Blue Sky's Voyage
George & Michael
Fri 26 Jun 2009 23:14
Hello Friends "13:22.8N 81:22.6W"
We've stayed nearly two weeks in Providencia as it's such a pleasant island to stop at. The bay here is sheltered, has plenty of space, sociable yacht neighbours and a good dinghy dock: even the ATMs work OK and it's not too expensive either. A beer** costs 2,000 pesos or about 60p / $1 in contrast to often several times that in the eastern Caribbean.
Here is the bay 'Santa Catalina Harbour' here in Providencia, looking W:
As mentioned in the last blog, we arrived in time for the "Old Providence Caribbean Garden" festival (the locals are proud of their English heritage and use of the language - and their separation from mainland Colombia). There have been quite a few late night concerts - too late of course for Blue Sky and also a beauty contest (ladies only) and beach horse racing. Even though most days since we've arrived are nominally public holidays, everything seems to work OK and all the shops are open anyway.
We dressed overall for the occasion and here we are with 'Split Hill' (or more colloquially, 'Morgan's Ass' by the cruisers in honour of the famous Captain Morgan who was based here long ago) in the background.
Michael & Garrison did actually climb the hill - hence the previous panorama of the bay.
The sights are many and varied and the noticeable thing is how friendly the residents are - in contrast to some places we could mention in the eastern Caribbean. Here's a couple of contrasts if ever there were - an iguana at the fort overlooking the anchorage and of course the (very lovely) beauty queens putting in an appearance at the beach horse racing:
The horse racing did not yield any useable photos since, in the words of the locals, it was very much "here dey come, dere dey go" so in the time it takes to get the camera switched on, it's all over. Great fun though as the horses race towards the crowd, which magically parts to let them race through. Fortunately no horse stumbled or the crowd would have gone down like nine pins. There was great food available on the beach though as the afternoon progressed, the whole beach ran out of beer...
Another day we dinghied around to the reef protected windward side and went snorkelling. The reef here is notable for weird coral heads rising up almost to the surface from a sandy bed about 10 metres deep. Lethal for navigation but great for snorkelling around, though fish and coral not as wonderful as Cuba.
Sadly no pictures as our Olympus underwater camera is no longer waterproof - though still surprisingly robust. We noticed that salt water had got inside so we rinsed the whole camera with boat water (basically distilled water from the watermaker) and dried it out - all seems fine so far.
After snorkelling we were invited to lunch by some local friends with a glorious house overlooking the reef - here is G relaxing after lunch on the lower terrace:
[For those in search of exotic holiday destinations, the very lovely and artsy house is available for rent, though getting to Providencia does involve flying to Colombia, then San Andres (50m south) and then a final hop to Providencia.]
Yesterday we hired scooters for a road circuit of the island. It's a while since the skipper & first mate have used motorised two-wheelers and these scooters at 20 mph felt a lot more dangerous than our SLK at 120 mph. Fortunately we returned unscathed from the adventure, having spent most of the time snoozing on the beach after lunch.
We are now underway off Providencia and on course for Panama. We'll aim for Shelter Bay just inside the Cristobal breakwater at the Caribbean end of the Canal where there's a marina and we can do a spot of maintenance before cruising the islands. Reasonable winds forecast to start, but probably a spot of motoring closer to Panama.
George, Michael and Garrison
** the price of beer is of course the basic unit of Blue Sky value comparison.