Having taken a few hours break, anchored illegally in Aruba, we finally set sail for Colombia after lunch, making fast progress on a dead run in 35 knots of wind. The wind eased after nightfall and we put up a full main sail and Genoa to keep speed up, but then at about midnight we needed to reduce sail and Justin, Mark and I struggled to reef it down. Rolling it into the boom sounds easy, but in a gale thee battens flap around and get twisted, and the whole things jams up. So then we hoist the sail up again, and try to get it to roll better the next time. It took us three attempts, with the engine on trying to hold the boat head to wind, with waves crashing over us. Our downwind sailing seems so smooth, but as soon as you need to go in the other direction one realises how rough it is!
After that the wind dies again and we had a peaceful night sailing arriving off Cabo de la Vela at about 10:30. We turned in between the off lying islet and the headland, in a wind that had increase to 40 knots again. The desolate ochre desert landscape came down to a long sweep of beach around a vast bay behind the headland. Little villages with waterside huts were clustered along the shore with canoes drawn up on the beach. But for the square metal tower of the lighthouse and a glimpse of a Toyota pickup it could have been just as the Spanish conquistador saw it in 1499, when he named it because he though the pale rock was a distant sail.
We motored along the bay in the howling wind, and watched a canoe ahead of us paddling shorewards laying out nets. Then we spotted plastic water bottles he and there and realised that these Guaraji tribespeople had strung nets out from the shore. As we made our way carefully along we eventually picked up one of these round the rudders and dropped anchor to sort it out. Finally we came to anchor at the north end of the bay in 3 metres of water, but still a good half mile out. Incongruously a flock of kite-surfers were here, racing back and forth with their colourful kites. A fishing boat full of curious young men came out to see us and hung alongside making conversation. Then we went ashore to explore, but Mark elected to stay onboard because he was concerned about our illegal landing and the thought of years in a Colombian jail!.
Ashore we hauled up the dinghy and strolled along the beach where a few young people were watching the kite surfers race past. The front was lined with huts made of split reed or bamboo, some with hammocks strung in rows, where presumably the kite-surfers sleep. Once in amongst the huts we found little cafe shacks and lots of kite surfing schools. We stopped in a shady cafe where a couple of Argentineans were playing cards, and with Emily's best Spanish managed to order Fish for lunch and a banana and passion fruit smoothie.
We were soon engulfed in a tide of children selling woven goods followed shortly by their mothers. Grandmothers and aunties. Since we only had dollars, buying things wasn't easy, but the Argentinean couple kindly offered to change some for us.
Our fish, when it eventually arrived was excellent red snapper.
Back on board we set sail again hoping to make another stop tomorrow evening before reaching Cartagena. Big winds and big seas as I write, but Emily produced a great sweet potato tagine for supper.