With much regret, not even 48 hours before our arrival aboard the Dutty Free in San Blas, we were informed by Mariana that the boat engine was inoperable. Due to the high volume of bad-to-horrible reviews with different captains being incompetent and not wanting to sail, I asked for a refund. Mariana agreed, but the next day she advised me that Tripadvisor advised her that they would not process a refund, she had to give us "other" options. We were actually sitting at the airport waiting for our flight to Panama and hand no way to plan anything. With much deliberation, I agreed to be reaccommodated. Mariana assured me she would greet me on this boat. She wasn't there.
Sadly, this trip went from bad to worse, turning into something like a scene out of a movie. Our driver from Panama City to the port was supposed to stop so we could stock up on food and water. He never stopped, so we had no food or water with us. The captain, Alejandro, and his partner didn't speak English. There were dangling live wires in our state room, a damp mattress and bedding from a bad leak in the state room, a dirty bathroom, a messy galley, and a captain who didn't want to sail.
There were other safety issues, too, on the Aventura. The motor on the dinghy was broken. The anchor motor was broken and our anchor kept slipping. This was bad on the first night during a thunderstorm when we couldn't escape as another drifting boat slammed into us. We had no life jackets, either.
We paid a lot for our stay on the ship and our travel to and from San Blas. We planned our whole trip around our stay.
It was my observation that many sailboats in San Blas were in need of repair or updating to be of any good standard to host paying guests. The local sailors are friendly and a tight community, but paying to sail is risky, I think.
Not only because of low standards, but most of the time, it seems, the weather is not good and you will be really lucky to get a postcard view of San Blas. The Kunas, the indigenous people, almost never smile and are not friendly, and the sand fleas abound. I really wish we had planned our trip to the Pearl Islands, instead of San Blas. The weather is usually better, I hear, as well as the accommodation.
Neither Tripadvisor, nor Mariana, wanted to take responsibility or compensate us in any way.
We stayed for two nights and it was a really great experience!
Fishing surfing and we visited some of the most beautiful islands in San Blas.
Great experience and excellent hosts!
We had an amazing experience on the boat of Mariana and Borja. They are very kind and do everything to make you comfort at their boat. Delicious breakfast and when you want Borja brings you to one of the many islands. I had a bit problems with sleeping in small spaces, but when you don't I highly recommend this trip. One night is to short, you definitely must do 2 when you can.
We had a very pleasant 3day stay with Borja in San Blas. He is a organized and experienced captain, we've visited all the islands we dreamt of inspite of the limited time, even the furthest ones of San Blas!
He is a kind host too, we felt welcome guests and enjoyed conversations with him.
Unfortunately we haven't met Mariana as she was away those days but she kindly responded to our numerous questions promptly and with all details.
Thank you for the great experience!
We have just finished our 4 days aboard Dutty Free with Borja and Mariana. Our experience was perfect in every way. Borja was an excellent captain, knowledgeable about the San Blas Islands and sailing. We felt completely confident in him.
We were able to get a good feel for sailing on a smaller boat in the islands. It was idealic!
We were able to sail, relax, snorkel, beachcombe, and see the Kuna culture. Our hosts were so gracious and welcoming. We feel like we have made new friends and hope that some day we can sail with them again.
Thank you so much Borja and Mariana.