sabato 16 maggio 2015

Sailing from Hollandaise Antilles to Colombia

Bonaire, Aruba and Curaçao, the Dutch creatures of the Caribe where we can surf, kite surf, wind surf, dive and even do kayak on a perfectly shaped bay. We are travelling with Roberto and Victoria, our special guests from Switzerland who came on board to test the Catana 59. We were very positive about having them on board, especially after they opened their huge baggage and showed what they brought for us. I can imagine that it was like when Marco Polo showed up in Venice with the epic food and spices bought from the Gran Kahn. Champagne  and foie gras are only two of the delicatessen that were welcome into the fridge. But my legs were shaking when I saw a Parma Ham and a few kilos of Parmigiano Reggiano.  Like for the kids, it took us a few days to understand what kind of people we were dealing with, and it was a nice surprise to figure out how nice and easy they were. It was funny sometimes to see the contrast from three different generations of nice people getting along together in difficult conditions as it can be during the navigation with someone you don’t really know. I’m putting so much effort to improve my culinary style and I’m taking little advices here and there thanks to the amazing people I had the chance to work with. Chef Matteo, working now in the USA, and Roberto Zanca, chef at La Corte Sconta in Este are always ready to help me with recipes and advices to stimulate my fantasy.  We are starting to understand that life on the boat is never boring. If there’s not a problem to be fixed nor broken thinks (which is very rare),  we spend our time fishing, sailing, talking, swimming and cooking. Sometimes I feel like Alice and I are wiping in a washing machine, spinning like hell.  However the smile on our faces is always shining and the landscapes are making us proud to be here every moment.
When we got to Spanish Waters in Curaçao we nearly went on a reef, one of those typical things that happen when look here and there while your boat is going on the wrong direction. Luckily, I looked for one second at portside and saw a strange movement in the water not more than a meter far from us: we were really close to a reef. The Captain was fast enough to turn starboard and give us the right adrenaline for a big aperitif. The spot is clean and wealthy and right in front of our boat there is a windsurf school that let Roberto’s experience show us what he could do with that. The guy knows how to manage a sail and everyday makes us jealous of his rides.
Unbelievable but it’s already Christmas and today, more than ever, my cooking skills are under judgment. Luc and Martine are invited and the atmosphere is colorful and sparkling like the champagne we can toast with. Crab legs, stuffed calamari, mushroom lasagna, crab cake, scallops and king prawns with asparagus….only some of the incredible food I had the chance to deal with, closing the show with artisanal panettone and pandoro dipped into a fresh zabaione .
Everybody was very happy and grateful. We had some really amazing time considering also that Captain and Mme Nicole made awesome presents for us to thank us for the help until this moment.
Some of these moments will be so far more important and remarkable than a lot of places we are now visiting. The journey with people never seen before and the friendship we built with other travelers are making our trip to Australia even more interesting.
Sometimes it seems strange to say that we cannot spend 2-3 weeks in each of these places, but we have 10 months to arrive in New Zealand before the cyclones season. The way is still so long. So, after a few days of hard party and visit to the island’s main attractions, we are sailing to Aruba, the last of the Hollandaise Antilles before to reach Colombia. It’s good that with this kind of catamaran we can reach nearly all of these islands on a day trip, without spending too many nights in the deep black sea!
And it’s right there, when we are relaxed and quite, that we made a little mistake. Doing our routine with the sail arriving to the port, the wind suddenly jumped from 6 to 27 kts and our Gennaker took less than one second to twist around the Genoa, starting to make a noise like if an helicopter was trying to land on our boat. As we often tried to explain to Roberto and Victoria that would love to buy a big cat and not having someone around to help, sometimes two people are absolutely enough, however other times six are not.  The immense power of the 240sm sail was impossible to contrast and the situation needed  a melting of power and intelligence to be resolved. After two hours of sacrifice ;-) we got the crazy sail and sat at the table in front of a fresh salmon filet, we could laugh of what just happened.
Sailing is always like this, unpredictable and fascinating. We now enjoy the beach and the sun of Aruba, one of the favorite places for the big cruises and Marlin fishermen. The mooring is one really the best we had till now: every 10 minutes an airplane lands or takes off right above our heads, making us shake like belly-dancers. KLM made a great job down here, but all this tourism exploitation is reflected in the island’s nature. It’s really difficult to see fish or birds here. But if you like casinos, pubs, fine restaurants and huge cinemas, that’s your spot.
December the 27th Lazy Jack is ready for the 250 miles navigation from Bonaire to Santa Marta, Colombia. The wind is on our side and we sail easily kissed by the sun and blessed by Mother Nature: we have the chance to cross a big group of excited dolphins that stay with us about 15 minutes, playing with our hulls. It’s the first time for Alice, she never met a dolphin in his habitat before. Our stomachs are well marinated and I cook in navigation with no problems at all. Helped by Roberto, I fish a fantastic tuna, which is after his proper blast freezer treatment ready to become a tasty sashimi, on top of an avocado and papaya ring, mixed with Venus rice. The night passes smooth and nice. In the morning we reach 19 knots of speed!!! This is a great record for LJ! The wind helps us to reach the Colombian shores and we pass through what every sailor knows as the Cape Horn of the Caribbean with no issues at all. Maybe we’re just lucky, since we later met an Australian couple who destroyed his Genoa right in this tricky spot.  Mme Nicole can’t wait to enter Santa Marta Marina and begins the arrival ritual by putting a nice bottle of champagne in the cooler, to be ready for the celebration.
Santa Marta. A Caribbean loud and crowded city. The contrast between the highly protected and sophisticated marina and the crazy streets full of sound and smell of brochetas  is overwhelming. We say goodbye to our Swiss guests and start to set up the boat for a 15 days stop-over in this marina: Lazy Jack needs to be cleaned, a new lazy bag (which was damaged during the arrival) and some relax. Mme Nicole and the Captain left me and Alice in Santa Marta and went to Bogota to make a tour of the Colombian main attractions. We are the boat’s keepers, but we also enjoy our free time in this original corner of the world. I can get a Colombian style new haircut and found some surf spots around, Alice can spend her time with her Wi-Fi spot in the marina. She gets a bit scared when the 50 knots wind that shakes the boat: the catamaran pulls so strongly that we almost broke the floating pier. Santa Marta is definitely way too windy in January.
After their land trip to Colombia’s heart, Mme Nicole and the Captain come back with two super special guests: Mme Michou and Maître Jan. They travel together since 10 years and they are good friends. We welcome them in the best way possible, with a delicious dinner and a fresh made Lemon Merengue Pie. Our 6 weeks together towards the Colombian coast and San Blas Islands start in a super positive way.