We had a fantastic short stay in the Chagres River, but boy did we pay for that with our next crossing. There are times when I wonder why there aren't more people doing what we are doing, and then we have a hard day and I realize that most everyone is much smarter than us! The canal zone to San Andres, a Colombian island off the Nicaraguan coast, kicked our butts! I think we all agreed, by mutual decision, to sell the boat at the next port during that short trip. Never was it dangerous, I've mentioned, our boat loves sailing to weather, but it is so hard on the crew. For about 36 hours we lived at a 30 degree slant, which wouldn't have been too bad if we weren't pitching forward and back as well. No one read, no one watched a movie, we just hunkered down in the most comfortable place we could find and held on. But, hard passages are like childbirth, and it is amazing how a tropical island, like a cute little baby, can make you forget all the "discomfort" you so recently experienced. We arrived near the small Colombian island at about 2am. We had a nice moon, but we decided to anchor outside of the channel and wait until morning to enter the reef strewn harbor. We awoke to the most amazing shades of blue in water color. I could throw out a hundred adjectives and still not capture how the water looked; scintillating, brilliant, dazzling, shimmering, a cobalt blue in the deeper water, surrounded by a lighter emerald shade in the shallows. As beautiful as it looked, it was also somewhat ominous as we looked around and counted 4 or 5 wrecks in sight.
San Andres was our second choice, we were trying to reach Providencia, 40 miles to the Northeast. Unfortunately the wind kept coming from just that direction and we ended up in San Andres, described as the busier big sister to Providencia. The latter sounded so much more tranquil and our speed, but surprisingly, we really loved San Andres. It is a bustling little island community that has kept its charm while welcoming thousands of tourists. San Andres is Colombia's version of Hawaii for us West Coasters (although definitely on a smaller scale). The hotels are small beach front hotels, the restaurants are all locally owned and the town seems to run normally despite the tourists. There were few souvenir shops, locals were friendly and the marina was something out of Captain Ron?s Adventures. I wouldn't call it quaint, but it was practical and we enjoyed it. We rented the oldest golf cart on the island, grannies were passing us by on their mopeds, the parking brake was stripped so we carried several large rocks to brake the tires and there wasn't a functional horn, light or turn signal on the cart. That said, we had a blast. There were some off road cars that you could rent for 4 times what we paid and we joked that ours wasn't even an "on" road car, but we will have some good memories of touring the island in the Fred Flintstone mobile. We packed our snorkeling gear in and stopped everywhere that looked like good water. We stopped for a beer at a Rastafarian bar (yes, we looked whiter than usual, but it was such a relaxed atmosphere) on the side of the road and relaxed while the kids played in the shallow surf and sand. I asked Michael if he knew much about the whole Rastafarian culture (my knowledge doesn't go beyond dreadlocks and Bob Marley), and not surprisingly he knew the origins, along with the entire history. Without going into the details, there is a connection between Jamaica, the focal point for Rastafarianism in the new world, and these Colombian islands. San Andres is an old British possession, but the English brought slaves with them from Jamaica. Today descendants of the latter group comprise most of the inhabitants of San Andres. Most locals speak English, Creole and Spanish, although they no longer teach English in the schools and the smaller kids don't speak it at all. While I have not been to Jamaica, it definitely had a Jamaican vibe and I don?t think the kids knuckle bumped more people in their lives. We loved it!
On the way out of the country and after we officially checked out, we anchored at a small island just out of the main channel. We had had hoped to spend the night, spend Easter morning and all its festivities (someone forgot the plastic eggs and so we left anything round we could find on the boat for the bunny to hide; golf balls, ornaments, limes, etc), we were also going to explore a few wrecks and go diving before we headed out in the late evening for Honduras. The boys were begging to explore a tanker that had been stuck on a reef about a mile out and had been for about 10 years. They motored over and Mike climbed up the side to see how safe it was. As he was hurrying across the deck to tell the boys it didn't look too safe, he fell through the rusted out deck. Fortunately, only to his thigh, but he did get several nasty gashes. One on his shin was particularly deep, almost to the bone, and we brought him to the hospital. A dozen stitches later, a prescription for antibiotics and the deal of a century at $70, we left the emergency room committing to stay for another day or so to make sure his leg didn't get infected. Our first trip casualty, and we felt pretty fortunate to be close to a hospital, although I secretly wanted to dig out my skin stapling set or suture set. He looks to be healing well and we plan to set sail tonight towards Honduras, 200 nm away.
The following pages chronicle the journey of the sailing vessel Pelagic and her crew. We are a family of 5; Michael, Amy, Zander, Porter and Anakena, taking our 42' Hallberg Rassy as far as we can comfortably go in three years. We left Oregon in September 2014, participated in the 2014 Baja Haha, continued on through the Panama Canal, into the Caribbean, up the coast of the US to Maritime Canada and from there crossed the Atlantic. After an arrival in Ireland we toured Scotland, then sailed down to France, Portugal and on to Morocco. In January of 2016 we slowed down considerably and enrolled the kids in a local Spanish school in Sanlucar de Guadiana for a few months. In the spring of 2016 we crossed the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. We are now in the Pacific, officially on our way home, albeit via a very circuitous path. We are currently in French Polynesia and looking at weather windows to Hawaii before finally making landfall back in the Pacific Northwest.
Currently our exact location is not available. Our spot coverage will pick us back up in Hawaii towards the end of May, 2017.
Our favorite sailing quote:
"If anythings gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there boss!" Captain Ron