Sad to be leaving our beloved Cartagena, we made our way to the marina so that we could meet our captain for the next five days, Irwin. Irwin had been sailing various islands around the Carribean for the past 30 years and his mild manner immediately put our fears about the trip at ease. Neither of us are particularly great sailers, having both experienced sea sickness on different trips, but Irwin assured us that we’d be fine whatever happens. He took great pride in introducing us to his son, Alejandro, explaining that this would also be his first trip out to the islands and also showing us around his beautiful sailing yacht, Wilson.
After a quick orientation of the vessel and already feeling a bit queasy, we headed off in search of a supermarket for the essentials… beer, wine, sangria and of course lots of rum! After all this was the home of Captain Morgan, so we grabbed enough booze to keep the British Navy going! We were in full pirate mode as we walked back to the boat, giggling and laughing about an exciting few days ahead.
We left the marina around 11pm so we could witness the beauty of Cartagenas’ skyline. The built up area known as Little Miami lit up the nights sky and we all seemed a bit sad to be leaving this colourful city behind. Adios Cartagena mi amor!!
After an hour or so we finally reached the open ocean and thought it best to try and get some sleep before the sickness creeped in. As the boat rocked from side to side, it immediately dawned on us that the next few days were going to be tough. Despite Irwin assuring us that this was the calmest weather we could have hoped for, it didn’t stop our minds running amok and fearing the worst. Waking up in the middle of the night, we somehow managed to convincing ourselves that we were in the middle of the perfect storm! “We’re going to die on this boat!” Ben panicked. “I love you babe! I want to get off!” shouted Hannah. Oh god, what have we done!
We were sleeping in a tiny room next to the boats engine, which meant that it would be hotter than hell in our cabin. The minuscule face fan strapped to wall just didn’t cut it and only managed to push hot air across the room. So after losing about a stone in sweat and stealing about 4 minutes sleep all night, we awoke to a very chipper Irwin serving up fresh fruit and yogurt. A couple of mouthfuls was enough to send Ben over the edge and he spent the day in and out of the bathroom worshipping the porcelain god. Hannah wasn’t much better and we were both a shell of our normal selves. Some pirates we were!!
Between regular intervals of throwing up and sweaty doses in the sun, Irwin explained that the boat would continue to drive for the entire day at a fast pace of 7 miles an hour… meaning we were on the seas for a total of 36 hours and wouldn’t get to the first island until 6am the following day! The price you pay for visiting paradise! This place had better be worth it!
We woke up around 7am to the smell of porridge. The sun was beaming and Dani, our chef for the week, had already rustled together a delicious mix of fresh tropical fruits and oatmeal; giving us a perfect start to the day. We hesitantly left the confines of our cabin and were greeted with the most incredible view. Around a hundred meters to our port side (we’ve got the lingo!) was Narasgandup Bibbi aka Robinsons Island. This stunning tropical paradise is inhabited by an indigenous Kuna guy by the name of… you guessed it… Mr Robinson. We grabbed our snorkels, jumped into the dinghy and headed ashore to say hello.
Mr Robinson greeted us with a smile and was obviously pleased to have some company for the day. He lives on the island in isolation apart from the company of his dogs, Choco and Perrito. We asked what was for dinner was pointed across to a net in the sea. We couldn’t believe our eyes when it was full to the brim with lobsters! You can’t get any fresher than that!
We spent the day snorkelling, exploring the island, drinking beers on the yacht and of course having the odd game of Sequence. 4.30pm approached and Irwin shouted “SHOWER TIME!” But this wasn’t any ordinary shower, no no no. Irwin proudly presented us with a hose that dribbled out cold water at the pace of an old man having a wee! “This is one of the only boats to have this!” he exclaimed! 5 star luxury at its best!
At sun down, we headed back to the island and Mr Robinson lit a huge bonfire and served the lobsters, after grilling them on a bbq. We polished off way too much rum and headed back to the boat for some shut eye. What a day!
The boat headed off to another island early the next morning, so once again we woke up to amazing surroundings. We were looking at the most beautiful islands that you could imagine. We wolfed down our breakfast, this time freshly made pancakes with Nutella and peanut butter, grabbed our gear and dived into the sea. “You forgot your pirates breakfast!” shouted Irwin, holding up a bottle of rum. “It doesn’t make you an alcoholic drinking rum before 10 am, it just makes you a pirate!” Arrggghh to that Captain!
In the evening we headed over to a small beach bar to grab a couple of drinks. Braving the pitch black night and apparent dangers of sharks and crocodiles, we made it to the island and was greeted by the barman. He obviously wanted to make us feel at home with some Western music, so decided to play some hard core techno and drum & bass at full volume, much to the dismay of the locals (and ours!) We left after an hour or so and prepared ourselves for another night in the sweat box.
Hannah had other ideas however, “Why don’t we sleep under the stars? Let’s give it a go!” So with that, we grabbed our sweaty sheets and boarded the starboard bow (eh!? Eh?!) The stars lit up the night and with the gentle rocking of the Wilson we fell asleep in no time.
As ready as we were to have some air conditioning and a comfy bed, we couldn’t help but feel a bit gutted that it was our final day at the islands. We started by mixing a huge bowl of sangria, grabbing some beers and of course cracking open the rum! We then explored another of the 360 different San Blas islands and snorkelled all day. The colours in the sea were unbelievable; an incredible mix of turquoise, deep blue and crystal clear waters. Schools of colourful fish swam around us and we took pictures with huge starfish. During our shower time (yes the hose was out again!) we were treated to a magnificent display of three dolphins playing around and splashing about in the water.
They came so close to the boat! A truly unforgettable experience and a great way to end the trip.