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Sailing\travel blog Jan/Feb 20-twenty

This year there will be a lot of sailing and traveling around the world…..
… you can follow me here..

But first…… finishing the year in Lisboa.!

And Lisboa was great, we had booked a little apartment in Bairro Alto from where we could easily walk to the waterfront and fancy places .. we had a little bite left and right and a drink of course!. Before we walked to the Tejo river at Cais de Sodré… where we were with hundreds of people watching a beautiful fireworks display organized by the city…

After the show, we slowly wandered back up the hill to the apartment and watched a last show before a late sleep…

Yeahea, finally arrived in St Lucia..

It took a bit longer as the first plane had a 3 hours delay.. this mend I missed my connecting flight to Martinique.. therefore I had to stay one night near Orly airport before taking the next flight to Martinique and a connecting flight to St Lucia..

This was arriving Friday the 3rd. We had a few days preparing the boat, before our clients arrived on Monday the 6th.. my idea was to go kitesurfing on Sunday the 5th, but the wind let us down and also my stomach, something not right entered my system and I knew I was in for a 24 hour endurance.. at least it mend, no kitesurfing…

Monday I felt better and clients started to arrive, pitched in straight away and ambience was good! Dinner on board was good and the team learned to know each other..

The next day was time for an early morning seminar about the rally route ( early morning is a state of mind as I was up and going at 7 already..) after the seminar Arabella took over watch of the ship and I sneaked out for a first kitesurfing session in the Caribbean!!

It has been a while I have been playing around in nice warm waters With constant wind!! FANTASTIC!!!

The return with the taxi was also classic Caribbean style, while all the local taxis ( official and unofficial) where unavailable, we organized a ride with the owner of the shabbiest car on the beach.. having 5 people with 3 kites and boards in a 92′ Toyota Camry looks like this…

Anyway we got home…

Tomorrow last safety demo with the crew before we set of on a 24 hour round trip sail to Marigot Bay to return on time for the fair well party on Thursday night…

Before we left all crew members off the participants of the 20-21 World ARC came together for a group photo..

We had a good little training sail to Marigot bay. A natural little cove with a marina Resort and pools on one side and restaurants on the other which you can reach by little ferry

We are ready for the start tomorrow of the World ARC20-21. The start is at 12:00 out from the bay. We will not go straight to Santa Marta, Colombia, but will stop in Bonaire first for two days before continuing to Santa Marta..

The start was amazing.. It always gives a thrill to be part of a big group of boats leaving in the same direction..

We sailed along the coast to a marker, before turning to the west.. to sail in a straight line for 460nM.

The wind was steady 20 to 30 knots for the two and a half day crossing and was coming from dead behind. This meant that we where poled our with the headsailon one side and the main sail was out on the other side. An easy way to steer , but some moments with very unpredictable rolling. The crew was great and of the 10 people there was only 1 sick for a bit…

We arrived at Bonaire at midnight, Tuesday the 14th. After a very good sleep we cleaned the boat, tidied the sails and covers and got ourself cleared into the marina and country. Some of the people went snorkeling others went for a scuba dive course and I rented a moped and went kitesurfing for a few hours in the afternoon.

Atlantic beach is all the way in the south of Bonaire passed the salt flats,

it has nice clean winds and a good chilled out atmosphere with nice helpful people..

The drive to and from it took about half hour, with my board sticking up my back… unfortunately the wind collapsed a bit and because there is an offshore wind the rescue boat had to pick me up ( the are used to that and all the teaching is done with a support boat.)

At the end of the day we had a nice meal with some crew members in a restaurant at the waterfront called club Trocadera Bonaire..

Next morning I was early off for shopping while I still had the scooter… it’s still funny to go to an Albert Hein somewhere else then Holland..

I dropped the shopping off at the boat and then drove another crew member back to the same shop!! Left her there and after a refil of 2 dollars, dropped the scooter off..

