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  • Writer's pictureFatjax

Paradise Found

Wednesday 24th - Wednesday 31st January 2024

Santa Marta - San Blas Islands

This time, there was no start line, we were given a window to leave and ninety percent of us left on the same day.  We were becoming a pack, or was it the weather was right for most of us?  Either way, we ventured forth.

We motored out of the marina just as the sun was rising leaving behind the sprawl of a city which surprisingly, embraced us, filling our hearts with warmth.

It was a lively start in 30 - 35 knots of breeze.  We soon unfurled our jib, zipping along at some speed.  Iain and Dugald were enjoying hand steering but still the motion was a little rolling.  By the early afternoon, we noticed one of our fellow Arc boats, Crazy Horse, was gaining on us as we cruised towards the Paradise Islands.  “Someone” made the decision to hoist the mainsail and our chariot sprung into action.  My men performed a marvellous job of changing sails, reefing before sunset and hand steering through the night, despite the rough weather and the enormous number of flying fish which seemed to be attracted to the boat from all angles.  One fish even made it down the companion way! Throughout this journey, I was of no use due to my on going battle with sea sickness.    

By early morning of the 25th January, the wind began to subside rendering sailing difficult.  By mid day the engine was started and Iain began the general tidy and wash down of the boat in preparation for entering the picture perfect, pinch me I’m dreaming, San Blas Islands. As the sun rose higher and we approached our destination, Dugald was dispatched to the bow as look out for coral heads, shallow water or any other danger spots.

Iain proceeded with caution, listening on the Marriage Savers and watching for Dugald’s hand gestures as we gingerly followed the path through the coral into the area known as The Swimming Pool. 

The Power house which is Nica

The first of our Arc boats,  Nica, the most impressive 18.5m, high performance catamaran designed by Roger Hill, was anchored waiting to welcome all the ARC boats to our destination.

We arrived at 17:00 in the most breathtaking anchorage we had ever seen. This archipelago was definitely created on the Third Day.  We were silent, lost for words at the sheer beauty of such a place.  We needed time to digest the view.

Gorm and Maren, the owners of Nica, kindly invited us for sundowners, however I was feeling delicate and Iain and Dugald were sorely lacking in sleep but we promised to accept their kind invitation the next day.  The men celebrated with a beer and crisps and very soon everyone was asleep, not quite believing where we had arrived.

PHOTOS -  anchored in swimming pool.

The following morning, our Anchorage Tango began.  Iain was not happy with our spot.  He decided to move closer to shore which happened to be in front of Nica!

Shortly after we settled, a local family arrived in their tender.  I am ashamed to say, I began to bristle, the sight of the approaching boat brought to mind the hard sell of the boat vendors in the Caribbean.  I was on my guard, ready to fend off should the family approach too quickly.  How wrong could I be? The smiling people approached, kept their distance from our boat but asked if we would like to see their wares, I abruptly dismissed them suggesting they return the next day at 09:00, which they did!  Promptly.  Again, grinning and extremely politely the family asked if we would like to see their wares.  Of course I bought some most beautiful Molas.  We talked at length, through a combination of English, French Spanish, lots of hand guestures and smiles. We were both fascinated by each other's cultures and traditions. Dugald and I enjoyed sharing a joke about his parent’s intermarriage which produced him!  Intermarrying is forbidden in the Kuna People's culture and I think for the family who came to our boat, we were a first!

We spent the rest of the month in this most peaceful haven.  As always, by evening, we enjoyed suppers and drinks ashore with our fellow ARC companions.

We moved to BBQ Island, where the bottom was scrubed, fillters changed, and stainless polished, all in preparation for The Gallapogus Islands. As we were on said island, and carrying enough BBQ husks for two BBQs a week. We fired up our trusty cooking vessel on the back of our boat. We were pleased with another successful venture to say nothing of lessening the overall weight load by one less husk in the bilge.

Navillus III and Fatjax!

We Tango’d again, this time to Chichime Bay, where we watched a game of Volleyball played between local people and young cruisers, spending a pleasant evening getting to know the owners and crew of Navillus III, a Lagoon 450.

Dugald also practised flying his new drone, which I’m pleased to say was a success.  The drone returned to the boat and Iain Caught it!

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1 Comment

Jun 03

I love seeing your adventures, Jax. Keep up the good work!😀

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