Askari Cruise

Askari Cruise — As told to Diane M. Byrne — April 2003

The Time of Their Lives
Come along on the far-flung adventures a family experiences aboard a charter headed around the world.

 More of this Feature

• Part 1: Askari
• Part 2: Askari
• Part 3: Askari
• Askari Photo Gallery
• Additional Diary Entries
• Kate’s Diary Entries

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Scott, Betty, and daughter Kate (names changed by request) set off on a remarkable exploration when they chartered the 107-foot Askari (see top photo) for a ten-month trip beginning last summer. Embarking in Trinidad, they and Askari’s seven-person crew headed to Venezuela, Bonaire, the San Blas Islands, Panama, Costa Rica, Cocos Island, and other South Pacific atolls. Betty and Kate, with help from her teacher Michelle, who came along, sent e-mails home to share their experiences with family and friends (and, in Kate’s case, fellow students, thanks to a Web site she and Michelle set up for them). The following are excerpts from Betty’s diary.

We arrived [from Bonaire] after 68 or so hours at sea. We used most of our time to make gifts for the local children—about 20 sock toys. We stuffed small socks with beans and then glued eyes and noses on them. One had skis, one had a bikini, and we also made a bumblebee, bunny, and crab. We even made a Rasta sock. We named all our sock guys “Bob.” So we had RastaBob, BumbleBob, SkiBob, etc.

There are about 300 islands in the San Blas, with 20 or so populated by Kuna Indians. They say there are about 40,000 Kunas here, and they live primitively—no electricity, no running water, and no TV! The males fish, catch lobster and crabs, and pick the local fruits (both for their families and to sell). The women sew molas (beautiful, finely sewn designs on cloth), and most wear bright clothing and lots of beaded decorations on their arms and legs.

Yesterday morning we were approached by some Kuna Indians in dugout canoes. The first boat was full of women and kids selling molas. Of course, we bought many! We also gave the kids sock toys and took photos of them, which Scott printed quickly and gave to them. It was neat to see the kids get so excited.

A little later we were approached by a boat of men and boys selling lobsters. They had about 20 crawling around on the bottom of their canoe. We bought ten (for less than $2 apiece). We also bought a small turtle ($5) they had caught. We took photos of each of us holding the turtle, and then we set him free in the ocean. We couldn’t stand to think that someone would eat the turtle for dinner.

We’re having a blast—hope ya’ll are, too.

We made the crossing from Costa Rica to Cocos. We left at 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday and arrived at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday. We had great weather, and the seas were fairly calm. The only thing we saw (besides birds!) for the whole 34 hours were two boats going in the opposite direction.

Cocos [four miles long, two miles wide, and 2,000 feet tall at its highest peak] is known for some of the best scuba diving in the world. It’s also the largest uninhabited island in the world. For five miles around it, the water is a protected marine park, so no fishing is allowed. As a result, you can see a huge amount of fish, and many different kinds.

We’ve been here two days and have done four dives. Yesterday on our first dive, we saw our first shark. On the same dive we saw our second, third...and hundredth! They are everywhere, mostly white-tipped sharks, and they are gentle and nonaggressive. I got close enough to one to actually pet it.

Next page > Askari, Part 2 > Page 1, 2, 3, 4

This article originally appeared in the March 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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