Thursday, 23 July 2015

Finally Colombia here we come!

Leaving Aruba proved as eventful as arriving! As the process had taken us so long when arriving we were weary about leaving. We had asked about the possibility of of Customs and Immigration coming to the Marina but this was a no go. I know that the Marina staff have been asking about this for a long time and had no success but we figured there was no harm in asking though we half expected what the response would be! We had been looking at the weather now for several weeks and there seemed to be a small weather window opening that would give us just over three days to get to Puerto Velero after that it seemed to be back to the normal pattern of 30knots plus around Cabo de Vela so we decided to go for it....
We checked out of the Marina asked Aruba Port Authority for permission to go around to the Customs Quay and slipped our lines. When we got to the Quay we were a little dismayed to find a large barge moored with enormous very long lines to the Quay so that at least half the Quay was unavailable. In front of him was a small container vessel leaving us with a very small space to squeeze into between them. With no one on the quay to help I had to leap ashore only to find our lines were not long enough to tie alongside to the Quay. As I leapt ashore I noticed the container ship was reversing at the very same time Aruba Port Control were hailing us to tell us not to come in.....we were already there!! Fortunately as we reversed as far as we could as quick as we could he saw us and completed his manoeuvre springing off the quay as quickly as he could ...disaster averted!! As well as large black tyres there are also some nasty looking rusty metal lumps on one particular bit so advice would be make sure you have plenty of fenders out on that port side!! This time the Customs and Immigration were there, they took our papers,stamped them and did the necessary in double quick time then told us they wanted us off the quay and out of there in five minutes there was a large container ship coming in! You can't win it seems but we were happy to oblige and get outta there! 

We rounded Cabo de Vela with no issues and the trip was going well until we got just past The Five Bays when we were expecting a bit more wind and as we got to Santa Marta we got it! We had stayed quite close to the shore where the winds were less but had been advised to keep 10 miles offshore as we went past the mouth of the Magdalena River and Barranquilla as the seas were confused and the winds always gusting. We had gusts of 50 knots for periods of over five minutes and I can tell you it was pretty windy! George(the auto pilot) spat his dummy out and had trouble holding us on course so John and I had to hand steer. In heavy seas and strong winds this is hard work and we have friends, David and Dimity on SV Fanny Fisher who did this all the way from the Galapogos to the Marquesas when their auto pilot packed up,....that's a long way!! Respect you guys....I don't know how you did it!  
Finally at first light with calmer seas we made it into Puerto Velero, our friend Ben was there to take our lines and after we secured the boat..we slept.
This particular bit of the Caribbean must be treated with respect...the next day another boat came into the Marina, a Vagabond 42, Emily Morgan. They had started on a trip to Aruba but had to turn back, staysail was shredded, the engine had stopped(dirty fuel), main sail jammed and a rope around the prop. They sailed in on just the headsail, it had been quite a trip for them too!
Puerto Velero is a good place to chill though and that's what we intend to do for the next few weeks!

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