13 November 2012 | 13 23'N:81 22'W, Providencia, Columbia
I spent 8 days at this charming western Caribbean island jewel. It is a Columbian territory, though 400 miles north of the Columbian mainland and only 120 miles from Nicaragua. Permanent population is government limited to about 4000, leaving it nicely insulated from heavy development, unlike its island sister San Andreas 50 miles to the south, thick with tourist activity primarily vacationing Columbians. Providencia has a large and well sheltered anchorage, fringing reefs to explore, a 20 km paved road circling the island that we toured by motor scooter, a 1000+ foot peak to climb, and a few nice restaurants and shops. The folks are friendly, with widely mixed ancestry including British pirates. The island was supposedly a regular hangout for pirate Henry Morgan, so that piece of information is capitalized upon generously, with such landmarks as Morgan's Head (a conspicuous rock vaguely of a human profile), Morgan's Cave (a useless little cavity in a cliff), Morgan's Tr easure sites all over the place, and the most charming of all, the notched hill in the background of the photo above, Morgan's Arse.
We stayed in Providencia a few days longer than expected, while strong winds from the north prevented our travel to the north. Winds of 20 to 25 knots whistled through the anchorage with hourly squalls gusting to 30 and with heavy rain. A brief window of weather on Monday, Nov 11 allowed us to jump out with NE winds of 20 knots and make a break for the north. It was a real "iron gut" passage for 19 hours with 7 foot seas on the nose and water washing the deck, but now that we have turned the corner NE of Honduras, we are enjoying idyllic smooth trade wind reaching. Belize here we come! What about Roatan? We are going right by those somewhat famous islands in the Gulf of Honduras. It will be for a different time, the numerous uninhabited sand islands behind the great Belizian barrier reef are my destination for the winter. And I am planning to be home for Thanksgiving!
Trouble free sailing? Hardly. The fridge is still broke, the genoa will not unfurl, the wind instrument sometimes wigs out and takes down the whole instrument network, plus the usual small things. Passing east of the Nicaraguan banks in the night we saw suspicious lights and were hailed by the Columbian coast guard. It is probably a popular drug exchange area and I was a bit nervous. But, no incidents to report and it is really nice to be out on the sea with Hekla, she's a great boat.