Morning Walks On The Promenade

San Andres has a beautiful oceanfront promenade that runs for almost a mile along the north side of the island. I’ve been taking early morning walks here (before the heat gets too beastly), enjoying the easy access to a walk-able path around town. The promenade offers great breezes and much to look at.

Many hotels and restaurants line the promenade, as well as the usual beach town shops and carts full of colorful items for sale.

At the far end, buildings give way to more quiet beaches, benches and fishing boats.

As the promenade ends into the tourist hub, the sidewalk continues past small cottage-style lodging, and eventually to high rise resorts at the far east end of the island.

In addition to my morning walks, Scott and I have spent a day on the beach here, and Scott’s also found a great fill-in for his McDonald’s cravings at El Corral!

We’ve enjoyed the promenade in the evenings as well. There is a movie theater inside one of the hotels, and there is a showing in English, with Spanish subtitles, at 9:30 every night. For $17.50, we bought two tickets to the 3-D show, a large popcorn and two drinks….less than the price of just two tickets in the U.S.! The theater was wonderfully air conditioned, and we enjoyed the new Tarzan movie in our assigned seats (a great idea that I think they should adopt back home). It was a real treat!

When the temperatures cool and the breezes feel even better, locals gather along the promenade’s brightly tiled walls, enjoying music, drinks and each other’s company. It’s quite a focal point for both locals and tourists. Here are some more photos of sights along my morning walks.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

A Golf Cart Day On San Andres

So we’re on a new island, and you guessed it, another golf cart day! We traveled to San Andres with our Aussie friends Brian and Sue in tow, and they joined us for a day of island exploring. First up, getting our golf cart out of the busy downtown area. Thankfully, all of the inner streets are one way, so we just had to focus on dodging the weaving motorcycles, trucks, cars and scooters.  The intersections are especially tricky, as there are no stop signs, and very few traffic lights.

As we made our way out of town, and around to the west end of the island, the views from the shoreline were beautiful.

We passed a small drink shack, and turned around to make a stop. Paul welcomed us, and made quick work of cutting coconut “cups” for our drinks.

We made note of the time, our earliest start yet! Oh well, it was hot enough to be noon…so close enough! Scott enjoyed the water views, while drinking from his coconut cup.

Scott and I like to see the sights, and if possible, take tours on each island that we visit. It’s a good way to get a feel for local history, and also gives a little boost to the economy.

Our first stop on San Andres was Captain Morgan’s cave. The buildings were made of stone, coral and shell, and there were several rooms displaying many things that coconuts are used for (baskets, carvings, food, etc). One room also acted as a gallery for local artists.

We made our way to the cave, which reminded me of the cenote that we visited in Mexico, with much less inviting water. The uneven, steep coral steps made it challenging to get down to the bottom.

Next stop, First Baptist Church. Located atop the highest hill on San Andres, it was established in 1847, with lumber brought from Alabama (I’m not sure why).

It’s bell tower is the highest point on the island, and offered great views. At the door, they asked 5,000 pesos from each person, to climb up ($1.60). Brian and Sue chose to stay outside, so I waited with them as Scott made the climb (I was disappointed to find out later that we could’ve also gotten some history on the church, included in $1.60, as I’ve had a hard time finding information on it).

Inside, Scott made his way up to the balcony, which has a slanted floor, and then climbed a steep ladder to some scary spiral stairs.

Next, there were some tiny, scary steps, leading to a small hole that Scott crawled through to the tower above. This process would have terrified me, and I was glad that I chose not to do this!

Even though some clouds and rain had moved in, the view was still good for a photo. You can see the downtown area at the top, spreading along the peninsula to the right.

On to the Big Pond, a freshwater lake located in the center of the island. We paid another $1.60 each, and a man walked us down to the lake. Our timing was a bit off, as it started to pour rain, making it a muddy go.

We got to meet the resident alligators, who come to eat bread that’s tossed to them. They were small in size, and Scott thought them to be decoys, diverting our attention so that larger ones could come in for the kill.

