Sailing Blue Sky
Sailing Blue Sky
Sailing San Blas Islands, Guna Yala, Panama

Top 10 things to do while chartering on a San Blas sailing trip with Blue Sky:

 

1. Guided snorkeling trips in crystal clear waters looking at tropical fish on the natural reefs.

2. Go on a trip by small boat or kayak up the Rio Diablo for bird watching and swim in the cool mountain river.

3. Take a Guna guided waterfall/ hiking trip through the tropical rain forest passing by Guna burial grounds, look for monkeys, learn about medicinal plants.

4. Enjoy uninhabited islands with swaying palm trees, beautiful white sandy beaches, shells and star fish

5. Visit the indigenous Guna Indians and buy their molas and beads

6. Tour a Guna Indian commnity village and dine out at a Guna Indian restaurant

7. Enjoy delicious meals served on our huge aft deck and have fun star gazing at night

 

8. Join in a musical jam session singing along to Breeze playing guitar, be part of the band 

9. Learn to "live aboard" courses available for those wishing to learn sailing, navigation, anchoring techniques, fishing and much more.

10.Simply relax on the spacious foredeck with a good book and get a perfect suntan. 

3 Quick Tips for your first visit to the San Blas. 

There are no marinas in the San Blas. transportation to where our boat will be anchored is by a combination of SUV 4X4 and launcha boat. We will be happy to make transportation arrangements for you.

1. The SUV driver will pick you up from the lobby of your hotel between 5 and 6 am.  Please be waiting ahead of time as the driver will also be picking up other people going to the San Blas. He may pick you up first, or last. Please be courteous and ready and waiting. as other people may already be in the SUV waiting for you as well.

The Carti Road takes you thru a beautiful untouched rainforest, but is a twisting road climbing up and down the steep mountain.   For anyone with a sensitive stomach, I would consider taking motion sickness tablets ahead of time.

2. Respect the sun. One of the great things is the Sun, down here in the San Blas. If you are planning on spending any length of time in the region, you need to be prepared for just how strong this sun is! Sun screen, Hats and Aloe are all good ideas. Unfortunately some visitors assume that since much of Panama can be hazy and overcast, the San Blas will be similar. This isn't the case! You don't want your trip ruined by a bad burn on day one.

Bab Gua Gue is the launcha boat we normally use. Please note side curtains to keep guest reasonably dry! Personal items should still be put in plastic bags.

Bab Gua Gue is the launcha boat we normally use. Please note side curtains to keep guest reasonably dry! Personal items should still be put in plastic bags.

3. Respect the seas! With the wind, and the speed that your launcha boat will be travelling, you could get wet!  As much as we try and cater to your comfort, and stay in calm waters for a lot of your trip, the launcha boat ride can be the opposite. It's more of an adventure! Please be prepared for that! Quick drying clothes, and bags that don't mind moisture are your friends here.  If you have this in mind ahead of time, it can be a lot of fun to dodge the spray. 

Transportation cost in order of payment,  save all receipts:

$25 From your hotel to the Carti coast
$20 Guna Yala Park fee (one time per visit fee, no charge for young kids, Panama residents only pay $5)
$ 2 Dock usage fee
$25 From the Carti coast to our boat
$25 From our boat back to the Carti coast
$25 From the Carti coast back to your hotel
_______________________________
$122 round trip per adult . This will need to be paid in cash to the person providing the service, the SUV driver, the laucha boat captain, ect....

Private SUV's are available.

The Life Aquatic: San Blas Sailing Adventure


It takes a very special kind of person to live at sea full-time.
This is what I was thinking as I sailed with my husband and son through the San Blas Islands on Blue Sky, a 52-ft. cutter rigged pilothouse ketch sailboat captained by the Filinas – Ken “Breeze” and his wife Debbie.
We spent two-and-a-half days cruising with Breeze and Debbie off the Caribbean coast of Panama among the islands of the Guna Yala comarca. Our gracious hosts took us snorkeling, introduced us to the locals, fed us delicious home-cooked meals and regaled us with fascinating tales of life at sea. As spectacular a time as we had, my family and I were in agreement as we debarked the Blue Sky: we could never live full-time on a boat.
Yacht life is nothing like you see in the movies. Cramped spaces, questionable plumbing, limited conveniences, isolation, and pretty much constant work to maintain your “home”. The simplest things become far more complicated when taking place out on the open ocean. A trip to the bathroom becomes a feat of engineering, every use requiring the turning of knobs, flipping of valves, and vigorous pumping – all in the correct sequence. Suffice it to say, it’s not for everyone.


