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Walkabout - Leg 2 - Santa Marta to San Blas Islands - Day 1

N10:34.3 W76:53.8

We are on our way again. We had a great time in Colombia - could have spent more time there for sure, only scratched the surface of this amazing place!

We hired a car for 2 days and did a road trip to Cartagena - what a beautiful old city. Full of colour and history. We ate very well - each one better than the last and all very reasonable, particularly after the high prices of everything in the Caribbean islands.

But our venture rolls onwards, and now we are heading for the San Blas Islands in Panama. This promises to be a real highlight of our passage. A huge archipelago of islands inhabited only by the Guna Indians. It will be great to be back on the hook again with a sea breeze, white sand between our toes and snorkelling too!

Just the small matter of about 300NM to get there from Santa Marta. Should be a doddle….

Or not, as it turns out. Having left Santa Marta in some light and fluky winds, shortly afterwards things changed significantly.
The main sail rapidly went from 1 reef to 2 reefs to 3 reefs, to no main at all. The wind built up to 20 knots and then continued building into the night.

The night was not a pleasant experience. We had 30 to 35 knots for hours on end, with bigger gusts and constantly building seas. We sailed with just a scrap of genoa. Walkabout took a beating! Big waves crashing into the cockpit, various bits of canvas damaged, but nothing too significant and only re-stitching required. The watch pattern went out of the window as we decided to double up and sleep was nigh on impossible as the boat lunched from side to side in what we estimated was 4m waves.

Sunrise was much anticipated - at least we may have a chance to see the waves that are about to slam in to the boat. We hoped for a rapid decline in the wind and waves, but it has been a long time coming. By 1400 the wind was in the high teens. Much more comfortable, but the sea is still messy and the occasional wave still manages to give us a dousing.

We have been trying to manage our progress so that we do not arrive in San Blas in darkness. So we are now on a bit of a go-slow. The plan is to get there at about 0800 tomorrow morning to ensure the sun is behind us so we can clearly navigate by sight from the bow as the depths are not well charted here.

As a good yardstick on the improving conditions, the Fishing Club have sprung into action. 2 lines out the back and our fingers crossed. We have Tom The Fisherman with us so we should be in luck!!

We have landed some fish overnight. So far the body count of flying fish is 7 on the deck and 3 in the tender. Boy, do they smell after a few hours baking in the sun!

Tom continues to clock up ‘firsts’. This is by far the biggest, ugliest sea he has experienced, and the strongest winds. And probably the least amount of sleep during the night since a Year 7 ‘sleep’ over party!!

But be assured that Walkabout is in her element and has and will continue to look after us well, she has done a sterling job overnight!!

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