We didn't stay in South America for very long. After only 9 days in Cartagena, we loaded the bikes back on the Stahlratte and set sail into the heart of the Caribbean sea. First stop: Jamaica, mon!
Flabbergasted by the Stahlratte loading technique
We have a new captain on-board. I asked for a confidence-inspiring look and this was all she could manage...
We're doing this leg of the trip by windpower only, which lends a very different flavour to our journey. Whereas the Panama to Colombia run was a regular commuter run; with the sails up and the engine off, it now felt much more romantic, harkening back to an older method of transportation.
The human effort in sailing a boat is mainly pulling on a bunch of ropes
This is my contribution to the sailing efforts, Alisa serenades the boat with Spanish songs
Coming out of Cartegena we hit some pretty rough waters and most of the passengers got sea-sick. In the middle of the night, I frantically scrambled over a sleeping Neda and barely made it to the deck of the ship where I donated my rented dinner to the Caribbean marine life.
I spent the early hours of the dark morning with Ludwig on the top deck, trying to focus on any kind of fixed horizon as the boat pitched violently side to side. Salt water spray cleaned the contents of my stomach off my face as huge waves monstered the bow of the Stahlratte, drenching our (thankfully) covered motorcycles. Ludwig seemed entirely at home striking a Captain Morgan pose looking out into the black waters of the moonless night. In contrast, I felt like I had 7 limbs wrapped around various railings and holds, desperate to stop myself from falling off this rollercoaster into a watery bed.
The fishing lines behind the boat snag a King Mackerel
Soon to be filets, ceviche and soup!
The second day of our 4-day voyage was a lot calmer, but it was still difficult to do anything but stare out at the horizon. Which meant that all of the hours of TV shows and movies and books that I downloaded went unviewed. Still, we found plenty to pass the time away, playing music, watching dolphins jump playfully in the waters beside us and racing in front of the ship. We caught some fish for dinner and at night, we watched from the balcony as the boat stirred up bio-luminescent plankton in its wake. It all felt very Life-Of-Pi, minus the tiger and the carnivorous island...
Sails unfurled and looking ahead to Jamaica
The nets at the bow of the ship were a great place to watch dolphins racing in front of us
Like church on Sunday, everyone on the ship congregates on the deck of the ship every evening to watch the sun set.
Four days is a long time to spend cooped up on a ship with 21 other people, especially for a bunch of landlubbers like us. As we arrived into Port Antonio, on the north shore of Jamaica, the passengers were itching to get off the boat, pacing the deck and climbing the ropes to get a better of view of where we'd be after we cleared customs.
Samantha climbing the crows nest. 10M above the deck of the boat
Crows nest view of the Errol Flynn marina (yes, *THAT* Errol Flynn)
This is how we treat immigration officers on the pirate ship Stahlratte...
At the marina, the immigration police came on board and upon seeing us swinging out on the ropes and diving into the harbour, one of them takes off his shoes, gun and cellphone and decides to swing out into the waters himself!
BEST IMMIGRATION EXPERIENCE EVER!!!
Our favorite beach, Boston Beach
We're spending 6 days in Jamaica, but unfortunately our bikes can't come with us. There is an engine size restriction for importing motorcycles, and besides, Port Antonio isn't equipped to handle vehicle importations. Most of the passengers rent vehicles or take buses to tour the island. I used to work in Jamaica, so I've already seen most of it. Neda and I spend most of our time in Jamaica touring the different beaches on the north shore near Port Antonio.
Yes, that sign does read, "Do Not Jump"...
I've never been a tourist in Jamaica, and was very surprised when we were assailed by roaming vendors everywhere offering to sell us trinkets and vices (some legal, some not). So that got a bit tiresome, but the scenery and the food made up for it. Ever since leaving Toronto, I've been craving a few comfort dishes, among them - curried goat, meat patties and jerk pork. So every evening, we would go down to the patty shop or the food stands and gorge on Jamaican food! So good!!!
The shape of the bay at Boston Beach makes for a great place to surf in the late afternoons
Swinging out in the sands
This little guy knows how to pass the time away
Ballerina of Boston Beach
Neda goes snorkeling in her hunt to find sea-souvenirs
This horse was taking a bath in the waters when another guy jumped on for a ride
Spent some time watching a crab crawl in and out of its home, waiting for us to leave him alone
Sprinting across the shallow waves at sunset
Our Swedish friends Erik and Ebba back on the Stahlratte with us
Jamaica was a great refreshing stop, but after 6 days of lying on the beach, we were ready for the main course of our Carribean cruise. However before getting back on board, we gorged on last minute Internet access, letting all our friends and family know that we would be off the grid for a while, because where we're headed, they've banned the Internet. No connectivity for a month!