Before leaving Portobello we were also informed of a little recent change… Up until 3 weeks before, by law, no boat was allowed to sail to Columbia with tourists aboard unless the Captain or skipper of the boat was Columbian. This was not the case for any of our crew (one was American, the other two French). So instead of spending 2 days in the San Blas Islands, then another 2-3 days on the open ocean heading to Cartagena, Columbia, we were diverting through the San Blas islands all the way to the Columbian border with Panama (Cartagena, Columbia) and were essentially “smuggled” in… Honestly though this was great news for us because instead of only spending 2 days on the islands we spent basically 5 days (one day was added due to a storm…) on the islands!!! And we heard from other people who were on boats that went to Cartagena (since they had a Columbian crew member on board) but they said it was a miserable time!! 😦 Sucks for them for sure!!
Anyway, why? you may ask was this law suddenly changed?? Well, just 3 weeks prior to our leaving, a guy (not Columbian) basically lent his boat to a friend of his to take tourists back from Cartagena to Portobello, Panama. The boat was a catamaran and had apparently done those sorts of trips quite often before but with the real owner as the captain of the boat… So as the catamaran owner sat at a beachside bar having food and a drink, just 50 meters off the coast of Cartagena was his catamaran sailing off toward Portobello… Until it sank! It literally sank just 50 meters off the coast including all equipment and all tourist baggage! Luckily no one died from the incident, and honestly I can’t recall what exactly made the catamaran sink, but I do recall it was due to an idiot captain at the helm… Anyway, Columbia’s response to the incident was simply to not allow any more of this kind of tourist traffic to occur unless a Columbian was on board… How that would help indefinitely I’ve no idea, but so be it!