Paddle-Out Paella

plump kuna women 300x225 Paddle Out PaellaSailing is fantastic.  More than just the exhilarating, relaxing, challenging time on the water, I adore nature, snorkeling, and exploring new places.  But what makes places is the people and the unique traditions.

From the start of our stay Kuna Indians rowed dugout canoes out to Umineko hawking bracelets, and the traditional mola weavings they were famed for.  Several plump Kuna women made their rounds to the yachts, delighted to have so many potential customers.




molas 300x225 Paddle Out Paellamolas were expensive, but the craftsmanship and time that went into making them was impressive.  The figures stitched onto the colorful weavings looked similar to aboriginal art from Australia.  Each one was unique, the fabric layers painstakingly hand-stitched as they had been for hundreds of years.  When one mola-master demonstrated the intricacy, each stich so fine it was almost invisible to the naked eye I realized how exceptional these traditional weavings truly were.

Every day new canoes rowed up to us.  One man came with his son in a dugout canoe.  The short We invited the two on board to chat.  Each canoe was made from a single “cedar amargo” tree.  Everything was still made traditionally with machetes and axes.  One canoe could last decades, but today not everyone made their own.   Special canoe-makers made canoes.

father and son2 300x225 Paddle Out PaellaWith no markets on Chichime, or any of the surrounding islands we were running low on vegetables.  The isolation was as bad as being on a long passage.  We were starting to wonder if we would have to sail somewhere that had a grocery store.  That morning we were delighted to have a canoe pull up beside us selling that day’s catch of fish and lobster.





father and son 300x225 Paddle Out Paella

We were a little disappointed that they didn’t have veggies but how could we pass on a fish delivery service?  For $10 we bought the whole lot.  We didn’t have a lot of fresh veggies, but with the delicious variety of seafood I just had to make paella.   Isn’t half of cooking in a galley about making delicious things with what you have?

Paddle-Out Paella


  • 2 ½ c water
  • 2 T vegeta
  • 1 ½ c long-grain rice
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • ½ c white wine
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 generous pinch saffron (alas our saffron was too old so the paella wasn’t yellow)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ c shrimp
  • 1 c squid
  • 4 small lobster tails
  • 2 T lemon juice (juice from 1 lemon)


  • In large skillet sauté garlic and onion in olive oil about 2 minutes on medium heat
  • Add rice, tomatoes, salt, pepper, and vegeta and stir until rice is fully coated
  • Add water, white wine, and saffron, cover pan with lid and simmer 20 minutes
  • Add lobster and simmer another 5 minutes
  • Add shrimp and squid and cook 2 minutes more
  • Sprinkle lemon juice over paella
  • Enjoy!


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