Arrival into Cartagena, Colombia
25 February 2021 | 10 24.394'N:75 32.692’W, Club de Pesca, Cartagena, Colombia
10 24.394 N
75 32.692 W
Weather; cloudy becoming sunny, wind true 25-30 gusting 40, waves 12 feet plus
Welcome to what can only be described as our day of hell!
As Captain Ron would say "if it's going to happen, it'll happen out there".
A quick reply to Catherine here - we did have our normal running lights on but not our tri colour mast head light and yes we had our AIS on all the time, we thought about invisible running but deemed it to be a stupid move if there were other larger ships coming at us - better to be seen than not under those circumstances!
When I left off yesterday at midnight I was once again on my 3 hours "off watch", again it didn't last as Gerry yelled out to me that we needed to Gybe once again. The wind had changed direction and was now coming from starboard side and the change of direction had caused the top batten in the main sail to get itself caught between the shrouds - the second time this freak event has happened this trip! His hope was that if we do a controlled gybe the batten would again pop out without any damage. The wind at this point had increased and was blowing about 18- 20 knots, it was not a good thing to have to go out on deck and change the preventer over but there was no other way around it that we could see. Gerry got himself ready to go out on deck and just as he went to climb out a huge gust of wind back drafted the main and sent it crashing across to the port side of the boat. Now you could be forgiven if you think that was our problem solved as the batten had popped out from between the shrouds, but it was a disaster in reality as the preventer had snapped at the end of the boom to allow the boom to swing across, luckily the running backstays were off so it couldn't do too much damage to those. Then there was the traveler - a pulley system which goes across from one side of the deck to the other and allows you to alter the position of the main sail in relation to the mast - the crashing across had broken part of the line and at least one of the blocks that the line runs through, plus the end holding the traveler in place - this was an OH CRAP moment! We had no way of preventing the boom from crashing back across if the wind changed direction, the preventer line was dragging in the water and needed retrieving, we needed to find some more line long enough to thread through what remained of the traveler blocks to enable us to have some control of the boom movement and the wind was gathering in speed even more. Gerry went out on deck making sure he kept his head well below the level of the boom just incase it swung wildly across again, and made his way to the bow to retrieve what was left of the preventer line that was dragging in the water. Having gathered it up and making it back to the cockpit he broke even more crap news, the preventer had pulled out and bent part of the stantion which it passed over , luckily the cleat was still in place and hadn't been pulled out as well. There was nothing we could do about a new preventer at this point as it requires a line with an eye to attach to the boom - which we couldn't reach anyway. The old preventer line was re purposed (with a bit of swearing and ingenuity) to use in place of the broken traveler line, there was nothing we could do about the blocks at the moment, that would be a job in dock. We secured everything as best we could and wondered what else could possibly go wrong tonight. I have to give a huge shout out to George at this point, our auto pilot carried on as if nothing had happened, keeping us on course and maintaining our forward motion without a single word of complaint - good on you George and thank you! Shortly after this had happened we were sitting together in the cockpit as it was now blowing an absolute hooley with true wind speed of up to 30 knots, and gusts of up to 40 knots. The swell had also kicked up to a huge 12 feet. The waves were so big that we had closed up all the cockpit windows which was just as well as the waves were crashing into the sides of the windows, not just below the gunwales as is usual and we would have been swamped without the enclosure windows. Our speed had correspondently increased and we were roaring along at an average of 12 knots but we both saw 17 knots on occasion which we were astounded by - we never knew the boat would manage that speed ever! Whilst it was thrilling it was also terrifying as we were relying on the boom staying across to the port side and we really didn't have much control over what was happening, even trying to stand up was impossible never mind trying to actually do anything like steer so it was a good job that George was in control where that was concerned. Next thing we hear a loud crash come from inside the boat, we could do nothing about it at this point, even finding out what it was couldn't happen for a while but finally we were able to have a quick look and our salon table, big heavy thing with 2 flaps that fold out had toppled over - no big deal except when you know that it was held in place to the cabin sole with 6 screws through the cabin sole and had ripped these out to topple over. There was also the fact that each end of the table has an eight bottle wine storage space, it wasn't quite full but enough bottles for a good party or two were under threat by the fall. We could do nothing about it until we were in calm waters of the marina so it stayed over on its side for the rest of the trip. A few things had managed to escape one of the cupboards (which were latched closed) we still don't know how but the cupboard must have slammed closed once the items had made their escape as the rest of the stuff was still in place. A draw in our bedroom had fallen out three quarters of the way - the one with the secret stash of Curacao liqueur in it! One of our oil lamps had the glass chimney knocked out of it, however it had landed behind our icemaker and hadn't broken - how that happened I have no idea but I was glad there was no broken glass to make the clean up more hazardous. Neither of us went below to try and sleep at any point for the remainder of the night, it was far too dangerous moving around and besides there was no way anyone could have slept through the relentless pounding that we were getting. Dawn finally broke and with it the wind began to drop along with some of the swell. We eventually had to change our direction to get us to our destination and as we did, we moved out of the bay where the weather is apparently always pretty heavy - just not quite as heavy as we had seen though, Gerry had said it would be ugly, with the forecast saying winds of 20-25 knots, not the 30 plus that we got and the seas were supposed to be 9 feet, not the 12 feet plus that actually happened, ugly wasn't quite the right word for it, I feel. As the day wore on everything calmed right down and we spent the last 5 hours in relatively calm pleasant waters with reasonable wind, if you could see the weather on our arrival into Cartagena you would never have believed what we had gone through during the night. We motor sailed up the coast of Colombia for a couple of reasons - we were desperate to get the trip over with, the wind was dropping and there were small fishing boats everywhere you looked which we needed to avoid hitting under sail. There was a haze all along the coast line as we approached the harbor and radioed the port authority to get permission to enter, the haze never cleared and the port authority had us standing by until we finally docked without ever getting back to us! We had a booking at Club de Pesca and made our way there, radioing for instructions to dock - these were very vague and when we finally saw where they wanted to put us Gerry refused as it was a tight Med Moor dock and he had specifically requested a floating side tie up. We did several laps before we were eventually directed into a floating dock space and tied up but there is no power or water on this dock, they are working on it! For now we didn't care, we were tired and relieved to have arrived in one piece. Our previously arranged agent’s (Maria Angelica Palencia) representative arrived within minutes of us docking and did the checking in stuff efficiently, taking our passports which will be returned, stamped tomorrow provided our Covid tests come back negative. The health people arrived half an hour later to do the Covid tests, poking a swab up our noses until they could tickle what remains of our brain cells - it's very unpleasant, the results will be back tomorrow, until then we are to remain on our boat - no big deal all we want to do is eat and sleep anyway. The marina staff presented us with a "welcome bag" each which contained a sheet of Covid related instructions, 2 masks and a small handbag size bottle of hand sanitizer plus the marina business card which had nothing important on it like what facilities were available and where they were located. We asked about WIFI and obviously weren't understood as the lady just nodded yes and pointed at the business card. Gerry spent the next hour trying to find and hook up to the internet or even to our iridium satellite phone with no success, tomorrow we are going to have to find some way of getting online and I'll post the last couple of blogs as soon as I can along with some photos. With the formalities stuff done we tidied up, righted the salon table and closed most of the boat up for the night, had a late afternoon sleep, ate
dinner and it's now time to go to bed - not a moment too soon!
A last thought - boat ownership means fixing your boat in exotic places, apparently this must be an exotic place!
Until tomorrow, goodnight.