Countless ships have found their resting places in the islands of San Blas amongst the reefs and tropical fishes. The leftovers are either admired by the boats filled with people sailing between Panama and Colombia, the local tours, or just the sharks. This time the ‘what not to do’ doesn’t involve any personal blunders so no need for any friends or family to panic;) I mentioned in my post about the sailing trip from Colombia to Panama that people should be careful picking a boat and this is why…
On the evening of September 15th the sailboat community of Chichime, ourselves included, could all be found on one of the islands celebrating the birthday of one of the captains. After several hours of party, lots of eating of fire-roasted pork (which I did not participate in), and a healthy amount of drinking and such we were alerted by one of the Kuna indians who were hosting the event to someone shouting in the distance. Someone had mistakenly attempted to enter the islands in the pitch dark of night and had now crashed into the reef. What a night to choose… on one hand, there were very few sober people around and, on the other hand, if there hadn’t been a party probably no one would have noticed. A bit of a hustle and bustle to send out a few of the longest standing residents on the dingy boats to collect the survivors was as much action as anyone could take.
As I wasn’t included in this group, I had to wait till the morning to see what was going on. By eight o’clock in the morning nearly everyone was out on the reef with their little dingy boats trying to pull the sailboat out of the reef. It was a sailboat from Colombia that was carrying six backpackers (a boat with 2 bedrooms) and two crew members, including the captain. Not only had they made the mistake of trying to enter at night, they were also sailing with far to many people in a boat without a motor or GPS.*
There was a fair bit of water in the boat and some girls were desperately dumping it out as the boats of sailors and Kuna indians, alike, tried to dislodge the them. For the better part of some hours the struggle went on.
Finally, the good ‘ol crew from the US of A on their pirate-like ship came to the rescue — or at least I assume that’s how they see it. It was that kind of classic move Americans do to feel important. The women onboard charged the poor guy $500 for the service (while everyone else did it as charity) and the little sailboat was finally released.
And then Chi Chi Mania returned to its normal self. While people continued to dump water out of the boat and salvage the luggage of those poor mochileros, beers were tossed to and fro, the playful taunting commenced, the music and dancing began on Steban’s boat, and the party from the evening before recommenced.
Video coming someday… soonish?
*As a note, I later met the captain and his girlfriend and interviewed one of them (until a nearby boat had a kitchen fire.. lol). They are both extremely nice people and he admitted he had been over-confident. It wasn’t his first time in San Blas by any means so it’s a good lesson. NEVER ENTER HERE AT NIGHT!