Portobello to Cartagena Passage
12 October 2011 | Club Nautico, Cartagena
Susan / morning showers, mostly cloudy, 86 degrees F
We concluded a fast 38 hour passage from Portobello to Cartagena this morning at 2am, dropping anchor in our usual place just inside buoy 50 in the Club Nautico anchorage. We had a filtered full moon to assist with seeing where the other boats lay, which helped tremendously. We plan for an average of 5 kts, so the passage would have been 50 hours, with us arriving in Cholon mid-day today, but we had nice south winds abeam and southeast winds aft of beam a little stronger than forecasted and sailed most of the trip. Seas were a mix of nice swell and swell with rolly wind driven chop. Only one squall line and it was during the day. All in all a nice passage on a route & direction known for tough going. In Jimmy Cornell's World Cruising Routes he writes, Reaching the Atlantic coast of Colombia from neighboring Panama is not easily accomplished at any time of the year on account of the contrary wind and strong current. He goes on, A convenient stop en route is the San Blas Islands... During the rainy season there seem to are more calms with reports of cruisers motoring the entire way, and short periods of southern winds, and lots of squalls (which are not forecasted). The dry season winter months bring strong trade winds and accompanying seas. I wouldn't want to do this trip in strong trade conditions, even using the San Blas to get east because you may have to fight the Colombian counter current up the Colombia coast (we've had it both ways between Cartagena & Cholon). Back to this passage, we chose to go direct rather than spend several days in the San Blas to take advantage of the forecasted south and southeast winds and seas, and are pleased with the result.