On April 1st, we (Rankin, Dave and Sandy) left Panama around 3 p.m. in the afternoon for our next stop in Providencia, Columbia. In the beginning, we motored for about 10 hours after which the wind picked up and blew from a sailable direction. We hoisted the mainsail and unfurled the jib with winds blowing around 12 to 17 knots and seas around 4 to 6 feet and we sailed the remainder of the trip. The boat sailed nicely and was pretty quick. While under sail, we heard a loud bang like a cannon followed by a shudder which we finally realized was the "pounding" described by other catamaran owners. Their descriptions hardly prepared us for the sound and feel, but we quickly realized the boat wasn't coming apart so we relaxed a bit until the bright red bilge light came on. We've got water coming in or just rolling around somewhere in the bilge. We ran around checking the engine compartments and bilges which were fairly dry and then began monitoring how often the light came on ... not too frequently. We continued our trip making good progress toward Providencia and discovered a few more issues: the generator wouldn't start, the starboard engine overheated while entering the harbor at Providencia, and the VHF and SSB radios weren't working well.
We arrived in Providencia around 8 am on Sunday, April 3rd and checked in with Mr. Bush, a physician, an immigration officer, and an agriculture official all of whom came to the boat in a local power boat. We've been to Providencia before back in 2007 and this procedure was definitely new. Apparently, the physician's role was to determine if anyone on board had cholera which has been a concern since the outbreak in Haiti this year. They didn't want anyone leaving the boat even to check in until the phtsician had checked for cholera. We were all cleared and checked in.
We spent a little over a week in Providencia troubleshooting, repairing boat items and touring the island (see pictures below). The starboard engine just required us to change the impeller in the sea water cooling pump. The generator actually didn't have any problems except for user error. We didn't realize we needed to hold down the start button as long as required - talk about feeling foolish not to mention thankful. We determined the VHF could transmit but we were not receiving calls. We were not able to transmit or receive voice on SSB (short wave radio), but at least we could send and receive emails using the SSB. We decided to fix the radios upon our return in the States. Due to radio problems, we made it a point to report our positions to a fellow cruiser friend in the area as we made our way back to the States. Judy Rollinger on Caribbean Blue kept track of us during our travels and deserves a special thanks for all her help. She reported our positions on the Northwest Caribbean net and provided us with a sense of relief just knowing she was keeping an eye out for us. If anything would have gone wrong, we knew that Judy would have our backs. Thanks so much Judy for your help.
Of course after all this hard work, we snorkeled, toured Santa Catalina Island right across the bridge from Providencia and enjoyed a few rum punches at Roland's.
|Mr. Bush and his gang|
|Dave and Rankin|
|Fisherman paddling to shore|
|Rum drinks ... MMMM|
|After a few rum drinks|
|and a few more rum drinks|
After making our repairs, provisioning a bit, jerry jugging about 70 gallons of fuel and checking out, we left Providencia and anchored at Low Cay (just a few miles north). While at Low Cay, we relaxed and snorkeled a bit just waiting for the seas to drop.
|Low Cay an appropriate name|
On Monday, April 11th, we left Low Cay making way for the Cayman Islands.