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Eastern Holandes Cays - San Blas Islands - “Swimming Pool” Anchorage

Updated: Aug 12, 2023

Wow, it’s been a fantastic week of accomplishing many boat projects, moving to a paradisical anchorage, and encountering incredible nature in the sea.


The San Blas Archipelago is comprised of 365 islands, densely packed into a fairly small area. Only 50 islands are inhabited. While Gunas share the upkeep of the islands, the land is not owned by individuals, but specific coconut trees are the property of individual families. It’s a matriarchal society, and land is passed down through the females in the family.


After a week in East Lemmon and being overrun by charter boats, we sailed up to the Northernmost-island chain called the Holandes and dropped anchor in a sandy area, called the “Swimming Pool”; it’s called the swimming pool because we are in a 10’ deep area where the water is crystal clear, turquoise in color, and protected on all sides from swell. Looking down into the water, we can see the white sandy bottom, and I mentally note the locations of perfect sand dollars that I will collect the next time I am in the water.


The area is breathtakingly beautiful as you can see in the attached photos. And, we are surrounded by friends here, all of whom are big free divers. Every day we tear (ha ha…not really, more like JOYFULLY) ourselves away from boat work to visit the reef, the boys armed with their spearguns and the girls with their GoPros. Our first free diving adventure set sky high expectations as we dropped into the channel with a pod of about 15 dolphins. They were not very curious, but definitely not skittish. We swam with them for a couple of minutes, and then with a flip of their tails, they reminded us of our human limitations and we watched the pod slowly disappear. MAGICAL!!!


With Jeff on board, our resident MacGyver, we are knocking out boat projects, starting with the items that he toted in his bag and also installing our new trampoline. It feels great to be making some progress, but with a boat, it’s often two steps forward and three back. In exercising our generator, we discovered black smoke and liquid coming out of the exhaust pipe; Brown was quick to assess and found fuel squirting out of a small hole in the hose. We like easy problems like this where we can identify the issue and have the parts on board to make the fix.


Living in the remote islands of the San Blas is wonderful and we are finally far enough away from the mainland to see fewer charter boats. But, with more time away, fresh produce is consumed and there is no store to replenish our stock. Thankfully, some of the entrepreneurial locals started buying fruits and veggies from the mainland and selling to the cruisers. Amazingly, you can even place an order via WhatsApp to ensure you get what you need. While it’s not cheap, the convenience of having the store come to your boat is greatly appreciated and worth the mark-up.


On the uglier side of cruising in remote places like this, trash starts to build up. Even though all biodegradable food is thrown overboard, jars, cans, plastics, and paper eventually accumulate. This week we organized a sunset “trash party”, meeting all of our friends at the beach, starting a bonfire, and watching our white Hefty bags blacken and melt, along with the contents. While we don’t like having to burn our trash, it’s the only option to get rid of it, without it being dumped into the sea.


On the brighter side of cruising, the sailing community is a gift and we always figure out ways to get together and help each other. Yesterday, on Saint Patrick’s Day, a beach finger foods party was organized and green clad cruisers descended on one of the remote islands to enjoy the sunset together. We love meeting people from all over the world with inspiring stories and dreams.


This week, our video takes you back to Honduras, where we leave West End and find an island paradise in Cayos Cochinos.


Here is the link to the 10-minute video:


1 Dolphins

2 The Swimming Pool Anchorage

3 Trash bonfire

4 Anchorage

5 Replacing the trampoline

6 Drone of Swimming Pool

7 drone of reef

8 Drone of Blown Away

9 Veggie Boat

Thanks for taking the time to share our latest adventure. Please make sure to share this blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel!


Eileen and Brown

Sailing Blown Away

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