Clockwise from above: The Piazza San Marco. Venice at night. Andrew and his friend Til. A little bit of a Richardson Bay look near the Venice lagoon. Hot meats. Hotter young girls.
black sky — and then to thunder and lighting crackling directly overhead. The southernmost of three entrances to the Venice Lagoon was difficult to identify, and once we did locate it, we had to dodge a tanker exiting the narrow channel while being rolled about by confused seas meeting the out-flowing water from the lagoon. Geja handled it all well, and has no doubt seen worse in her tens of thousands of ocean miles. After a night in the canal town of Chioggia, we motored the final 15 miles within the Venice lagoon to Venice itself. What an experience to approach Venice by boat! I’d never been to Venice, and was not prepared for the excitement of sailing past the famous Piazza San Marco and other historic attractions along the town’s waterfront. With due respect to my native San Francisco, Venice must be the greatest urban boating venue in the world. I’ll explore the Venice lagoon for a week before continuing my clockwise voyage through the Adriatic Sea. I will then return to 'The East', meaning Slo-
venia and Croatia. The summer party season there begins soon, and I sure don’t want to miss any of it! Nonetheless, I'm sure going to miss the warmth and friendliness of the Italians. — andrew 07/15/09 Southern Belle — F/P 42 Cat The Salley Family San Blas Islands (Newport Beach) After staying in Panama's Shelter Bay Marina for two days, we — George, Melinda and our eight-year-old son Joshua — took off for what would be three magical months in the San Blas Islands on the Caribbean side of Panama. Marina life is okay, but for us, island time is better. David Katz, our friend and longtime crewmember, joined us for the 2.5-day trip out to the San Blas Islands. On our first day out of Colon, we made it to Portobello, home of the mushroom. Just kidding. Portobello was actu-
ally 'discovered' by Columbus, and from 1570 to 1700 was the major base from which the Spanish transported the gold and silver they'd plundered from South and Central America to Spain. As such, Portobello was a fortified city, with forts on both sides of the bay. We visited the ruins of the battery of Fort San Fernando on the north side of the bay. From our vantage point on the upper level of the fort, we could easily envision how it was when the dreaded pirate Henry Morgan and his troops came to attack. Our first anchorage in the San Blas Islands was at the East Lemon Cays, right between the islands of Banedup and Nuinudup. The indigenous people of the San Blas Islands are called Kuna Indians, and they refer to their island paradise home as Kuna Yala. It stretches approximately 130 miles along Panama's Caribbean coast, and comprises over 340 coral islands. Crystal clear water and beautiful living coral reefs abound in the western half of Kuna Yala, which is all we've had a chance to explore so far. The Kunas are nearly as short as the pygmies of Africa, but are unique in that they are the only Amerindians to have resisted five centuries of invasions to gain real autonomy over their territory. What have our highlights been in the San Blas? — Snorkeling! The clarity of the water combined with the variety of sea life and coral is absolutely astounding. Nothing we've seen to date comes close to matching the underwater beauty of Kuna Yala. — Participating in the Kuna Regatta at Banedup Island. The locals race their sailing canoes, called ulus, in a regatta followed by a happy hour and a dinner party. Cruiser volunteers were invited to crew on the ulus, and Melinda competed with a group of ladies. They even Eight-year-old Joshua of 'Southern Belle' overlooks the best summertime 'swimming hole' that any boy could imagine. SOUTHERN BELLE
ALL PHOTOS BY GEJA
The August 2009 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.