The quest for waves

It’s been more than 12 months since we had a full week of surfing. It was May 2014, we were in Playas surfing every day, that’s the last time, I can honestly say, I felt like a surfer.

 Since then, we’ve only had sporadic surfing sprees. In June, we went to Las Tunas for the weekend and maybe went in the water once. The waves weren’t good at all. I know, we didn’t surf in July, because we were travelling in Colombia. August was spent in the city, Guayaquil and in September we travelled to the BVI to buy our boat.

After we bought the boat, it’s been one thing after another. We did manage to surf two days in a row before moving into the boat while we were in Tortola. Living on the boat, we got to surf the last day of the swell in Virgin Gorda and we also got some waves in Antigua. Then we continued south, always with the idea to find some waves. We felt really pleased with ourselves, after sailing against waves and wind to get to an ok spot in Guadaloupe and we surfed there for two days in a row. It definitely felt good!

We had heard of the possibilities of good and lonely waves in the island of Dominica, but we soon forgot the idea of even trying to find them after reading about all the rules on where to anchor, due to it being a Marine National Park. So we had grand expectations about the east coast of Martinique. We left before the rising of the sun one day from Rosseau, determined to get to the wave rich east coast, only to be stopped by 25-30 knot winds and a bumpy sea on our way there; we quickly took solace on the bay of St Pierre on the west coast and decided to stick to that side of the coast for the rest of our time there.

That’s probably the best explanation of why we are trying so hard to get to Panama as soon as we can. We skipped St Lucia and St Vincent and went through the Grenadines pretty quickly. We spend two weeks in Grenada, due to some boat maintenance and we decided to only see Bonaire from the three ABC islands and from there sail directly to the San Blas islands of Panama, so that we can get to the canal, cross it and get to the Pacific side, to finally get some waves. It’s a bit sad, to walk by our aft cabin every day and see how all our boards are pile up in there, not being used enough.

But as it usually happens, the more you want something, the more that something gets away from you. We were on our way to Panama from Bonaire, already imagining the waves we were going to surf, but had to make the decision to stop in Aruba due to very bad weather predictions. It wasn’t an easy decision to make but it was definitely the smart thing to do; this stretch of the world that we were about to cross it’s  known for its strong winds and big waves, so it is best to look for good weather windows.

We’ve been in Aruba for almost a week and looks like we’ll be leaving on Monday. Life on a boat, teaches us patience and to adapt to situations. It’s not always easy. Sometimes it makes you feel like you are in between. You would like to be somewhere else or do something else, but you have to wait, you have to accept where you are and make the most of it. And we have.

We’ve met our boat neighbour, Paul from the UK. We’ve really enjoyed his company. He’s a solo sailor. His boat is called Sonic Boom and he has a blog also if you’d like to check it out.  He’s a very interesting person, who has lived in many countries, has a PHD in Japanese Art and has lectured in many universities in Japan and USA. He is a great story teller and it’s been fantastic sharing our views on life and why we have decided to live our lives the way we do. Paul has spent two years here in the Caribbean and will also leave on Monday to go to Jamaica. He doesn’t know exactly where he will go after that, maybe the Cayman Islands, who knows.

He’s shown Oranjestad to us, the main city in Aruba, which makes you feel like you are somewhere in America, with its Starbucks and fancy shops. Paul has recently moved his boat to the marina and he gets free passes to use the hotel’s facilities, so we enjoyed a day at the resort yesterday, lacing on near the pool.

We are anchored near the airport. It would be a beautiful spot if it weren’t for the near 35 knot winds, that makes you want to hide inside the boat all day long. Yesterday we met briefly another boat neighbour, Maika, from Spain. We had a quick conversation with her on our way to town and she’s also waiting for a weather window to go to Panama. She mentioned she wanted to get to Bocas del Toro, 200 NM north to where we had thought we would go. We had considered going to Bocas a while ago, because there are really good waves there, but because we don’t want to miss on the waves on the other side either(the Pacific side), we thought we just get to the other side and be sure to get something.

After our conversation with Maika, we have decided to sail straight to Bocas and skip the San Blas islands. We figured, we can still see San Blas, but on our way back to get to Colon to cross the canal. We know San Blas is beautiful and interesting because of the Kuna Indians that live there, but at this point in life, we just want to surf; we’ve seen enough white sand beaches and palm trees, we just want to surf!

I remember reading about this a long time ago, before I met Mick, before I ever considered living on a boat. I remember reading about this in a surfing magazine. There was an article written by a girl named Liz Clark. She was a surfer and was travelling on her boat and she had a section on the magazine were she wrote about her journey. I remember her saying how she thought it was going to be easier to get to the waves on her boat than it was. And she was right. (Liz Clark continues living on her boat and inspiring us with her journey. Here’s a link to her own blog. )

This is stuck on the wall of Ondular as a reminder of what we are really after..

Living on a boat and being a surfer are sometimes a bit contradictory. As sailors, you almost want to run away from big waves. Most of the times, here in the Caribbean, getting to the waves is really hard on a boat because they lay on the rough side of the islands so it’s hard work to get there. Sometimes you have to endure rolly anchorages and bad conditions with the hope that the next morning everything will be forgotten once you are riding that wave. Then the next morning you wake up, tired and cranky, and you look out and the waves are flat again.

But still I wouldn’t change this for anything. Yes, this last year has been very wave poor, and our boards have been safely stored for most of the time than being put to use, but how much have we learned and seen and how much better this whole experience is going to make us appreciate getting to this next part of our chapter, where we get to sail around a more wave consistent part of the world and finally surf again.


Author: Isabel Romero

founder of Mingas por el Mar

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