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

we hicks wehicks at gmail.com
Mon Dec 3 20:41:15 PST 2012


On Mon, Dec 3, 2012 at 8:59 PM, Jason S <mpcylinderheads at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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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