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Intrepid ‘Andiamo’ from Phil’s Eyes.

Great shot by Phil, check out more on his FB album by clicking the link!

This is one of many future contributions Phil will be making to the Andiamo Blog. I’ll be setting up his own section on the site once he builds up a bit of an article count…

Tony invited me to pitch up in Panama and see if i could help with running some of his sought after trips. I’m Phil, Philip Morris, as in the cigarettes but not part of it! Done some sailing and a bit of world living & travel. Panama is good. Panama is different. Its in that crazy sort of untamed way that you LIKE to see when you need to escape from too much civilisation. So…also…getting your gear together and charging out to Andiamo for an island break heightens this appeal.

The arrival:
You are travelling up to the San Blas / Darien coast. The road has been surfaced but its still a great roller coaster through virgin forest. Up over the Darien foothills & descend to the eye opening view at the coastline below. The first sight of the myriad islands sprawling like thrown seeds from the mainland. Makes you want to break out the charts already!

Before you know it, you are parked alongside the Rio Carti at a place called Barsukun. The obliging team of Kuna bundle your stuff into a ‘classic’ and sizeable dugout ‘Lancha’. No time is wasted and the vessel is down the river and out into the Bahia de San Blas. Your first glimpse of Andiamo peacefully at anchor near the village home of our able, and indigenous, deckhand… Dino. This is Andiamos’ base.

Trouble free, quicker than you think, and you are already in one of the most choice areas of the Caribbean.

An easy scramble off the lancha onto Andiamo. Plenty of extra hands for your luggage. Unwind a short while and then your captains entertaining introduction to how best to live on Andiamo, and you are ready to relax!

Andiamo has everything you need. Everything for a comfortable and fun trip in these islands. Mid-november. Its warm if a little overcast. Off Carti we weight anchor and head north west soon getting the sails out in a pleasant force 3 /4. A late start today but Andiamo makes short work of gliding across to Los Grullos where we anchor between the little islands as night falls. Great snorkelling first thing in the morning on the reefs just near the boat.

What surprised me, early on, about Andiamo is how quickly the guests settle in. Relaxed and laughing faces from the next day. I got loads of photos. Good food and and informal eating rotation, so you can get on with swimming snorkeling or fishing. Whatever you fancy! The following day another couple hours smooth sail to the Holandes Cays, already a favourite anchorage of mine. The group spends the afternoon on top deck sunbathing and wining. We busy ourselves around the boat. That night the excitement heightens when Frederico hooks a sizeable nurse shark. Pity it was so big that we couldnt get it on board….but she was close.

No matter, i have pictures of these guys admiring a huge collection of lobster in the cockpit, just before it is served to them, as what is common knowledge as ‘a la Tony’….of course! The range of fresh pot fish (incl barracuda) the next day was not too bad either!

The difference with these trips is that you see, and can meet, the Kuna first hand. Photos are enhanced by their homes, canoes, and activity all appearing as focal points. One way or another, there is something always going on in these islands even though they appear sleepy and uninhabited initially.

To round off the trip we did a pleasant lunchtime stop near Isla Perro (Dog island) where one flops into the bluest water and snorkel along the sizeable wreck supporting all its marine life so close to the surface. Crawl out onto the nearby white-white sands and chat to the locals or buy colourful molas. Of course!

More to come as the journey continues…

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