Prism's Blog

Cruising the San Blas Islands

Our time in the San Blas so far as been pure bliss. I can’t say we have been doing much, life out here consist of: waking up, drinking coffee, having breakfast then going swimming or reading books. Afternoons are spent snorkeling, spear fishing( for lion fish only of corse) or playing beach games with friends. As for the evenings we have dinner alone or with friends, we may have a Bonfire, or trash burning party, we may play games or have a quiet movie night. Seriously, then we go to sleep. Rinse and repeat. 🙂  ha.


We have been moving around the typical cruising grounds for the area. I would have to say that the Cocos Banderos Cays are the best so far. Although they are only good when the weather is calm.  Well maybe, the Lemons are pretty good too, and the Holandes cays…. oh what am I saying they are all awesome!

Full moon, anchored in the East Lemons
Cocos Banderos Cays
Honestly can’t remember what island or anchorage
The hot tub in the Holandes Cays

The only part I am having trouble with as in our way of life here, is getting out of bed before 8am on Saturdays, as I am net controller for the Panama Connection Net on 8.107 USB at 1330 utc. I enjoy being net control, it’s fun, Jon likes to talk to me while I am trying to listen to people checking in, he throws me off and I think he thinks it’s funny…Im not sure.  I hate it and love it all at the same time, you would think that being up by 8:30 should be no big deal, not for me, it interrupts my  12 hours of sleep I need a night. Yea 12 hours.. no joke. I can live on 10, but only with 8 I am grumpy and need a nap come 2 pm. Rough life I know. 

I feel like these blog posts are just going to same thing over and over again. But I’ll keep writing when I can……

We have been spending a lot of time with SV Sundowner, you remember them, they also make youtube videos! We are having such a great time with these guys. They had some friends come and visit them, so we asked if their friends would be willing to bring down a few things for us, including the wind generator regulator which we needed to finished the install. Jon and I thought that this said regulator was going to be no more than 10 lbs and no bigger than a box of cereal. They said no problem, so we had it shipped to their House and waited patiently for them to arrive. Well little did we know….. the regulator was so much larger than a cereal box that they had to pack and check another bag just to get it out here! Whoops. THANK YOU SO MUCH AGAIN DAN AND DONELL!!! So this wonderful couple brought down all our junk for us so that we could finish our project and also a few goodies that are always great from the states including a bag of beef jerky! Oh man do we miss red meat! Anyways… Sundowner’s guest stayed for about 10 days, it was great to get to know this couple and spend time with them, I hope we get to see them again someday.

Tate, unloading our bag of stuff
Hanging at the beach with Sundowner
Playing Bacci on the beach

The ladies from: SV Aloha, Cheers, Sundowner, Prism and MV Sea Life

We now had almost all the parts needed to install our new Ampair wind generator. The last step was to find someone with a big enough generator to run our tig welder. And wouldn’t you know it, we  happened to have become friends with a powerboat. MV Sea Life. These guys are so fun, Scott reminds me of me, as in he is loud and I love it! Scott offered to let Jon come over and take up his whole back deck to finish our project as he needed to run his generator during the morning to top up his batteries. Jon brought all our welding crap over to Sea Life when they finished up by the afternoon Jon and I set out to get it up onto the old radar mast pole and plug it in! Boom baby!  We got power!!

Steady now

Oh update!!! So while we were in Panama city our  trusty ol’ evenrude outboard died. I had brought back almost every removable/ replaceable part when I came back from my sister’s wedding, as Jon was determined to fix it. Well as it turns out… the one part I did not bring back with me, the power pack, was the faulty part! Which is a part that is no longer made! Damn. Prism was once again outboard-less. So a few weeks ago Jon posted a wanted post on the San Blas cruisers Facebook page. Within the first day we were contacted by a man in Cartagena , who had an old Yamaha which he had not used for the last 2 years.  But if we wanted it, it was free to us! He even arranged it to be brought to the San Blas on a friends boat who was heading this way. Score! A week later we met up with the boat ” Changing Tides”, and were happy to meet the lovely couple who have been cruising the area for over 12 years!  They brought out the old 2hp 2 stoke outboard that can easily be lifted with one hand. In return I had baked them a fresh loaf of English muffin bread as a thank you. After 2 days of breaking it down, giving it a good clean and lube job, Jon put in some fresh gas (mixed of corse), gave it a quick spray of starter fluid and vroom vroom, the bad boy started! Whoop whoop!!