Leaving our creepy friends behind, we continued on to see a blow hole. As we approached, a man waved us down and explained that there was no charge to see the hole, but asked that we buy a drink from his stand to support his business. Fair enough…we parked our cart and ordered some drinks. Unfortunately, they weren’t the best libations, but the bar was quite a cheery place, with pretty views.

We walked a few steps over to the blow hole, which was surrounded by people and tourists shops, selling food, clothes, hats and trinkets. The ground around the hole was jagged coral, and it was hard to keep our footing. Scott and Sue made their way closer to get a better view. Strong winds would regularly gush out of the hole, but being so far from the shoreline there was never a strong enough wave force to move water up through it while we were there.

The breezes as we drove along the southeast, windward side of the island were quite strong.  The tops of many of the palm trees along the road here were just stumps.

Here, small sandy beaches met coral at the water’s edge.

We were starving, so it was time to find some lunch. After passing several places, stopping at one that was closed and not being able to find another, we finally stopped at Hotel Cocoplum. Our food was pretty good, and we left rested and recharged.

With full bellies, we back-tracked to a place that I’d noticed earlier; it’s upper deck looked inviting.

We never made it up, after discovering the large deck out back that extended over waves crashing on the coral.

There were two more blow holes here, that we had all to ourselves. Scott and Sue investigated up close again, and Sue received a refreshing “facial.” We had a drink, watched the blow holes and hung with the residents.

Our rental car was due back soon, so we headed to town on a route that took us back up the highest hill and past the First Baptist Church. Now that the sun was out, we stopped for some final photos of the view below.

By the time we dropped the cart off, I was spent. The noise of our cart, other carts, cars, motorcycles and buses had worn me out, and the 93 degree sun had taken its toll. However, I always enjoy golf cart days. They’re a great way to get a good overview of an island, and we usually have friends along for the ride. Here are more photos of our golf cart day on San Andres.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”






On To San Andres

We raised our anchor at 5am on Friday, and traveled ten hours south to San Andres Island. The forecast was for 15-20 knot winds, and sea swells of 5-7 feet. They got the wind part right, but the swells were more like 7-9 feet, with breakers on them…..and some really large ones thrown in once in awhile, just to keep it interesting.

The boat was completely fine with all of this, but as usual, me…not so much. I just cannot get used to seeing big waves come at me. Several started to break as they approached us, but Sea Life just “rolled” with it, sliding down them and then getting back on track. Thank God for paravanes, I cannot imagine the degree of roll without them.

Howard fared much better than me. I started him off tucked into his triangle of safety on the couch in the saloon, but he soon appeared on the bench in the pilot house with us. He hasn’t liked the noise of the waves outside the open pilot house doors recently (we keep the top halves open while traveling), but I guess he wanted to join the party this time. I reset the triangle around him, and he settled in.

As we came out of the protection of the reef around Providencia, and into the open ocean, a huge pod of dolphins headed our way. We’ve never had this many visit us at one time before. There were also several babies in the group, about the size of Howard! They stayed for almost 30 minutes, playing near the bow and jumping alongside us before breaking up and moving off. I guess they knew the seas were going to get large, and vacated.

Just after noon, San Andres came into sight. We had to navigate through a break in the reef to get into the harbor, while surfing  breaking waves, which was challenging. Scott was especially nervous to see many boats run aground and left for dead, and wrecked along the reef, as we approached.

Once inside the harbor, Scott hailed the port captain, who asked for some basic information before telling us to anchor in area A, which is designated for pleasure boats. Area B is for commercial and fishing boats, but unfortunately, we discovered that many of them had spread into area A. With the many fishing boats, other cruisers already at anchor and shallow spots in the area, it was challenging finding a spot for ourselves.

When we first dropped the anchor it didn’t hold, which is very unlike the Hulk (*). It was just as well, as the water in that spot was pretty deep. More scope of chain is required in deeper water, which would have put us very close to our neighbors when swinging with the shifting winds.

