Santa Marta – San Blas

anchored in San Blas

Finally, after 3 weeks of waiting for the right weather window – Los Brisas Locas were blowing gale force winds on a daily basis – we are leaving the marina of Santa Marta. It has been our home for the last 4 months while we explored the interior of beautiful Colombia that has been so good to us. We’ve had plenty of adventures and breathtaking sceneries and we leave this friendly and welcoming country with a satisfied soul. We have all lost a bit of our heart here and we will surely be back.

But our journey has not come to an end just yet, so we look forward to our next destination: the remote and pristine San Blas islands in Panama. We have stocked up on food, diesel, beer, sunscreen and a good mood and Juggernaut is eager to set sail for this 50 hour trip across the golf of Colombia. And for the first time on our journey we will be ‘buddy-boating’ with two other family cruising boats, heading in the same direction. We have met Element from Canada, and Counting Stars from the US in Marina Santa Marta and we were happy to be joining them for this short period before they both go through the Panama Canal into the great Pacific Ocean.

After 4 months “on land” we have lost our sailing routines a bit so the first day is all about re-adjusting to life at sea. Our mindset and stomachs need to do a 180 and the day was -to be honest- horrible. The boys were white as snow within the first 30 minutes and Jos and I followed soon. The winds were not as strong as forecasted plus we got a nasty swell on our beam so we are bobbing away, not finding our groove alltogether. In hindsight, we should have gotten Cersei out immediately but we expected much more wind and were concerned she would throw another tantrum. Before we left we replaced the twisted dyneema line in the snuffer bag with a new one, sent to us by Bojan from Bomarine in the Netherlands, straight to Santa Marta.

So the problem should be solved but still, that last time when we couldn’t get our spinaker down and windspeed was building like crazy is still fresh on our minds …

We keep on messing about while being sick and sleepy and in the meantime watching both Element and Counting Stars gaining distance, so by sunset we decide to put on the engines and simply motor through the night – which leaves a big dent in our confidence and our diesel supply.

Early next day, we are determined to raise our sails. During the night we have dipped more south to avoid that heavy cross swell and strong winds, so with the first daylight we are finally ready to raise Cersei again. As soon as she is flying fiercely, Juggernaut stablizes magically and picks up speed, doing a 7 knots on average with 14 to 16 knots of dead down wind. The boys are feeling better so the noise level on our boat rises again … And to top things off, we are joined by a pod of small spinner dolphins who stay with us for about half an hour, showing off their acrobatic skills and have us all smiling and cheering them on. Around noon we even catch a Mahi Mahi, but as soon as we haul it onboard, it’s obvious that the fish is infested by parasites and worms ! Yuk ! Twan is very dissapointed and throws it back into the ocean while mumbling “we might have been able to clean it though” … This second day on the sea seems to literally fly by, soon enough the sun sets and a beautiful yellow full moon lights up the night.

Around 11 pm, we decide to bring Cersei in for the night not knowing what the following hours would bring so we go over the procedure one more time and get to work with our deck light on. In contrast with the last few times, this time taking her down in 16 knots of apparent wind is a piece of cake and within a few minutes, she is down, tamed and tucked away in the anchor locker. Bless her ! For the rest of the night, our genua is on duty and we have just enough wind to make it comfortably through the night and early morning. The San Blas -or Kuna Yala- islands are a group of about 340 small islands, inhabited for centuries by the indigenous tribes of the Kuna. These beautiful and remote islands with tall coconut palms are surrounded by treacherous patches of shallow reef, where many ships still crash on every year… Jos is super concentrated and uses a second, more detailed chart to navigate safely to our destination. Around 10 am we hail our buddy boats on the VHF and hear that they succesfully dropped anchor at the western Holandes Cays -or islas Maqui- where we join them later for a swim and a well deserved beer !

And let’s not forget another year has almost ended so we have the most original New Year’s eve diner on the boat, just the 4 of us: pasta ! And even now it’s a winner. After diner, we meet up with the other families for a great bonfire on one of the islands and in the company of the Kuna family maintaining the land. The kids are running around collecting wood, coconut shelves, palm leaves, … anything to keep that fire burning. We tried really hard but for the first time in many many years, we do not make it untill midnight.

But what a year this was !

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