With the new to us outboard working like a champ, we took the opportunity to go up the Rio Diablo with SV Cheers. We made our way in through what the Caribbean calls “breakers” ( if only Caribbean cruisers knew about the pacific breakers) anyways, we make our way up to do some laundry and take unlimited fresh water showers. Little did we know the day was over cast, gloomy, cold and filled with bugs. But we went for it anyways.

oh great, it’s starting to rain
Riding in “the breakers”
SV Cheers leading the way up the river
Jon at the dinghy helm
Shannon just doing some laundry
Timing “the breakers” to get out from the river mouth

Rio Diablo is located next to the island village called Nargana (Yandup) which is connected to Corazon de Jesus by a bridge. These islands are  where we come to buy chicken and veggies when we can’t find a veggie boat.

Dock at Pacos, where you can get gas, water and cokes
the road leading out to the old air strip on Nargana
Trash filled shores on Nargana, very sad
Small locals stores get shipments in once a week if you are lucky.
Its a good thing this puppy had a happy home, cause he was so cute!!
Ida talking with the kuna girls
All he wanted to do was sweep the streets

The water surrounding the Islands is not the best for water quality, as in you don’t want to get in because the fully populated towns drain their sewage right into the water. Yummy. So you can imagine my disappointment when we lose something overboard, forcing me to dawn dive gear and get in…. I’m sure you’re wondering… what in the world would make anyone get into murky muck, poop and crocodile infested water….. well remember that new to us outboard I was just typing about…. yeaaaaa. We were getting ready to head into town, so Jon moved the outboard off the rear railing onto the side railing to make it easier to put into the dinghy. Well our new to us outboard is missing one of the tie down dogs, so when our dinghy painter got tangled up near the prop, it twisted the perfectly sitting outboard right off the side rail. Jon even watched it in slow motion as it happened from in the galley. All I heard was ” aw f*ck”, I reluctantly asked what it was that just made the splash noise, sacred of the answer and knowing the answer, but even more scared of the next step. Jon had the perfect arguments as in ” Shannon I can’t free dive that far, so you should do it, we are only in 35 feet so you don’t need the dive gear” as true as that is, he forgot to factor in the fact that the visibility was less than 6 inches AND THAT THE WATER IS POOP WATER!!! lets just say I knew from the moment I heard the splash I was going in.

Once I was in the water, which by the way was after an amazing shower I has just taken and even used the good shampoo!!! Anyway… all I could think about or try not to think about was why the water was so much warmer than everywhere else. Jon dropped a line down with the dinghy anchor so I could find my way down and back up.  When I made it down to the bottom, the visibility was so bad that there was no way to keep track of where I had looked and where I hadn’t. After a few tries I stating that if we wanted to find it, I needed the dive gear. 10 minutes later I was geared up and down at the bottom again. The sticky I don’t even want to think about what it’s made up of mud was engulfing. There were a few spots that looks like something heavy had fallen and left indents in the mud, but when I reached down into it, my arm just kept going and going. If there was a way to describe the felling of the mud squishing between my fingers and around my arms it would make your skin crawl. Just ewww. At this point I kicked up enough soot that I lost all bearings I had no idea what direction was what. So I just hovered above the bottom for a bit waiting for it to calm back down, remarkably I felt very comfortable, like a weird calm had come over me. Could be that I just truly love being under water, or maybe it was my six since calming me before the local crocodile made me its dinner.  Once the soot settled I was going to call it quits, a lost cause when out of the corner of my eye I see something dark.

