San Andres Islands off Nicaragua

Friday, April 12, 2002

012-34.800 N
081-42.000 W
Marine forecast for this location

Ahoy from beautiful island of San Andres, which is a Colombian island about 100 miles off the coast of Nicaragua & 215 miles NW from Colon, Panama. The island itself is about 7 miles long and 1.5 miles wide and is ringed by reefs on it's windward side. From what I've heard & seen, the island is a vacation hot spot for the area. Lots of jets fly in and out of here on a regular basis. However, it appears that it peaked about 8 years ago & has been on a decline ever since as there are lots of vacant store fronts and occupancy rates seem quite low. Then again, this is the off season.

It seems as though my last report from Portobelo, Panama may have gotten lost as I can't find it on my system. So, to recap Passion II and BlueJacket left Colon on 4/13 bound for here. Once we got out we discovered that the winds were NW instead of the forecast NNE, and were dead on the nose, so we diverted to Portobelo to give us a better wind angle when the weather window appeared.

On Tuesday, after some repairs to Passion II (PII), we headed off to San Andres at 6 AM. The winds were out of the NE at 10-15 kts and we had 3' seas, which is just perfect. A 3rd boat, Serenity, left Colon several hours later bound for San Andres. The winds remained in the 10-15 kt range most of the day & into the night. We were averaging about 6.5 kts. At around midnight, a front that was supposed to have been stationary a long way away came rushing down and gave us squalls, much higher winds & 10-15' seas. I put in a double reef and we were still doing 8+ kts. Passion II recorded a 4 hour run where he averaged 10.25 kts! We dodged squalls for hours.

At noon the next day we pulled into San Andres, having made the 215 mile trip in less than 30 hours, averaging 7.75 kts! We were only about an hour behind PII, which is great considering that BlueJacket is 40' and Passion II is 54'. I would have expected a 4.5 hour gap. BlueJacket is a fast boat (and, uhm, the Capt can sail too! :-)

Despite what the DMA charts show, the entrance is well marked & lit at night, which is important because there are LOTS of reefs here and the channel gets narrow. For reasons I don't understand, Serenity left at the wrong time and was approaching San Andres at 7:30 at night. We, and another boat named Windom, had been keeping in radio contact with them all along. It was very obvious that they were very tired, disoriented, and not thinking clearly. They couldn't find the lit sea bouy against the lights of the city & at one time bumped into the reef or bottom. We talked them out of going back to Colon (!) or Providencia (55 nm away) and talked them into going around to the leeward side of the island where they could safely anchor. Luckily someone had been monitoring the VHF conversations & dispatched a coast guard patrol boat who guided them in at about 11:30 PM. I felt very sorry for them, but they clearly made several bad decisions which started with their departure time. The fact that they got in safely which is what really matters.

Frank & Lee from PII had their kids meeting them in the Bay Islands of Honduras, which meant that they were going to have to scream along the islands off of Nicaragua to get there. After some scrambling, they were able to reroute their kids to San Andres which means that we'll be here for about the next 2+ weeks and will then travel together along Nicaragua. We're all divers, and the waters & diving here is supposed to be fantastic, so this should be fun!

Log ID: 212

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Photos/Video: Photo Album San Andres 

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