Still got Stuff to Learn
12 January 2019 | Isla Rosario, Colombia
Well.... That sucked. We left Cartegena with a careful plan to maximize the potentially light winds. The maximization definitely 'worked' - we ended up with mid 20's gusting high 20s with truly horrible seas, short, steep and random. Anyway, it was about 10pm and we were feeling pretty lousy but pressing on when there was a loud bang and the main cross support of the davits disconnected. We slowed the boat down but we were still rolling like a pig and the dinghy was threatening to pull the davits completely apart. By now the moon had set so it was pitch dark and both of us were seasick for the first time in five years. Are we having fun yet?
We managed to lower the dinghy into the water and get it on a very short tow without having to unclip the davit lines, not possible in any event. The dinghy thrashed around appallingly but the davits were now safe so what to do next? The closest shelter was back to Colombia and Isla Rosario and we had been there before so the anchorage was familiar. Fortunately this direction seemed to at least reduce the dinghy thrashing but I was waiting for it to be swamped the whole way back.
We got to Rosario at about 3am and crept through the reefs with a couple of different charts as it was utterly dark. Unsurprisingly, the Colombian navy intercepted us on the approach (this area is well monitored). After about twenty minutes of Google Translate yelled between boats, I managed to explain what was happening and they very helpfully led us the rest of the way to the anchorage and wished us a good sleep. Boy! Was it good to have the hook down and the sea flat.....
If you cannot be good be lucky.... The custom bolt that had come out had fallen into the bottom of the dinghy and nothing had been distorted by the incident so it has all gone back together really easily. Our plan is to do it all (well - not ALL) again tomorrow. What joy....
Like all incidents, there were lessons to be learned:
1. There is no such thing as a 'benign' passage. You always need to be prepared for the worst. Leaving the dinghy in the davits when going offshore was a HUGE error of judgement that could have got us into serious trouble.
2. You need to touch every part of a boat regularly and I mean EVERY part. Every fitting, bolt, structure etc. There were a disturbing number of other loose bolts on the davits.
3. Emergency equipment and supplies need to be checked and properly located all of the time. We struggled to find a number of items as we rolled around in the dark - not least being seasickness medications.
4. Cruising can be a lot of fun but it can also be extremely dangerous and needs discipline and constant vigilance. After nearly a month of living it up in Colombia we were way off our game.
Anyway, you don't learn much when things go well and the difference between doing it right and getting away with it is not always apparent so it was a valuable experience. Hopefully these notes will give you some ideas minus the pain.