Cat boat races.
16 June 2013 | Proividencia, Columbia
Saturday was the cat boat races and there certainly was plenty of wind. It was gusting around 20 kts most of the day. The women who were supposed to do the traditional cooking demo decided the chance of rain was too high and so they would cook the food at home and then explain how they had done it - not nearly as much fun. Anyway the race was supposed to start @ 1:00 and so I checked with Orville before taking off and heading down to Fresh WAter Bay in the dink. The start was 3-4 miles around the island, but all protected water so no problem. One lady said 4:00, but Orville said he thought the race was to start at 3:00, but would check and get back to us. Deb was not feeling so great and didn't want to go running around in the dinghy, but Jim on Nilaya and Alex from Misty Blue both thought it a good idea. The folks on Arvan had gone down @ 1:00 and found the beach deserted. We decided that leaving about 2:30 would work out well as they probably would not really get started at 3:00 even if that was the official time, but as I was fueling up dink, Arvan came on the radio with, "Here they come!" Sure enough, three boats were beating into the heavy wind coming around the point. So much for official start times! I grabbed the camera (in a dry bag), jumped into the dink, and took off to see the action up close. It was still blowing pretty good and the bay had at least a two foot chop - more as you got further out. This made managing the dink and taking pictures at the same time rather awkward as dink is so bouncy. And then the heavens let loose in a deluge as a big black cloud moved over us bringing even stronger winds. I put the camera safely away and enjoyed being up close to the action and yelling at the competitors, urging them on. As they tacked (quite a site to see with 9 guys changing side of the boat as they went through the eye of the wind!) I realized that I would probably get good pictures from Always as they would need to pass quite close as the tacked up the harbor. In fact, the anchored yachts in the harbor (there were only 6 of us) provided quite an obstacle course for the cat boats to tack through on their way to the finish line. The boat that came in second might have won except he blew a tack and could not make it in front of Misty Blue. He had to fall off and go behind her at the last minute to avoid a collision. I hurried back to Always and grabbed my SLR with the tele lens and got quite a few good pictures as the boats raced around and past us. The rain had stopped by then and the wind in the harbor was a bit less strong, but still gusty and since the only ballast these boats have is human, it made for a very athletic race as they hiked out and back in to balance the gusts. (For a long discussion of cat boats, see my blog from last year. For pictures of this year's race, see the Photo Gallery.) It was a great way to spend a not particularly great (weather-wise) afternoon. Nilaya called about 5:00 to say a traditional band (with mandolin, washtub bass, and jaw bone, etc.) would begin playing soon. I had just pulled dink up on the davits and we decided to stay on the boat and listen from here. It is a straight shot across the harbor and actually we could hear pretty well. Good call as soon the rains returned, heavy at times. The performers were under a tent, but there was really no protection for the audience unless they ran to the pool hall or into the Cultural House (where you could not see the band). We enjoyed the music from our salon over a gin & tonic for Deb and a mojito for me - a much better choice. Several of the boats here are waiting to go N, mostly up to the Rio Dulce, Guatemala, for hurricane season, but I am afraid they waited too late into the season. Weather to the N just gets worse. They are predicting 30-40 kts winds with squalls around Honduras next week. The weather here and S is supposed to improve. Right now it looks like we will have a fairly brisk, but hopefully dry, passage down to San Andres on Thursday. This coming week is Carnival, again with lots of events, but we are hoping to do more diving as the wind abates.