Storms, glorious storms! And a sparrow?

Another reason I’m quite glad we really didn’t have any days really going way out into the ocean was because of the storms… aside from the night that we left Portobello, we pretty much had a storm every night thereafter.  Now personally, I absolutely LOVE thunder and lightning storms!!  It’s actually a criteria of where I live!  If the place doesn’t have sufficient thunderstorms year round, I won’t survive there long.  But I digress…

The first storm that we traveled through is where the sparrow comes in… The Captain of the sailboat (the American) absolutely cracked me up!!  As the winds whistled violently through the air sloshing the boat one direction then the next he stood at the helm, legs wide so to have a solid stance.  His bandana over his head flapping in the wind.  As the rain came down on our heads he held a cigarette in one hand and a glass of rum in the other all while he held the wheel and jerked it this way and that against the force of the wind!  Periodically he would release one hand from the wheel to take a drag or sip of his booze, then on again he went.  He literally looked like a scene out of Pirates of the Caribbean with Captain Jack Sparrow at the helm through the storm!  I couldn’t help but just watch him in awe and absolute humor!  Seriously wish I had a video of that!!

So that was one of the storms… Other storms we had while simply trying to stay off shore of an island for a night.  But with the currents and wind we had to keep moving around so we wouldn’t get pushed too close into the shore.  The lightning and thunder was absolutely glorious and I never felt any fear whatsoever until one particular storm…

It was on the night before we were supposed to be in our docking area to get “smuggled” into Columbia.  Because of this storm we had to pull in to another island area that was more protected from the ocean.  It worked in our favor after all because we got to spend yet another day/night in the islands.  Anyway, I had gone to bed before the storm struck but was woken at some point during the night by the sounds going on around me.  As I opened my eyes, the first thing I really noticed and registered was the severe rocking of the sailboat.  The German woman and I were given the room at the very front of the sailboat and in the room, aside from small windows along the side was a window on the roof that essentially went on the top deck.  Essentially what I saw was nothing but rushing water through the side windows and at times the windows were completely submerged.  The top window, as the nose of the boat dove deep into the water from the waves, had a steady stream of water rushing back and forth over top.  The whooshing sound and the up and down rocking as the nose dove over and over again into the ocean was already quite a concerning feeling.  Then the sounds from the living area started to register.  I looked behind to the living area to see one of the crew members holding on to any surface he could to stay standing.  Plates and pots and pans and food and literally all other contents of the cabinets in the living and kitchen area started clashing and clattering to the ground as the violence of the boat movement was simply too much for the cabinet latches to keep everything shut.  The crew member tried over and over in vain to rig the cabinets to latch closed…

At this point, a very real realization came to mind.  I thought honestly, that this was it.  We weren’t going to make it.  There was no way this little sailboat could make it through what sounded such a violent lashing from the ocean.  As I thought about how this could literally be the end, a thought occurred to me.  I had no control over the situation.  There was absolutely nothing I could do.  So if in fact it was to be the end, I wouldn’t be afraid but simply would think about those I loved.  The fear of the situation then subsided and I fell back into a deep sleep.

The next morning I woke to another day.  We docked near another island not too far from the Columbian border and spent the day visiting the Kuna indigenous people of that island.  I will certainly never forget that particular storm…

 

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Fish and Sick…

So the next day as mentioned before was a different story on deck.  Several of the guys were leaning over periodically (they were nicely polite about it at least!!!) and vomiting into the ocean.  Usually just the sight or sound of someone else vomiting would be enough to send me over the edge, but luckily with the sea air coming at me on force I was able to prevent any sympathetic vomiting!  The worst of the bunch was sadly the man from Britain.  He had opted to stay out on deck and sleep and lord knows what happened to him because when he woke he firstly felt terrible and second looked terrible!  His eyes were swollen and almost looked like he had been punched as several colors were also surrounding his eyes.  He staved off being physically sick until…

One of the Aussies decided he wanted to do some deep sea fishing!  Men!  Anyway, right off the bat one of them got injured because he put his thumb on the line that was getting cast in the ocean and he ended up burning his thumb pretty well!  It swelled into a huge blister that looked quite painful!  Anyway, another of the guys left his line out and ended up actually catching a fish!  There were cheers all around until he found out that he had to clean the kill himself… Well, apparently he’d never done that before so what ensued from him trying to do so literally looked like a scene out of a seriously sadistic horror flick!  There was blood absolutely everywhere!!  Mind you at this point the Brit was still on deck trying to sleep of his overall feeling of absolute horrible-ness and right next to his head was the bloody massacre of a fresh fish… needless to say he had to get up and finally succumb to sea sickness by vomiting overboard.

Joys…

Anyway, after that rather rough morning start, things went well.  The fish massacre was all cleaned up and we were heading toward the immigration offices to get our exit stamp from Panama before heading through the San Blas Islands.  The islands themselves are absolutely breathtaking!!!  My only regret is that I didn’t take down the coordinates of each island we visited… Anyway, once getting to our first island all there was to do was swim, swim, swim, snorkel, walk around the islands and swim some more!  The waters were so clear and warm and just so darn beautiful!!  It’s easy to see why the Kuna people fought so much for them!

On to 3 Brothers

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3 Brothers

The Crew of our sailboat consisted of 3 brother.  Interesting story about them though is that they were somewhat separated when very young.  I’m honestly not entirely sure they are all full brothers (same mother but different fathers if memory serves) but basically one was taken to the States and raised there while the other two were raised in France.  They all lead separate lives until adulthood when as chance would have it they came together again and decided to live on the ocean taking tourists from place to place.

They were all quite knowledgeable about the sail boat.  The American more than the others as I believe it was he who had all the initial experience, and then his brothers simply learned along the way.  What was funny about the three of them in particular however was that the American only spoke English and some Spanish.  One of the other brothers only spoke French and some Spanish and the third brother spoke some English, some Spanish but mainly French.  So needless to say communication at times was… well… rather interesting to say the least!  Generally everything was fine, but during one storm in particular it was a little nerve wracking because one would yell out a command in one language, the receiver wouldn’t understand, so would yell back that he didn’t understand, then the first wouldn’t hear what he said (the storm winds were hard to talk over) so would yell back “what?!?!” and, well, you get the picture!  Definite loss in translation!!!

They were all three quite interesting characters and really nice people.  At first, as it is first meeting any new people there was a bit of awkwardness, especially since we (the tourists) were essentially their house guests for the duration of the entire trip, but any awkwardness was soon over and all went well.

Oh, one more specific note to mention… Because we did have two French men on board our meals were absolutely delicious!!  Breakfast, lunch and dinner was cooked when required and was pretty much made from scratch!  How in the world he pulled off half of te stuff he cooked from that teeny kitchen and oven I will never know but it was dang impressive and delicious!!

 

On to Storms, Glorious Storms! And a sparrow?

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