Saturday, December 19, 2009

Safely at Isla San Andres

As expected the sail North was a little rough. We were sailing close hauled nearly the entire way and the going was slow at times as we bucked through 12' seas.

Arriving in the vicinity of San Andres after dark we decided that an entry into the harbor was not worth the risk. Several ship wrecks line the reefs leading to the harbor and serve as a good reminder that things can go wrong very quickly. Although, we had GPS 'tracks' from a previous visit entering the harbor in the dark would place too high of a reliance on electronics. So we decided to anchor off the West side of the island at Rada Cove. Having anchored in Rada Cove back in August we had tracks and first hand knowledge that there were no hazards (i.e. coral reefs) in the area.

Shortly after rounding the south end of San Andres with three miles to go to the anchorage we had a bit of a scare. A bright spotlight shone on the boat as a 30' open boat came alongside with no lights except the bright spotlight that was blinding us. Our night vision ruined by the bring light in our eyes, identification of vessel, crew and intentions remained unclear.
Armed with a big spotlight of our own we took aim and much to our relief lit up a Colombian Coast guard launch. We slowed down and as the launch came along side they yelled to go to channel 16 on the VHF. Of course we always have our VHF on channel 16 so it was unclear why they did not hail us via the radio.

Kathy got on the radio and hailed Guardia Coasta and after a protracted conversation in Spanish of which gave our boat name, registration number, last port of call, etc etc we asked if it would be ok to anchor in Rada Cove. Things got confusing at this point and we did not understand quite a few bits of the conversation. It didn't matter we were going to drop the anchor in Rada Cove as we were tired and there was no way we would turn around and head for the harbor. The launch continued to shadow us as we regained speed and headed the remaining distance to the anchorage. Once the anchor was down the Coast Guard launch came along side and tied up for an inspection.

The crew of three were very polite and most of the conversation was conveniently in English for the inspection and checking of paperwork. Very nice guys and after 20 minutes aboard we had the all clear and got a hearty "Welcome to San Andres".

This morning we went for a nice swim before breakfast and enjoyed the crystal clear waters before raising anchor and heading for the harbor. Along the way we caught a small little Tunny that we released hoping for something bigger and better. No luck.

It looks like a cold front will move through the region later today and create strong north winds for several days keeping us pinned down here at San Andres.

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