Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The last of the Carib

February 27, 2009
Holandes Cays, San Blas, Pamana
coordinates 09 34.930N,078 40.769W

We've departed the Caribbean Islands and left the good ole' liming lifestyle behind. Liming is the mentality of "relaxing, hanging out, or doing what you love". The origins of the word are thought to have come from the nickname the locals gave to the foreign sailors who used to hang out on the docks just to watch the ships while they chewed on citrus fruits. a.k.a Liming

We made quick stops in Bonaire and Curacao. Entering Bonaire, their Navy helicopter pilots put on quite a show for us. They were out doing drills as we rounded the southern tip of the island so they decided to do a fly by and give us a buzz, and then a water show as they lowered themselves so near to us they showered us with sea water. Two squealing and cheering boys was all these mavericks needed for encouragement and we actually had to put the cameras away before they got too wet. The entire
coastline of Bonaire is protected as a national water park with crystal clears waters. All boats are tied to moorings, no anchoring here. Right off the back of the boat you could dive to see small schools of fish and corals enjoying their new ecosystem growing on the moorings blocks. We also had the chance to spy "Octopus" the fabulous mega motor vessel owned by Paul Allen. After seeing the Maltese Falcon, it's like big boat bingo out here.

The anchorage in Spanish Water on the island of Curacao is a unique channel naturally cut into the island. Well protected from any swell, the expat community is strong here. Free bus shuttles take you to find every amenity you may need during your stay. The hike to customs and immigration has to be one of the longest ones yet, but with a little charm and a smile, the procedures are relatively smooth. We did have the opportunity to watch the parades for carnival. All the colorful costumes, friendly
faces and lively music you can take. The islands of the Netherlands Antilles are an interesting mix of Dutch, meets Spanish, meets Carib. Papiamento is the language that results from combining the three and we have to say though listening to them is a joy, communicating can be difficult. The brightly painted buildings of downtown Willamstead we were told were reminiscent of Amsterdam. Our stay was short and sweet. Unfortunately we had to move on before the final hurrah on Tuesday, but when the
weather window opens one must go through.

With the winds at our back we made a quick run right past Aruba. Though we can't speak to what the setting may be like on land, from the water point of view, the southern tip of the island was so polluted and stinky with smoke and discharge from their industrial stacks that you couldn't even see the land. It was amazing. A dozen ships anchored off we believe waiting for their shipments of fuel or oil. A dozen more ships have been passing us on our journey towards the canal no doubt with their
own transits to complete.

Our next destination is the San Blas islands just south east of the Panama Canal. The winds and seas are notorious for being viciously strong and tumultuous around the corner of Cartengena, Colombia but our weather gribs were showing good potential for us to have decent run at it. So we took it along with 4 other boats. A perfectly consistent 25-35 knots of wind out of the east and we whipped our way through the waters. Double reef in the main and an itsy bitsy piece of the jib out, we were still
trying to slow down, covering the 650 miles in 4 days. We made made landfall in the Hollandes Cays at sunrise on my birthday the 27th.

We are really looking forward to spending some time here to visit just a few of the 365 islands and experience the Kuna Indians of the Kuna Yala Nation. One of the largest indigenous American Indian group left, they live largely untouched by civilization. A matrilineal society, the women are in charge of bringing in most of the money with their famous molas. Colorful clothes sewen and embroidered by hand. When men marry in a family, they move to the woman's household bringing their few clothes
and machete. The men are in charge of fishing, tending to the simple gardens and care of coconuts. By law, the land belongs to "all" Kuna's so not a coconut nor shell fish may be taken. They understand the concept that this world is to be co-owned and cared for by all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Come down to cutler Maine sometime it would be really cool Does it ever get boring on the sea?

I was wondering did you ever get sea sick before?

How come you decided to do this?

How big is your boat?

Did you ever fall overboard?

What was the scariest thing for you?