Monday, September 10, 2007

Curacao to Five Bays, Colombia

Log covers 9 Sept – 10 Sept 2007; passage Curacao to Five Bays, Colombia:

This log is somewhat scattered in date order.  Sorry about that. 

We moved out to Anchorage E in Spaanse Waters after our friends Donna & Bruce left last Wednesday.  Of course, as chance would have it, the weather turned perfect sailing conditions shortly after they departed.  What a shame they flew all the way to Curacao for a sailing vacation and never left the dock.  But they did get to see the island.  And they got to experience hurricane preparations for a boat.  It was great to be back out on anchor.  We like that so much better than staying in a marina.

We went to the cruisers’ happy hour at Sari Fundy’s on Thursday and met 2 couples who just returned from San Blas Islands, Bocas del Toro, Panama City and Cartagena.  They came to our boat on Friday evening and gave us a wealth of information about all locations.  A big thank-you to Rico & Jackson on S/V APPARITION and to Jim & Michelle on S/V WIND MACHINE.  They both use the same Maxsea software that we use, and Rico provided us with actual tracks into Boca Grande at Cartagena and into various anchorages in San Blas Islands.  We also learned from them that the navigational markers are again in place in Cartagena for the narrow entrance through the underwater rock wall.  Yahoo!!!  That is a big worry that we can now forget about.

BTW, I took the free bus from Sari Fundy’s on Friday morning to the Centrum Supermarket.  FWIW, Centrum is far superior to Strada which is recommended so highly in the cruisers’ guide.  I would recommend visiting both because Strada does offer some items that are not found in Centrum, and the prices are lower at Strada.  But Centrum is as big and nice as any supermarket in any large city in the states.  We did not need anything, but we wanted to use up all our guilders (NAF—Netherland Antilles Florin) as we will not be back in Curacao or Bonaire any time in the near future.

Saturday morning we prepped the boat for the long (for us!) passage to Cartagena.  We rigged both poles because we will be flying the genoa on the port side until well past Aruba; then we make a turn and will be flying the genoa on the starboard side.  Better to rig everything now rather than dealing with it at sea.  Outboard engine is mounted on the rail and the dinghy is tied down on the mizzen deck.  We could have left the dinghy on the stern davits, but I have read too many logs of people getting swamped on this passage by big seas filling the dinghy on davits.  Better safe than sorry.  Then I cooked 3 meals so all I need to do at sea is reheat.  We are set to leave at 4:00 p.m. so that we should arrive in Cartagena on Tuesday mid-day, assuming no bad weather is encountered.  We are both freshly showered (important to start off squeaky clean when we know it isn’t likely that either of us will have another chance to shower until this passage is complete) and ready to go.

We just learned that S/V BLUEPRINT MATCH is also enroute to Cartagena.  They moored at Monjes del Sur (the Venezuelan rocks with the rope tied between) last night.  They are traveling with S/V RED THREAD, whom we do not know.  It will be interesting to later compare the experiences of us on the offshore route at the same time they are on the coastal route.

Trip Log:  (note that this was written during the passage; our opinions of the passage changed to a more positive note after we reached our destination, turned on the air-conditioning, had a shower and ate a meal.)
Sat Sept 8, 2007  1520 (3:20 p.m.) anchor up and left Spaanse Water channel entrance about 1545.  Course 306 mag; wind 20 kts ESE, gusting 24 kts.
Sat 1745    12.10.334N; 069.05.501W    Boat speed 8.16 SOG; course 316 mag; wind 20-25 kts ESE; 6 ft seas; passed well astern of 2 large ships, both headed SE.  Sails: full genoa poled to port and full mizzen, double reefed main.  Bill finally might have learned to sleep at sea.  He is asleep and I am taking the first night watch tonight.  Pork chop sandwiches for dinner.

Sun noon.  Spoke too early; Bill has not learned to sleep at sea.  He came top deck last night at 2130 after unsuccessful attempts to sleep for 4 hours.  That was the precise moment when I chose to blow my dinner all over the deck—much too rough to attempt to get to the rail, safer to kneel on the seat of the cockpit and puke out onto the deck; easy enough to wash the deck down with the water hose.  We were rolling very badly all night and I was seasick all night.  Bill took care of everything while I tried to sleep it off in the cockpit.  At 0430 we took in the sails and motored until daylight; needed to charge the batteries anyway.  At daylight we set the genoa poled out to starboard and mizzen to starboard.  With only those 2 sails we are making about 8 knots SOG; course 285; wind down to just under 20 knots; seas 8-10 feet and very confused.  There are white caps curling in every direction and patches of foam, while the current and general main direction of the waves are in the direction we are headed.  Still rolly.  Passed one ship within 2 miles and saw 2 others far in the distance.  Our fastest speed overnight was 10.8 knots!!  That is when we reefed down the sails.