THE OUTBOARD! Sweet! Ha that was luck. I tied a knot on it and gave the line 2 tugs to signal Jon to start pulling up, but instead more line came down, so I pulled again… more line, and again. Gez I was thinking we should have talked this over before I descended. Lol. The last thing I was going to do was let the outboard out of my sight, so I pulled on the line one last time, this time a very hard jerk hoping Jon would get my message. Up the line goes and up the motor goes. Yes he understood!! Once at the surface I pretty much levitated out of the water and went right into an alcohol and hydrogen peroxide shower. Okay, so I am exaggerating about that, but I did strip down and use about 15 gallons of fresh water and 100oz of soap to wash off. By the time I was clean, Jon had the outboard running again. Wow we do love a Yamaha!! Lucky for us, somehow no water had gotten into the fuel tank, nor in the spark plug. So Jon blew apart the carb, gave it a quick fresh water and WD40 bath, put it all back together and vroom vroom. Heck yea!!!

——> A few weeks later——–>

Like I thought, it is the same thing at every Anchorage. Gez it is so pretty here,  the water is warm, and the people are amazing! We have been having such good times! Beach party’s and happy hours that turn into late night gatherings. Jon and I are trying to stick to our no drinking during the week days, but it is becoming harder and harder. Weekends are turning into 4 day weekends, Thursdays – Sundays. Hehe


We have just been to so many parties! So many people to meet, and everyone has such cool stories, and boats. BAH ITS ENDLESS! BEACH PARTIES AND POT LUCKS!!!


Dinghy Taxi to SV Aloha.
We are having way to much fun with SV Cheers and MV Sea Life
aboard SV Aloha a Privilege 39′ Cat
Anchoring for our Island Beach Party
hiding in the shade

Jon and I on our way to a pot luck
Pot Luck

The sailing between the islands is very enjoyable. There are days that it’s very light and we get to bring out the drifter or spinnaker, but most days it is trade wind sailing but in protected waters. Prism just screams along at hull speed!

Sailing out of Nargana
when we are in the protected waters of the inner reefs, we tow flakor
Jon loves sailing Prism
Full Canvas
Jon trying out different ways to run our sheets to see if we can get any more speed out of prism, or more shape out of the sails
Difter Sailing
MV Sea Life passing behind us
Sailing out of the “Swimming pool” in the Holandes Cays

The sailing is so good, that we even went out for random day sail with Keith and Ida from SV Cheers. They wanted to test drive our boat to see how they like it.

Big Blue is up, This was the first time sailing with the spinnaker in the Caribbean!
Keith at the helm
Enjoying the ride

We are getting used to reading the coloring of the water and the tight reef cuts to get into the anchorages.  We have even been able to med more/ bohemian tie to the beach at Isla Cambombia ( Morbedup). It’s weird to be anchored so close to the beach and still be in 20 feet of water. To jump head first off the boat into the water, swim for about 6 seconds then be walking in shallow water is crazy! And so beautiful!

Coming up to the cut in the reef to enter into the inner bay at Sugardup
Just doing some sailing
Jon at the helm bringing us in through the reefs
Anchored in Sugardup

We did say good-bye to our friends on Sv Gaia and Sv Sirena, who we have been sailing with sense Mexico.  But before they left Jon and I spent an afternoon aboard Gaia turning her rig. Bob had let us know that he had not inspected the rigging for a few years. After another cruising couple on a Tayana 37 lost their mast here a few weeks prior, he wanted Jon to check every last inch before they headed to Cartagena. We had a few last get togethers, once again eating like kings aboard Sirena and playing dominoes till the wee hours of the night. We are going to miss those guys and wish them smooth sailing as they head towards the east coast.