Luckily, our friends Jack and Monique (s/v Aloha) had made the trip from Providencia the day before, and were anchored nearby. Jack yelled over to Scott, and told him to drop our anchor right at his stern. As we let out our chain, he jumped in and dove on the Hulk, to make sure that it had grabbed the bottom. Jack signaled us that the anchor had set, so we backed down in reverse to dig it in. We were now settled in among the many, many fishing boats (a big thank you to Jack!)

(*) When Scott dove on our anchor the next day, to check that it was still set well, he noticed that the bottom here is covered with old fishing debris (San Andres dates back to 1700s). We think that the Hulk must have grabbed something down there on our first drop, and skipped along the bottom.)

Like Providencia, San Andres is also a Colombian owned island. Since we were still in the same country, we didn’t have to get our passports stamped again, but the boat did have to be cleared in with the port captain.

To do this, we’d contacted Julian Watson, an agent our friend Kevin suggested (you are required to use an agent when clearing into Colombia, you cannot do it yourself). He contacted us on the radio as soon as he heard us hail the port captain, and once we were anchored Scott went to nearby Nene’s Marina to meet him. Julian was very accommodating, and offered his help with anything we may need while visiting the island.

We haven’t done much exploring here yet. There have been several days of squalls, and most of the shops and restaurants close early on Sunday here, so we look forward to getting the lay of the land soon.

The internet here is atrociously slow (who’d have guessed that the free internet on quiet Providencia would be better than the paid data on busy and populated San Andres??), so getting posts updated will be a challenge, but stay tuned! Here are more photos of our trip here.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Becoming Providencia Locals

We’ve been in Providencia for six weeks, which is much longer than planned….too long, as locals are starting to recognize us. They nod and wave to us on the street in town, Delmar yelled from his scooter as he whizzed by us on our third rented golf buggy and the woman who runs the restaurant where we play Jenga and dominoes recognized us and said hello as we ate pizza on the other side of the island!

Why have we been stuck here so long? How can the winds possibly blow this long and hard?? Well, here is the dumbed-down version of Scott’s explanation: There is a sub-tropical ridge (a high pressure feature) that is unusually far south, and hasn’t budged. At the same time, the low pressure system that is always over Colombia is unusually strong. There is also a strong low pressure system in the Eastern Pacific, which refuses to move.

To have all three of these things happening at the same time is not “normal.”  Providencia is caught between these weather features, and is consequently stuck in a wind “bubble.” To the north, in Mexico, virtually nothing. South of us, in Panama, light and variable. Here, 20-25 knots, with many days blowing 30+ knots. All that winds causes the swells to run between 8 and 10 feet, with breaking waves….like a cherry on a sh*# sundae!

So this is why we’re still here, settling into day-to-day life on Providencia. There are nine of us who plan to head south. Some are not in hurry, and will leave in a month or two. Others, like us, are itching to change scenery and move south.

While we wait, there have been many ideas tossed around to fill up our time here, now that we’ve done hiking, horse races and golf buggys to death, and have visited Delmar for Cocolocos so often that it’s put a dent in the coconut supply.

My sister suggested that we reclaim Pablo Escobar’s house, as a cruiser crash pad. It’s a great idea, but hauling water up that hill, to fill the pool would be a real pain in the ass.

Scott considered getting a job, but with a 98% unemployment rate, on an island of 5,000 residents, the possibilities are slim.

I worry that Scott and Kevin will resort to joining the local men who gather in the park to drink and watch traffic go by, while sitting in Providencia’s both indoor and outdoor furniture of choice…the molded plastic chair. As far as I know, there are no rehab facilities on the island, so I hope it doesn’t come to that.

The Americans here in the anchorage gathered on Sea Life for a 4th of July cook out, and we spent an afternoon playing Jenga at a local restaurant (it’s hard to balance blocks at anchor).

