Isla Providencia, Columbia…..

January 9th, 2016 (-5 on UTC)

Dear Friends and Family,

FIRST A HOUSEKEEPING NOTE: Apparently I\’ve been inadvertently sending all my position reports to you all and that may be a bit overwhelming in terms of how many blog/notices you\’re getting. I\’ll turn that off so you\’ll only get the more infrequent blogs like this one.
If you want to receive the position reports, drop me an email and I\’ll add you to that list (if you\’re not already on it). The rest of you will only get the \”Ship\’s Blog\”.

We arrived here three days ago to the very lovely anchorage of Santa Catalina. The anchorage is quite shallow, very well protected
and has the small Santa Catalina Island adjacent to the main Island of Providencia. The entrance is well marked and could even be done at night. When we first arrived, we were the third boat, eventually we became nine. About 200 boats a year visit the island.

As we approached the island from the Northeast, we hailed, \”Mr. Bush\” on channel 16 to find out about checking into the island and all details. Mr. Bush is the local agent that handles small craft. He quite famous in the cruising community in this area and gives a whole new concept to \”ADD\”…:-)

Mr. Bush (no relation to the other Bush) is a descendant of the British maritime history of this island and of course there are a lot of \”Bush\’s\” in town. Everything from Former Slaves, Spaniards, and Pirates are all in the mix here. Henry Morgan, the famous Buccaneer sought refuge here from the various Navy\’s that were chasing him before he became \”respectable\”. There is an interesting geologic formation as you enter the harbor. It\’s a split in the mountain and it\’s officially known as \”Split Hill\” but locally known as \”Morgan\’s Arse\”….:-)

For the most part, the people here speak Creole English which means if they don\’t want you to understand them – you won\’t. Many of the older folks speak \”The Kings English\” but the younger kids speak more Spanish. Their parents really encourage them to speak English as they see our native tongue as the future here. There are lots of young kids here on the island of about 6000+/-.

We have been having more than the usual beginning of the season \”teething\” issues and are a bit overwhelmed by it. Panama will be where we really need to get it all fixed before the long Pacific Crossings. Mike and Beth Lonnes are currently trying to plan to visit for our transit of the Panama Canal which should be near the end of February.

Currently, our generator is out, one water maker is out, our port engine has two broken bracket bolts holding the front right motor mount (which means we can\’t use the big alternator to charge the batteries on that engine – I had to take it out of service). As such, our normally triple redundant battery charging system is down to only one way to charge the batteries.

We\’ve still got a bit of oil burning going on – worse on port than starboard. The starboard fuel tank has \”bug\” and fortunately is getting cleaner at the cost of many fuel filters. The new fuel polishing system was not plumbed properly (it is now) and wasn\’t doing the job.

We have a few electronic gremlins and a water system gremlin going on, but other than that, everything more or less works fine….:-)))
The dinghy battery was dead and we had a blown fuse as it had an internal short and melted itself. New battery and fuse, we\’re back in the dinghy business.

We\’ll sort it all out in Panama – we hope!

Yesterday, we met a young video production local named Joel. He was at the statue of the the Virgin Mary which is right above our boat over looking the harbor at this gorgeous bay. He was flying his drone and taking lots of video and stills and we hope to eventually get a copy and if so, we\’ll post it on the website. It was really beautiful. We also rented an ATV and went round the island which is 6 miles or so north to south and 3 miles or so east to west. It took about 2 hours with all our stops. The diving here is apparently excellent and the Columbian mainlanders do indeed use this as a tropical vacation get away. Joel, our young videographer is a local who helps produce tourism videos to market the island\’s tourism industry.

Some of the reefs are lovely and you can motor around the island in plenty of water INSIDE the reef which is a real plus. The main town of Isabel can be walked in about 10 minutes. A supply ship comes from the sister Island of San Andreas (40 miles to the south-southwest) where there are 40,000 people (it\’s quite a bit larger and much more commercial).

We have sort of a \”host\” here. Manfred is his name and he\’s huge! He calls me \”Cap\”. A great guy, helped us with the diesel (took on 100 gallons) and getting the mechanic here to sort the dinghy. Manfred is a fisherman by trade and lives on Santa Catalina. He told us that water and medical issues are the two really stressful things about the island which he otherwise refers to a \”Heaven\” or just plain old \”Paradise\”.

They actually have water, but the pumping of it to people is the big issue. They have only fresh out of medical school M.D.\’s and if anything serious occurs, they need to fly to San Andreas or sometimes even Columbia itself. This can be very expensive for the locals.
A young girl broke her arm right after we had this conversation and she had to wait overnight to be flown to San Andreas on the daily commercial flight to see the trained M.D\’s who live there. The irony is, they have a hospital, x-ray and everything they need – just no one with enough experience to do the Medical work. I do teeth, not broken arms! Bill and Jo Strassberg from \”Visions of Johanna\” would have been heroes here. They apparently do have a Dentist btw.

Manfred (whose Christian full name is Webster Archibald) is a descendant from African escaped slaves or slaves of the Pirates who were left here to guard the island. It\’s possible that \”Archibald\” was his great-great-great grandfathers owner. He\’s not sure, but it\’s all quite fascinating. Manfred joined the local politics and became a council member to get a walkway built, a park built and the foot bridge improved to Santa Catalina (it\’s 100 yds. long). He also helped the fisherman with some local issues.

Once he\’d accomplished his mission, he quit the council saying that all the local politicians were corrupt and he didn\’t want anything to do with them. What else is new?….:-) He\’s charming, very muscular, entrepreneurial and hunky handsome. He\’s married to a gal from Nicaragua and turns all the young women\’s heads. He also runs a \”round the island tour boat\”, it seemed to be packed full of young girls…go figure..:-)

Nikki forgot to forward her emails to the boat, so we\’ll try and get some internet for her today. If not, none of you should be concerned she\’s not writing. She just doesn\’t have her email onboard right now.

We tried to leave this morning but when we got just south of the island we realized we\’d jumped the weather window by a day and took a leisurely motor up the coast to see the pretty sights and returned to safe harbor here in Santa Catalina. The weather looks excellent for a departure tomorrow morning for the two day, two night trip to El Povenir in the San Blas Islands of Panama.

Stand by for more along the way and I promise I\’ll turn off the position reports as to not overwhelm your inbox\’s with \”Beach House\” stuff.
Cheers and KIT (keep in touch),
Scott and Nikki – Santa Catalina Harbor, Isla Providencia – Columbia.