Q: Can we help out on the boat?
A:Some Captains are happier than others to show you and teach you some sailing skills, just the same as many passengers are happy to sit back and enjoy San Blas. If you’re interested in sailing then ask if you can assist with the operations of the boat. If it’s not your thing then thats probably fine, theres probably other passengers who are happy to give more of a hand. They’ll be the ones who can say that they did the actual sailing from Panama to Colombia!
Q: What San Blas Islands will we visit?
A: The actual sailing route through the San Blas islands and where you anchor is totally dependent on the Captains, they all have their favorite spots and Kuna families that they know. They usually take you to the places where they know you’ll have the best time, both with the beaches and the locals. You can expect barbecues on the beach, great snorkeling sites, fishing where possible, interaction with the local indigenous tribes (Kuna), games, parties and more. It all depends on the captain, your fellow passengers and you. But we’re pretty sure that if you go along with the right attitude then you’re going to have a great time.
Q: I want to spend more time in San Blas.
A: If you’d like a different experience of the San Blas islands then it’s possible to go to San Blas a few days before departure and spend more time there.
Q: The captain has asked me to shop for the boat?
A: Some times the captain will need extra supplies that can’t be bought in San Blas. They may ask you to do some shopping for them. They will send you a shopping list and ask that you fill it(buy in Panama City before you leave) and take it to the islands with you. Keep the receipt and it will be deducted off the amount you owe the captain, along with the taxi ride to and from the supermarket. If you want to eat well then it’s a good idea to help out.
Q: What about money?
A: Take all the money you might need with you from Panama City as there are no cash machines along the way. Remember to take some extra, maybe you will want to buy some Kuna arts and crafts along the way, or stay a few days in Sapzurro or Capurgana. The next cash machines will either be Cartagena or Turbo depending on your route.
Q: When do I pay for the trip?
A: Most Captains expect payment when you arrive at the boat, if you are uneasy about anything this is the time to say so. If you have valid safety concerns then do not stay on the boat. The Captain may not be very happy, but in this situation always put yourselves first.
Q: Is it safe?
A: Remember that this isn’t a game. This is sailing and it can, at times, be dangerous. We’ve heard of one person dying in the last few years, and we don’t want you to be the next. Sailing from Panama to Cartagena can be great fun but there are often stories of storms, damaged boats, boats on reefs, people falling overboard and so on. Go out there for fun but remember that you’re in the hand of the mother nature and the captain. Be safe.
Most importantly go to have fun. That’s what you’re there for. Enjoy the San Blas, you’ll never see anything like it again, but be accepting and keep an open mind with your captain and other passengers. On a sail boat with so many people you can expect that there might be that one person you don’t get along with, but if you make the effort to fit in with them then the experience of sailing between San Blas and Cartagena will be so much more enjoyable for everybody. Yourself included!