Thursday, September 13, 2007

Club Nautico, Cartagena

September 13, 2007 Thursday
Club Nautico, Cartagena, Colombia

I looked at some of the stats for our passage from Curacao and found them interesting.

The first 24 hours we sailed 206.8 NM at an average speed of 8.62 knots.
The second 23.5 hours we sailed 168.1 NM at average speed of 7.15 knots.
The third 18.75 hours we sailed 127.8 NM at average speed of 6.82 knots.

Passage total 502.7 NM; total sailing time 66.25 hours, for average speed of 7.59 knots.  And much of that was under only the poled reefed genoa because we were trying to slow down.  Others had warned us that we would not make good time during the final leg of this passage but we found that not to be true.  Maybe the difference was because they took the coastal route and encountered erratic winds and current; whereas we took the offshore route and had fairly consistent winds and very consistent current.  If anyone reading this log ever considers making the same passage, I would recommend angling more toward Cartagena during the final 50 miles of the passage.  That final section was abeam to the large waves and swell; it would have less uncomfortable had our route taken a more gradual angle to reach the same destination.  Another positive of the offshore vs coastal routes is that we experienced far less lightning.  We could see the lightning close to and over the land in the distance on both nights we were off the Colombian coast, but the lightning dissipated before it reached us well offshore each night.  The winds offshore might have been higher than coastal; we won’t know that until we hear BLUEPRINT MATCH fares.

Arrival at Club Nautico is a unique experience.  This is a dilapidated old marina; it was dilapidated years ago but just keeps on attracting cruisers anyway.  The only alternative is to berth at Club de Pesca, which is a private yacht club for wealthy Colombians.  It is a much nicer facility – men are required to wear long pants and collared shirts to enter the dining room and women are required to wear dresses or skirts; linen tablecloths and all the nice stuff.  Club Nautico on the other hand is an ultra-casual, laid back kind of place.  Club Nautico has a happy hour every Wednesday evening and a cruisers’ pot luck dinner on Sundays.  The cruisers who are berthed down at Club de Pesca all come down to Club Nautico for any socialization.  Spanish is the only language spoken at Club de Pesca; at Club Nautico there are several people who speak English quite well.  We originally planned to stay at Club de Pesca but changed our minds and switched to Club Nautico.  Now that we are here, we are glad that we made this decision.  The people here are very, very friendly and very, very, very helpful.

To dock at Club Nautico you are required to have three dock lines of minimum 100-feet each.  We don’t have even one dock line that long, so Bill pieced together the lines that we had on hand and barely managed to come up with what was required.  There is a cable system underwater on the bottom and placed out around the marina docks.  We backed up to the dock and 2 men took the stern lines to hold around dock cleats while the bow was secured.  A diver (using just a snorkel mask) is in the water as you start the docking process.  You throw him one of the 100-feet dock lines and he dives down and ties it onto the cable on the bottom.  This process is repeated twice more.  Then the stern lines are tightened back to the dock as tight as possible, pulling the 3 bow lines very taut.   The boat is now secured; it isn’t moving.  This is a very unusual form of med-mooring.

Cartagena is subject to “chocosonos” – which are wind reversals that sometimes occur suddenly and can blow 40 knots or higher.  These typically occur in the afternoons but can happen at other times as well.  If a boat is not secured quite tautly, then it would be pounded against the dock in a chocosono.  We understand from other cruisers that these chocosonos occur even more frequently in the San Blas Islands, so it is something that we will be dealing with for months.  Most of us have become very familiar with the cool air temps that precede rain.  Here in Cartagena and over in the San Blas, the first sign of an approaching chocosono is the cooler air temp.  Instead of running to close the hatches when we feel the cool air, now we will be running to check the dock lines (and later the anchor).

We needed to fax something to our bank so we walked a couple of blocks to the supermarket; found an ATM to get our first Colombian pesos; and got that tiny bit of business attended to.  One-stop shopping – bread, ATM and fax service – all in one store.  The supermarket is modern, clean and sells anything that we might want.  Milk is sold in refrigerated section and is packed into bags of all things.  Ever bought a bag of milk?  They apparently are big into breads here as the bakery section stocked a huge variety of freshly baked breads in wide assortment of sizes, shapes, textures and varieties.  We tried a half-loaf filled with what we thought was finely chopped sausage and cheese.  Turned out to be a guava filling with white mild cheese and sprinkled with sugar.  Sounds strange but we enjoyed it a lot and called it lunch.  Cost less than a dollar.  We got 100,000 pesos from the ATM.  I checked our bank online this morning and learned that 100,000 pesos is $45 USD; so the exchange rate is 2222.22 pesos to one dollar.  Shades of Venezuela again.  Will take me a week or so get back into thinking in these ridiculous money numbers. 

Last night we went to the happy hour at Club Nautico and chatted with all new people.  Didn’t see anyone that we know but did run into someone who was docked next to us last October in Puerto la Cruz.  We met a couple on a catamaran from Belize and ended up chatting with them most of the evening.  After the happy hour the four of us walked several blocks to a wonderful restaurant and then to Nimos for ice cream.  Bill and I shared an orange sherbet and it was really good.

This morning Bill washed all the salt off top-deck.  I moved all my clothes and things from the forward cabin and head back to the aft stateroom and my head.  Bill keeps his things forward and has “his” bathroom, and I keep all my things aft and have “my” bathroom.  I had moved everything forward back in late July before the kids came to visit and left my stuff up there since Donna and Bruce were also coming.  We don’t expect any visitors any time soon (although many are welcome any time they can meet up with us!), so I moved everything back to normal. 

Being at a dock and having air-conditioning is a must here in Cartegena.  It is HOT!  Heat index today is 105F.  As soon as Bill finished cleaning topsides, it started to rain.  Think this will be an inside day for us.  We plan to be here at least a month, so there will be plenty of time to see the sights.

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