World ARC - Day 14 - 22nd Jan - Farewell, so long Santa Marta

Steve and Lynda Cooke
Sat 23 Jan 2016 01:28

11:05N 75:38W

World ARC - Day 14 - 22nd Jan - Farewell, so long Santa Marta

What a terrific, unexpected, exciting, lovely stop Santa Marta was.
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 "normal" pattern.
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.