Until we got clear of the influence of land we had left over big seas from a previous blow and little wind. This was pretty uncomfortable for awhile then the wind settled in and we had a good sail covering the distance faster than expected.
The Cayman Islands have no clearance fees in working hours but overtime is paid after hours so we reduced sail doing just 1-2 knots to get there in business hours. On arrival 4 cruise ships were anchoring in the bay of Georgetown so Port control advised us to wait until the passengers were transported ashore and cleared.
We enjoyed listening to the Port pilot instructing the ships captain where to drop his anchor and giving a minute by minute account of where the anchor was in the seabed and what percentage it was buried!
The port control vessel then came alongside with some papers to fill in, returning 15mins later to take us ashore to Customs and Immigration. They were extremely friendly and helpful.
The mooring buoys are free and you can pick up any designated buoy all along the western side of the island. Some are daytime buoys and some are long term.
The Cayman Islands are British owned and consist of 3 islands. Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. The population is around 58,000 and we were told that with the cruise ships the population swells to 1/2 that again, but the cruise ships are gone by nightfall..
For us Grand Cayman Island was a great stop off point for a rest but we wouldn't consider it a great destination choice. Everything was VERY expensive so we were pleased not to have to buy much at the supermarket and we weren't prepared to pay $10 for a beer! The tours and restaurants were beyond our budget..We took a local mini bus to see the island and walked everywhere else.
The governments major source of income is indirect taxation. There is no income tax, capital gains tax or corporation tax but import duty is between 5-22%. There are more registered businesses than people and it is a tax haven for wealthy people.
Seven mile beach is home to many resorts and hotels and beach bars right on the waterfront. One can walk the entire length of the beach as the foreshore is considered Public property
Cigars being hand made from Cuban sources
The 700nm took us 6 1/2 days. We punched hard to the wind for the first 12 hrs hoping to get east as far as possible to get us around the shallows off Honduras but the wind switched earlier than predicted and we had to take several long tacks which were uncomfortable and we were pretty tired with little sleep. By the 3rd day conditions were better and we were able to run a little downwind.
We had birds land on the boat to have a rest. They were obviously tired too!
This little bird spent the afternoon and night resting on top of the outboard motor
We arrived at Bocas Del Toro at 2300hrs on Sunday and dropped our anchor off the township just after midnight.
So often we arrive at our destination in the dark so waking the next morning and discovering the sights is very special. It is often very different to what we imagine.
The officials came out to the boat to clear us in to Panama then later in the day we had to go in and get Visa's stamped into our passports and a cruising permit.
Bocas Del Toro township is quaint and quirky and a very popular holiday destination for backpackers and the adventurous.
We hired bikes and explored the countryside taking us over the top of Isle Colon to the end of the island. It was uphill until we got to the plateau which was undulating, then a downhill ride to Draga beach. The day was 32C with humidity of 98% but most of the ride was in the shade
We did cheat and got a local taxi to take us and our bikes to the top of the ridge each way!
A stop for a cold coke was very much needed as our water bottles were quickly emptied. As we sat here we watched these beautiful birds (? weaver birds) flying to their nests hanging from the trees.
Eric will be staying aboard to do some boat work and Cathy is flying to Australia for a months work then on to NZ to welcome into the world our first Grandchild!
After 10 weeks we will be together again and will be heading to the Panama Canal to organise the transiting process.. Then it is the very long haul, some 8000nm across the Pacific back to NZ.