[Public-List] The final leg; Trinidad to Cartagena Colombia.

Gordon Laco mainstay at csolve.net
Mon Dec 3 17:13:42 PST 2012

Fantastic Kirk - congratulations!

Gord #426 Surprise

On 03/12/12 7:28 PM, "Kirk Little" <kirkalittle at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Trinidad to Cartagena Colombia report; Final leg of the circumnavigation.
> On Monday November 19th I cleared out with customs and immigration in Trinidad
> shortly after saying goodbyes to a few good friends I have been sailing with
> and bumping into since Madagascar, possibly never to see again.  After giving
> up on waiting for a few rain storms to pass  I just set off a few hours before
> sunset for a 4 mile trip to Scotland Bay located about a mile before the pass
> leading out to open water hoping to get a good nights rest and an early start
> the following morning.  I still got nailed with some heavy wind, rain and
> terrible visibility but this was all more or less in protected water and under
> motor so no drama yet.   Scotland bay is a nice protected anchorage but there
> were strange wind and currents for such a small bay and the unfamiliar noises
> actually kept me up a good part of the night.  I was able to get everything
> stowed nicely and the anchor up by 8AM heading out to sea after a long
> grueling 6 week marathon living on Salsa in the marina, on land,
>  much like a tree house, with plenty of repairs, maintenance, and a few
> upgrades/modifications.  I was truely looking forward to this passage.
> The first day was a very nice and fast sail under full genoa on a beam reach
> making over 6kts with the current helping a bit. It was also a bit hands-on
> sailing and trimming as the wind speed and direction were a little flukey this
> close to land so I was happy to be getting an early start as there would be no
> sleeping under these conditions if I wanted to make reasonable speeds.  I was
> also heading further offshore to the north than necessary to make some
> distance form the coast, knowing that there had been a few recent problems
> with Venezuelan pirates and armed robberies/boardings  in the area.  Just
> before dark I turned a little more to the west and down wind so that I could
> sail wing and wing with 2 reefs in the main making things easier on the boat
> and me hoping to get some rest, and I think the sails stayed just like that
> for next 3 or 4 days.   Back in Trinidad there were squalls passing through
> and even as I headed offshore I could see a few around but somehow they all
>   seemed to miss me and things didn't change hardly at all with winds from 8
> to 15kts out of the Eastern quadrant untill day 5, except for the water slowly
> turning from the brown coastal colors to green and then the deep blue.  Here
> is a one minute video from the first half of the trip;
> http://s192.photobucket.com/albums/z110/kirkalittle/VIDEOS/Passage%20Trinidad%
> 20to%20Cartagena%20Colombia/?action=view&current=day3video1nicesailing.mp4
> Day 5, 7AM,  13.10N, 68.54W, heading 277, Speed 5.2kts 477nautical miles under
> the keel and 507nm to go, nearly half way.  With the winds now 15 to 20kts and
> coming directly from my stern, I was down to the third reef in the main and
> still making nice progress with at least 1/2kts of current.  By 5PM I was
> making 6kts and could see squalls filling in the horizon and decided to drop
> the mainsail completely for the night so I could rest easier.
> Sunday Nov 25th Day 6, 7AM 13.15N, 71.02W, heading 267, 4.7kts on the gps,
> about 4kts over the water, gained 125 miles in the last 24 hours, winds had
> built to 25kts and I was down to just a very small piece of jib poled out.
> Things got rougher throughout the day, mostly from the passing squalls but the
> average wind speed was on the rise as well.  I didn't worry much as my
> forecast was for 25kts today moderating to 20kts for the next two days (that
> forecast was like a bad joke).  In Salsa, even in these moderate conditions
> you can still usually keep the forward hatch open as long as your running
> straight down wind, the odds of a breaking wave that far forward on the boat
> is rare but the odds eventually caught up with me when a big roar and then
> bang followed by a quite a flood of water coming in the forward hatch.  I was
> semi-prepared for this and had the sail cover laid out in way so that it would
> catch most of the water and it actually worked surprisingly well, the water j
>  ust hit the water-proof sail cover and rolled further in onto the salon floor
> and into the bilge, not nice really but nothing important got wet so I was
> happy enough.  Except that conditions were still building and this meant I had
> to close the hatch now, it was going to get even hotter inside the boat.
> After that I don't think I ever turned off the fan, even after it eventually
> died on me I pulled out the spare (which is running right now as I write this
> in Cartagena!).   By 430PM boat speed was up to 5.7kts and I was running
> through a squall and only wrote in the log "in squall, $h!#x weather" .
> By 7PM the winds were around 30+kts, and I was laying in my bunk reading a
> book when I heard another wave rolling over the boat, in spite of what was
> going on outside it seemed very serene inside of Salsa.  I wondered if I
> should be doing something.  I looked at the compass and I was on course.  I
> turned on the Radar and saw the huge black veil covering nearly everything
> within 6 miles all around me.  I looked at the GPS and I was making 5kts.  I
> didn't have more than a postage stamp of sail up to take down, so I went back
> to my book, thinking how lucky I was not to have any wind instrumentation to
