While we were inland travelling within Colombia we still checked weather forecasts frequently to determine the optimal time for our next departure. As we mentioned in a previous post, the easterly blowing tradewinds accelerate around Cabo de Velas and their velocity is enhanced as they pass by Santa Marta. We were looking for a lull in the ever present tradewinds to try and avoid 30 knots of breeze as soon as we set out. Last Tuesday, February 2, an opportunity presented itself so we requested our zarpe, did one last cleaning of Curare, provisioned and set off on the 450 mile northerly passage to Jamaica.
Grib files indicated 20 to 25 knots easterly for the first day and NOAA forecasts confirmed the same up to 90 miles off the Colombia coast, but the reality turned out to be somewhat different. We endured 2 1/2 days of hard on the wind slogging in steady 25 knot northeasterly winds with frequent sustained gusts of 30 knots. Fortunately the seas were not too horrific, generally in the 2 plus metre range, but Curare spent a lot of time with her nose planted firmly into the oncoming wave train and the off-watch crew member was often airborne in the sea berth. G had to go up to the bow several times to readjust the anchors that kept getting knocked loose by the waves, to tighten down the dinghy which the waves and wind tried to wash overboard, and he even had to remove one of the fuel cans which had become loose in the banging and crashing action. By Thursday afternoon the winds had moderated and swung a little more east which allowed us to ease the staysail sheet onto a close reach. Early Friday morning we took all the reefs out of the main and fully unfurled the genoa, sailing with full canvas for the first time in months on flat seas in a beautiful 12 knots of wind. Twenty-four hours later the wind switched to the south east but became too light to sail so we motored the final few hours into Kingston Jamaica.
We arrived at the Royal Jamaica Yacht Club dock at 1600 hours where the manager promptly arranged for the various officials to come and visit us. First on the scene was a Quarantine officer who agreed that being a little seasick didn't constitute a health issue. Customs came next and charged us for arriving out of hours (he conveniently arrived just after 1700 hours) and finally Immigration appeared, stamped our passports and provided necessary documentation to travel within the country. And then, even before we could have a shower the Saturday night yacht club party was in full swing.