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Old 05-02-2015, 09:25   #1
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Stoping between San Blas/Guna Yala and Cartagena

Before we head North to Providencia and Cayman, we're thinking of heading to Cartagena. Reading the Cruising Guide to Colombia, it seems that there are recommended anchorages at Isla Fuerte and Islas de San Bernardo. That said, the guide also says that for any stops, one needs to have permission and the stops written on the zarpe, and formal check-in seems to be only available at Santa Marta or Cartagena.

I've found limited info on these islands, and the guides I've read, mostly speak about going directly to Cartagena and then off to other places.

Holly and I would appreciate any insights from those that might have done this area before us, or other recommended reading.

Thanks in advance!

Cheers,
Mike

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Old 05-02-2015, 09:30   #2
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Re: Stoping between San Blas/Guna Yala and Cartagena

We have done it the other way - check out of Colombia, stop at those island groups, and enter Panama. Technically, we were not allowed to stop after checking out of the country, but there is nobody in those islands, and no facilities or naval presence.

Like everything else, you choose the situational tolerance for rules that best suits you.

Mark
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Old 05-02-2015, 09:46   #3
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Re: Stoping between San Blas/Guna Yala and Cartagena

Hey Mark,

Thanks for responding. Holly and I were sailing with Peter and Mary aboard Neko in November last year when we met you guys at the swimming pool. We decided to change the plans, and instead of crossing the Pacific, came through the canal and are going to spend some time in the Caribbean before venturing elsewhere. So you found the stops enjoyable? Or just rest stops? How was the snorkeling / spearfishing?

Cheers,
Mike

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Old 05-02-2015, 10:21   #4
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Re: Stoping between San Blas/Guna Yala and Cartagena

Actually, we didn't find those island groups very interesting and ended up moving on pretty quickly. San Bernadino has poor holding and somewhat exposed anchorages. The Rosarios were better anchoring, but not very exciting.

Fishing was poor, as it looked to me like the reefs there had been raped by bleach and dynamite. We didn't even see small fish or animals on them.

Compared to the San Blas, which you are leaving, and Cartagena, where you are going, these islands are pretty pale.

Hope to see you around here.
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Old 05-02-2015, 10:34   #5
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Re: Stoping between San Blas/Guna Yala and Cartagena

As you may know there is still a bit of a drugs being transported about Colombia. On our way to Cartegena we did do one over night at one of the islands but left early to Cartegena to check in. The navy and cg do patrol and if you are found it may not be the most postive experience you have had in your life.
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Old 06-02-2015, 09:29   #6
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Re: Stoping between San Blas/Guna Yala and Cartagena

I've made that trip over 20 times back and forth. Once leaving the most popular cruiser islands of the San Blas you can work your way SE down the Panama coast until you get the right angle for the sail to Cartagena. Almost any of the 340 Kuna Yala islands make interesting stops, but don't go too far into the Heart of Darkness (the Panama/Colombia border area), probably no further than Achutupu or Mamitupu about N9*12' x W079*58'. The San Blas are loaded with reefs - you absolutely must have the Eric Bauhaus cruising guide and anchor before sunset every day. During the summer months you're likely to have a pleasant sail to Cartagena but the opposite can be true during the winter when you'll be fighting wind and waves. Unless you're close to the border there are no legalities or authorities to worry about. The San Blas Islands are so beautiful and Cartagena so fun/fascinating that you'll wonder why you spent much time between.
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Old 06-02-2015, 12:10   #7
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Re: Stoping between San Blas/Guna Yala and Cartagena

Bob,

So great to hear from you. It feels like such a long time ago we were all having beers at the Captain's Club in San Carlos! Where are you these days? I hope our paths will cross again soon.

We've got the Bauhaus guide, and even updated to the latest, 5th edition. So we're set there. I even have things connected in to the, yes I'm gonna say it, Raymarine system ;-) and so it's nice to have both paper and electronic.

We spent a little time aboard OPBs (other people's boats) in San Blas in November, so are excited to get back there in Wanuskewin, and yeah, it's reefy and we draw 7' and there's no tides over here … so strange to be less than 50NM away from 20' tides!

We know that it's not the optimal time to be trying to get other places, but when our South Pacific plans fell through, we feel a bit like we "have to get going" someplace. We arrived in the Panama City area on August 4th of last year, and while the Las Perlas archipelago and the city have a lot to offer, when you are on a career break like Holly and I and only have savings to fund this adventure, we don't want to look back and find that 1/2 of our adventure was Panama.

Cheers,
Mike 'n Holly

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Old 11-02-2015, 14:45   #8
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Re: Stoping between San Blas/Guna Yala and Cartagena

Hi Everyone!

My name is Gabe and I'm currently in Cartagena looking for a berth to Panama. I don't have tons of experience, just 3 weeks crewing from Gib to Gran Canaria, a great attitude and ability to cook/shop for provisions.

If anyone needs extra crew or has any helpful advice for me, it would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers!
Gabe
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