We spent a little over three weeks at anchor in San Andrés waiting for calm seas before moving further north to the Caymans. We enjoyed the town after being in remote Dead oops Red Frog marina for seven months. This was definitely a vacation destination for mainland Colombia as gringos made up about one percent of the population but we enjoyed it.
San Andrés is about 120 miles offshore and the winds certainly kick up here. We were anchored off three wrecks, which made for some stressful times when the wind was up.
We had a squall with 40 knot winds come through at night and we dragged our anchor. With the engine running we held her steady until the squall passed. We raised the anchor and at the time Gary noticed a bit of steel hanging from it. He didn’t think it was any big deal so we lowered and reset the anchor and went back to bed. The next morning we discovered we were too close to some mooring balls so we had to move. We raised the anchor and Gary discovered we had a hunk of channel steel the length of the boat hooked to our anchor. How the windlass pulled it up we have no idea. Using the boat hook, Gary was able to get the steel off the anchor but now it was stuck to the boat hook. Not able to pull it up any higher and with no way to get the boat hook off, Gary let go. A few minutes later, the boat hook popped up to the surface but after several attempts we were not able to retrieve it.
Most boats just travel through San Andrés but we met Bill and Mary from Napa who have their 100 year old 51 foot steel hull sailboat at Nene’s marina. Bills attraction to San Andrés is he considers this the best place for kite surfing. Well we can’t agree more after experiencing the winds in this area for weeks!
A great weather window opened up for us to sail directly to the Caymans without needing to stop in Providencia. We had several concerns with this passage. The most important was incidences of piracy against sailboats along the Nicaragua coast and our second concern was the shallow banks. With some advice from weather guru Chris Parker, we planned our route to stay 120 nm off Nicaragua and I’m happy to say all went well. While we would have preferred a little more wind for sailing, with the exception of the first day the seas were calm and we were able to enjoy a cockpit shower somewhere in the middle of the central caribbean.
For us the clearance into the Caymans was a breeze. We didn’t fit the profile for a search of the boat. After clearing in we headed around the west coast of Grand Cayman and entered the shallow North Sound to Barcadere Marina. Even following their waypoints it took us forever to get there because we went at a snails pace to make sure we would not ground out. I’m so glad I remembered to record our track so we can take the exact same course out of here going faster.
I did learn one thing on this passage. If I spend three weeks in a windy and sometimes rolly anchorage right before departing, I will not get sea sick!