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

Jason S mpcylinderheads at gmail.com
Mon Dec 3 18:59:00 PST 2012

Congratulations, quite an accomplishment.  if you need a break when you
enter the Chesapeake, stop at little creek inlet and let me buy you a beer
or 5 at cutty sark!
On Dec 3, 2012 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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