Coco Banderos Islands

We left Green Cay under bright blue skies and puffy white clouds, with a few knots of breeze coming from somewhere. One thing we like about the San Blas is when it is time to recharge the batteries, you might as well change anchorages too. So off we were on a strenuous 2 mile trip to the Coco Banderos Cays.


Just as we headed into the approach, our luck, we got hit by one of these tiny monsoons. We slowed the boat down, Jennie stood on the bow sprit with her keen eye on the water, while I used my two varying depth finders to follow the contour. We cruised in and past the anchored boats, set the hook, scratched our chins and reset the hook a bit better to give everyone ample room.

In our anchorage were a couple catamarans, another full keel and one hell of a backpacker boat. These back backer boats take nomadic youth with little direction between Panama and Cartegena Columbia. The German fellow who owned and operated this thing must have just beat out a human trafficker at auction, she was a beauty.

The next day things got exciting. The backpackers left in a whirl of black diesel smoke, and we rested in the sunshine between little squalls of about 2 minutes of rain each. Then a boat came in. The captain came through a tricky entrance and seemed to know what he was doing…

I took Dexter to the beach a few hundred feet away and watched this boat try to anchor many times. Before leaving I told Jennie to protect the boat, famous last words. It was apparent their anchor windlass was broken. The little Kuna helper at the front was pulling up the anchor every time, except one time. I started to see the Catamaran behind us start to move forward. The owner was on the bow, and had no idea. My shouts and arm wagging were pointless, but Jennie had clued into the mess too. The new boat had hooked the catamaran’s anchor rode.

I hopped into the dinghy with Dexter and we burnt some fuel. The Catamaran was being dragged into our stern, which would be bad news for the catamaran as we have a lot of pointy metal on it. Jennie was getting a fender ready while Dexter and I rammed the Cat with our little 8 foot tender (it is inflatable so no harm done). The owner of the cat got fenders between his boat and the new boat, while I used the dinghy to move the boats around like a little tug. This worked out well until I ended up under the cat’s trampoline.  This whole time the charter guests on the new boat were all involved with chain pulling or bumper placing.

We managed to get the two boats side by side and unhooked the anchor with a bit of diving and rope. The new boat went over to a very spacious spot and set the hook and the Cat reset theirs back where they were. Not really a scratch on either boat and no one got injured, which means all in all things turned out all right.

The real funny thing about this all was who was driving the new boat. I thought I recognised him as one of the restaurant proprietors from Bocas. It was, and he was running a charter for a friend, on a friend’s boat, and the friend left him without a working windlass and a deadline. Plus he had just hired a young Kuna to help him out. So the afternoon for him was spent fixing his friends windlass.. double bummer.

The rest of our weekish long stay here was wonderful. We spend a day cleaning up all the garbage on the beach of a small island next to us and then burnt it. Then we would spend the rest of our time reading or snorkelling. We managed to spear a few small fish and got a lobster. In time we will get better. A note of recommendation for those more active cruisers planning on heading to the San Blas, make sure you have a good spear gun and weight belt. Our little pole spear is laughed at by most fish. I had two Spanish mackerel come up and swim around my spear when I tried to shoot at them. It is pretty fun trying to be an underwater assassin.

Here are some pics from the Lemon Cays and the central Holandes Cays

The last pic has our friends boat Bettie in it