The biggest factor in making around the cape of “Gracia a Dios” (thank god in English) is the trade winds that blow predominantly from the east, exactly the direction of the first 350NM we have to travel to make it along the coast of Honduras before heading south east to the island of Providencia. The east coast of Nicaragua is not the most inviting of spots to get blown into as well, with lots of uncharted reef and the threat of a busy drug trade in the area, so with that in mind I planned to head well offshore to the Vivarillo bank before making the turn south. We got the break in the weather that we needed and on leaving Utila for the trip down I stocked up on as much fuel as I could as from the forecast it looked to be a few days of motoring east to make it around the cape before hopefully picking up some wind for the leg down to Providnecia. The weather on the first day however didn’t really fit into what was forecast, and this continued to be the theme for the trip down. This wasn’t exactly a bad thing though as the wind direction was right, just the wind speed was quite a bit higher than expected. We found ourselves with west or northwest winds for the whole time along the coast of Honduras and meant we could sail the whole way. To be sailing downwind, heading west along Honduras is not an everyday occurrence but one I was very grateful for. We even had the chance to try out a sail I've had on board but haven’t had the chance to fly yet. The “drifter” is a large parachute shaped sail that you fly heading down wind and with three of us on board and perfect conditions it was the ideal time to try it out. Watching that large white and blue sail pop open off the bow and to feel Kuhela begin to become a bit livelier in the light wind was a truly wonderful feeling. We made great speed the whole was across the first leg of the passage and made the turn south a bit earlier than first planned and headed down to Providencia. Funnily enough it was in this area that we encountered the light wind I had been expecting and we motored along for the last day, not that I really minded after the perfect sailing conditions of the last few days. Its been really great having Anush and Jason out here too, everyone quickly settled into life on board and helped out with the daily chores of yachting life. I was a bit surprised at how tired I was for some parts of the trip down and though I do believe that I could have done the trip solo, it would certainly have been a different experience, having the other two on board certainly made things a bit easier.
I was woken around 6 A.M for my watch and was told that Providencia was just up ahead. Had a bit of a shock when I stepped out into the cockpit to have a look and there she was, still a few miles off, but this amazing, mountainous island straight ahead and such a change to the open sea of the previous days. An amazing sunrise, as the sun peered back at me through the clouds, this small piece of land on the horizon, light wind, and the freshness of a new day, this was by far one of the best landfalls I have made. The entire scene was breathtaking, but Mother Nature was don’t just yet. To north east a large, long squall was making its way towards us and I slowed to let it pass ahead. The gentle wind suddenly jumped to 25 knots as the horizontal rain washed Kuhela and I in some kind of fervent blessing and the land that had been on the horizon suddenly disappeared into cloud, as though it was all a dream. Then just as suddenly as it started it was all over, and ever so slowly the cloud drifted and dispersed and there she was again, truly living up to her name of Providencia…, paradise…, Heaven.
We sailed in to the little bay in the north west of the island. Past the large rock of Morgan’s head, named after the famous pirate who based himself here, palm tree covered hills and the main little village straight ahead. An added touch was my friend, Eloy’s, music playing in the background, singing of his home here on the island. I’d met him in Broome years ago and always remember him telling me about his homeland of Providencia and that I should go there one day. We anchored up and it didn’t take long to get through the formalities of checking in. The main thing that the agent told me was the here people pass on from old age, not from heart attacks, so welcome to the island, slow down, and enjoy. Wise words. After a quick look around and a chat to a few people, all of whom greeted us with “welcome to my island”, we headed back out to the boat and had a siesta, it always takes a day or so to catch up and unwind after a trip to settle back into life near land.
The next day we rented a golf cart to explore the island a bit and found our way to southwest bay for a swim and some lunch. More and more people started arriving and a sense of excitement built steadily along the beach as people spoke in vivid animation all waiting and looking forward to something. We soon found out that there was a horse race today; the champion on Providencia was going to defend his title. Suddenly the horses trotted onto the beach, greeted by cheers and jeers, depending on where you had placed you bets, and headed to the far end to the starting line. Without real warning the race started and the two horses bolted up the beach, but something was wrong, the champion startled and jumped and left the track as the challenger raced on, stopped and then finished the race. Well, you should have seen the scene, people shouting, jumping, pushing and arguing, all in that deep Caribbean accent that brought memories of Trinidad and no one seemed to know exactly what to do, but the louder you shouted the more it seemed you knew. Little by little though, rumors of a second race filtered through the crowd and then some one shouted and the horses again took off from their mark at the end of the beach. The challenger was in the lead at the outset, but the champion, true to his reputation, steadily gained and, as the crowd went wild, passed to take the lead with a quarter of the track left to run. The beach again erupted into an unrestrained uproar as money changed hands and the winners danced and taunted the losers. It was simply an amazing scene.
We spoke to a young local in the water while we were swimming and mentioned Eloy and got told that he knew him and that his brother lived just up the road and offered to take us to meet him. So off we went with out new guide up the hill and down a small track to a little house and soon enough met Elias, Eloy’s brother. It was really great to get a chance to meet him and hung out there and shared a few laughs and listened to music and chatted. Its been a few years since I've seem Eloy and funnily enough they are expecting him here any day now. He will be here sometime this month. Spewing I missed him, it would have been amazing to meet up with him here. He always told me how amazing his island was and now that I've seen it for myself, I am totally convinced. Sitting there talking to Elias I had a sense of things just falling into place. So many little things in our lives happen, come and go, people we meet, places we find ourselves, things that we take for granted, yet they are all connected, they all affect us, and others, as we journey through out time here. Its truly astounding and humbling to think of.
This little piece of paradise on earth is somewhere I will have to return to explore some more. The potential for amazing diving and spearing and with rumors of surf to be had at certain times of the year, along with some of the friendliest people I have ever had the privilege to meet, all make this one of the most special places I have been to. I plan to organize another trip here in the not too distant future to come to know this island a bit be