Great Day for a Sail.
26 March 2012 | San Andres, Columbia, SA
Sunday, March 25. We were up, had breakfast and ready to weigh anchor by 0800. We followed Salida out of the atoll as we had forgotten to turn on Tracks to leave breadcrumbs to follow back out and the sun was not the best for eyeballing. The wind was light but still from NE. Once outside the Albuquerque Cays, we raised the main and motor sailed @ 5-6 kts. The wind began to clock to the S and shortly we were able to add the genoa and make a steady 6 ks. At that rate we would arive by noon, which we did not want to do. (We planned on waiting until Monday to check in hoping to avoid weekend surcharges so wanted to arrive around 1600, late enough to have a valid excuse for waiting and early enough to still have good light.) So, kill the engine and sail! At first we were only making ~3 kts under sail, but the sun was bright, the sea was calm (1-3') and the only sound was the water lapping against the hull as we glided along. As the day advanced we sailed as high as 5.8 and as slow as 1.8. At that point I was ready to give up and start the engine, but before I could get it warmed up, the wind came back and I shut it off without ever putting it in gear. We dragged a couple lures, but only got the usual bits of seaweed. (I hesitate to call it fishing as we never seem to catch anything.) The entrance to San Andres harbor is long and tortuous, but well buoyed. We dropped sail at the entrance buoy and we led the way in as I had better waypoints. They turned out not to be very necessary as the buoys were clear. About half way in, we was a large container ship heading out. I could not read the name on the bow, but hailed it on channel 16. At first there was no answer and then a female voice came back in what was supposed to be English. (Probably as a throw back to the days when Briton ruled the seas, the official language for all ship to ship communications is English.) I identified myself as the catamaran just off her bow and asked her if she wanted to pass Port to Port, which is standard maritime practice. She replied with some information about contacting the Coast Guard tomorrow to clear in to port. I tried again. Do you want to pass Port to Port or Starboard to Starboard? It is unfortunate that the left side of a boat is called port but of course that relates to the naming in the first place. The steering board (an oar to steer the boat) was placed on the right (probably because most people are right handed) and thus the left side was tied to the port to avoid crushing the steering board. From this practice came Starboard (for steering board) and Port. In any event, the Captain (or more likely the Pilot) did not seem to understand me so I just hugged the red buoy and proceeded slowly. I realized that at this particular part of the channel, I could safely leave the channel if need be without going aground. We passed Port to Port without problem and I thanked her and wished her a good watch (the customary hailing upon closing contact). Shortly after that incident, the radio cackled over channel 68 and it was Island Dreaming welcoming us and Salida to San Andres. (We had know them from Bocas, but they skipped the Albuquerque Cays and came straight to San Andres.) They and several other boats were leaving @ 0300 tomorrow so we would not get to see them, but they did give us lots of good advice and recommendations over the VHF once we were anchored. The anchorage for boats of our draft is huge and we had no problem settling in comfortably. We were told that we might be able to clear in this evening, but decided we wanted to stay aboard anyway and so were comfortable waiting until tomorrow. The sunset was behind the hills of San Andres but it lit up the clouds all around the area. Really beautiful. Then as they faded, the sky directly to the West, lit up pink and yellow over the hills. Finally, to top off the show, a tiny crescent moon and two evening stars appeared. (I think it is Venus and Saturn, but I'm not sure.) Combined with the harbor lights, it was a very beautiful but very different scene than last night. (San Andres is described as being to Columbia what Hawaii is to the US; and sure enough, there were party boats, jet skis, 15 story hotels on the beach, and all the markings of a resort island.) We will probably stay in San Andres just a couple days to enjoy The Pleasures of the Harbor and then move on to Providencia which is less developed.