One evening we met on Jack and Monique’s catamaran, s/v Aloha (I am so jealous of their huge, open cockpit!) to celebrate our friend Rachel’s birthday. As I’ve mentioned, she and her husband are from Baltimore!

Scott’s spent many hours hanging from the paravane on his air chair, a gift from my sister that has transitioned well to cruising life. Thanks Sally!

Kevin spent a few afternoons showing some cruising friends the beginnings of kite boarding. It proved challenging in the strong, gusty winds. They ended up being dragged through the water, and often catapulted up into the air, before being thrust back down again. At least they got their exercise for the day!

Our friend, Pete, kayaked through the lesson with his dog Budders in tow. She’s a skilled kayak passenger.

Budders frequently takes a swim off of the kayak, and knows how to countdown for a jump-in, in four languages!

We’ve enjoyed some lazy time, including Howard, who’s always ready and waiting for an ice cream treat.

Sooo, after weeks of living like locals here, today we finally get to make our exit! The winds are down significantly over the next few days, causing the seas to calm a bit as well. We’ll make our way to San Andres, another Colombian-owned island 10-11 hours south of here. It’s a more developed and touristy sister to Providencia’s quiet villages and surrounding mountains.

Follow us on our Delorme tracker, through the Where Are We Now page of our blog. In the meantime, here are more photos.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”



Scott’s Fishing Adventures In Providencia

Fishing for Scott has been challenging since we left the Bahamas. Most areas we visit are part of protected waters, so there is no fishing allowed at all. Other times, the area has just been over-fished, and there isn’t much available to catch.

During a passage, Scott always hopes to put out his lines and catch some dinner; but again, things haven’t worked out since the Bahamas. It’s either too rough (we have to put the boat in neutral to reel in the lines, and in rough seas that’s not a pleasant choice), or dark. During daylight hours, if not on watch, Scott usually tries to catch some sleep. The few times the lines have been in the water, he’s been “skunked,” coming up empty.

When we arrived in Providencia, Scott was determined to change his luck. He headed off to fish a reef on the north end of the island, rallying some fellow cruisers in the anchorage to join him. The “fleet,” made up of two dinghies, headed out early one morning, determined to come back with dinner.

After a few hours, Scott and Kevin returned triumphant; Scott had caught a yellow snapper. Hours later, Jack and Lee returned, and Jack graciously shared his catch with us, giving us another snapper. It was now time to clean and cook these things.

Scott isn’t crazy about cleaning fish, and even though we had an agreement that it would be my job (since he is the killer/catcher of the fish), I cannot stand the idea of cutting into and removing fish guts, it just icks me out. Thank God for Kevin, who is fine with doing this job, and has become our official fish monger. So now Scott and Kevin catch said fish, Kevin cleans them and I cook them; a great system!

Lobster had completely eluded everyone here. There were just none to be found. We learned that the locals travel miles out to catch them, which was too challenging for the guys, with the strong winds that were stalled over us.

However, as luck would have it, we were returning from a farewell pizza dinner for our (Baltimore!) friends Lee and Rachel (s/v Satori), when it was discovered that there were lobsters under a sunken palette beneath the town dock.

Not wanting to get in the water at night fully clothed, the guys immediately began the arduous job of trying to spear the lobsters from inside the dingy (Kevin doesn’t leave home without his spear, so it was nearby and at the ready).

There was a lot of head lamp use and body contorting, as well as much dialogue on where the lobsters were and how to get them. You’d think we’d been adrift in the open sea for weeks, and hadn’t eaten.

Finally, Kevin managed to spear two lobsters, the mission was deemed a success and we all headed home.

Scott and Kevin were quite proud of themselves.

They were not the largest lobster, but made for a nice appetizer the next night at dinner. Ya take what you can get!

Days later, Scott and Kevin again headed out to the east end of the island, and Jack joined them.

This time Scott returned with two snapper, and Jack again shared a third one with us. Hooray…fish tacos!

