spacer.gif (79 bytes)
spacer.gif (79 bytes)
spacer.gif (79 bytes)
spacer.gif (79 bytes)
spacer.gif (79 bytes)
spacer.gif (79 bytes)

The Two Captains


November 30, 2000   Green Island, San Blas, Panama

Latitude: 09-28.80N
Longitude: 078-38.10W

I do hope some of you are still checking our position reports via www.winlink.org on the Internet, because we went out of our way to an island with the greatest name - Ogospibudup - just to send a report! Most of the islands are either "-dups" or "tupus", although we haven't determined the difference. Such investigations seem to be a little beyond the Kunas' and my mutual Spanish.

We sailed by Ogopsibudup on a stunning day with warm sun highlighting the palm trees, the white beaches, and most importantly the greens and browns of the shallow reefs. The wind was light, so we sailed with all up, gently and quietly, just the way sailing in Paradise would be imagined, even to ghosting along in the lee of a beach!

That morning we left the island of Tigre where we had made an overnight stop after a 20 mile trip up from Snug Harbor, a trip mostly distinguished by actually catching a fish despite all the drifting seaweed. We deduce from our fish card that we must have caught a little tunny, although it looked exactly like the depicted Kawakawa, identified as a Pacific fish!
Fortunately either one is supposed to be excellent eating (and it was!).

Tigre surprised us by being, on the one hand, a relatively uncrowded village despite being on quite a small island, with space around each hut often planted to flowers, corn or other food plants. On the other hand it was very oriented to visitors. There was a small handicrafts store at which we purchased a model sailing ulu carved from wood and properly rigged as well as a "black palm comb". Evidently this comb, about 25 stiff "needles" woven together to make teeth, preceded plastic for hair grooming. Leaving the "store" we set out to stroll along the main path only to find that displays of molas, necklaces and bead bracelets were unfolding from every doorway! How could one expect to buy anything in the face of so much expectation! My stock response was "camino miro, penso, tal vez compro" which more or less means, "I walk, I look, I think, perhaps I buy." I hate not to look. You'd hate to miss something special.. But we already have more molas than I have any idea what to do with, and many of them we've bought for the wrong reasons. For example, we visited the #2 sahila in Tigre (#1 being off island) and paid our $1 visitor's fee) and gave him a boat card, which the old man obviously enjoys collecting. He then introduced us to his family, which proved to include a daughter, her pair of two-year-old twin boys, and the sahila's esposa, a hawkish bitter old woman who more or less demanded we buy one of her molas because she was the sahila's wife, the twins needed milk and she was hungry! What do you do in the face of that? We bought a mola.

So, as pretty a village as Tigre may have been, we were glad to escape commercial pressures once again, and hence sailed north past Ogopsibudup to Green Island (in Kuna called Kanildup). This was a very pretty pool behind yet another palm fringed island, with a breaking reef ahead of us and the light water of shoals all around although sailboat and a powerboat were already at anchor there.

It was a mistake to think we were far enough away to escape Kuna salemen. I was just drifting off for a little nappy-poo in the cockpit(Don was off inviting the new neighbors fr the afternoon noodle), when the most organized operation to date pulled up alongside in a large canoe fitted with a big Yamaha. The "captain" was Ildefonso Restrepo, who had some
English, who presented a business card (he's a guide) and introduced his brother Venancio - the master mola maker - and Venancio's "friend" another male mola maker, along with his mother and sister. In such a way we encountered our first gay Kuna. We have heard that not only is it completely accepted in Kuna Yala, but that if a family needs a daughter but
has a son, the son will often be raised as a woman! The molas were produced from a couple of sealed buckets (very practical), and I must say the workmanship to my untutored eye seemed the best I'd seen, but the motifs did not appeal, and the prices were high. They left very graciously after promises we would eventually come to their island, and then promptly sold the one mola that had tempted me to the boat behind us. Moments later the lobster salesmen came by, and not long after than an ulu taking orders for "vegetables!"

We escaped these sales opportunities by investigating on snorkle the reef in front of us with Bob and Kathy (with a K) of Briana. As we were hoping to find a suitable dive site, we got bold and swam through the shallows to the deep side. We were pleased with what we found, but no way were we swimming through there on scuba. Indeed the return trip through to the dinghy, with breaking swells on our butts, was definitely hair-raising as our bodies were projected across coral beds with maybe three inches to spare! Not for the average snorkeler!

The next afternoon then, after trying to wait out a rainy morning, the four of us broke out the scuba gear and went around by dinghy, periodically sticking our faces in the water to scope out the potential. Eventually we dinghied all the way back across to Ogopsibudup where we'd hear there was a good dive. And so it proved. The coral, especially in the first 20', is
vibrant and healthy, and very mixed in species. Below that, almost everything is cloaked in various types of algae! We did, however, see quite a variety of fish in deeper water, which was encouraging as there is such heavy fishing pressure put on these reefs by the Kuna, who, I suspect, eat pretty much anything they catch.

Yesterday, we checked another reef to the west of us this time. (This is work…we are doing research for our friends' visit!) Our first try was boring, (except as the first one in I saw an large eagle ray, oh joy!), so we aborted after twenty minutes and explored farther west on the reef till we found something we liked, another reef much like Ogospibudup, the highlight this time being a big nurse shark.

Today, dawned cloudy yet again, which we were especially sorry to see as our friends Diane and Alex landed in Panama City last night. They have two more nights to spend checking out Panama City, and we have to move the boat down to the village of Corazon de Jesus, at whose airstrip our provisions will arrive tomorrow and our guests Saturday, both at the painfully erly hour of 6:30 AM! We had originally intended to be in place several days early, but the temptations of Green Island kept us here to the last minute. Fortunately for us procrastinating navigators. The clouds are finally burning off and the sun peeking through. We must live right!


home | waypoints | logbook | reference shelf
chartering | engine room | galley | contact


Published at Burlington, VT