Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | January 12, 2013

Solo Cruisers in Caledonia

Myriadup, Central Naguarandup Cays, Kuna Yala
N 9 29.7 W 78.37.8

The poor internet connectivity, while sort of expected, is Bob’s only real disappointment with the San Blas. We found the needed Digicel sim card, but it turns out the cell towers here are all 2G and really best for phone calls, not data. Digicel tells us they have 4G towers in other parts of Panama but the San Blas don’t have any at this time. The Kunas have cell phones but so far we have seen no computers in their villages. Now that we are among other cruisers I guess we are all competing for the very limited bandwidth, and when people start talking on their cell phones during the day, we all get kicked off. We have found that the best – and still very slow – internet is in the middle of the night or very early in the morning. Still, no web surfing for us!! Will update another chapter while I can and again apologize for no pics. Looks like that might not happen until we get to Colon late Feb/Mar.

12/22/12 – Caledonia

Heavy thunderstorms delayed our departure from Puerto Perme. The green water turned muddy brown and we discovered a small stream from the hills fed directly into the anchorage. I wondered if we would see crocodiles among the flow.

As we prepared to leave Bob had trouble getting the nav computer started. The router had failed, a likely result of all the electrical activity. He reconfigured the electronics so the chart plotter would work and we hauled up the anchor. No router would cause future inconveniences but on this day we were thrilled to get the chart plotter back. We had heard many stories of boat-damaging lightning strikes in the San Blas and had hoped that avoiding the rainy season would minimize our risk. We had only been here 4 days and already had a problem!

It had seemed so pleasant behind the reef but going out to sea with no protection from the northeast swells was a rough 2 hour trip. Again I regretted forgoing the meds, forever optimistic that the seas will be smooth. We arrived in Puerto Escoces, a Kuna work area, and the anchorage was rolly so we decided to continue north another hour to the next group of islands.

The island of Suledup near the village of Caledonia was our next stop. The weather had deteriorated and it was now overcast and not conducive for picking out the reefs, some of which were not charted. As we tried to nestle in between the little mangrove islands the depth sounder read 2 feet under the keel. It was unnerving. There are no tow services here should we get stuck! We pivoted and anchored outside the mangroves which turned out to be a fine spot.

In the morning we were greeted by Andrelio Alexander with his young son along in the ulu. He presented a list of rules and regs for Caledonia typed in English. There was a $10 fee for anchoring, which was a relief as I had imagined the coconut telegraph from Anachucuna had relayed that $50 could be charged to the Mar Azul. We were permitted to visit the town for another $3 per person and could take photos with permission of the subject for $1 each. Bob preferred the flat fee approach to “nickel & diming” but as the budget master I was happy with a smaller anchoring charge and an a la carte fee schedule.

Most of the rules were common sense or what we had previously read: bathing suits were not to be worn in town, no boat work could be performed that produced dust such as grinding & sanding, and objects should not be thrown in the water for the Kunas to retrieve. I can’t believe other cruisers would really do that, but it sounds like the despicable behavior had preceded us. No chocolaty treats or candy for the kids, please, as they are concerned about tooth decay. There was no mention of not touching coconuts, which the guide book says is a very bad thing to do since each coconut tree has a Kuna owner.

Caledonia is located in a charming spot with a tiny adjacent island with white sandy beach, a gorgeous view of the reef and today, a wonderful breeze. A sign offers “gasolina” at one of the waterfront huts and we saw a satellite dish and some solar panels ashore.

It has rained a lot since we arrived. While in this jungly environment we think it is best to skip the shore visits for the dogs, avoiding more exposure to bugs and critters. Lady adapted with no problem but Bandit had trouble adjusting to the new routine. Several below decks accidents resulted. We have been doing major cleaning to return the interior to a livable state. Hopefully Bandit will learn the new rules quickly. She seems sad, poor thing, and has been banished from the sleeping cabin for now.

We have been gone from civilization for one week and I am watching the produce dwindle. I check the supply every day for signs of deterioration and plan meals accordingly. The freezer is filled to the brim. Keeping the lid open briefly when retrieving items is key for minimizing defrosting needs. I am always getting yelled at to “hurry up”. Bob says I should have filled the freezer baskets with pre-planned packets in in order of use from top to bottom. My menu planning is not at that level of sophistication, and I am wishing I had put more thought into this aspect of our trip. Perhaps I erred when I declined the fresh octopus we were offered this morning by a passing Kuna.

Small trading boats occasionally pass by in the distance and they remind us of the Venezuelan fruit boats we saw in the ABC islands. Kunas paddle by in ulus and larger pangas, some with the added benefit of a sail or small motor. We check for a cell or wifi signal at every stop but so far there has been nothing. It has been nearly a week since we have seen another cruising boat and it feels strange.

 

photo update 3/6/13:

caledonia_1

A Colombian trading boat passes us en route to Caledonia. Some of these vessels don’t seem very seaworthy.

caledonia_2

An open but comfortable anchorage nestled up to some mangrove islands near the village of Caledonia

caledonia_3

Caledonia was a large village with room to dock a trading boat

caledonia_4

Pretty beach close to the village. Note the outhouse built over the water, a common sight in the island villages.

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