Wanting to try some deep sea fishing, Scott and Kevin took the Aluminum Princess out to the west side of the island, just inside the reef. They were back at the boat a very short time later, which only means one thing…injury.

While trolling, the guys caught a mackerel. and as Kevin grabbed one side of the double hook, to remove the fish (he’d used a double hook, I don’t have the skills to elaborate), the other hook went right through his thumb.

Scott cut the hook off and pulled it out, and convinced Kevin that yes, it was worth going back to bandage his thumb. After cleaning and dressing the injury, they went right back out to resume their search for fish. Unfortunately, the mackerel was the only keeper of the day. Kevin’s thumb was deemed inedible, and a barracuda caught later was thrown back.

As we routinely climbed the stairs toward Morgan’s Head, to stretch our legs, Scott kept noticing a lone coral head at the back of the anchorage, which intrigued him. Thinking it may be a lucky spot, he and Kevin headed over. Jackpot….they’d found the honey  hole! The coral head was full of grouper, lion fish and snapper, and they came back with the makings of a great feast for three!

We ate from the honey hole several times after that. In an hour, Scott could run the dinghy over, catch a few fish and be back onboard (stopping at Kevin’s “cleaning station” first).

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”




Morgan’s Head…Revisited

Scott and I recently realized that we had, in fact, not climbed to Morgan’s Head, as I’d mentioned in a previous post. We’d scaled the two sets of crazy-steep steps, and enjoyed the beach on the other side, but we failed to realize that at the other end of the beach, a trails leads to….Morgan’s Head!….so off we went, again.

Climbing past the beach, I noticed the all to familiar rope rail….yeesh. Luckily, the incline was not nearly as steep as what we climbed in Guanaja. We assumed the rope was meant to help with footing in wet weather.

Along the trail, there were several hand painted tiles. One marked the “triangle of trade.”

This was all well and good, but Providencia was outside the triangle of trade (note the placement of Scott’s stick pointer)…..hmm.

As we walked, there were several places to stop and enjoy the views below, and across the water.

After climbing across a bit of rocky trail, we came up to the back of Morgan’s Head. It was worth the walk, the view was beautiful.

The nearby shoreline reminded me of the South Pacific, thick with palms, whose trunks disappeared into blue-green water that looked painted, it was so brilliant and clear.

Scott crawled around the head while I enjoyed the view, and then we headed back to the beach…and Providencia’s answer to StairMaster!

So now we’ve hiked to Morgan’s Head…check. Here are more photos.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”



Groceries on Providencia

The quest for fresh produce here on Providencia has been really challenging. We see several supply ships come and go regularly each week, but it’s clear by the selection in the stores that produce isn’t their main cargo.

Aside from the usual “splurges,” groceries here are inexpensive. Liquor is cheap and duty-free, but the selection is terrible, much to Scott’s dismay.

There are three stores less than a block from each other in town, as well as a produce stand farther up the road. We venture to all of them first, and then backtrack to who’s got the best looking stuff. We’ve been told that Saturday is produce boat day, but have yet to see it reflected in the stores. Everything is closed on Sunday, and by Monday the selection is already starting to dwindle and rot.

Supermarket Erika has become our haven for ice. They sell purified drinking ice in decent size bags for $1.00 each, which thrills Scott.

They also keep a small stock of tortillas, which aren’t in any of the other stores. Once, we found romaine lettuce here in good condition, and snatched it up. Aside from that, we stick to hard goods here. We purchased chicken that was falling out of it’s wrapping, leaving a bag full of meat juice for us to find when we got back to the boat. Chicken here is tougher than we’re used to, so marinating is a necessity.

I call this place the “downstairs store,” as you go down two steps from the street, and then another five or six to get inside.

We’ve found that the produce is usually best at this location, but that’s not saying much. Often I reach in the case for a tomato, and my fingers go into mush..ick.