> tell me exactly what it was blowing outside, my poor bimini and dodger didn't
> look so happy.  I suppose after 4 days of basically perfect conditions it was
> time for the weather to give me some grief.
> In addition to the heavy weather in the middle of the night and very much by
> chance and luck I spotted my first fishing boat for days.  Very large, lots of
> lights (but still I couldn't make out any navigation lights) and not
> transmitting AIS either.  Normally I would have  picked this up on the Furuno
> Radar but I've stopped using that for collision avoidance ages ago since the
> alarm and watchman mode does not work and Furuno wouldn't (more like couldn't)
> repair it even though it was under warranty when I first contacted them.  More
> on that under my equipment review section of the website.  So I spot this
> large fishing boat a few miles off and appears to be on a collision course.  I
> couldn't slow down not having any sails up, I couldn't quite make out which
> direction to turn to increase our distance and since he wouldn't answer my
> calls over the radio in both English and Spanish nor did he seem to notice my
> spotlight, the only option that made sense to me at the time was to pu
>  t up a little jib and increase speed which worked even though it was a bit
> hairy and he eventually passed just behind me close enough to hear and smell
> his engines.   I curse Furuno every time I end up in one of these situations
> after spending a disgusting amount of money buying, installing, repairing,
> upgrading, (and eventually replacing) the radar and always at a cost to me
> that should have been under warranty, and the bottom line, it still doesn't
> work  like it should, in fact best I can tell, none of the Furuno radars have
> consistently working alarms or watchman zone settings.  I also often noticed
> several hits a month directed to my website from people searching google with
> the keywords "Furuno, Alarm, not working"   go figure, and sorry for the
> mid-passage-report rant.
> On the 26th winds were a steady 35kts gusting higher even though the forecast
> was for 25kts for the next 2 days, I hadn't given up hope for moderating
> conditions but I should have.  At 4pm I estimated the wind to be gusting over
> 40kts, I had no sail up at all, and I even took down the bimini and opened the
> windows in the dodger to reduce windage, still averaging over 4.2kts and I
> started trailing a long warp of heavy line.  I probably didn't have to go
> through all these extremes but I could see the windvane was working very hard
> when the boat was surfing down the waves somtimes at over 10kts just from the
> swell.  Prior to dropping the Bimini and stringing warps the boat was not
> running a straight line and causing more waves to break over the transom than
> absolutely necessary.  I began to get nervous at this point.  The wind alone
> was not the concern.  My pilot chart was showing that I could get into a
> counter-current at any time now, my sailing guides said not to attempt this
>   passage in winds or forecasts greater  than 30kts, and I could easily
> imagine the how these currently manageable waves would turn very ugly with the
> affect of a little current running against the wind.
> Video just after things began to moderate but still quite rough;
> http://s192.photobucket.com/albums/z110/kirkalittle/VIDEOS/Passage%20Trinidad%
> 20to%20Cartagena%20Colombia/?action=view&current=PB270003.mp4
> Nov 27th day 8,  11.50N, 074.22W, 4.5kts,  after winds around 40kts most of
> the night it was starting to moderate to 25-30kts, luckily the current never
> turned on me and I even put up a tiny tiny piece of jib again but left the
> warp out and bimini down.  Seas were 3-4m (10 to 13ft), still rough, but
> easing noticeably, and my spirits were really picking up with only 126 miles
> to go (one day!) to Cartagena. This last night during my approach I would not
> get any sleep at all.  It turns out that the ships waiting to enter Cartagena
> do not anchor so they drift in this area until they are getting close to land,
> then they motor up wind a few miles and start drifting all over again.  At one
> point I had 6 ships all within 5 miles of me never knowing when they are going
> to start motoring or keep drifting, something like an obstacle course and with
> the rough seas most of them I could only see on the AIS, one of the best
> investments I made regarding equipment.  Even though things seemed
>  to be moderating by morning the wind came back up to 35kts sustained again
> and this time on the beam now that I had turned south to approach Cartagena,
> the wind was really howling through the rigging and the waves smacking me on
> the beam with every thing closed and locked down tight in what I call 'full
> submarine mode' I wrote in my log "Feel like I'm just waiting for something to
> break" but nothing ever did and by sunrise at 7am I was only 15 miles from the
> harbor and mostly just tired and feeling beat up.  Over the next few hours
> during my approach the wind got lighter and lighter down to around 10kts, I
> had the full genoa out again for the first time since the day I left.
> Overall the trip was 950 nautical miles, and took 8 days plus 3 hours
> averaging 4.9kts.
> On November 27th 2012 around 10AM at 10.23.386N, 075.34.244W I started my
> motor just before crossing through the Boca Grande small craft channel
> entering the harbor in Cartagena Colombia.  Just over four and a half years
> since I departed the U.S.A in March 2008 and almost exactly 4 years since I
> departed Colombia in December 2008, Salsa and I had crossed my old path and
> Kirk Little, Alberg 30 #504, Salsa, Cartagena, Colombia.
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