“It’s going to be the best trip of your lives. You will visit the most beautiful beaches in the world.”
That was what everyone told us.
“Reset all your expectations.”
That was what the captain said.
The next five days we were going to spend on the ship Ave Maria that would take us from Cartagena in Colombia to three “untouched islands” in San Blas just outside of Panama. We were more than excited, what an adventure. The first two days we would spend on the open sea, sailing towards Panama. A sailing trip we knew could take anything from 30 to 40 hours, out on the rough seas with big waves. We were fully aware that the oversailing wouldn’t be especially pleasant, everyone we talked to told us that they more or less had been laying in a corner, vomited during all those hours. But despite this they told us that it was going to be worth it, the experience at the San Blas islands would erase the bad memories from the sea. We were well prepared with seasickness pills.
But it didn’t turned out as we had imagined it…
This is what we expected: (picture from google)
This is what we got. A beach coverd by tons of rubbish and vultures eating garbage.
All happy and excited, we met the rest of the passengers at the port before departure. Here’s the six new friends;
- First up there is Charlotte, a tattoo artist from England. With the motto “Death is not the worst thing that can happen to man”, she was afraid of most things in life that could bite her. For example; ants, fishes, butterflies… yes, even the waves.
- Then there is Milton, a Brasilian who has traveled around the world and lived in Australia amongst others. Knowledgeable in most subjects but had particularly unexpected knowledge of animals and nature. A pretty crazy man.
- Our only couple – Megan and Trevor from Canada.
- Sam from Australia, the teen of the group. He seemed to have growing pains in his feet as they usually climbed on walls, ceilings and other passengers’ faces.
- Little Danny, Sam’s right-hand, also from Australia. The optimistic and always very happy guy in the group.
- And so it was us, the Swedish sisters of course, me and Christine. Sailors who would tell everyone about sailing, but never managed to get some sense into the captain.
Eight strangers gathered in an unfamiliar sailing boat, resting in the hands of the captain Paul, 54, from Australia with his Colombian soul mate and cook Sindry; 32.
Danny, Sam, Megan, Charlotte, Milton, Christine and I
Leaving the harbour in Cartagena, Colombia
It was time to leave. We jumped in a dinghy to go out to Ave Maria, well prepared with black garbage bags around our big backpacks to protect them from the tropical moisture where they would be kept throughout the journey. Our daily bags were thrown down at the bottom of the dinghy without protection, and it turned out that the dinghy was leaking water. It was a bunch of soaking wet bags that were carried on board that night. My camera equipment was bathing in the bag along with my laptop, I had to find a dry place to store them in order to avoid injury. However, it was impossible since every shelf, drawer and corner was cluttered by Paul’s clothes.
– This is my home, not a luxury hotel. Do not put sand or saltwater into my boat, captain Paul opened the meeting. He continued:
– Reset all your expectations, I’m not an entertainer. If you want to have a good experience, it’s up to you to make it happen. I need help steering during the nights, and this is only a job for guys, not girls.
Enogh said. There was no talk about safety on board, where the life jackets were or how to act on a boat. It was after all a bunch of landlubbers on board that would help to sail a boat over one of the world’s roughest seas. We managed to find the lifejackets on our own in case they were needed, and we localized the lifeboat on board. It could take six passengers, but we were 10 people on board. We also had the rubber dinghy, which in itself was leaking water and air – so the sum of this – four of us would be screwed in case something went wrong. The slogan of our company was “The Safest and most secure way to San Blas” so we did not think much more about it.
On the way out we were stopped by the port police because we didn’t have enough lanterns to sail overnight, but somehow Paul managed to get away with it and we went off. It did not take long until the sea began to take over the mood of the friends. It was already late at night, and Sam was the first out with a green face. He wanted to try to sleep his seasickness off so he went into our room in the forepeak. Bad idea, up front, it was like a roller coaster so after five minutes he came out again and fed the sea. Then it continued, one by one …
Next: Stranded on the Caribbean Sea