Tackling the Challenging Sail to Colombia

We did it! We tackled one of our toughest passages yet! Or was it?

We’ve heard horror stories about the treacherous stretch of sea between Curacao and Colombia. From boats being dismasted to rogue waves, this is not a passage to take lightly. The sail itself is fairly short, roughly 370 miles from Curacao to Santa Marta, Colombia but its not the length of the sail that makes this sail grueling.

The current and sea conditions in this area can be quite confused, which can cause the sea to act like a washing machine. Add in high winds along with stout wave heights, you don’t want to be complacent. Not only can the seas be challenging, the location is a bit questionable as well. To get from Curacao to Colombia, requires us to sail along the coast of Venezuela, which unfortunately has a reputation for piracy and crime amongst the sailing community.

But each time we set sail we assume the associated risks not knowing what is in store for us. We waited for the perfect weather window and being prepared as possible it was time to set sail!

DAY 1-

We left Curacao about 10 am and decided to sail with our headsail only. Some may disagree with this choice but our sail was downwind and with the possibility of a sketchy sea state we wanted to limit the times we had to leave the cockpit. We did not want to be hoisting and reefing our main sail on deck. The sail started off lovely. We read, we napped and we waited for the fishing Iines to go off.

BAM! Around 2pm we had a double header! We hooked on to two mahi! It’s pretty tough to slow the boat down and pull in sail while also trying to reel in a fish. Fishing under sail is much different than the powerboats we were previously accustomed to. But with the help of our working autopilot and Gary’s on point gaff shots, we were able to get both in the cockpit! About an hour later we hooked on to a 3rd mahi but a bit smaller so we threw it back.

We ate dinner and watched the sun go down. It was so calm we could hear and see dolphins swimming and playing in our wake. The rest of the night was uneventful except for the flying fish that landed in our cockpit and the massive amount of ship traffic. So far so good.

DAY 2-

Our day started out calm with smooth seas. We had a pod of dolphins come and put on a show for us! A few of them fully breached right in front of One Life, it was awesome. The day carried on pretty peacefully, with the exception of me feeling the onset of an ear infection.

Right before my 8pm-midnight watch, I decided to pull out our bag of antibiotics and get started on Amoxicillin. About 30 minutes after taking it, my whole body broke out in hives and I had the worst stomach pain. I woke up Gary to take over my watch. For the next two hours, I alternated between the bathroom, chugging water and trying to stay as calm as possible. Gary looked in our medical book to see what it recommended for an allergic reaction to Amoxycillin – Seek emergency care was not the answer we were looking for.

Gary diverted our course to head toward the nearest land base. We were currently 40 miles (at least 7 hours) away from any land and probably another 60 miles from any medical help. It was very scary, having any sort of medical issue offshore with no help within sight is very scary. Of all things we prepared for, we weren’t expecting this. Gary kept me calm and hydrated and about 1am I was feeling back to myself, we were back on our route and Gary was able to get some sleep.

DAY 3-

Feeling thankful to have made it through the night, we had a quick briefing about how to handle situations like that in the future. The first conclusion, weigh the risk of taking medication vs the issue at hand. For an earache, it’s not deadly and could have waited until we got settled in Colombia before taking medication with possible reactions. And then another couple of dolphins came over to say hello, almost as to say…..all is okay!

A little after 8am, fish on! We snagged a blackfin tuna! He is the biggest blackfin we’ve caught to date! Woohoo! We put the lines back out and an hour later, zzzzzing! We were reeling in another blackfin tuna! The fishing is on fire in this area! The day went on with more relaxing and just hanging out. And just as the sun was about to set, we landed another mahi!

DAY 4-

As the sun was beginning to rise, land ho! We gained sight of Santa Marta, we officially sailed One Life all the way to South America! This sail was more of a fishing trip for us, the sea state was one of the most ideal we’ve experienced and our autopilot worked the ENTIRE time. This was our first passage ever that we’ve had a working autopilot for it’s entirety. What some call a treacherous passage, we call our best sail ever!

Now what do we do? Well it’s time to explore the beautiful country of Colombia!

Cheers! xo, B

11 thoughts on “Tackling the Challenging Sail to Colombia”

  1. Scary to have an allergic reaction at sea. Glad you felt better pretty quickly!
    So lucky to see the dolphins, and land so much fish!!

    Have fun in Colombia x

    1. So glad the allergic reaction subsided. Gary was allergic to penicillin as a toddler, so that particular med might not be for you guys😬
      So glad you had a successful safe sail on a notoriously tricky passage. Enjoy exploring and stay safe. Love you❤️

  2. Glad to hear All turned out for one of your “Best Sails”. You kids Stay Safe and Enjoy❤️❤️. Waiting on your next updates😘😘

  3. Glad to hear All turned out for one of your “Best Sails”. You kids Stay Safe and Enjoy❤️❤️. Waiting on your next updates😘😘

  4. So glad you are Ok! So happy your sail was a good one! Enjoy, can’t wait for your next post of adventures! Stay safe! Love ya’s

  5. great blog Brooke! very scary about your allergic reaction – something i’ve never thought about. Aside from that it sounded like a dream sail! dolphins, fish on & good winds. looking forward to hearing about your adventures in columbia … how did i not know you were writing a blog!!!

    1. Hi Susan! We have a deep chest freezer/refrigerator built into our galley. It uses a CoolBlue refrigeration system and does a great job keeping meat frozen. After filleting and vacuum sealing, we can fit a lot of fish in the freezer and eat it over the next month or two. We also never have a problem finding someone to take some fresh fish off our hands at an anchorage or marina. Cheers!

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