There is no mass-produced bread here on the island; instead,  everything comes from the bakery in town. The bread and rolls arent’ the yummiest, but they does the job.

This store is referred to as the “upstairs store,” separating it from the downstairs store and Supermarket Erika.

This place is our least favorite for fresh stuff. Sadly, their produce is horrible. Sometimes, I don’t even know what the stuff is, or was.

I’m not sure why, but all of the stores just keep the rotten and wilted produce out on the shelves to die.

We’ve recently discovered a fourth store in town, which is now referred to as the mustard store.

We’ve found they regularly have the best produce, and Scott even came home one day with a beautiful bag of spinach!

Providencia has been our most challenging grocery experience, but we’re making due. Here are a few more photos.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Shark On!!

Our buddy Kevin (s/v Lucky Seven) is anchored right in front of us (when we arrived, the anchorage was pretty full, so we crowded in close to him). He and Scott spend their days running back and forth between our two boats on dinghies, borrowing this, lending that, fetching one another to spear fish or just to have a beer.

A few days ago, Scott went over to either drop something off, or pick something up..I’m not sure which. Soon after, he hailed me on the vhf….”Get the camera, Kevin caught a shark, and we have to cut it loose.”

Kevin keeps a baited line off the stern, with whatever leftover fish he may have, ’cause you just never know when an easy dinner might come callin’. He’d forgotten to check the line first thing in the morning, and when Scott arrived, they noticed the shark. It was a four foot nurse shark, which aren’t typically aggressive, thank goodness, but I’m sure it was pretty steamed, nonetheless.

Scott pulled the line, while Kevin tried to manipulate the hook out of the shark’s mouth (maybe Kevin lost the coin toss). Of course, it started to pour rain as they began to do this, so everything came to a halt (for all of two minutes, because that’s how fast most of the downpours last here).

After the rain stopped, Kevin moved into his dinghy to get closer, while Scott stayed in the cockpit, trying to keep the line taught. Our friend Pete showed up on his kayak to lend moral support…and get some video footage.

Kevin’s first attempts weren’t working, so he went to fetch a second pair of pliers. Scott relocated into the dinghy with him, to get better leverage on the line. The poor shark kept trying to get away, but they managed to keep reeling him back, and were eventually successful at removing the hook.

Job complete, it was back to business as usual, and whatever “important, pressing” issue they’d been involved in.

Here are some more shark photos.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”



During our stay in Providencia, Scott’s atm card was compromised. Whenever we plan to withdraw money, he slides an amount over to the atm account, and we promptly go to shore and withdraw it. On the 4th, we headed to town to find our usual atm out of order, and the only other atm out of cash. We went back to the boat and returned to try again on the 6th. Our usual atm was still out of service, so we went inside to see if they could help us with cash.

The line was hours long, and we settled in for a sweaty wait. Thankfully, someone soon ushered us past the line and to a teller window, where we were told that we needed a Bank of Bogata card for them to help us. I guess we stood out as people not having Bank of Boata cards. I’m ok with that, and grateful that someone noticed us. In the U.S., we would have waited hours to find this out.

We walked back down to the second atm, which was still out of cash. Again, we headed inside. The line inside was short, which was disappointing, as this bank was nicely air conditioned and I’d have happily waited there for hours. Almost immediately, an employee came over and asked us, “atm?” Wow, we definitely don’t blend.

Back outside, there were several others waiting to use the machine. The woman filled the atm, as she explained that with the other machine being down, this one had been constantly running out of cash. With the machine full we waited our turn, only to find the balance at zero….you can imagine Scott’s reaction. We went back inside, so that he could yell at them, and then decided to head back to the boat to confirm that the account was in fact empty.

Once onboard, Scott logged on to find out that the money we’d transferred on the 4th had been withdrawn on the 5th. He planned to go complain strongly to the bank, believing that it had happened at that location (we’ve used the other machine consistently with no trouble). Our friend, Kevin (s/v Lucky Seven) convinced him to call the bank, that the withdrawal could very well  have been done in another location, city, country, etc.

