Sunday, May 01, 2011

Emma’s New Idol, Discovering the Underwater World and a Sad Farewell

There is cruisers net in the Kuna Yala islands and one morning we heard that there was a party being organized for Laura Dekker, the Dutch single-handed sailor who is attempting to become the youngest solo circumnavigator.  She had just turned 15!  The party was to be held, appropriately, in the Holandse Cays so along with the R Sea Kat and the big Pjotter we hauled up our anchors and sailed to this blissful little group of islands with white sand beaches, turquoise water and palm trees.  

There was quite a media circus around Laura just prior to her departure from the Netherlands with one camp claiming it was irresponsible to allow her to go, one camp claiming that she couldn’t stay out of school and another supporting her endeavors.   We had remained relatively neutral on the subject until we spent time with her.  This girl really knows her stuff.  She is very self confident (in a pleasant understated way) , she knows her boat and she has equipped it extremely well.  Emma was rather in awe of her and relished any attention from Laura.  The only difficulty was that she couldn’t understand why she needed to sail alone.  “Isn’t she lonely? Wouldn’t she have more fun if she had her family or friends with her?”  

The next few days were spent enjoying meals together with Laura, Mike, Deana, Kees and Marta (we even introduced Mike and Deana to pannenkoeken), walking on the beach, dinghy explorations and snorkeling and diving under the expert tutelage of Mike.  Seb and I discovered a new world in these days and learned to really delight in all things underwater.   Mike had us drift diving in the currents between the islands and free diving through some amazing reefs.  I even swam with a rather large group of 1 meter long barracudas and came quite close to a pair of sand sharks.  Emma would usually bob along with us wearing her fins, thoroughly enjoying her new mermaid status but not yet comfortable with her snorkel and mask.   Macsen watched from the dinghy and ‘fished’ or sent his boats out over the side.  

On March 23rd we hauled up our anchors and headed back to check out in El Porvenir.  Two Pjotters and the R Sea Kat enjoyed a lovely spinnaker sail for the 18 nautical mile journey.  It was a lovely sight, quite a competitive race and a fitting end to our time together.  
After check out in El Porvenir, Deana and Mike, with characteristic kindness, invited us to their boat for a last meal together to fill our bellies before our 2,5 day sail to Bocas del Toro on the mainland of Panama.  Deana had cheffed up a delicious corn chowder and the most scrumptious conch fritters that I have ever eaten (and I have sampled several of these tasty treats in the last few months).   After dinner and a tearful farewell, we hoisted anchor with the big Pjotters and headed off into the night.  Mike and Deana will head on through the Panama canal.  They have become special friends and we will miss them.  

1 comment:

  1. Hello from the Bay of Quinte on Lake Ontario Canada. Thank you for sharing your visit with Laura Dekker. I wish you and your family a safe voyage.