Monday, 23 January 2017

At last ....Providencia

Finally we had our weather window and set sail leaving Puerto Lindo behind us bound for Providencia. On anchor in Linton Bay with very little wi fi we had plenty of opportunity to try out our new toy, the Iridium Go, the latest satellite system from Iridium. We had set it up in Shelter Bay and whilst a little tricky to set up it was great once we got the hang of it. We are now able to use our I Pad to phone, text, get the weather, plan our passage according to the weather ahead and keep in contact with the big wide world whilst at sea. We had a short weather window but we figured it should be enough and while we had some fairly heavy swell to start with we were able to sail virtually the whole of the 300 or so nautical miles. As we were fair bombing along at 7+ knots for a lot of the time inevitably we arrived in Providencia in the dark.....just what we didn't want. It was blowing 25 knots and we had waypoints to get into the harbour which is surrounded by fairly shallow water and a reef. It was however very well buoyed and what's more the lights on the red and green buoys worked! A pleasant change! So we went for it dropping the hook in the outer harbour some way from the quay, but safe enough so we could get our heads down for a well earned sleep.
Checking in the next day we wandered up the hill to find Mr. Bush, the agent everyone seems to use to check in.... I think he's the only one! There are only 5000 people on Providencia but we found them to be very friendly, super helpful and very proud of their Island. People there speak English, Spanish and Creole so you are never quite sure what language to attempt. Many times I attempted my broken Spanish only to find they spoke perfect English whilst on other occasions I'd speak English and they would reply in Creole! You can tell there has been pirate territory many many years ago. We moved the boat closer to the dock in the inner harbour taking care to go right to the end of the buoyed channel before we turned, some had been tempted to turn before the last buoy and had found themselves stuck in shallow water needing a tow out. Closer to the dock we were able to avail ourselves of the free internet on the dock and it was less of a distance to dinghy in.
We decided to hire a golf cart to explore the island with our friends off Genesis, with Christmas coming up the whole island was in throws of decorating the place with Christmas decorations, some strange like Santa playing the saxophone outside the Catholic Church others a bit more traditional. However at night the whole town was light up like a Christmas tree, the bridge, houses, the town square anywhere they could put a light they did. Christmas was the big deal in Providencia. All along the roads there were make shift butchers chopping up pigs for the big day, the queue for propane was enormous making sure they had something to cook it with and then to top it all they would slap a coat of paint on the outside of their house to make sure it looked just right. Christmas Eve they were ready to party and we received a call on the VHF to tell us that he had been informed that the fireworks were going to be set off in the harbour and that we were in the direct line of fire! He asked us to move.... he suggested we tie onto a barge over the other side of the harbour in shallow water....err I don't think so. We respectfully noted his concern and said we would be at midnight there was John with his bucket on deck ready to put out any stray fireworks but aside from a couple of pieces of black cardboard our decks were clear and all was well. The locals partied til dawn after all that excitement we slept.

It does not take long to drive around Providencia and we found ourselves at South West Bay, a lovely sandy Bay littered with restaurants. The Divine Nino had been recommended to us and it did not disappoint for $35 you could share the fish platter which considered of a large Snapper, a Lobster, Calimari, Shrimp .....too much food! A good place that I can recommend for a lunch that will not disappoint.
The anchorage had good holding which was just as well as the wind whistled through the gap between the Main Island and Santa Catalina Island 30 - 40 knots at times but the seas were flat it it was not uncomfortable. We had looked at a weather window around Boxing Day, but having checked out with Mr. Bush, Boxing Day came and went the winds were just too strong and the seas too high out there. This was confirmed when our friends Doris and Hans on RioCaja limped back into Port having left on Christmas Eve with their Genoa shredded and engine trouble having had a thoroughly horrid time on their way to Belize forcing them to turn back. That settled it we were definitely staying put until the right weather window turned up!

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