Sun 1530  During the past 24 hours we have sailed 206.8 NM.

Sun 1645  12.48.057N; 071.58.683W  Boat speed 8 knots SOG; course 265 mag; winds same; seas larger at 12 feet.  Have not seen any other vessels since making the turn over Aruba.  This is not a pleasant downwind sail.  It is test of endurance.  We both have been catnapping all day.  We both are tired of this motion.

Sun 2130   12.35.621N; 072.34.966W  Boat speed 8.20 SOG; course 255 mag; winds lighter at 16-18 knots; seas much smoother at 8 feet;  quite a lightning show over on the Colombian mainland.  Bill managed to get a shower down in the head tonight.  Not me.  No way in Hades that I would go down there in a shower with the boat moving this much.

Mon 0315  Wow, my watch again.  My, how time flies.   12.09.769W; 73.14.501W  Course 230 mag; boat speed 8.56 SOG; true wind speed at 22.5 knots but feels much lighter; seas calm –can’t see in darkness so can’t judge size but boat is sailing smoothly (finally!!) so seas must be smaller. There was a lot of lightning most of the night, but you are reading this so we didn’t get hit.  We have decided to tuck in at Five Bays to meet up with Paul and Michelle on BLUEPRINT MATCH.  No reason that we couldn’t proceed directly to Cartagena and arrive tomorrow mid-day, but we would just as soon sail along with them for the rest of the passage.  Plus, this way we get to see some of the Colombian coast.

Mon 0800   11.50.338N; 073.36.097W  Still within the 3000 meter depth line; it cuts over very close to shore near the Five Bays area.  Course 235 mag; boat speed 8 kts SOG; true wind speed 14.5 kts; seas kind of flat with a very gentle 6-foot swell moving same direction as boat.  Pleasant sailing.  Have seen 4 large rather strange looking ships plus had 4 other ships as radar targets but never seen.  The charts call this a “shipping convergence zone.”

Mon 1230  11.31.802N; 073.55.000W  Course 232 mag; boat speed 6.2 SOG; true wind speed 10.3 kts; seas totally flat with nice swell.  We are motor sailing because the wind is so light; also lets us charge the batteries.  About 2 ½ hours to Five Bays.  I had a wonderful shower on deck this morning.  Not a soul in sight, so why not.  Nice to feel human again.

Mon 1620  Anchored 11.19.555N; 074.06.428W in center bay of Five Bays, Colombia.  This is not the real name for this location but that is what the cruisers have come to call it.  We wasted more than an hour trying to anchor in the second bay before giving up and moving to this bay, so our time/speed average for the passage will be skewed.  BLUEPRINT MATCH and RED THREAD are still on their way here.  We motored the final 4 hours of our offshore passage; they have been motoring all day on their coastal route.  Basically, in about 48 hours we sailed 375 NM, even with a wasted hour trying to anchor in the wrong bay.  Only mishap for the passage was that Bill left our anchor snubber on the stern deck to dry when we pulled anchor in Curacao.  We both forgot all about it; and with the severe rolling that we encountered north of Aruba, the snubber fell overboard.  Hope we can find a new one in Cartagena since we will be anchoring a lot in the San Blas.

As we approached Five Bays we were greeted by 4 to 5 dozen dolphin.  These were the smaller variety of porpoise; had a slightly speckled appearance on their backs.  And, yes, it was 50 to 60 dolphin; swimming and jumping all around our boat.  One even did a backflip.  Bill went forward on the deck and whistled loudly (our kids can attest to how loudly Bill can whistle!).  The dolphin love it when you whistle or make lots of noise and they perform more enthusiastically.  It was great!

And now it is time for a diet coke and a cold shower to cool off.  BLUEPRINT MATCH and RED THREAD arrived in the bay just before sunset.  Not sure if we will leave tomorrow for the rest of the trip to Cartagena or if we will hang around here for a day or two.  There is zero wind out there right now.

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