Don’t leave on a Friday is the cry! Don’t carry bananas (nor even women!) onboard!
We departed at 0710 on Friday 13th November from Spanish Waters, Curacao to Santa Marta (Taganga), Colombia, with a whole stash of bananas onboard and Lynne, of course! Despite the forecast for ‘gale force winds off the Colombian coast’, we enjoyed one of our best sails yet!
So much for sailing superstitions
Taking Lynne’s own advice, as per her comment on Windtraveler’s recent post ‘The Best Cruising Advice in Six Words, we decided to ‘take the wind and sail away’
We had a leisurely sail up the Curacao coast past the lovely Dutch-style capital of Willemsted before heading slightly north of west towards Aruba. With 2 cruise ships (Zuiderdam and Jewel of the Seas) in port on Friday, Curacao looked to have a busy day ahead, a prosperous one too, we hope!
Our sail to Aruba rewarded us with a lovely 12 kilo tuna (fish photo) at around 1530 hours, which Eric proceeded to clean and prepare for a delicious sushi supper and to fill a few gaps in our freezer! Of course the boys also enjoyed a fish supper and their favourite, Eric’s tasty fishcakes, the following day!
As there was a lot of shipping off the coast of Aruba and we were passing by at night, Lynne thought better of doing the website updates (despite having plenty of Digicel data credit left for this purpose). Meanwhile, we used a great App on the Galaxy Tablet, called Find Ship, which picks up AIS signals from ships in the area and gives an ID on them, so this and of course, keeping a good look out, got us safely past Aruba. Our radar, which we normally use, is having some issues, which we hope to get repaired in either Colombia or Panama.
From Aruba, we continued with the following wind through the night, past the Archipelago Los Monjes (Venezuelan offshore rocks) on our heading for Punta Gallinas, the northernmost point of Colombia (and, in fact, of South America). Passing by the point around midday on Saturday 14th, it was cloaked in a light haze, which didn’t offer us the best views, however it was flatter than we expected and exceedingly desolate! From the description in the Lonely Planet guide to Colombia (2009 edition), it suggests that ‘those that make the effort (to visit this place) will be rewarded with one of the most dazzling landscapes in South America, a sanctuary of solitude that equals travel Nirvana‘ p.184!!
We did consider taking refuge in the large bay Bahia Honda a few miles south of the point, but we continued on our surprisingly comfortable passage, with the wind pushing us along under staysail only, as we wanted to make it to Cabo de la Vela for sunset!
We hit 9.7 knots in a 40 knot gust on one occasion, so as we still had another 30 miles to go, at the rate we were sailing we expected to make it in daylight. By sunset we were anchored in the bay watching the coach loads of tourists making their way up to the light ‘El Faro’ on the hill at Cabo de la Vela, but unfortunately none of us were rewarded with the sunset for which this point is famous…..
Meanwhile kitesurfers were loving the windy conditions and the local Wayuu fishermen were busy setting their nets and floats in the bay not far from us, so we were praying that our anchor would hold us in the strong winds, which continued gusting to 30+ knots through the night.
No worries! We woke early and Eric tried for a fish, but soon caught a large sting ray. He waved to one of the local fishermen who was passing by to see if they wanted it and they motored across to free it from the line. After an exciting few minutes of fending off their boat, attempting to assist them to remove the hook from the ray and restraining Chui from trying to bite any hands that grabbed on to our boat, off they went with their prize!
We left later that morning, again with 30 knot winds for much of the time and raced along under headsail and staysail for most of the day, until we hit an uncomfortable patch with currents against us and we slowly sailed through the night rarely hitting 5 or even 4 knots for several hours. By morning we were just off the coast close to Tayrona National Park, so we decided to take a break for some breakfast and a rest before completing our passage to Taganga. Not long after we had anchored we heard a helicopter and soon after we were approached by the National Parks boat asking us for permits (we presume). We had our yellow quarantine flag up and indicated that we had taken refuge from the swells and wind for a brief rest and they were cool with that and waved us off to our destination without further incident.
By 1530 we were anchored in Taganga Bay awaiting the arrival of the agent Dino, who was ready to meet us and clear us into Colombia. As it was a holiday the local beaches were heaving with tourists and water taxis were whizzing back & forth between Tanganga beach and the bays nearby. It was total mayhem!
Now, Colombia awaits!