Wednesday, 21 January, 2015

Luna Quest
W. Eric Faber
Thu 22 Jan 2015 17:20
Noon Position: 10.31N 76.30W

Run since Santa Marta: 144 miles

Next destination: Chichime, an island in the San Blas group of islands near Panama.

It was the first time that the World ARC fleet visited Santa Marta in Colombia, a tired old town with little architecture to recommend it, but with plenty of litter everywhere and gale force winds descending down the mountain ranges making the marina uncomfortable. The government had pulled all the stops out to to welcome us and show us the best side of Colombia where the guerrilla forces and the drug trade seem to have been subdued. Many activities had been laid on for us, including live bands, barbecue lunches, school visits and optional helicopter sorties into the mountains to visit the ‘lost city’, a collection of ruined horizontal foundations that are now well nigh inaccessible other than on foot. Local engineers worked throughout the weekend to help boats with repairs.

Tuesday, 20 Jan. was the date of our departure and we were glad of it as another day might have popped the fenders between Luna Quest and the jetty as a result of the frightful katabatic winds that the nights produce with the cooling of the mountains. The forecast had been strong to very strong winds for a 5-day period, but despite that, we set off at noon. As soon as we were outside the bay of Santa Marta, we were well and truly hit by 35 knots of winds and mountainous seas energised by the long fetch from across the Atlantic. We were carrying too much canvas as Luna Quest bored down into waves with the wind aft. The Hydrovane was overpowered and we struggled for the next hour to reduce sail, but even with the last reef in the mainsail and a scrap of foresail, we could not leave the steering to the Hydrovane, so we took down the mainsail, poled out the foresail and with its size less than half, Luna Quest found stability and was happy for her crew to go down below for lunch.

The winds have now reduced to 25kn giving Luna Quest an easy sail down wind on her reefed foresail only. We expect to make landfall tomorrow afternoon. The paper charts we carry are not sufficiently explicit and so we shall have to rely on our electronic charts to navigate through the many island to reach Chichime, the place of our next rendezvous.