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Old 22-01-2018, 12:18   #1
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Westward routing around Columbia: Hug the coast, or out to sea?

Weather for a westward passage isn't looking great right now, but it's never super great northwest of Columbia anyway, and I'm trying to decide whether it would be better to stay really close to the coast, or head far out to sea, and then work my way back south.

Out to sea would mean a few hundred extra miles, but would keep me far away from land and presumably boat traffic, which is important to me as a singlehander.

Really close to the coast might keep me from the worst of the winds and waves, and give me a shorter passage, but I would also risk losing a lot of sleep, and that could be much more dangerous in the end.

What are people's opinions?
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Old 22-01-2018, 12:24   #2
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Re: Westward routing around Columbia: Hug the coast, or out to sea?

I believe the conventional wisdom is to stay closer to the coast during this time of year when the western Caribbean and Colombia experiences the 'Christmas Winds'. Your status as a singlehander might influence that decision, however, I would guess that the heavy commercial traffic might be heavier off-shore.

We plan to make that passage in April or May.

Fair winds and calm seas.
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Old 22-01-2018, 12:50   #3
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Re: Westward routing around Columbia: Hug the coast, or out to sea?

I've heard many people state to stay outside the "1000 or 2000m" contour, but that I presume is just to avoid steep seas, and won't do anything to keep you out of the gale.
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Old 22-01-2018, 16:15   #4
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Re: Westward routing around Columbia: Hug the coast, or out to sea?

This time of year, hugging the coast and choosing your window(s) wisely will likely be better.

...or enjoy Colombia for a few more months, its a beautiful country so why rush?, and then cross later in the year when things settle down (about April-May...and on into the Summer).

Also, if you run in close you can break this into relatively short legs. I assisted with a Curaçau-Santa Marta-Cartagena-Linton run last summer...it was an easy trip.

While there is commercial traffic around Santa Marta and Cartagena, its not heavy.
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Old 23-01-2018, 08:24   #5
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Re: Westward routing around Columbia: Hug the coast, or out to sea?

Santa Marta is an option I've been considering, but I would need to go into a Marina, and there are two issues with that. One, I don't have a lot of practice maneuvering my boat in close-quarters, and it's notorious for being difficult to maneuver under power, especially in reverse. Two, I don't have third-party liability, despite my past attempts to obtain it, and the marina might require it.
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Old 23-01-2018, 11:27   #6
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Re: Westward routing around Columbia: Hug the coast, or out to sea?

if ,as it seams you are leaving from Aruba or curaçao I would look for a good 24h forecast and go straight to "cabo de la vela" a fantastic stop, always windy
(its a kitesurfing paradise) ,but the wind comes from the shore and the anchorage in front of the beach is safe and flat.(be careful with the numerous fishing nets badly marked)
then i would head to santa marta. no need to enter the harbor,before reaching the town there is a national park with 5 salvage and well protected bays and if not, after the town you can anchor at "bahía Inca" past "punta de gaira"
then you have a 60miles leg to puerto velero past baranquilla. you do not have to enter the harbour even though its very easy, the bay is well protected. from every wind.
60 miles after you are in Cartagena.its worthwhile seing the old town.you can anchor for free in front of the club náutico.
then i would go straight to panama as the coast is not safe to anchor (and its not for nautical reasons.)
if you put Cartagena as your destination at leaving you will probably have no problems anchoring on the way.
if you want some company for sailing many sailboats leave every day from Cartagena to san blas and panama full of back packers.
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Old 23-01-2018, 11:30   #7
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Re: Westward routing around Columbia: Hug the coast, or out to sea?

one last thing.
if you choose the coastal route be ready for motoring after santa marta. as there is usually little wind.
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Old 23-01-2018, 11:55   #8
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Re: Westward routing around Columbia: Hug the coast, or out to sea?

