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General Information

Preparing for your trip

Inmigration

Guna Yala

Info

Trip

Life Aboard

Inmigration

Guna Yana

LIFE ABOARD

The trip includes 26-50 hours of open sea navigation between Cartagena and San Blas and an additional 7-10 hours between the San Blas and Puerto Lindo if that’s where your trip ends/starts.

These are sailboats and rely on the wind, but they also have engines. If there is no wind, it’s likely they will need to use the engine for at least part of the crossing. If there is a counter current or the wind is against you, the navigation can take longer so it’s strongly recommended to leave yourself a flexible schedule. Please be patient with your captain and allow them to operate the navigation in the way they deems most appropriate. The captain and the crew are doing their best to get you to your destination as quickly and safely as possible.

During the time on the open sea, the boat does not generally stop. This is a good time to read a book, socialize, relax, hopefully see some dolphins and maybe do some fishing. Depending on sea conditions you may be able to move around and sit on deck but once the sun goes down the captain will restrict access to the fore deck for safety reasons.

The captain will ask that you keep hatches closed in the boat during the crossing. It may mean the cabins get a bit stuffy, but please listen to your captain and understand that certain rules are in place for your safety and comfort, not to inconvenience you.

If you are concerned about seasickness we recommend you can take tablets. It’s similar to any motion sickness, some people feel it more than others. It is completely normal to feel a bit queasy. If you start feeling sick, get some fresh air, lie down and stay hydrated. Almost no one suffers from sea sickness during the three days of island hopping, as the sea is more sheltered behind the reefs of the San Blas archipelago.

ISLAND TIME

Spend three incredible days exploring the stunning San Blas islands. Each day, weather permitting, you’ll visit a different group of islands. While these are not guided tours, our experienced crew will show you the best snorkeling spots and may even organize a BBQ or bonfire on one of the islands. You’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Kuna communities, purchase local crafts, and participate in island cleanup activities, depending on the boat.
Your time in the islands is yours to enjoy. Whether you prefer relaxing in a hammock with a good book, exploring the diverse islands, playing volleyball, or snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, get ready to experience paradise.

FOOD

The trip includes three meals per day and the boats serve very good food but please do not expect 5-star dining. During the crossing meals are likely to be simple (sandwiches, pasta salads, soups) and in the islands the crew will provide a variety of dishes, including fresh seafood when it is available. At certain times of year fishing is illegal because of breeding seasons for lobster and fish. The captain should not purchase lobsters if they are undersized and may refuse to buy them even if available, please support this decision.

All of the boats can accommodate vegan, gluten free, pescatarian, and vegetarian diets, however, there is a 25 usd fee to accommodate all special diets (15 usd to the chef for the added effort and 10 usd to the boat to buy ingredients). There is no surcharge for allergies (within reason).  It is important to advise us of any allergies or dietary restrictions when finalizing your booking, failure to do so will make it difficult for the crew to accommodate your diet. Please note, you cannot change your diet once the tour has begun.

If you have a genuine allergy to any specific foods or something in the environment, you should inform us and take appropriate measures, please make sure you bring any emergency medication and that somebody is aware of how to administer it should the need arise. It is simply not possible to prepare separate meals for those who have a dislike of certain foods, so you will need to be flexible and you can pick out ingredients you do not like.

Meals tend to be served at scheduled times. If you sleep late or miss a meal for any reason and food has been cleared, please inform the crew. They are there to accommodate you but most cannot read minds, guest participation and assistance is appreciated.

Snacks, alcohol, and non-alcoholic beverages (mixers) are not included. For those interested in bringing snacks, alcoholic beverages, mixers, etc, you should purchase these items beforehand. If you buy beer, please buy cans, not bottles.

ACCOMMODATION

For the entire trip your accommodation will be your designated berth on the boat, which may be a single or double bunk, in a shared dorm or private cabin. There is limited availability of private double cabins and you can book a specific bed based on availability. If you are not given the specific bed that you reserved, it is important to inform the crew. This is likely just a mix-up and can only be resolved at the start of the trip.

You will be sharing a relatively small space with people you may have just met, so please be flexible and considerate. Single travelers may be required to share a double bed with another passenger. If this is a concern for you, please advise us before completing your booking.

Some boats use the salon area for additional sleeping, usually at a discounted price. Though it’s not as private, the salon has good airflow and is a good option for those concerned with seasickness or claustrophobia.

It is normal that the crew sleeps outside on mattresses or in the common areas. They often prefer to be outside to keep an eye on the weather conditions and hear any changes in the wind. Please respect this as their sleeping area.

GENERAL COMFORT ON BOARD

Fresh water is like gold on sailboats! Once it runs out you cannot get more (unless it rains) so please be flexible and conscious of water consumption e.g. do not leave the water running as you brush your teeth. The captain is in charge of the water supply and at any time may change the rules if deemed necessary. Your dishes will likely be washed with salt water and then rinsed in fresh.

Most boats do not allow proper showers as freshwater is limited and everyone needs to conserve it. You will have the opportunity to rinse off on deck with fresh water at the end of the day and there are a few islands that offer shower facilities that you can use for 1 or 2 USD, although a salty bath in crystal clear water is free.

If something has not first traveled through your body, it should not go in the toilet. Boat sanitation systems use salt water so you do not need to worry about how many times you flush. Please avoid putting inorganic items into the toilet; this includes WET WIPES, toilet paper, tampons and sanitary napkins, and garbage. Many boats have manual toilets pumps that your captain and crew will explain how to use, others have electric toilets. Please pay attention and if in doubt, pump more times than you think necessary. If you have any problems, don’t be embarrassed to let a crew member know, chances are they have dealt with it many times before.

THE CREW

The trip is not a guided tour, but your crew is there to provide the tools you will need to make the most out of your time onboard. Safety is priority one and your comfort is secondary. Please understand that the crew may not always be available to socialize or entertain as they have many duties they need to carry out. Each captain has their own way of doing things, but their main responsibility is to operate the boat and get you safely from place to place.

Many boats have hired captains or captains on rotation. Please ask us if you are interested to know who your captain will be but keep in mind this is subject to change.

Many of the captains are local sailors while others are foreigners who have relocated here. There will always be an English-speaking crewmember on board. You can read a bio of each captain here (linked).

It is extremely important to communicate with your crew if you have any concerns or questions during the trip. Passenger support and positivity go a long way. If everyone works together as a team, the trips will be much more enjoyable for everyone.