The phone minutes on our sim card were very low, so Scott tried calling the bank through Skype. This proved maddening, as the call was dropped over and over, causing Scott to start all over each time he redialed. He managed to find out that the withdrawal was in fact made in Melbourne, Fl. Somewhere along the way, someone got our atm card number, and waited until some cash sat there long enough to get it. We’re kicking ourselves for not moving the money back to the original account, when we were unable to withdraw on the 4th.

So now, the card has been cancelled, and a new one is being sent to the U.S. That does us no good here! We’re leery to have it sent on to Providencia, as the address we were told to use is:

Mr. Bush (the customs agent),   Scott McGonigle,   Yacht in transit Sea Life,   Providencia, Colombia.

We’re fairly sure that address wouldn’t fly with Fed Ex, so our plan is to wait until we finally arrive in Bocas del Toro, and have it shipped there. In the meantime, we were left peso-less, so our friend Kevin graciously agreed to have Scott transfer money to him, which he pulled out of the atm for us…whew!

The amount in question was only a few hundred dollars, but for us it meant weeks of spending  money, so it was frustrating and stressful. We’re sure that the bank will reimburse us, and I’ve told Scott to prepare for this to  happen again, as it seems cruisers deal with this problem constantly.

So… we’re back to being millionaires!….in Colombian pesos anyway.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”


Carnival Mayhem

Carnival in Provicencia has one main theme….volume, and lots of it. All aspects of the five day celebration were big and noisy, but definitely entertaining.

From mid-afternoon until well after midnight, music played loudly from the town dock. On Friday and Saturday evenings, big name artists performed at the baseball field, giving us a quieter night’s sleep. Others in the anchorage attempted to go and hear the headliners play, but gave up when 1am came and the featured artists hadn’t started yet.

A beauty queen contest was the main focus throughout the celebration. Colombia flew in contestants from around the Caribbean, and they were paraded about the island at every opportunity. The actual contest took place on Saturday evening, and was the “grand finale” of carnival. Again, friends who tried to go and watch came back after 1am without seeing the winner. We later heard that she was crowned close to 2:30am.

We’d been told by locals that on Thursday of carnival, everyone rides around the island road, and on Friday there would be a parade around the harbor. What actually took place was a bit different than we’d envisioned.

On Thursday afternoon we heard loud music coming from town, earlier than normal. I looked toward the road, just in time to see a truck driving backward….at full speed. He continued down the road until I couldn’t see him anymore, still driving in reverse. Scott caught sight of him in binoculars, and noticed that the entire truck bed was loaded with speakers.

From there, a parade of sorts began. Floats with the beauty contestants onboard drove by, and locals followed by the truckload (literally).  They also traveled on scooters, motorcyles and smaller pick up trucks. Soon, the sound of loud music blended with revving motors.

Friday proved to me even more entertaining. Sometime during mid-afternoon, we were suddenly surrounded on all sides by local boats, whizzing through the anchorage at high speed.

They screamed by, too close for comfort, with more of the boat out of the water than in. We were shocked that no one fell out, or that none of the boats flipped over, and were surprised at how close they came to the boats at anchor.

The town dock wasn’t safe either, as boats sped by the crowds gathered to watch the mayhem.

Their motors were screaming loud, as they buzzed around the bay, with more boat out of the water than in it. We were amazed how close they came to those at anchor.


Scott noticed a police boat (which he coveted), and we thought that would be the end of it. Instead, they lead a parade of boats, carrying the beauty contestants. Each contestant had her own military guard…interesting.

As the parade moved past, the many fast boats followed, and soon the back of the anchorage was awash in boat wakes.

The parade followed along the shoreline, and ended near the baseball stadium. However, the madness of the many fast boats went on for hours, and the noise and wakes became pretty unnerving. Needless to say, Howard was not a fan of carnival.

Here are many, many more photos of the carnival mayhem, on both land and sea.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”