Oct 27, 2001
|Oct. 29, 30, 2001
Log: Anchored off Isle de Providencia, Colombia
Wind NE 25kts
Ariel is sheltered below Providencia’s 1,200 foot jagged peaks, which could be seen from 20 miles out at sea. Her crew is tired and sore from the 355 nautical mile push to get here and glad this little stepping stone of an island, no bigger than a 6 hour dinghy ride around, is very accommodating to sailors. In the mid-seventeenth century, pirates took the island from the Spaniards to use as a base for savage forays upon shipping that had to pass their way. Today we find people who trace their ancestry through Negro, Spanish and English blood, as well as the buccaneer Henry Morgan. We are in a new country so the Colombian flag is raised and clearance procedures started. It is also Everett’s Birthday and the captain blesses the day with a fall overboard trying to change out the snubber on the anchor line. Bali Hai is anchored near by. Days are spent helping get their radar back up which crashed to the deck during the passage as well as repairing and reprogramming Everett's computer which also crashed. We get word that s/v Endurable, who sailed the opposite direction to us when we left the Bay Islands under pressure of the impending bad weather, were trapped in the bay at Puerto Escondito and a Mayday was called. Fortunately they were ok and we followed their onward progress as well as s/v Dreamer on the morning Net. The new Marina at La Cieba Honduras has offered one week on the hard for FREE to anyone damaged in the Hurricane. We also hear the weather pattern we passed through as Tropical Depression #15 off the coast of Nicaragua is now a gale.
Oct. 31, 2001
Log: Isle de Providencia to Isle San Andres, Colombia 55.32 nautical miles
Winds W 20kts
Seas 5-6 feet
8:30PM heading west of south, motoring into the wind at 1500 RPM’s with 2 reefs in the main, jib reefed, water coming over the bow. It is reminiscent of the last passage except now there are violent looking thunderstorms ahead and lightening all around. The crew and captain are not happy. But the consensus is to leave Providencia in the PM so that arrival in San Andres is during daylight. This is a common occurrence in cruising. The women switch watches but already feeling the strain due to changes in routine. No time for preparing an evening meal once the decision was made so stomachs are uneasy. The night sail eventually calms down to winds at 15kts. but the seas roll on with big swells. 6:30AM arrive in San Andres and drop two anchors with only 1 foot of water under the keel and no swinging room. Everyone falls into bed groggy and irritable after a discussion from the women to let the men know they are ‘cyclable’ and need more consistent routine. Tropical Storm not yet a hurricane but a category 2, which is predicted to turn into the hurricane named Michelle, is stalled north of us in the Bay Islands.
Nov. 1 to Nov. 6, 2001
Log: Anchored off San Andres Island Colombia
Seas 5 to 6 feet
San Andres like Providencia is but a fly speck of an island in the middle of the western Caribbean. But unlike Providencia, San Andres has a resort atmosphere with wide, white beaches, palm-covered sandy islets just offshore, and a smooth bay of water enclosed by a fringing reef. It has a thriving commercial district with endless secession of shops devoted to the sale of radios, china, watches, and cameras. The island has daily air service nonstop from Miami but mostly frequented by Colombians. We find the internet difficult to connect to. But it is here we check on air tickets to return to the states for the Thanksgiving holidays if we can get a west wind to carry us onward to Panama where Ariel will be put up in a marina. Meantime we enjoy the wonderful restaurants along the beaches, take an inland motorscooter tour of the island with beautiful vistas of slanting coconut palms and a closer look at the way of life here. It was during this time that Hurricane Michelle moved out of the Bay islands headed westward at 4kts. toward the western tip of Cuba and then Florida with wind speeds of up to 70MPH.
Nov. 7, 8, 9 2001
Log: Isle San Andres to Albuquerque Cays 27 nautical miles
Wind NE 10kts
Sea 1-2 feet
Just outside the reef at San Andres the seas are up to 3-4 feet. Heading SW with the winds directly behind, we put up the whisker pole and reef the main. It is a rocky rolling trip. The Cays are to be our respite from the city life and questionable swimming anchorage we had close to town. We will anchor in the middle of the reefs, once past the huge breaking waves, but waves we find most beneficial on letting us know where the reef is on entering the area. . It is a frightening few moments when we discover Ariel heading directly for the reef. Steve climbs part way up the mast to keep an eye out for the channel. The charts are off! We ignore the GPS and let the captain, on his perch, guide us in. At anchor behind two small islands we are approached by two Colombians in a small fishing boat. They are asking for matches to light a fire ashore. Having none, they then ask for cigarettes which we also do not have. We find they are from the Colombian Coast Guard Station on the larger of the two islands. Feeling quite safe and secure here we plan to spend some time diving and swimming. But it is not to be. The weather is lousy. We find ourselves opening and closing hatches as storms roll in and out. Our last night in a 50kt. wind we were all up concerned about dragging anchor into the surrounding reefs. Not feeling so safe any more we decide to head out come hell or high water.
Nov. 10, 2001
Log: Albuquerque Cays Colombia to Bocas del Toro Panama 165 nautical miles
Wind NE 25kts
Seas outside reef 8-10ft
“Better to go south sooner than later” is the recommendation by David Jones private weather man as we contact him via SSB. “And keep an eye on your barometer” he cautions as there is another upper level disturbance with a trough reaching down over us.
