looks like….
1-visit by the veggy boat

The veggy boat visiting Spirit of Argo
TRUE DELIVERANCE in the form of a dug out, home made boat. Remember, if the answer is not beer you are probably asking the wrong question!
Onwards and upwards. Onto new adventures