World ARC - Day 37 - 14th Feb – Lynda's Quarterly
Steve and Lynda Cooke
Tue 16 Feb 2016 02:23
World ARC - Day 37 - 14th Feb – Lynda's Quarterly
As a West country maid, and the daughter of a keen fisherman, the call of the sea is not unfamiliar, however, sailing half way round the world is quite another adventure.
When we left St Lucia in early January, I was teary eyed just watching the boats going to refuel after their trips, and my gratitude to the five fellows for helping Steve to bring Nina over the Atlantic - Chris Best, Peter Hughes, Frank Quinn, Mark Thirst and Mike Wood was immeasurable, despite my fears and trepidations.
Hearing of real Pirates (not Viking pirates) off Granada from the Venezuelan coast did not allay my fears but with crew as nimble and canny as Lesley and Chris Browning, I knew pirates would be wise to stay away from our vessel.
Santa Marta, Columbia was not the most inviting port as the approach is the 5th most dangerous cape in the world but arriving at dawn helped us find safe passage and mooring. The people of the marina and town welcomed us like long lost friends and with beer at pennies a pint we had a very happy crew. As we did more victualling for fresh provisions, Lesley and I expounded the virtues of home cooking. As we stirred the flapjack mixture we realised less of the spatula was coming out of the pot and chunks of plastic could be seen in the mix…..whoops maybe shop bought has its advantages.
Paradise was just a few days sail away in the San Blas islands and although we delayed our journey, due to the high winds it made for a comfier ride to them. The rendezvous at Chichime was fun with a pot luck lunch and fresh coconuts then dancing with panpipes provided by the Gunas , native Indians. We then up anchored to Bandeup a tiny island amongst others with a restaurant that served lobster dinners for $30 on the beach. Paradise found.
Reality check and off to Panama, shelter bay, Colon where big shopping had to be done. Not my favourite pastime, the whistling kettle however was a great find conserving gas and preventing the galley being converted into a sauna.
The highlight of the Colon trip had to be the visit in dug out canoes to the Embora Indians. The scenery was like an apocalyptic landscape where waters had risen into mountain tops and trees that would be growing in meadows were clinging up in highlands, but as we approached the village the waters lessened and locals had to push us through the narrower eddies. We were welcomed by the village colourfully dressed and a flute playing elder. Lunch of fish and plantain was served in a banana leaf dish and then fresh pineapple, water melon and bananas for dessert. The villagers allowed us to walk around and then entertained us with a butterfly dance by the ladies and then the teenage girls did a fish dance all ending with an open floor where a delightful young chap, about 8 years old took my hand and made my day by asking me to join him, what a privilege it was.
By contrast The ARC had arranged for a disco bus that drove around Panama city while we danced and drank. Maybe not the best idea for an ageing bunch of sailors that still thought they had the moves after a few rum punches but what a crazy fun night!
Sadly the next day was time to say farewell to Lesley and Chris who despite having a little sailing experience had been a great asset to Nina's passage. Lesley had chronic sea sickness but she stayed on deck constantly while at sea (couldn't go below) but managed to rehydrate once ashore….say no more.
Chris handled the bow line through the 5 locks of the Panama canal like a pro and would not give an inch of line that wasn't asked for.
Sincere thanks to you both.
Our trip to Las Perlas was delayed slightly when the windlass to allow the anchor drop and more importantly be brought up decided to malfunction. Luckily we had electricians on board within 24 hours and it was just a fuse and some corroded connections, so quickly resolved. However, thinking it may have taken longer we had asked for local divers to clean the hull to avoid expulsion at Galapogas. Fingers crossed.
As we left the mainland and impressive skyline of Panama behind we threaded our way through the tankers towards Las Perlas named after the divers that dove for pearls, and where survivor had been filmed. The green waters and winds made it seem unfriendly, and not a patch on San Blas, but once we had anchored the winds died making it a good spot for the ARC barbecue. As ever the atmosphere was very sociable, but there was no denying an air of trepidation for the big push was starting to show in the most confident of sailors.
We are now a quarter of the way into our journey of a lifetime and as with any dream come true there is a poignancy. Our 3 wonderful children are not with us or even contactable every day, but I hope they know we miss them more than words can say and the only thing preventing this being the perfect adventure is there absence.
May have to do it all over again, plus some!