Monday 1 December 2014

Week 36; 480 nm crossing; Bonaire to Cartagena

Photo of Amelie taken from SV Perry 

Monday December 1st 2014

I get a wake up call from Meg: "We are anchoring soon, Dad would like you up on deck.” As I come up the companion way I can’t suppress my surprise : “Oh My!” This is NOT what I would have expected from Aruba ! It looks like we have just landed into one of Alberta's Gas Plants, towers and industrial refinery structures as far as I can see !

The only things we saw of Aruba!

Granted this is not what the Ministry of Tourism of Aruba would be showing off in their brochures, and Aruba has, I am sure, some much more beautiful things to see and do. Alas, we will not be seeing any of them on this trip: We are just doing a quick day stop in this out of the way Bay called “Rogers’ Bay”, waiting for our friends from SV Perry to join us.

Bonaire to Cartagena Colombia :  

480 nm,  40+  Knot winds, 12 foot waves and fishing! What a fun ride!

We left Bonaire just before sunset on Tuesday evening and had a great night sail past Curaçao, which most cruisers friends said was not a bad one to miss out on, and then we arrived in Aruba on Wednesday morning. We spend some time resting, did some school, a load of laundry and at 3:30 pm we spotted our friends sailing their 48ft Privilege Catamaran, we quickly set sail to join them then headed off together, into the sunset. 

Destination: Colombia !

SV Perry sailing into the sunset

This is our first experience “Buddy boating” and it seemed to be a good match ! Perry and Amelie sail similarly, keeping close in speed, course, and philosophy !

It is nice to be together for this sail; safety in numbers as we approach the coast of Colombia for when we rounded the Peninsula de la Guajira and the area near Barranquilla/Rio Magdalena, both areas renowned for confused seas, strong currents and winds etc...PLUS, it is comforting to be able to call out to one another and chat on the VHF radio, comparing impressions  sail plans, and fishing success !

Colombia welcomes us with a gift : Our first catch!  We caught a Mahi Mahi a mere hour after setting out our lines. We hadn’t had much luck until then. We enjoyed a tasty meal that very night! 

Shortly after leaving Aruba, we were surprised to find ourselves surrounded by no less than 17 large cargo ships  ! Thankfully, most of them were stationary but it was still an eerie sight, we sailed right in front of one (it was anchored!) and the crew waved at us from high above on the main bridge. Still seeing the bow of this immense 800 foot cargo ship aimed right at our comparatively minuscule hull, only a couple hundred feet away, is not a sight we would ever live to talk about normally, so it was a thrill !

One of the 17 stationary cargo ships that we sailed by

The crossing, in total, took us a little less than a week. We sailed through Wednesday and Thursday night, finally stopping for a rest the third night (Friday) at a busy resort area called Bahia de Gayara. We flew the yellow flag (Quarantine) as we were not going ashore. (We did not check into Colombia officially until Cartagena to save us the hassle and money of checking in more than once). We could see the busy beaches and the lively Colombians enjoying their evening on the ocean side ! 

When we pulled anchor on Saturday at 2:30 am, the music was still playing ! After crossing the confused waters near where Rio Magdalena pours into the Atlantic Ocean, (turning the colour of the water from blue to brown for about 5 nm) we arrived in Punta Hermosa by lunch time,for a final rest stop. Punta Hermosa is a windy (35+ knot winds !) and shallow anchorage which is very popular with the local kite surfers ! At some point in the afternoon we were surrounded by them (I counted 21 of them), like a swarm of bees they buzz right past us. Matthew loves to watch them !  Again we fly the yellow flag, catch up on some school, sleep and swimming (Matthew). Tomorrow (Sunday) we will arrive in Cartagena !

S/V Perry crossing the Gap at Isla de la Aguja, off the Coast of Colombia 

Our first look at South America (Northern Atlantic Coast of Colombia)

The four of us seem to be much more comfortable for this crossing. Maybe we are just getting better at this ! We are settling into a routine and adjusting more quickly to life underway.The night watches which seem to be working for us have been: 

MC (and Meghan) usually  take the after dinner watch until about 21:00 (giving Mark a chance to rest up), He then takes the 21:00-03:00 watch (Meg stays up with him until around 23:00) and then MC comes back up again from 03:00-06:00. She gets to see the sun rise, but that 04:00-05:00 can be quite long and dark. Its been much better now that she no longer feels sea sick and she listens to her audio books, surrounded by a million and one stars , the ‘Cheschire cat smiling moon*’ brightly and the phosphorescence in the water: just nature’s everyday miracles unfolding all around, nothing can make me feel more alive !

We are thrilled to report that Amelie is just doing marvelously !  She is a real machine down wind and just swallows up all of our following waves, she just rises above them all, no matter how large (so far we’ve encountered waves which were easily 12 foot-or higher around the Santa Marta Point), and Amelie just surfs down, no problem, we hit maximum speeds of 12-1/2 knots on a couple of those!  I am also relieved to report that school during this crossing is going well too, although science can be a bit of a challenge, like trying to keep Meg’s Green House and Hydroponics projects in one piece as we go, so far so good ! Matthew likes to do weather and calendar reports with his iPad, as well as Speech & Communication practice, all this is quite  manageable in a moving classroom. Meghan and I have decided that since school is going well while underway, we will do as much as we can during the crossings, so that when we arrive to our destinations, we can have more free time to visit and less time catching up on school. That is why we were doing school on Saturday and Sunday this week...we will then have all day Monday and Tuesday to visit Cartagena ! 

Update; we have arrived in Cartagena (Sunday evening) It was a great crossing with big winds and seas at times, but we always felt safe onboard our very solid Amelie. The city looks very good from what we can see from the shore. We were quite lucky to have a chance to check in to immigration on Sunday November 30th, the day before Colombia imposes a USD $80/person entrance fee for all Canadians (starting on December 1st )! (They are doing this because our Canadian Government imposes a similar fee to all Colombian residents who enter Canada!). We will spend the next week visiting the famously beautiful walled city. We will keep you posted on what we see in our next blog ! So, until next time, we bid you, adios from “ Los Quatro M’s”

On Friday, Meg was happy to see South America ! 

Our first look at Cartagena (on our arrival- Sunday evening)


  1. Well written and great shots--love the one of us leaving Aruba. I wish we had gotten one of you next to that big freighter but we were too far away.

  2. Congrats on your successful crossing

  3. Marvelous sighs of relief each time we read of a successful crossing. Absolutely fascinating bits of data we had no clue about (well ok, I didn't ... Lorne probably did). These blogs are like watching the Discovery channel ;-) The moon fact delighted me the most! Crazy!

    I know you are busy and non stop go go go so I wish to extend yet another thank you for the updates of both safety, location and fascinating facts! You are phenomenal! Xoxoxo