|One of the wrecked boats on the reef.|
A reef boarders the outer edge of the Eastern and Central San Blas, slowing the ocean swell and providing excellent snorkeling spots on calm days. And it sinks ships. Many, many ships. So far we have spotted six boats broken on the reefs here, and we think we see more off in the distance. Some are big metal cargo ships, slowly rusting and breaking to bits. Others are sailboats, their captains caught unaware in a storm or at night. And still others, according to the Kuna we’ve talked to, were smugglers or drug runners who perhaps got a little too close.
We’ve been exploring them when we can find our way through the reefs and shallows in the dinghy, and they are cool to look at and provide some fun snorkeling opportunities. But it’s also a reminder that as nice and pleasant as the San Blas Islands seem they are not kind to mistakes, and many of the wrecks are recent, meaning that chartplotters and GPS won't always save you. Traveling at night here would be insanely stupid, and we are always prepared for a squall to pop up complete with 50 knot winds that could potentially blow us into the coral. Second anchor, anyone?
In the San Blas, the less risky road is not a bad choice.