05/26/2010, 17 nautical miles North of Barranquilla
Flying fish before sea burial
I have the night watch labeled: "the dog watch" i e the one between 2 - 6 am. It is all quiet tonight on the Caribbean Sea or at least our little stretch of it. We are closing in on the Colombian coast; Barranquilla is 21 nautical miles to SSW. Many lights are clearly visible. We finally have less than 100 nautical miles to Cartagena. However, the miles are not flying past this time and progress is a bit of a struggle.
Supposedly the coast is very beautiful. It got the highest coastal mountain range in the world; Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. It is the only place in the Caribbean where you can see snow on mountain tops. The five bays East of Santa Marta have been compared to Norwegian fjords. However, few facilities aimed at cruisers and security concerns ashore outside Cartagena keep most boats off shore. There is no cruising guide that covers this coast, which in itself says quite a lot. However, Lourae and Randy Kenoffel has written a few pages called "Cruising the Coast of Colombia" which you can find on the internet.
There are a few ships about; Laurita Rickmers heading East towards Brazil and Lisanne heading West close to the coast. Not surprising with some traffic, as all vessels going towards / from the Panama canal are gradually converging. We are comparing the radar picture with the AIS information sent out from vessels and which is displayed on our chart, as well as what we can see with the eye, to keep on top of things. We met three sail training ships last night; one of which hailed us on the VHF. Not for any really good reason, but they were training I suppose.
We have settled in well onboard. The heat is stifling. We keep hatches open and a couple of fans running. Showers help a bit, but the water in our tanks is warm! The sea water shower we rigged up on foredeck is a bit better, but the sea water temperature has climbed above 28 degrees! We eat dinners and lunches together, while breakfast is an independent casual affair! Changing watches, meals, log writing and drinking coffees are the events that break up the day. Hardly anyone ever declines a coffee! Both Hans and Sven are very good cooks. However, I stuck out my chin and cooked last night. Hans descended into the galley before I finished the main course to keep a watching eye, but it worked out to everybodies' satisfaction.
It is too hot to do much boat maintenance, but we keep on top of things. I got a daily do list just like at the office or indeed at home. The boat is in quite good order as currently there are only adults onboard; no negative words about my darling children though! It seems that the three of us basically share the same sense of order and cleanliness which helps for our joint well being.
It is more overcast tonight. Lightening can be seen at a distance. The wind has dropped away since mid day yesterday, as we have a low pressure ahead which is upsetting the trade winds, so we are motoring in flat seas. The biggest achievement on this slightly drawn out leg was the spinnaker sailing. However, we had become quite spoiled with steady and strongish trade winds which made the passage to Aruba that fast.
By the end of today, we should have made it to a new country and have an exciting city at our foot steps. However, before than we need to navigate Bahia de Cartagena, find a berth or anchorage and clear in.