Diamante Delivery Trip Report
From the Girlґs point of view
Monday, May 25, Aruba
We are more than half way through this grand adventure, and we are having a great time. The tale of getting Diamante from Ecuador, where she had been cruising the Galapagos, to Panama is one I will leave to the captain to tell. We will begin when all five passengers boarded Diamante the afternoon of May 12 in Panama City. There are three men, and two women, and this is the women’s saga. The men are treating us very well, and we are happy girls.
We love this pretty little ship. The Canal Transit Authority measured her at 101.6 feet, and Captain Neil insists that is long enough to be called a Ship, Dammit! If you stand on shore and squint just a little, she looks very much like the Mandalay. With her sleek lines, bold fantail, and graceful bowsprit, she is a classic tall ship. There is an amazing amount of space, she is really well designed. The saloon is richly set up with a TV, movies, a library, a bar, and tables on both sides. Sometimes meals are served in the saloon, sometimes we dine in the horseshoe on the stern. A c lassic touch that Neil added is a beautiful figure head, she graces the stairwell going down to the cabins. Since she is rather well endowed, and lavishly painted, we have taken to finding appropriate coverings for her when we are dining in.
The decks are teak, and there is beautiful wood everywhere you turn. The deck on the bow is large enough for lots of people to sunbathe, or dance.
There are six passenger cabins. The four in the bow all have a double bunk on the bottom, and single bunk on top. Cabins 1 and 2, which are the most forward, are quite a bit smaller than 3 and 4, which are really spacious. Midship are cabins 5, which has two lower bunks, and 6, which has an upper and a lower bunk. The girls are sharing cabin 3, and we have more than enough closets and storage areas for our stuff. There is lots of light, each bunk has its own private reading lamp. The head is great, with a huge cabinet, and some shelves. The shower is powerful, and the water is hot! The sinks are large with scallop shapes, and some have sailboats painted on them.
Thank God at least two women came along, the amount of eye candy on this crew would have been sorely wasted on an all male passenger roster,
Captain Neil Carmichael is a Scottish legend, and needs no introduction. His desire to keep the dream alive has brought him through many trials and tribulations, but he has come out of it stronger and wiser, and he has ended up with the perfect ship with which to start Windjammer Adventures, Fortunately, through all that he has endured, he has not lost his sense of humor. On numerous occasions we have laughed until we have cried.
Captain Nervo is the Ecuadorian captain who has been taking passengers on the Diamante since 2002. The Spanish word guapo does not do him justice, and handsome is not descriptive enough either. With curly black hair, dark brown eyes, and a chiseled beard and mustache, he is the quintessential Latin hombre. But it is his endearing smile and the shine in his eyes that exhibit his personality. Warm and soft spoken, yet powerful and charismatic, Nervo exudes confidence and integrity. Multitalented, he can fix everything on this ship, and he would even cook for us were Philbert not along
Chef Philbert (Goat), from Grenada, is Alvin’s little brother. Well, little is certainly not an appropriate description of Phil, Tall, dark and handsome will do. With a winning personality and contagious laugh, he adds pure pleasure to this group. In our short port stops we have had the pleasure of watching him warm up the locals, especially the senoritas. The food is to die for, restaurant quality every day.
The bosun, Cy, is a Canadian transplant to the world who came to us out of Ecuador. With striking blue eyes, he is young, really good looking, and really chiseled. Unfortunately, future passengers are not going to have the pleasure of hearing stories of his many world wide adventures, or enjoying his many talents, because he can hardly wait to get off this ship and back to his beautiful girlfriend in Ecuador.
Romiro is the sweetheart of the crew. Steward, Bar Tender, Salsa Instructor, Spanish Teacher, Translator, and Protector of the Women are some of his many titles. Deep dimples carve into his cheeks when he smiles, and his eyes light up and sparkle. He makes us Pina Coladas with fresh coconut milk, and readily takes care of our every need.
We all knew when we signed on, that this was not going to be an ordinary adventure, and we are feeling a little extraordinary. Most of us have had over 20 weeks cruising on Windjammer Barefoot ships. Even though we are all totally different personalities, we have blended well, and have had a lot of fun together. We have become an integral part of the crew, taking our turns at watch while crossing Bahia Honda, a grueling passage of four days non stop. Paul loves to steer the ship, and is happiest when there is no land in sight. Jackie is happiest fishing. Dale is happiest when the air conditioner is cranking and Amazing Grace is playing. Steve is happiest with a drink in one hand and a book in another, and Gail is happiest looking up at the star filled skies through the rigging at night.
Our first sail was out of Panama City to an archipelago called Las Perlas. There wasn’t a dry eye when Amazing Grace was played, and the sails went up. We all fell in love with these pristine islands, where we never ran into one soul asking us to buy their wares. We swam and snorkeled on Pedro Gonzalez Island, which is uninhabi ted, and collected shells and coconuts along the shore. We were entertained by our Ecuadorians diving off a rope from the mast. Captain Neil and Jackie gave it a try as well. The next day we went to the incredibly beautiful Isla Contadora, which is developed, but not commercial. We hiked the tree lined streets to the airport, and had drinks at the aptly titled Romantic Restaurant. overlooking a beautiful beach.
Transiting the canal was the next adventure. Our journey through the first locks at Miraflores started early in the morning, but we had to wait on Gatun Lake until midnight to get through the last set of locks. We anchored in Colon that night, then headed up to a sweet, lush port called Portabelo. Steeped in history and pirate lore, there were forts to explore, and tales of treasure are documented around the town square.
Plans to head out to San Blas changed the next day, because a window of excellent weather opened up for our four day transit to Aruba. This is known as the fifth most difficult passage in the world, as it is against currents and winds, and finding calm seas was a blessing.
Fishing became the focus , and as soon as we got into Caribbean waters they started to bite. Who actually caught the first fish is a question still being debated. It was Philbertґs line, but Jackie saw the fish hit, and started to reel it in. Romiro landed it, and filleted it on the spot. Every one of us enjoyed eating it. We have landed tuna, which quickly became sushimi, mahi mahi, wahoo and mackrel.
We passed the time during the long passage watching movies, listening to music, reading, playing cards and UNO, and sunbathing. On the fourth day the seas got pretty angry, and things flew around the cabins, and we all will be sporting bruises from bumping into furniture while moving around.
There is bioluminescence in the water, and it sparkles in the bow spray at night. The first night she was on watch, Jackie was thrilled to spot a school of dolphins playing in the bow spray. They were illuminated with the bioluminescence.
We are going to spend two days here in Aruba, and the passengers are hoping to treat the crew to a zany KuKuKanuku tour. We will then sail over to Bonaire for a day of snorkeling and diving. Then, depending on winds and20whims we will stop over at a Venezuelan island or two, and hopefully take the day trip down to Angel Falls. We will finally arrive in Grenada shortly after the first of June.
Delivering the Diamante to her new home is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we are all certainly glad we made the choice to come along.
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