Cuttyhunk is in Cartagena
Trip Start May 20, 2010
180Trip End Ongoing
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We had been made aware that this passage was likely to give us some grief weather wise so we were careful to check the forecast......................thinking we had picked a reasonable window!
Wrong! Still with our "buddy boat" we left late in the day and the first night was uneventful with an almost full moon it was great down wind conditions. The next morning we had very squally conditions and lots of rain and the wind had increased. But the following day the sun reappeared and once again we were cruising along in 15 -20 kts and going well.
As the afternoon progressed again the wind started to pick up. We were following a route that took us some 50nm off shore and hopefully out of too much trouble, but by early that evening having already put in a third reef we ended dropping the main completely and running just with a poled out genoa. We were also in a reasonably busy shipping area and with the haze it was often difficult to see them until quite close. Thank goodness for AIS (Automatic Identification System) as we were able to determine their , speed, course and how close they would pass.
The wind continued to increase and with it the seas and as we went into the night we knew it was going to be a long hard one. And it was. With only a smidgen of genoa out we were still doing 6-7 kts. With the moon out we were able to see, unfortunately, just how big the seas had got up to as the wind topped out at 48 knots. We stayed in touch through the night with Awaroa and were able to share our info on ships with them along with other discussion such as "how many waves have you had in your cockpit?"
By mid morning the next day it slowly backed off and we both arrived safe and sound in Cartagena around 1700hrs on 13 March. Meeting up with fellow cruisers here we have since heard that not many boats escape a hammering on this coast and it has a reputation for being the 5th worst sea in the world!!
Tough as it was getting here, it has been very worth while and we have enyoyed touring the city and meeting lots of different people. The old part of the city has the Spanish influence but on the whole it is a very modern and progressive place. It is hot and humid with a perpetual haze from the heat. White high rise apartments dominate the skyline, there are hundreds of little yellow taxi cabs vying for business, cars are very up to date, yet street vendors still use hand carts and donkeys.
We've walked the narrow streets of the old city, done the tourist bit on the "Hop On Hop Off" bus
and explored the fort that dominates part of the city. At night it is like being anchored in downtown Manhattan with all the high rises around us twinkling with lights. Security is everywhere, the coast guard comes round and reminds boats to lift there dinghies at night but apart from the tourist touts we have not felt threatened or unsafe.
We can only stay here up to 5 days, after that we would have to go through the exercise of temporarily importing the boat. So it is off to the supermarket..............very up market and great air conditioning..............to stock up and we will get away early in the morning for an overnight run to the San Blas Islands off the Panama Coast.