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The Caribbean islands:
Providencia, Guanaja and Isla Mujeres
6.4. 15.4. 21.4. 24.4.
Colombia 13° 22 N 81º 22 W
Weather fax showed a two-day weather window - NE 10 - before the trades would veer back north and increase. We left on April the first, Fool's Day, Friday, despite all the possible bad luck beliefs. Three days at the Colon Yacht Club had been busy. We washed several loads from thick bed quilts to carpets and moldy jackets (soon we need them again!). Propane, diesel and water tanks were filled, boat washed in and out, and the extra berth sorted out, which had been a throw-in storage. Hot and moist climate had grown a lot of mold in many places. Finally the last trip tp the crocery's, clearance and out to the sea. Despite the favourable forecast we were prepared to tack, but the wind was where it was predicted and we were heading directly towards Provoidencia.
When we opened genoa outside the breakwater, we noticed a small cut. What to do? Turn around and sail back to Colon or continue hoping that the sail will not break more. We had been five weeks in Panama, too long. If we now would return, it would take at least a week until the next weather window. We decided to sail on and repair the sail in Providencia. It was a good decision, the cut didn't enlargen. The only mentionworth happening during the trip was US Coast Guard helicopter that checked us out. They asked home port and number of crew on VHF.
We had left in a "last
minute". Two days the wind was favourable, but during the last
night it turned more north and increased. The wind blowed us 10 miles
off Providencia. We spent the night tacking and arrived to the sea buoy
in the sun rise. Surroundings in Providencia are shallow and full of
reefs, so we didn't want to enter during the dark anyway. In addition,
GPS and chart didn't match, so it was nice to see the buoys. The channel
is shallow, min. 4 metres (12 ft), and also the anchorage is shallow,
actually too shallow to be a good anchorage, we have only 0.5 m under
the keel. There were two US boats, Eliza ja Merinda.
Although Columbus found the
islands on the 1600th century and Spain took them in its possession, the
Spanish settlements were not succesfull. Pirates, British Henry Morgan
above all, invaded the islands for themselves. They cultured vegetables
and cattle. The location was perfect for the pirates. Spanish galleons,
loaded with gold, sailed this way on their return to Europe. In additoin
to the official language of Spanish, English is spoken, and people are
proud of their British roots. However, it's really difficult to
understand the English dialect, sometimes even Spanish is easier! People
are ranging from black to white, because Africans and Caribs were brough
in as slaves. Later Latinos mixed in. There seems to be no colour
Honduras 16° 26 N 85° 53 W
On Wednesday we left to Guanaja 150 miles away. Wind was calm and finally it died completely. We motored the last five hours. Guanaja is 10 miles long island, which is surrounded by a reef and small cays. A channel runs across the island, easy access to the other side. Boat traffic is very busy. I don't know if the main island has cars, but the small islets don't. The village of Guanaja is located on one of the cays. Wooden houses, narrow alleys and canals fill the whole island from one end to another. Shores are full of boats from big fishing vessels to launches. A traffic jam occurs when two carts meet on a narrow lane. Village has several crocery stores, two internet places, a couple of hotels and cafes. We exchanged local money, lempiras, at the bank. (Lempira was a native chief who led a battle against the Spanish in 1537. Next year Lempira was assasinated during the peace negotiations. He is a national hero in Honduras.)
is not a plant, it's an animal. It belongs to the class of cnidaria
(before coelenterate) together with anemones and polyps. The cnidaria
have a body consisted of double cell layer. Between them are muscle
cells. The cnidaria have a mouth, a pharynx and a hollow stomach with
sex organs connected to stomach's wall. Fertilised egg developes to a planula,
a tiny hairy sausage looking plankton, before changing into an adult.
Some corals reproduce by gemmation. Most of the corals live attached to
a base. Corals secrete a skeleton from calsium- or magnesiumcarbonate or
keratin. Some coral species have a shared skeleton. Corals have nerve
and sense cells, which react to light, gravity and chemical stimulus.
The cnidaria have about 10.000 different species.
Isla Mujeres, Mexico 21° 15 N 86° 44 W
Isla Mujeres, Mexico 21° 15 N 86° 44 W
First time we experienced
the Mexican clearance bureaucracy in full force. You cannot do the
clearance yourself, you have to take an agent. The agent took our papers
and presented the fees: immigration 424 pesos, sanitation inspection 132
pesos, port captain 162 pesos, anchoring 112 pesos, agent 250 pesos.
Totally about 90 dollars / 70 euros. The procedure would start with the
sanitation inspection. Island has one inspector, who would arrive at 1
pm. We went to internet and came back to meet the inspector in a Mexican
style 15 to 20 past one. No inspector or agent. We were told to come
back at 2 pm. After waiting an hour, we were told to return next
morning. Next day we met a slighlty irritated agent, who told that the
sanitation inspector had waited us at 1 pm sharp. Who would have thought
that was so precise! After an hour the man arrived and left for
Kristiina with Hannu. He was a bit worried when he saw our leaking
dinghy, but stepped in despite wetting his shoes. Aboard Kristiina he
asked if we had rats or cocroaches, peaked into the fridge and toilet.
Back to the office he fillied in two papers and stamped five crewlists.
Then to immigration with the agent, who had forgotten our zarpe and had
to drive back to the office for it. Then to the bank, to pay 424 pesos.
Back to agent's office. The agent went with bunch of papers to the port
captain and we waited. However, he didn't get the papers, so we should
come back later. So we did, and now we are legally in the country, after
Sorry about the missing text, but we have to hoist the anchor! It's forecasted southerlies and we are riding them through the Yucatan channel.