Saturday, April 09, 2011

Pjotters Away!

The first leg of our voyage from Curacao to Cartagena was in the company of the s/v R Sea Kat, the catamaran with whom we shared the treacherous journey from Samana, DR.  They had decided to send Keiko (their very sweet cat) home for the remainder of their circumnavigation and had arranged for their daughter to pick her up in Aruba.  As such, after a pleasant and uneventful night they headed into the Haven Barcadera, Aruba and handed the baton off to the big Pjotter who were just sailing out of the same bay to continue the journey to Catagena, Columbia with us. Great sight to see the big blue boat sailing out to join us.  For the rest of the journey we remained within sight and frequently maneuvered close enough to chat to each other and take many many pictures.

With the trade winds behind us, this was one of our most pleasant voyages to date,  one that gently put us through our paces.  The first day was lovely light winds and we sped along at an average of seven knots.   The boat was helped along on the second day with 1,5-2 knots of current. Hurrah.  Surfing over a wave we sometimes sailed up over 9 knots.  Super!  The wind reduced on our third day and both Pjotters hoisted their colourful gennaker for the afternoon.  Superb!  Many photos were made to commemorate this wonderful event.  Fortunately, another boat sailing along the coast hailed us (s/v Straivaig, containing Jeff and Jose whom we would later learn are really lovely people) and kindly agreed to make some photos of the two boats speeding along together.   

The wind picked up again on our final day and we reduced sail significantly to keep moving smoothly along.   As we approached the mouth of the huge Rio Magdalena, by the Cabo Augusta of Colombia, the 100m deep water turned abruptly to brown.  An amazing sight to see seven nautical miles from land.  

We pitched and rolled relatively comfortably,  with double reefed main and genoa, through this and approached the Boca Chica entrance to the Bahia Cartagena at 2200 on the March 3rd.  The waves were large and the wind steadily  above 25 knots as we approached the entrance.  The harbor patrol was professional and instructed us to remain close to the green buoys as we entered the narrow channel.  We carefully followed these instructions and watched in awe as several enormous ships sped past us in the darkness. The bay of Cartagena emerged in the form of the New York skyline as huge brightly lit skyscrapers loomed up all around us.  Unexpected.  We finally approached the Isla Manga  and dropped our anchors with a grateful sigh at 0030 on March 4rth.  This was a passage that we had been dreading , the Tangaroa and the Elena were beaten severely by it and there are frequently extremely high winds and waves peaking as you approach Cartagena.  Whew!

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