10:24.772N 75:32.622W Cartegena, Columbia

If Knot Y Knot
Patricia Day
Tue 20 Jan 2009 19:39


I put one fishing line out about 6.30 hoping for breakfast, no luck.  Rogue caught a marlin which they say is 2’ taller than I am, so they have fish for lunch, dinner and for the freezer.  I had a hot shower, courtesy of the motor, and did the washing.  There is still no wind, but I have turned the corner.  I am still 10 miles out.  There was no wind all day, I have put the genoa out and it usually fills, but I have 4-6 knots.  Rogue are only a few miles further along and they have 18-20 knots.

A few big ships passed, some again coming quite close.  I reduce the guard zone a mile every 5 minutes as they approach and increase it again as they pass, this occupies an hour per ship. 

I keep checking the fishing lines, but as the pegs have not come off there is unlikely to be a fish on the end.  Perhaps I need a different lure for Columbian fish. 

A lot of the day the sea was glassy smooth, gentle rollers.  In the afternoon it picked up to be choppy and spikey.  I just noticed a fin in the water as it slipped under the back of the boat. I could so easily have missed it or thought it a trick of the light, it left me with an uneasy feeling and I wish I had not noticed it.  I do not know what it was, but it was big, I do not want to catch any fish when it is around and there will be no swimming off the back of the boat.

10pm I spotted a rope trailing in the water behind the boat and the engine was on.  I had originally used it as a preventer, but later only used it to keep the boom to one side, I have no idea how it got into the water.  There was resistance when I pulled, but then the end came in and I fell back against the boat and smacked my ribs very hard.  I was in pain, but was very worried that I would not be able to move in the morning.  I spent the night slowly responding to the radar guard zones, but there were not as many boats as the previous night.



Rogue are not in radio contact, they had been increasing their lead and were headed for Panama, so might have turned right and headed across.

I was pleased that I could move, albeit slowly.  As the day progressed I put the fishing lines out and managed to get the sails out.

The plan was to sail until I had to put the engine on.  I had to be no more than 50 miles from the mouth of the river at midnight.

There was no wind and I covered 8 miles in 5 hours, so I had to put the engine on to keep on schedule.

10pm I got some wind, only 9-10knots of apparent.  I have no boat speed, so do not get a reading for true wind, but add about 3 knots.

The sea was uncomfortable and would be nasty in higher winds.  I did not get more than 15 knots, with gusts to 20.  This is described as the 5th worst sea passage in the world, so I had chosen my weather very carefully.  It is unusual to get such a good window at this time of year and for so long.  I do not want to stop on the way in case somebody closes that window. 

I picked up a hitchhiker, a bird that started on the sprayhood, moved to the boom and then onto the back rail.  I did not mind, but every time I came out into the cockpit it squawked and made a fuss, sorry to disturb you, but it is my boat and the ride was free.



I did very well sailing, too well, I crossed the river mouth in the dark, but I was sailing a good 10 miles out and there was nothing to it. 

The pilot notes say that it is the dreaded R Magdelena, but what do they expect if they are only 2 miles out of an large outpouring river .

I could nearly make it to Cartegena in daylight, but could not take the risk of not quite getting there, so now I had 12 hours to lose.

I used up 3 hours going into Hermosa and anchoring.  I was in at noon and spent 5 hours there after having tuna and rice for lunch.  The fish was out of a tin and nothing like one I catch myself.

I used up the last 4 hours motoring back out to my track.  It took ½ hour to get to the 20 metre line and the same again to get to 30 metres.  There were lots of fishing boats with pots and big nets on the shelf and I was glad I had left in daylight. 

I had promised that I would stay off the coast and I did.

There is no point putting out fishing lines now as I have eaten and do not have a working fridge and I won’t have time in the morning.



In the early hours I had a boat behaving erratically.  It was stop, go and in all directions.  When it was close enough to tell that it was a yacht with a tri light it was not so worrying.  I could not hail them and still they kept coming, they were within half a mile and I was having difficulty staying out of their way.  Eventually I did a full 360 and went behind them.  Still they were weaving and stopping and starting, I motored out due west and eventually was able to resume my course.  In the cold hard light of day I still have no idea what was going on, but I know which yacht arrived a little before me here, so I may try and discover something.  The process kept me fully concentrated for at least two hours and took the last of my reserve strength.

I arrived outside Cartegena this morning at 7.50 and contacted Bob on the VHF.  I did not know that it is an hour behind here, so it was only 6.50, but luckily Bob is an early riser.  Bob confirmed that it was ok to come in the top entrance which saved up to 4 hours motoring for me.   The entrance is blockaded, originally by the Spanish to tear the bottoms out of the British ships.  Charming, but I think that was hundreds of years ago and it is nothing personal now.  There is a narrow gap where I had 4.5 metres.  That really frayed the rest of my nerves.  Then it was just a slog up to the anchorage.  I am trying to remember who told me that I could not anchor here, or it was deep or the bottom littered with trash, but I cannot.

I am anchored in 2 metres and although the water is not fit to run the watermaker, everything else seems fine.

I am very near the marina and went in and handed over my papers for checking in, then it was back to the boat and straight to bed.

I have been running on adrenaline and slept for 2 hours. 

There will be plenty of time to sleep later, so now I am slowly getting the boat and myself together.

It was a tiring 96 hour slog to cover 400 miles, but I am glad to be here in Cartegena, Columbia.