Leaving Cuba — headed to Providencia
On Friday, May 27 we left Cuba behind as we motor sailed south towards a waypoint just west of the Cayman Islands, on route to Providencia, Colombia. The seas were nice and calm, but we didn’t have the right wind angle once again.
By day two we had already adjusted the sails to a more favorable wind, but by the end of the day, just after reaching our first waypoint southwest of Grand Cayman, the wind came from the southeast again forcing us to sail off course. Slowly, but surly we pinched our way into the wind the whole night until it changed back out of the east and we were able to set our course south for day three.
Every once in a while we would hit a squall, nothing too severe thankfully.
Night watches — if only there was a way to show you or explain what it’s like at night time in the middle of the ocean. From the bio-luminescence sparkling in the wake of the boat to the unimaginable amount of stars in the sky. Some nights there’s lightning shows all around, and some nights you see nothing due to clouds (and I literally mean nothing). Most times I sit there, meditate and pray. I think we tend to live such busy lives that we never give ourselves the chance to slow down and reflect. I’ve now spent countless hours reflecting on my life and I feel confident that I am ready for the journey that lies ahead. Never have I felt as small as I do these nights, at the mercy of the wind and sea. I am so grateful for that deep, unavoidable solitude.
Upon waking up for my 12:00 watch on Tuesday, May 31st I was happy to see land dead ahead of us on the horizon… Providencia, Colombia!
Although Providencia is owned by Colombia it is very far from the mainland. In fact it is an island that lies more or less in the middle of the southwest Caribbean Sea, off the Nicaraguan coast, halfway between Jamaica and Costa Rica. I learned right away that it had a much higher elevation than the other Caribbean islands I have been to, the water was clear and the reefs plenty (third largest barrier coral reef in the world), and lots of trees. As we pulled into the anchorage I could smell fruit, which I later learned was the abundance of mango trees on the island (I ended up eating tons).
Arriving in Providencia
We arrived in the anchorage near Santa Isabel, Providencia (aka Old Providencia or Downtown) in the afternoon of Tuesday, May 31st. Although we could not get our immigration done they did not seem to have a problem with us wandering around town.
Right away I found out that there was free wifi in town and it actually worked pretty good! Finally I was able to connect with friends and family, and most importantly Romi (who was still in Hawaii, go check out her Instagram for photos). The Captain and I had dinner at Miss Lucy’s Restaurant which ended up being a great location for a cheap, tasty, and filling lunch.
The next morning we went in to meet Mr. Bush to deal with our immigration. There was a line already with other sailors doing the same so we joined the group. I met a fellow hitch sailor named Matt from Australia who was crewing on a Canadian boat from Panama (he also has a Podcast that you can check out called Cuba2Rio). He and I did some exploring that afternoon to check out Isla Santa Catalina which you get to by a beautiful foot bridge from Santa Isabel. Our immigration wasn’t done until the next day, but there was no rush for us.
On Friday, the 3rd of June, the Captain had rented a mule (4-wheeler) to use for hauling gas and water. We decided to make the most of it so we also went on a tour of the island. At the southeast end there is a community called Bottom House where we parked and began our hike of el Pico, which is the highest peak on the island. We took our time stopping to take pictures, drink water, eat mangoes, and soak up the scene. A couple hours later we were at the top, and what a view it was!
After the hike we finished up the drive around the eastern side of the island and back to Santa Isabel at the northwest. We were pretty exhausted.
The next day I decided to take it easy and just go hang out at Morgan’s Head on Santa Catalina. On my way there I found a nice secluded beach with a giant mango tree providing shade while almost dipping into the water. I stopped to take pictures and in that process my GoPro had fallen over near the incoming tide without its waterproof casing, and thus filled with water. I got it as quick as possible, but it was too late. RIP GoPro number four.
On Sunday the Captain and I took the dingy under the Santa Catalina footbridge 2 miles to Cayo Cangrejo (Crab Cay), where we spent the day lounging in the sun, and snorkeling the surrounding reefs. I went out a bit further east than most people were going, closer to the edge of the reef, in hopes of finding some bigger animals and I was rewarded with three sea turtles! For much more than that id have to strap a tank on and go to the outer edge of the reef. I ended up getting a bit too much sun, and when I got back to the boat I looked like a lobster.
On Monday I decided to find out how to hike the islands famous Split Hill (aka Morgan’s Ass). It isn’t a typical tourist hike so there’s no instructions on where to enter and there are not really any set trails. After asking around I got one of the locals to give me a ride on his motorcycle to someone’s house. I then passed through their yard and the horses fields behind. There the incline began and I started hiking my way through the trees and brush. One type of tree I learned quickly is a home to fire ants, and I could not avoid them sometimes. Occasionally I had to stop to put my backpack down and shake off all the ants on me. Those little guys really have a painful bite that lingers on for a while and leaves terrible marks. I eventually made it to the top, or crack, and once again had a beautiful view of this gorgeous volcanic island.
My last few days in Isla de Providencia I spent relaxing, hanging in my hammock under mango trees, snorkeling around Morgan’s Head, eating at Miss Lucy’s, and playing street soccer with the local kids.
On Tuesday, June 14 after two weeks of stay on this magical little-visited, and little-known island of Providencia, we began our final leg of the journey to Colon, Panama.
Where’s the most remote place you have been?