After lunch we readied the dinghy and rigged the engine.. We where of for an excursion to Klein Bonaire, about one nautical mile from the marina… the wind was much stronger then yesterday so the chop was pretty big and the ride was bouncy.. especially as I had to go twice as there were 6 people willing to go… The snorkeling was nice ( first time since arriving in the Caribbean) but the coral had had its best days near the beach, probably due to over use and strong winds in last years.. we returned all around four and had everything cleaned, dried and packed away around 17:30… Michelle our Aussie crew member who goes all the way to Australia cooked a fantastic meal on the boat that everyone attended… Now the crew is making the passage plan under supervision of Arabella (who had a bicycle day) and I wandered of to town one more time to get some proper internet, to download some files and update my blogs…

Tomorrow of to Santa Marta, Colombia….

It’s two days later after our departure from Bonaire.. The wind has been good to us and we sailed a nice broad reach course ( with some gybes) to Santa Marta, this way we prevented the rolling that normally happens when you go dead down wind in bigger seas..

The venom is in the tail is a good saying for this particularly trip as on near arrival we where welcomed with gusts up to 43 knots of winds. After parking the boat in the berth I sorted the marina and immigration/ customs before we could attend to the welcome party.. The winds are still in the high thirties in the marina.. but at least the boat lays still.

Tomorrow will be maintenance day and monday will give us an opportunity to go to a village in the mountains

The Maintenance day ended up to be a hot business cleaning out the generator room ( the steering bracket had been modified and metal filings where still left, next to all the grease markes

And other spots…

With a short brake I went on with chores till the end of day, I had dinner with Dan and his crew from Skylark in a busy street of the old town..

Next day a day off, I went with most of the crew to Minca, a little town in the mountains funky, but Colombia style. We arrived in two taxis and the brother of one had a Jeep, we had a choice to go for a big hike or take the Jeep’s, most of the crew where not in for hiking so we took of for a long bouncy day over the mountain roads above Minca. We first visited the Victoria coffee plantation a more then 100 years factory.

After the tour and a cup of local brew we continue to Los Pinos, the highest point on the route, with views on Santa Marta and Minca..

From Los Pinos we drove on to La Semilla, a hostel high up in the mountains with air nets hanging over the cliff and bar and pool, they were able to organize a Chocolate tour, but it would cost 20.000 pesos (5 pound), for this we could use the pool and other outdoor areas.. the crew felt ripped off and we left and bounced further down the mountain, the roads were in a terrible state and without a 4×4 it would have been very difficult to nearly impossible to travel (except

Hiking) next and last stop was the Marinka waterfalls.

A 2 tiers waterfall.. there were dressing rooms, toilets and a bar and paved path leading to this all.. obviously the rise in tourism made this possible.

When we returned after our swim and chill session we had to wait for the septic tank truck before we could continue on our return to Minca. The taxied where waiting already and 45 minutes later we were back in the marina of Santa Marta. Not really hungry I baked some eggs for dinner and after some beers went first for a snooze in the cockpit before I went down to the then quiet but still hot below deck quarters.

Next day was our last full day and we went through preparations, briefings and paperwork.. In the evening there was the price giving and a goodbye dinner.

With Tom ( the round the worlder) and Dan from Skylark we had a few last drinks before setting off the next day. In the morning we prepped the boat, filled the last fuel tanks and made the last calls home before the start at 12:00.

The wind was light and from the direction we needed to go and after four hours we turned the engine on and made best course to the waypoint, this continued over night with veering winds but without enough strength to keep us going in a reasonable speed. Only the next morning we could hoist the spinnaker for the first time since we left St Lucia. It was great to see the big sail up and we made good progress with boat speeds exceeding 9 knots.

At the end of the day the clouds were building and the wind started to pick up. That was the call to get the spinnaker down and sail through the night with the Yankee 1, this still gave us boat speeds of eight to nine knots in the building winds.

Next morning at 06:08 we crossed the finish line just before reaching the eastern San Blas islands.. after the sails were down we inched ourself into our new territory, the reefs of the San Blas Islands a area owned by the Kuna Indians composed over 340 islands.

Early in the morning in proper day light we arrived, as one of the first boats, at the Eastern islands of the Coco Bandeira group. We stayed here a full day enjoying the snorkeling and chilling on the beaches..

There was a sundowner gathering at the end of the day, were a few of Starling’s crew attended.

Next Morning the drone came out and the first flight and recording’s were a fact.

