Providencia is Heavenly
30 March 2013 | Isla Providencia, off Nicaragua
We had an aggressive, challenging 800 nautical mile passage from the Dominican Republic to Isla Providencia, an island off of Nicaragua belonging to Columbia. It took us a full six days and nights. Some days the wind blew hard and the seas built as high as seven feet, possibly more. On those days the passage was difficult for me, exhilarating for Dennis.
Every day was filled with perfect sunshine and the nights offered picturesque sunsets and a lovely full moon. One evening as the moon began to rise in the east and the sun was setting in the west a pod of about 12 dolphins put on a most amazing show for us. Centime sailed herself into the sunset with the autopilot on and the sails correctly set. We donned our life jackets for front row seats to the show.
Up at the bowsprit the dolphins raced to catch the waves off the bow and would strategically cross above and below one another passing in front of our fast sailing boat. We rode with them at the bow, hooked in and holding tight, as Centime rose up and down with the waves. Below and around us the dolphins played. They were dark gray on top and silvery underneath, and as they maneuvered around each other their stomachs would shine and sparkle with the light of the setting sun and the thousands of bubbles they were creating. A few would even jump higher with their tails fully out of the water. It lasted nearly a half hour and it was spectacular.
On the sixth morning I had the watch from 4:30am to 8:30am. As the moon set and the sun rose, the winds turned north and strengthened to about 28 knots. The seas began to slap us broadside pretty hard and I had to head her upwind just a bit to keep her steadier. Soon Dennis was up making coffee and adjusting sails, reefing in the mainsail and putting out a reefed genny. For the next 14 hours or so we flew, for six of those hours we sailed at around eight knots.
The most challenging part of the passage was trying to come into Provedencia at night. We had read that it was safest at night to anchor off of a northern reef rather then enter the harbor. The reef is invisible in the dark and we arrived before the moon came up. It was truly scary for me attempting to navigate inside a semi-circular reef in the pitch black of night. I had visions of the boat crashing into the reef and Dennis and I being pitched into a rough, wild ocean, miles away from solid land. As we made the approach, I was at the wheel and Dennis was at the anchor. The boat pitched like a wild horse in the wind and Captain Dennis fortunately decided to abort.
Once we turned around to leave the wild reef everything began to look up. First the most beautiful red-orange, fat, full moon rose and began to light up the sky. Then with the wind and seas behind us the sailing felt easier. As we came closer to the lee of the land the winds and seas began to diminish. While it was calming slightly, we still had to navigate through what we had read was more difficult then the reef. Dennis got on the VHF radio calling any vessels in the harbor for information. Thankfully the Captain of a large well-lit freighter responded and guided us in. We thanked our lucky stars to finally have arrived and to be safe and snug at anchor.
The Island's name is Providencia, which means heaven. When we finally arrived in this most peaceful beautiful harbor and set the hook - it was heaven. I am so very very glad to be here.
Photos to come