Jon looking at Gaia’s Mast
Sirena Sailing
R.I.P Lo-Wang ( SV Sirena’s beloved kitty). You were one sweet kitty. xo

—> if you wanted to know more about the de-masting….. it was a chainplate failure. No one was hurt, and surprisingly there was not an incredible amount of damage. They were lucky and we wish them the best of luck finding a new mast and we hope the repairs go smoothly.

—->Prism Plan update: Well Jon and I have been talking and have decided to put Prism up on the hard in the thick of the rainy season. So we will be going back to California for the summer. Jons mom is coming out to visit us in June and then we are hauling out in July. It is still up in the air if the haul out will be here in Panama or in Cartagena. Although I think it will be Panama. Why are we going back?.. well Jon is working again and I have my best friends wedding to go to! So July – October we will be state side.

For a few extra bucks, I got on a Charter boat as the cook for SV One World, a 54 foot Brigantine Schooner ran by 2 sisters, Rachelle and Ariel. They are a hoot and the charters were so much fun! But man oh man cooking full course meals for 10 people is a lot of work!  Sure I have cooked for 10 friends or family that’s one thing, but when you are getting paid to cook for people you do not know, it is kinda nerve-racking. But  the great thing about it was the silence during the meal then the many thanks and compliments to follow! I mean not to toot my own horn or anything, but the meals I made were freaking fantastic!


One World


Rachelle looking out for the reefs when coming into a new anchorage
Ariel and I getting the lobster meal ready
Ariel setting the sails
rafted up to One World at Los Grullos
star filled night at Cambombia

The girls are so much fun, they even let Jon join in on the meals so I did not have to cook meals for him as well. Not that I had any time for that anyways! Starting at 6 am, making fresh bread in the morning, having breakfast served by 8-10 depending on guest. Then do the dishes, prep for lunch, sail to a new place serve lunch, do the dishes, prep for dinner, 2 hour break. Dinner served, dishes done around 9:30 10ish. But I got to play with different kinds of foods and I think I even found some new favorites to make on my own boat. Im pretty sure I will be working with them again.

Enjoying the beach with some charter guest

It is blowing like stink right now, but we are stoked that the wind generator is working so well. We have zero power problems now, we can run our water maker all through out the night and keep our fridge as cold as it can get.  Days like this are filled with boat cleaning, editing, book reading and we should be doing varnish, but that seems to keep getting pushed to the bottom of the to do list.. even though it the one project we Really need to do. :/

But when it is not blowing like stink which  causes the water to get turned up and the viability goes down, I am in the water, as much as I can be… here are some under water photos:

Spotted Eagle Ray
something you never want to see next to your head… portuguese man of war
portuguese man of war. Scott and I both came up from a deep dive on either side of this bad boy
lion fish
Spot them, and kill them
More Lion Fish
And more… the good news is that Lion Fish are becoming harder to find!
i spy how many lobsters
Queen Angel Fish
Only chance i get to use the dive gear out here, so sad
beautiful coral
Jon, the only person in the world who needs a full wet suit while snorkeling the caribbean 😉
Checking out some caves, looking for sleeping nurse sharks

Hitching a ride with cheers to check out some reef and spear some lion fish

Well that’s all for now, I hope my next blog post has a little more adventure and excitement, but as far as I can see for now, it’s going to be more of pure paradise living:

Coffee, Eat, swim, sun soak, eat, play, swim, drink, eat, drink, play and sleep. Repeat.


5 thoughts on “Cruising the San Blas Islands

  1. The trigger fish is call a trigger due to its dorsal fin that if you push down on it it will not fold but if you use your trigger finger and act as if it’s a trigger it will hence trigger fish .
    Brian O

  2. Well I just read, got caught up, with your blog…. You are such a good writer honey… The part about having to rescue the Yamaha left me laughing out loud…..god I miss you two…. Can’t wait to see you. I think thus us going to be such a great summer!!

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