Monday, May 13, 2019

Isla Providencia

May 13
Isla Providencia, Colombia

We dropped anchor in Isla Providencia's  Santa Catalina harbor this morning at 0930, exactly 48 hours after leaving Shelter Bay Marina in Panama. You can see where we are, our track from Panama and that of The Voyage so far here.

It was a good passage. We sailed 80 percent of the distance, the crew did a great job and we ate well, though confused seas made the trip a bit tiring and we got wet dealing with a few squalls encountered during last night which required us to reef or drop the mainsail. All part of sailing. We had only one equipment malfunction- a cabin fan gave up the ghost and needed to replaced with the last spare one on board.

After anchoring, cleaning ourselves up and eating breakfast, we took the dinghy into Santa Isabel, Providencia's main village to deal with formalities. You need to use an agent to check in and out of Colombia, here the agent is a Mr. Bush. When I told Mr. Bush that we are only staying here for three days, he advised me to not formally check in until tomorrow or I would have to purchase three $50 tourist cards in addition to the $120 fee for the boat. I took his advice.

So, we spent today as illegal aliens in Colombia, laying low by visiting a nice little beach on the tiny island of Santa Catalina, which you reach by walking across a rickety wooden floating bridge. At the beach we met two (too) young, beautiful, friendly women and we had a nice time talking while wallowing in the warm shallow water. It was a nice relaxing way to spend the afternoon.

When we returned to the boat, the Colombian Navy paid us a visit.  They reviewed our documents and did a more than cursory search of the boat, including looking in the freezer. A big bag of Roy's Famous Frozen Grapes is in the freezer and I offered the navy guys some to taste. They really liked them and left with handfuls. It was a pleasant visit and our undocumented immigrant status was either not discovered or overlooked. Perhaps the frozen grapes were a factor.

Santa Isabel is a very small, attractive little town. It has a big dock for the ferry (the only means of public transportation to/from the island) and cargo tugs, several mini markets, a few small restaurants and some shops. Most of the buildings are wood construction, brightly painted with colorful metal roofs. The people are very friendly, a nice change from much less friendly urban Panama.

Tomorrow, after we formally check in, we are going to rent a four-seater ORV and circumnavigate the island.  We hear that there are good beach restaurants and bars along the way. It should be fun, nice to do some land touring.

(Internet speed is too slow to post pictures...I'll try again when I have a better connection.)