We too made the trip around this time of the year. We sailed from the ABC's direct to Cabo de la Vela. We kept Aruba and later De Los Monjes to our port side. Think we were around 15 miles offshore at the closest point. As the other poster mentioned the winds do blow here but really no big deal. The anchorage is very large and has good holding. Careful for local fishermen laying their nets across your set anchor and then looking for some cash. We wanted to time our arrival at Santa Marta so we stopped and anchored at a pretty little bay called Ensenada Gayraca, good holding, didn't get off the boat, just a good night's sleep and headed for Santa Marta. The leg from our first anchorage to the second anchorage we sailed within a couple of miles from shore. The sail had some boisterous times but nothing out of the ordinary, following seas and a good breeze are not that hard to take. Pick your weather when you leave the ABC's and don't worry about 25 knot winds, that's a nice day in these parts. If it's forecast to blow 30 plus, stay put, you'll find just the right weather as long as your patient...have a great sail.
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Old 23-01-2018, 16:29   #9
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Westward routing around Columbia: Hug the coast, or out to sea?

it ain't the District o Columbia, it's Colombia. geography is a language Americano, git wit the program.
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Old 23-01-2018, 19:00   #10
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Re: Westward routing around Columbia: Hug the coast, or out to sea?

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Originally Posted by Ryban View Post
Santa Marta is an option I've been considering, but I would need to go into a Marina, and there are two issues with that. One, I don't have a lot of practice maneuvering my boat in close-quarters, and it's notorious for being difficult to maneuver under power, especially in reverse. Two, I don't have third-party liability, despite my past attempts to obtain it, and the marina might require it.
Santa Marta is a nice stop. Nice big new marina, not especially tight maneuvring...plenty of options for coming in bow to. Dont recall them asking for proof of insurance.

Would be a good marina to practice boat handling under power...motor around in there and build some experience. 😆

Also second Cabo de Vela, nice bay for a break/timing, never went ashore.
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Old 23-01-2018, 19:51   #11
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Re: Westward routing around Columbia: Hug the coast, or out to sea?

Do the coastal hop. We did Bonaire to San Blas Panama, with one night in Cabo de la Vela. You can choo/se your wind there, 5 miles out, 5 more knots of wind, come back in and it drops again. Cross the mouth of the Rio Magdalena close to shore, then you only have 1 or 2 miles of logs and stuff to look for, further out the effluent is wider, and you could be in the brown stuff for 15 miles.
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Old 23-01-2018, 20:07   #12
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Re: Westward routing around Columbia: Hug the coast, or out to sea?

Are there any good boatyards, chandleries and marine services for cruising sailors in Santa Marta or Cartegena?
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Old 24-01-2018, 03:19   #13
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Re: Westward routing around Columbia: Hug the coast, or out to sea?

It is to long ago for my memories, but Santa Marta was a pleasant place to stay but maybe not the place to do big jobs on the boat.
Cartagene stole my heart, it is a wonderful town and you can lift there your boat on a proper way.
It is well quit dusty on deck after a few weeks. You will find there a few chandleries. There is a good welder near the hull outh for stainless steel work and Carlos is a man of his word and work on time.
If you like that local people do the job for you, than have you to be very careful to choose your helpers and making from the beginning good agreements! Work with them and keep a hand on the job is well the message! Somme people are really great, others are able to dammege your boat in no time! For me woked it well!

Trinidad, Grenada or Rio Dulce are well better places and there is more possible to chip parts, …. .
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Old 24-01-2018, 03:20   #14
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Re: Westward routing around Columbia: Hug the coast, or out to sea?

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Are there any good boatyards, chandleries and marine services for cruising sailors in Santa Marta or Cartegena?
Lots of such services in Cartagena.

Agree w KWISPEL's comments above. Both Santa Marta and Cartagena are very pleasant stops, but if you must chose one then Cartagena is a wonderful city.

If your plans include the Rio Dulce, then that is a better refit location (there is thread comparing the two here somewhere...a search should turn it up).
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Old 24-01-2018, 08:14   #15
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Re: Westward routing around Columbia: Hug the coast, or out to sea?

OP is looking for navigation advice, not shipyard advice mates, we seem to be drifting off course.
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