We left for the eastern Holandes cays islands before lunch time and spend the night there. Sunday the 26th we moved before lunch to the western Holandes cays, were we had lunch.. this place was a bit rolly by the waves so it was not for long before we cruised south to salardup in the Naguargandup cays. Soon most of us were of the boat to snorkel at the nearest reef..

When I came back the mate had bought two live Rock Lobsters that we killed and cooked for appetizer before dinner.

Next morning I had an early snorkel to the beach and had a conversation in my best Porto-Spanish with the local Kuna Indian, He told me he had inherited the island from his grandfather and was living on it for 4-5 month a year, running a sort of bar/restaurant. In winter he would work in Panama City. A happy chap with a kid of about 5 years old and a friend/relative helping him…

After the crews morning excursion we set of for dog island, where there is a wreck of a coaster that run aground in the 50’s. Impressive so close to the beach but a strong current was preventing us from a relaxed snorkeling and made it a good work out.

The weather was not with us and rain fell most of the day, what could be seen as a good alternative for the blistering sun that daily hit our European skins..

After the wreck excursion the idea was an overnight stop at the lemon keys but with the poor visibility that was not a safe option, so we motored straight to Porvenir.

Internet connection is finally reinstalled what gives me a chance to update the blog..

This morning the sun came up from under the clouds that are slowly coming our way we might be in for some more rain

After checking in, I negociated an extra day to stay in the San Blas islands, so we moved to the Lemon Cays and stayed there another full day.. The night of the 29th it was time to sail to Shelterbay at the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal. It was only 74 nM what meant we could do it with a five knots average.. we arrived the next morning at 07:00 at shelter bay and cracked on with some cleaning.. we had a nice egg breakfast before I went to the office to check in.. because I had been up since 01:00 in the morning I had a little siesta before our night started with a BBQ organized by two of the crew, also two crew had there birthday’s in following days, so cake was all around!

Next day was measuring, fumigation, fueling and haul out, although haul out never happened because the yard didn’t like to hoist the boat because of the wrap.. so a diver came to clean the hull..

next morning I went with the marinabus to the mall for some shopping and eventually a new pair of croc boat shoes.. On return I called the yard manager as the boat was not cleaned enough underwater, this is needed to enter the Galápagos Islands , otherwise it will be an expensive fix 40 nM offshore!!!

In the afternoon I walked around the old army base and we had our Panama Canal briefing..

We are bound to leave tomorrow to traverse the isthmus .. so watch this space!!!!

well time flies.. but we did start crossing on the Panama Canal.

By the time we went through the first lock it was already getting dark,

and when we arrived on out overnight spot on the lake it was pitch black, very handy as the buoy we were going to spend the night on was unlit.

The next morning the pilot was early and on time and at 07:00 we were on our way again. Crossing the lake is always a magical thing and especially this time as there were not a lot of big ships around yet.. in fact we had to wait and slow down to meet up with our ride… A large Mearsk container vessel

All went well while we went through the locks as a nest meaning 3 boats tight together.

Around 15:00 we docked in marina La Playita.

Next day was maintenance day while the crew went on a trip to a native tribe in Panama ( 1 of 4 remaining tribes)

The day after we did our last sail , as this crew ensemble, to the Taboga island group 10 nM away from the marina.. there was not too much wind so we motored most of the time.. still a nice day out, especially as it is cooler on the pacific side. Dave finally caught a fish, a holy mackerel… what became a delicious dinner for the night…

Thursday the 6th it was the last day for some of the group, the morning was spent with deep clean while in the afternoon the crew wandered of to old town.. after work I did the same and had a drink on the StorkX rooftop bar, before ending up in Espacio for a burger and a beer..

The next day I had a hand over and a last meal with the crew. At the end of the day I collected my car to be able to kick off in time, to make my way to PuntaChame, Panama kitesurfing heaven. The road was already chocker-block full leaving Panama City over the Bridge of America’s, but after two hours I arrived on my destination…

Here I will stay until Monday afternoon when I have to go to the airport to return home.

Tuesday afternoon, nearly home, the stay and kitesurfing at Panamá Kite Center was great, nice open space and even in the weekend it was not crowded. Florian, Sarah, Marco and Thomas were very helpful and friendly and it was a shame to leave so quickly, but I’m happy I can go home for a while to see my beloved..

Until the next adventure……