Friday, December 4, 2009

Aruba and change of plans.

The Island of Aruba is a popular tourist stop and the day we went in Oranjestad we could see four large cruise ships at the docs of the main harbor. The capital city of Oranjestad is called by some; Las-Vegas on the Beach and as soon as we set foot on the main street we understood why. Hotels, casinos and tourist shopping markets are all over the main street that runs along the waterfront. However, we don’t have a large interest in that kind of activities anymore and we just spent one day ashore walking and shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables. The rest of the week we just stayed quiet on the boat and relaxed waiting for the weather window to show up so we can continue our journey.
It seems that we now have a proper weather window to leave Aruba but unfortunately we won’t be able to stick to our original plans, which was to sail directly to the San Blas Islands in Panama. Instead we decided to follow the Colombian coast and either go to Cartegena or to cut directly to San Blas once we are far enough. To understand our decision you need to get your Atlas out and look at a map of Colombia. At the north- east end of the country there is a large peninsula that stretches into the Caribbean Sea called the Peninsula de la Guajira. In a nut shell the wind coming from the east hits this peninsula and the whole north part of Venezuela, which then creates a cape effect by accelerating the wind speed as the air is deflected by it. The result is a zone of almost permanent gale force winds on the west side of the peninsula making it very dangerous to cross. After talking with other sailors and reading on the subject we decided that it was safer to sail along the Colombian coast, even with its bad reputation, and stop at a couple of places instead of going through this offshore hell.