Paddling in Costa Rica
and the Bahamas
By Mark Andrus
I took a
cruise leaving Fort Lauderdale, Florida last December.
The first stop was Half Moon Cay, a private island for Holland
America I took a tour where we used tandem
sit on tops to paddle a lagoon on the island. I was able to talk the other
person on the boat to let me get in the stern where I would be better at
controlling the boat. He was from Minnesota so
I assume he enjoyed the warm weather in the Bahamas. I had to paddle without
feather since the paddle was not adjustable to feather. I am not condemning no
feather kayak paddles since that is what the Greenland Eskimos use, but I
learned to paddle with a right control paddle even though I am left-handed. The
feather makes a difference since I get used to where the blade is if I have to
make any braces with it. Thankfully, I did not have to use the paddle to brace.
After paddling the lagoon, I then swam on the beach.
The next stop was Aruba where I took a bus tour of the
island. We toured a cave on the north end of the island and saw a natural
bridge on the shore. There was a tour of a farm where they grew aloe vera and
processed it into products. I was wondering the aloe vera I had at home would
freeze while I was away-it did not. After that, it was on to Curacao.
The city of Williamstad
had many interesting old buildings. I
took a tour to another swimming location. I swam and snorkeled there. It might
have been possible to rent a sit on top but I did not.
| Williamstad, Curacao,
The next sight was the Panama Canal. I found that the
mule locomotives did not actually pull the ships, but went alongside to keep
cables to the ships tight so the ship would not hit the sides of the locks. The
Zuiderdam is a Panamax ship that was about two feet more narrow than the lock
width (108 feet) and about 40 feet short of the maximum length than can go into
the locks (1000 feet). The ship went through the Atlantic locks and stopped in
the Gatun Lake. I took a tender ashore (a ship
lifeboat) to get to my tour, which was a bus ride into Panama City. There were many skyscrapers in Panama City and I was able to look out into the Pacific Ocean. San Blas Indians were there to sell their
elaborate embroidery. I brought one with an owl on it and a pot holder. My
sister took a different tour that took a train but did not go into Panama City itself.
| Panama mule
The next paddling was near the coast south of Porto Limon. The paddling was on a river
that went through a rain forest nature preserve. We boarded the tandem sit on
tops from a pier. We saw monkeys and
sloths when the guide pointed them out when the tree branches would move. We
saw two local paddlers in their canoe. I
saw a few coconut palms near the river. After that, it was back to Fort Lauderdale and the flight back to Houston.
| Bahamas guide
||Costa Rica local paddlers
|| Costa Rica river