Whilst waiting for confirmation of the 1st December border opening of Colombia, we did our laundry and did two long hikes: The “Meditation” hike above Santa Barbara resort, which clearly hadn’t been walked by anyone for years. I should have taken a machete to fight through the prolific cacti and “Hook and spear” thorn trees. (Haak en steek dorings)
As if the scratches on our legs were not enough, a solid rain downpour hit us just before we reached the lookout, drenching us completely. During my meditation afterwards, I tried to answer the questions “Why did we tackle this hike?” and “Where did you put the Betadine antiseptic and Voltaren meds?”
The next hike was the Jan Thiel lagoon walk (aka “The roller coaster hike”) on Sunday the 29th Nov. After the previous day’s rain, this was a slippery mud-bath and begged the same question as above. After a swim, some Voltaren anti-inflammatories and a stiff whisky, we went to bed early.
There was the good news by email just before bedtime that Colombia will open it’s harbours on the 1st December – details about Covid-19 protocols to follow. Confirmation came through on the 1st: No prior testing or testing on arrival required after a doctor has checked us out. We took the bus into town and did the 6.4 km circuit checking out with Customs and Immigration on the 2nd December. In the evening we had farewell drinks on Wild Thing.
The following day, we had a relaxed broad reach up the West coast of Curacao and anchored off beautiful Santa Cruz bay, the most northerly anchorage on the island. The reason for setting of from here, is to pass Aruba to the North and avoid the 15 km wide passage to Venezuela to the South – the danger of piracy from Venezuela is a reality.
On the 4th December, we set off at 6:30 am for the 358 nm crossing to Santa Marta in Colombia. After 2 hours of motor sailing to get out of the lee of the island, we set the jib out on the pole, with one reef in the main to goose wing downwind. We fine tuned Harry the Hydrovane in 28 knots of north-easterly wind and Harry steered us all the way to Santa Marta over the next 46 hours.
At 2pm we passed Northwest Point in Aruba, 8 nm offshore. At 4:30 pm we gybed the sails at 13.15 deg north on the 1,000 metre depth contour, to start our course south. During the night, the notorious easterly and confused swells started to rise, but we were bowling along nicely to cover 176 nm at 6:30am to average 7.3 knots over 24 hours. At 10:00 am we passed Cabo de Vela in Colombia, 20 nm offshore.
Sunday the 5th December was a real relaxed Sunday sail as the waves got smaller, once we were in the lee of Cabo de Vela. As we were approaching Santa Marta, we furled the jib and tucked a second reef in the main in an effort to slow down in the strong 35 knot easterly. We had planned to reach Santa Marta by midday, but now it was still dark and we were not ready to make our landfall.
We managed to drop the sail outside Marina Santa Marta at 6:30 am, as the sun was rising. Esprit had sailed 182 nm over 24 hours to average 7.6 knots. The 358 nm passage she covered in 48 hours at 7.46 knots. Esprit was performing as well as we could wish for.
The marina staff did not come on duty until 8:00 am, so we drifted in the harbour, brewing coffee and having breakfast. The staff were very welcoming and efficient, tying us up at our berth. Being Sunday, the government agencies weren’t working, so we went for showers and slept most of the afternoon. By 5:00 pm we were woken by the many pleasure craft returning to the marina, their sound systems blasting fantastic Spanish music. This was a welcome change from the Afro beat prevalent in the Caribbean.
It is now Monday morning and Jorg Domann from Berlin has just berthed next to us in a Jeanneau 409 sister yacht. Sailing single handed and restricted from poling out, he covered the distance in 3 days, which is good for single handing. He has gone to sleep now, whilst we are waiting on a doctor to come and check us up around midday for Covid clearance. It has also given me the opportunity to write this post while waiting. We will report in due course on Santa Marta and Cartagena in Colombia. Until then, cheers and stay safe.