9:45AM Everett is in the water with mask and snorkel. Captain Steve on the bow and Gayla at the helm. We have wrapped our anchor chain twice around a coral head during the storms. Some places put out moorings to help keep such a problem from destroying the coral. We try to circle around, to cause the least damage, and find the relay system from the water to the bow to the helmsmen successful. 10:25 cleared the reef, wind up to 28kts. Sailing on a broad reach with two reefs in the main heading 192 south, boat speed 8.3kts. 2:30PM with winds up to 30kt and 10 foot seas the auto pilot alarm goes off once again. We hand steer and turn on the generator to build up more voltage for the auto pump which is still giving us problems due to possible air in the lines. 3:30PM jib is rolled in as we need to steer higher so engine turned on for a few hours until wind dies down eventually diminishing totally. Gayla gets so bored on her watch from midnight to three she makes muffins. All ends well at 11:00 AM when we motor into Bocas del Toro on calm seas, no wind and happy to be below the hurricane belt. Finally!! Hurricane Michelle continued to head on up in the opposite direction hit Cayo Largo and other areas of Cuba before moving on to Florida and beyond then disapatating.
Nov.11 to Dec.17,2001
Log: Stern to at Bocas Del Toro Marina
Bocas Del Toro is situated at the end of Isla Colon one of the six islands in the Archipielago de Bocas Del Toro on the Caribbean side of Panama near the southern boarder of Costa Rica. We have traveled over 850 nautical miles from the Rio Dulce River of Guatemala to find ourselves in this safe and secure pocket. We have heard on the net and by word of mouth that this relaxed but up and coming town is welcoming cruisers. Since our visit aboard “Just Passing Thru” in Cuba, our cruising friends have opened up a much appreciated Gourmet food shop and another cruiser an Italian restaurant. A small boom town, Bocas is bustling with foreign investors buying up land and building. The flimsy wooden buildings on pilings over the water are becoming a colorful collage of interesting 2 and 3 story structures, We will return to the states for one month leaving Ariel at the marina. Preparations for leaving Ariel for an extended period of time include pickling the watermaker, putting the freezer on a timer to turn on twice a day using the electric from the dock. The refrigerators are cleaned out and one turned off. All items on deck are stowed below and cockpit compartments locked up. It is the rainy season so Georgianna and Everett have elected to return to Ft. Lauderdale and prepare their boat to sell. We will fly Aeroperlas from Bocas Del Toro to Panama City, overnight there, then off to Miami.
Dec 18, to Dec. 20,2001
|We find refuge inside the large protected anchorage off Club Nautica
after passing through the Boca Chica Channel. We are not alone.
Cruisers, like us, headed for the Panama Canal from the NE Caribbean,
meet up with others from Venezuela, ABC Islands and Windward Island to
spend the holidays. The names are familiar from the Net. Now we put
faces to sailing vessels Ventana, Lisa, Dream Catcher, Rare Mettle,
Kastaway, Leonore of Sark, Triumph, Passion Two, Owl Hoot, Infidity, and
many more. It is a time to stop and enjoy the holidays, parties at the
Club Nautica, and take in this beautiful old colonial walled city and
meet the local people.
A Colombian we met in San Andres has found us at the refueling dock where he is manager and invited us on a city tour. We are escorted by his English speaking daughter to El Popa Monastery high on a hill over looking the anchorage Mira, speaks English well. As she drives us through Boca Grande, an upscale part of town, we pass beautiful homes decorated with Christmas lights. She advises us not to tour beyond the city of Cartagena.. Tourists in groups have been stopped by bandits who confiscate their credit cards, check their credit through the internet, hold those with money for ransom and let the others go. It is a well known scam. Later we meet Hans from Denmark who just bicycled through Colombia without a problem. He was seeking passage on to Panama by yacht. Several boats do cater to the overland traveler charging them $200 for the passage.
More than 300 years before the Spanish conquest, emeralds have been mined in Colombia and today produce 95% of the worlds supply. Street vendor as well as fashionable shops sell the precious stones at reasonable cost. We learned about the mining as well visiting the gold museum and museum of Spanish Inquisition.
We walk the high ramparts of the city during the day and enjoy the outdoor night life on the streets below. New Years is a lively celebration of folk dancers and street entertainers in the city squares. Steve takes his little starter cannon full of gun powder to the Santo Domingo Square. At the stroke of midnight he holds it to the ground with his foot, sets if off with a tremendous BANG, a spray of gunpowder shoots up his leg and catches his pants on fire. All this to the amusement of the local police guards who come over smiling to shake his hand.
It is easy to get comfortable with the life and friendly people of Cartagena. The facilities for yachts are many, work is cheap, food good and available in the local super markets. Many cruisers are having laser eye surgery done here for only $450 an eye. There is also a good Internet and it was here Gayla learns she is a great aunt, her niece Joy giving birth to a baby boy. In all, Cartagena is a good stop.
Cruiser Christmas party in Cartiagena Colombia 2001
|Georgianna, Ev, Gayla &Steve|
New Years in Cartegena Colombia shortly before Steve’s cannon fires!!