Panama to Colombia Part 3 Sailing through the Storm

After our day in paradise, the next day is without islands and paradise.  It’s open water the remaining voyage to Colombia.

We can not sleep in our cabins.  There are no windows that open for fresh air.  The captain only runs the generators twice a day for a short time, so the toilets are completely full.  He suggests we go over the edge and what shocks us is that the waves are so high, if somebody went overboard doing their business, we would never be able to turn this big boat around to be to pick them up.  On top of that, we’d probably never know somebody was missing until it was too late, or be able to see them in the dark.  Anyway, the stale air stench downstairs on top of the heat was too much to bear.

So Kevin and I took our sleeping bags and pads up to the top roof and slept under the stars. He was like a kid in a candy store, so excited about sleeping on the roof. It was sort of like building a fort when we were kids. He had us all strapped in as we are literally on the roof. If the boat started rocking too much we would definitely roll off one side or the other!

At this stage, the sea was still calm within the island group.  About half way through the night, Kevin started throwing up a lot.  I got worried about him going over the edge, so all I could do is stay with him and get him water.  This continued until the sun came up, the poor thing.  We’ve been on the boat long enough that it can’t be sea sickness.  I think he ate a bad lobster last night, however, the others were not sick.  So it’s still a bit of a mystery.

The captain is usually in his cabin, which leaves either the staff to drive the boat.. or us!  He’s doing well!  The captain is 68 (if he was telling the truth), and his young Colombian wife is around 23.  (ick…)  She more or less runs the boat, the other two young Colombians are making 3 big meals per day, washing dishes, sailing the boat, all boat maintenance.. jumping up every time the captain yells for them from his cabin.  It’s all a bit crazy.

So the following day in the rough seas, we offer to help sail.

Gui, the young Canadian found that if he sails, he is not so sea-sick.  The waves are gigantic now and most of the passengers are throwing up.  I’m not sick at all.  Gui drove for as long as he could.  It was too cute.  He has heavy metal music in his ears and jamming out to the waves, having a good ol’ time.  He did very well too!  Keeping the boat on course is so difficult in these waves!

As I soon found out.  One of the staff teaches me to do the same when Gui took a break.  It was really really hard to keep the boat on track!  Each gigantic wave would knock it to the side and I had to try to steer it back into the waves.  I could have used some heavy metal myself!!

Aussie Dan does his bit to help sail the ship

This is the state of Gui when he wasn’t driving.  And then I’ve got Kevin on the floor next to me at the captains wheel. I feel so bad for them.. and the others around the boat.  Kev’s not throwing up anymore, but he’s not feeling well either.  (He did take that photo of me above at the wheel though. He thought that was cool even though I was doing a horrible job…)

So sick and being in the hot smelly cabins would only make it worse.  They try to sleep and survive up on deck.

The seas got rougher and rougher.  You really needed to hold on to get around, even on this huge 85 foot steel boat.  One of the American girls asked the captain to explain safety or emergency procedures.  He said we will throw you a life jacket.  We asked where the life jackets are so we can help save each other (since he’s mostly in his cabin). He said we have them everywhere.  The boat has 23 passengers for a maximum 20 passenger capacity.  So, where exactly are the life jackets??  We asked often. The German captain kept telling us this boat will never sink.  That’s why he bought it.  Uh… Captain.. ever heard of the Titanic??

Finally Kevin went on a search and found a total of 8 life jackets.  He was livid!!!! Here is a photo of all the life jackets he found.  Kevin’s theory why the captain wouldn’t show us the life jackets in the first place is because he didn’t have enough, and didn’t want that issue.

So happy days have taken a turn for the worse….

We have all of our panniers and gear stuffed inside our little cabin..  Just a photo, that didn’t bother us, totally understandable. On all boats space is limited.

The last night we knew we couldn’t sleep on the roof.  Too dangerous, the boat was rocking and rolling big time in the huge waves.  We couldn’t sleep downstairs either, so we stuck to the little spot on the floor next to the captains chair… and made the most of it. 😉

We really needed to save a place on the floor as the only other option was the small lounge, and all of the passengers need to find a space.  This is the young German couple saving theirs at our feet.

Kevin is feeling much better and the tables of turned.  Now, he is really looking after me instead!  I wasn’t sick, just a bit nervous about the bikes and the boat.  The waves are between 15-30 feet high.  It’s fun for a while, then in the dark it gets a bit scary for me.  He literally just held on to me the whole night. I felt very safe in a rather unsafe situation. After going through most of the world alone, I was really grateful how he took care of me.

In the dark, Kevin did a little sound recording only, no video.  But I just heard it today and was laughing so hard!  I could tell he was using humor to take our minds off the crazy storm.

He’s saying, “Whey didn’t we fly…?”  It was my fault.  Sailing from Panama to Colombia sounded far more fun and adventurous than a boring flight.. for us and our bikes!  I’m not sure I sounded that way when I suggested it though.. ;-)))

We were doing everything we could to keep ourselves braced, Kevin was holding on to me tighter than ever and then BAM!!!!!  This massive wave hit and threw us over to the other side of the boat! We are all soaked, our sleeping mats, everything with sea water.  I ran downstairs to get my SPOT tracker to press the emergency button if we needed help.

When I got downstairs, I found the wave had come through the windows of the lounge where some of the backpackers were trying to sleep.  EVERYTHING is completely broken or soaked with salt water.

I’m watching water pour in to the lower deck and cabins below through the ceiling.. all the bedding and floors are soaked as well. By miracle, the bed in our cabin is not wet.  I stayed downstairs in the smelly place holding on to whatever I could.  Kevin was pissed off and wanted to stay up on deck to keep an eye on the situation and the captain, however coming down often to check on me.

The storm finished about 2 hours later, you could totally feel it.  It wasn’t like we were sleeping.. as much as we tried. The boat was getting calmer and calmer.  Kevin took my waterproof camera for more photos.  It’s a sorry case when the table was one the only place these two could attempt sleep. I’m not totally sure who this is, but it looks like the Australian boys.

As with most things in life, after the storm, the sun always rises in the morning..

Everybody is drying out.. The motorcycles were completely covered in salt water.  Every little bit of metal on each bike is now brown or red.

Cartegena Colombia is in sight.. Hallelujah!

We are all glad this is nearly over and we’ll be leaving the Independence soon.  Despite a rough couple of days, and regardless of a totally trashed boat, the young Colombian staff made us a nice big breakfast.  Kevin and his self-photo talent managed to get everyone in with one arm.. including himself!  It’s good to see so many happy faces again.

It’s also exciting to see South America.  I have wanted to come here all my life.. There is a huge continent ahead, and it looks like it’s not only me that feels this way…

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About kangamerican

Originally from America. Proud citizen of Australia. Currently riding my motorcycle around the world. 44 countries so far and counting. ;-) View all posts by kangamerican

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