On To San Andres

We raised our anchor at 5am on Friday, and traveled ten hours south to San Andres Island. The forecast was for 15-20 knot winds, and sea swells of 5-7 feet. They got the wind part right, but the swells were more like 7-9 feet, with breakers on them…..and some really large ones thrown in once in awhile, just to keep it interesting.

The boat was completely fine with all of this, but as usual, me…not so much. I just cannot get used to seeing big waves come at me. Several started to break as they approached us, but Sea Life just “rolled” with it, sliding down them and then getting back on track. Thank God for paravanes; I cannot imagine the degree of roll without them.

Howard fared much better than me. I started him off tucked into his triangle of safety on the couch in the saloon, but he soon appeared on the bench in the pilot house with us. He hasn’t liked the noise of the waves outside the open pilot house doors recently (we keep the top halves open while traveling), but I guess he wanted to join the party this time. I reset the triangle around him, and he settled in.

As we came out of the protection of the reef around Providencia, and into the open ocean, a huge pod of dolphins headed our way. We’ve never had this many visit us at one time before. There were also several babies in the group, about the size of Howard! They stayed for almost 30 minutes, playing near the bow and jumping alongside us before breaking up and moving off. I guess they knew the seas were going to get large, and vacated.

Just after noon, San Andres came into sight. We had to navigate through a break in the reef to get into the harbor, while surfing  breaking waves, which was challenging. Scott was especially nervous to see many boats run aground and left for dead, and wrecked along the reef, as we approached.

Once inside the harbor, Scott hailed the port captain, who asked for some basic information before telling us to anchor in area A, which is designated for pleasure boats. Area B is for commercial and fishing boats, but unfortunately, we discovered that many of them had spread into area A. With the many fishing boats, other cruisers already at anchor and shallow spots in the area, it was challenging finding a spot for ourselves.

When we first dropped the anchor it didn’t hold, which is very unlike the Hulk (*). It was just as well, as the water in that spot was pretty deep. More scope of chain is required in deeper water, which would have put us very close to our neighbors when swinging with the shifting winds.

Luckily, our friends Jack and Monique (s/v Aloha) had made the trip from Providencia the day before, and were anchored nearby. Jack yelled over to Scott, and told him to drop our anchor right at his stern. As we let out our chain, he jumped in and dove on the Hulk, to make sure that it had grabbed the bottom. Jack signaled us that the anchor had set, so we backed down in reverse to dig it in. We were now settled in among the many, many fishing boats (a big thank you to Jack!)

(*) When Scott dove on our anchor the next day, to check that it was still set well, he noticed that the bottom here is covered with old fishing debris (San Andres dates back to 1700s). We think that the Hulk must have grabbed something down there on our first drop, and skipped along the bottom.)

Like Providencia, San Andres is also a Colombian owned island. Since we were still in the same country, we didn’t have to get our passports stamped again, but the boat did have to be cleared in with the port captain.

To do this, we’d contacted Julian Watson, an agent our friend Kevin suggested (you are required to use an agent when clearing into Colombia, you cannot do it yourself). He contacted us on the radio as soon as he heard us hail the port captain, and once we were anchored Scott went to nearby Nene’s Marina to meet him. Julian was very accommodating, and offered his help with anything we may need while visiting the island.

We haven’t done much exploring here yet. There have been several days of squalls, and most of the shops and restaurants close early on Sunday here, so we look forward to getting the lay of the land this week.

The internet here is atrociously slow (who’d have guessed that the free internet on quiet Providencia would be better than the paid data on busy and populated San Andres??), so getting posts updated will be a challenge, but stay tuned! Here are more photos of our trip here.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

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