World ARC - Day 14 - 22nd Jan - Farewell, so long Santa Marta
What a terrific, unexpected, exciting, lovely stop Santa Marta
We had expectations and experiences of South America from living
and travelling in Brasil.
Santa Marta was a large city, but somehow unspoilt.
It is poor, yes, and needs some TLC, but the only few hi-rise
buildings are near the marina, the rest of the town spreads from
the sea, to the mountains behind.
Pot-holes, unmade roads, road works everywhere, tiny yellow taxis,
tiny buses. Squares and churches, great restaurants, lots of fish
and steak. Street life, puppet shows, acrobats, tango dancing,
hustle and bustle.
Cheaper to eat out than to cook, great beer, friendly people,
music blaring, dust heat.
Yes, I well know we were blessed to be able to float above the
political problems and turmoil that touches so many of the
population (and our friends in the past).
We loved the stop on the first leg of the World ARC.
The fleet was due to leave on Tuesday 20th at Midday, but the
weather changed, and the unusually calm weather reverted to a more
Howling winds in the early hours of the morning, bursting fenders
and banging underprepared boats against pontoons. the Finger
behind us had the finger pontoon break, with two ARC boats, having
to be rescued from the wreckage and running lines and extra warps
all around the marina.
40+knot winds and 3-4m swells forecast, and set for the next day.
The Port Capitan closed the port to all boats less than 300
tonnes, so after much arguing from the ARC management, the
inevitable was finally accepted, and the departure was postponed
24 hours, until 08.00 hrs. on Wednesday
That's another opportunity for a party then! One last sun-downers
later, the fleet ragged itself out of the marina after first
light, for an early start.
That is all except Nina, and Paw Paw, a 44 ft Leopard Catamaran.
We had had a good look at the weather, and decided that just one
day was not sufficient to allow the winds and waves to abate
sufficiently for a sensible 300 mile trip, leg 2 of the World ARC,
to the San Blas Islands off Panama.
We watched the rest of the fleet leave, smiles, handshakes, waves
and commiserations all round.
Its tough to go against the herd mentality, but skipper Steve was
sure that the decision was right, so we watched them all cross the
start line outside the marina, and listened on VHF (and later SSB)
to the progress. 42 knot winds and 3m to 4m waves made some pretty
scared radio chats amongst the fleet. Some breakages and all the
boats being lashed by waves, even the big Cats reporting a soaking
over the stern.
Nina and Paw Paw left 24 hours later, to 25 to 30 knot winds and a
2 meter swell, which meant a brisk departure, but it was safe and
controlled all day, and the two boats have made excellent progress
as we continue into the night, well reefed down and planning our
progress and controlling our speed to arrive on Saturday morning
after dawn in the San Blas Islands, where we will catch up and
once again be part of the World ARC.