And yet – and yet – it can also be magical.
With the warm blue-green Caribbean surrounding us, the endless sky above, white-sand islets beaded along the horizon, and fish periodically jumping in the air as the local Guna (or Kuna) in their canoes slipped over the water… you suddenly see this life through the eyes of Breeze and Debbie, and you understand why they’re here.
Both Florida natives, Breeze and Debbie have been living at sea full-time for over half their lives. They even raised their son Josh on a boat. After  years of mooring among the San Blas Islands and leading chartered sailing and snorkeling tours in the area, they know it like the back of their hands.
It took us 30 minutes by boat to reach Blue Sky where it was waiting for us near Isla Elifante. We were travelling by launcha – the wooden or aluminum boats used by the Guna to transport goods and tourists around the islands. Being that it was the weekend of Panama’s most important November holidays, the waterways of San Blas were abuzz with activity.
Mixed in with the yachters and launchas are campers and “backpacker boats,” as Debbie calls them. These are commercial sailboats that transport backpackers from Panama to Colombia, and vice versa. And still another kind of vessel plies the crystalline waters of San Blas: the produce boats.
Day 2 of our excursion, a wooden motor boat approached Blue Sky carrying crates of cabbage, cucumbers, pineapples, sweet peppers, onions, eggplant, carrots, tomatoes, limes, watermelon and potatoes; Breeze got very excited.

“It’s our lucky day!” he yelled to Debbie below deck.
Debbie scrambled to the surface, a few dollars in hand. We’d been sharing provisions on board and had treated Breeze to the bag of grapes we’d brought with us, but the fresh supplies were welcome.
Later in the day, another boat approached selling just-caught lobster. We watched, fascinated, as the Guna fisherman split open the shellfish – its claws still moving – with a big carving knife and then handed it over to Debbie.
Life at sea requires some sacrifice, true – but there’s no denying it is the ultimate adventure.
We sailed from Elifante to a group of islets called the West Lemmon Cays and dropped anchor next to a Guna-occupied island called Tia Dup. After a delicious lunch of grilled sandwiches with slabs of sweet pineapple, we hopped into the Filinas’ motorized dinghy to take in some of the best snorkeling in Panama.

Our first outing was to a “manmade reef,” as Breeze called it: a shipwreck on the shores of nearby Isla de Perro. Usually, to experience the thrill of an underwater shipwreck you also need to contend with sharks and other dangerous creatures. This one, however, was grounded in fairly shallow water, so deep diving was not necessary to gain a view. Breeze and Debbie led our underwater tour of the wreck – not our first family snorkeling expedition, but our 11-year-old son certainly thought it was the coolest by far. An abundance of sea life had gathered there; we spotted at least half a dozen different species of brightly-colored tropical fish. Checkered parrotfish, lizard fish, spotted groupers, a spotted ray… even a lobster!
My husband and I preferred the huge natural reef next to the islet of Nuinu Dup where we spent three solid hours exploring this massive piece of coral. It was the highlight of our trip. At one point, Debbie called me over to where she had been guiding our son around.
“Watch him underwater,” she told me.

Photos by Jacki Gillcash.

Photos by Jacki Gillcash.


I watched as Angus swam about 10 feet down and, wearing Debbie’s glove, touched what looked like a flower on a piece of coral with his finger. It swiftly closed up into a ball.
We resurfaced, and the look on my son’s face, to be discovering his scuba prowess and thrilled by what it had produced, had me bursting with pride.
On Nuinu Dup, we got to meet a Guna family who had recently established a home there. For our son, this was truly a first-of-its-kind experience. This was not a display in the Museum of Civilization, nor a class in school about native tribes of the world. This was the real thing.
During our brief visit with the Guna women, we learned about their intricately-patterned molas, perhaps the most recognizable piece of artisan work in Panama, and the beads they wear wrapped around their calves and ankles. These are tied on at marriage – and they wear them for life.
Surely these facts appear in a textbook somewhere, but my son had a chance to witness them firsthand – I can’t imagine a better education for any child.

Before you visit.

                      We have inflatable safety vest for older kids and adults, safety first!

                      We have inflatable safety vest for older kids and adults, safety first!

Before you come on your visit, there are some things that you should know and be prepared for.

Our FAVORITE airline is COPA AIRLINES here in Panama, and often have reasonable prices on flights.

Here is a list of personal items we recommend you bring...

Your passport (you can not get in to Kuna Yala with out it)

If you have your own snorkeling gear, great! If not we have plenty.

We do supply bed linens and bath towels. If you can bring a towel for use in salt water/beach great, if it's a problem, no worries, we'll have one for you.

For shampoo the "two-in-one" type shampoo is a good idea

Hats, sunglasses, sunscreen and an old T-shirt to wear while snorkeling or kayaking (sunburns are no fun)

Socks to wear inside the swim fins will help prevent blisters

For shoes, you will definitely need some type of quick drying shoes that can get wet. Beach walkers, Keens or Crocs are great! You can buy the faux Crocs in the cheaper department stores in Panama City for about $5 a pair.

E readers are really great to bring for reading on the deck at night.

If you will be traveling around Panama it would be well worth the couple dollars for you to purchase a Digicel Sim card for your phone. You should be able to use Digicel for most of Panama including the San Blas. You can sign up for a 1 week special to send calls to the U.S. or Canada for 100 minutes for $2. *If you do get a Sim card, please send us the number, thanks!

If you are traveling with a camera, don't forget your charging cord, we can charge 12 volt or 110 thru our ship's batteries.