Colombia, safe and sound

In the end we decided to stop in Cabo de la Vela in Colombia for a night, a beautiful little bay near a small village in the very north of Colombia. We arrived in the morning after a nice night sail. The day was spent pottering around Itchy Foot, I fixed the gas and we had a swim.

A quiet night’s sleep was rewarded with a lovely calm morning and a slow breakfast. With 140 miles ahead of us to get to Santa Marta we had no reason to rush. So coffee, fluffy pancakes (my best yet – less milk seemed to help) and a swim in the refreshing waters. It seems that as we sail west and south the sea temperature has dropped, from a bathtub 25C down to a refreshing 20C – much nicer.

We didn’t have much wind, so motored for the first two hours but by lunchtime we were sailing along nicely. Poled out the headsail and running before the wind and sea, is a pleasant way to travel. I spent the time reading a book about fishing and adjusting my standard fishing lines accordingly. It paid off! Shortly before lunch we managed to catch and land a couple (literally as they are a mating pair) of Dorado. A very tasty white fish from a beautiful and colorful fish. So lunch became fresh fish fingers!

The wind and the waves continued to build and into the night we had 20+ knots of wind. After dinner Mia headed off to bed, but it was a bit rocky and rolly so she didn’t managed to get much sleep and was up on deck again shortly after midnight to help me adjust the sails and head out of the cockpit, something we only do when we have two people awake and on deck.

About 4 in the morning Mia started her watch and I went to grab a few hours sleep before we arrived in Santa Marta. We arrived in the city around 10:30 am and were tied-up in the marina by 11am. It’s a lovely modern marina, hot showers, clean bathrooms, excellent security. They even have biometric security on the door, opened with finger prints, which Teo hasn’t got tired of yet!

We took a walk around the town in the afternoon, finding a supermarket and hardware store. The restaurants are cheap (5 usd for a main course) and the food seems excellent. The town is rough around the edges and I’m not sure how far we will wander at night, but during the day the police are obvious and the locals we’ve met a very friendly and welcoming. Speaking Spanish as always is helpful and earns goodwill. We’re looking forward to exploring the city and country over the coming weeks.

The cruising community is rarely found in a marina, so it was strange to be welcomed by people from five or so boats within two minutes of arriving. Before an early night we stopped at the marina bar for happy hour and met another 10+ boats worth of cruisers, all very welcoming. Now time to find more kids for Teo!

So, safe and sound in South America.

Off to South America

Written by Jon:

Leaving behind the ABC islands and heading to Colombia means a new continent for Itchy Foot and her crew.

Once Mia’s mum and dad left Curaçao we weren’t inclined to stay around much longer ourselves. We had the lovely company of Maple and Gaia while we waited for a weather window. The first chance to leave come too soon and then we had a long period of too much wind, followed by too little wind and it was at the first glimmer of suitable conditions we left.

Early on Monday morning we motored out of Spanish Waters and headed up the coast of Curaçao under engine. Not enough wind to sail but with some light cloud cover the passage up the coast to the bay of Santa Cruz was uneventful. We anchored in nice quiet little bay, which we had to ourselves, and spent the afternoon swimming and snorkeling.

Tuesday morning we got up late with time for coffee and quick snorkel unsuccessfully looking for turtles before departing westwards towards Aruba around at 9am. The light wind we had died completely when we were about half way to Aruba and we ended up motoring for a coupe of hours until it came back. The afternoon was filled with a lovely audio book of ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ read by David Tennent. Just after dinner and sunset we caught a fish, sadly a little too small a tuna and a little too late to start the process of cleaning and filleting , so back he want. We also agreed to stop in Aruba for the night, figuring we would arrive around 11pm. We don’t normally like to arrive in the dark, but with OK charts, good buoyage and a full moon we decided to give it shot. Picking our way down the west coast we were motoring between the coast and the oil tankers anchored a little farther off shore. The brightly lit hotels and casinos made it very hard to see other yachts and their anchor lights but finally we managed to spot a boat on AIS and found it with the binoculars, picking our way towards them we found a good spot to anchor for the night and were all asleep by midnight.

Wednesday morning started fairly promptly as we weren’t really allowed to be in Aruba without clearing in with customs and immigration so we didn’t want to dawdle. A quick dip, coffee and bagels to start the day before lifting anchor and heading past the oil tankers and fishing boats towards Colombia. Thankfully the sailing conditions today were perfect, 10-15knots of wind, downwind, following sea, clear and perfect. We’ve made a steady 4-6knots and the day was spent doing boat school with Teo, reading, listening to music. A few nights earlier we’d watched Finding Nemo again, and Mia thinking back on this asked me today if I thought they didn’t put Dolphins in the movie cos they don’t actually exist! It seems like since coming over to the Caribbean we just don’t see them anymore. As if on cue, there they were, a pod of about 20-30 of them joined Itchy Foot for a couple of hours of paying on our bow wave and jumping out of the water. They stayed with us until after sunset and provided quite the show!

The rest of the evening was not quiet so enjoyable, as in the middle of dinner the gas bottle ran out. No problem I’ll switch to the second one, only that didn’t work. So, cold food for us and no tea/coffee until we get to Santa Marta. There is the option of heading into a bay we will be passing early Thursday morning to have rest, relax and swim before heading onto Santa Marta the next day… maybe even fix the gas valve!

We shall see.

The night watch is beautiful. Teo and Mia are sleeping. The wind is warm and coming from the right direction. The sea is mostly calm and comfortable. The moon is full and the sky is clear. One of those nights where you take the Bimini down, which I just did.