September 23, 2007 Sunday
Tonight a pot luck dinner was
held in the Club Nautico clubhouse/bar/restaurant. They put out a large grill, tongs and
flatware with napkins. Each
person/couple brings their own meat/fish/chicken to grill and a dish to share
with everyone else in attendance. You
are expected to purchase beverages from the bar, although you are allowed to
bring a bottle of wine if you want because the bar does not sell wine. Wine is expensive in Colombia for
I spent most of the evening
talking with a German couple who have been cruising for 15 years. They told me a lot about cruising in the Med,
very little of which information was positive --- expensive, way over crowded,
expensive, difficult officials in some countries, expensive, too many
regulations, expensive, contrary winds or no winds at all; and, oh, did I
mention that it is very expensive. In
their opinions the only places to visit in the Med in a cruising yacht are Turkey and Tunisia. They also told me that Croatia charges
$600 USD cruising permit, whether you visit for one week or a year. Croatia also charges a fee even
when you anchor. This couple did not
because the fees were too expensive.
Also, FWIW, I learned that today diesel costs equivalent of $8 USD per
gallon in Turkey. Uh, yeah….. it really does sound expensive in
Tonight I talked with my
friend Barbara back in Texas. She has recently discovered Skype. I am not a Chatty Cathy on the phone (that is
more Bill’s department) and I rarely call anyone, but it was nice to hear Barbara’s
voice and catch up on what’s going on.
Her grandson Jake certainly has quite the Texas accent.
A diver cleaned the barnacles
off our prop today and also off our lines tied underwater to the cable mooring
system. A pilot from the boatyard is
scheduled to arrive about 8 a.m. so we can get to the travel lift during high
tide because the entrance is so shallow.
High tide is only about 8 inches here; but with our deep draft and the
shallow entrance, we will need those additional 8 inches of water under our
September 29, 2007 Saturday
Back at the marina again.
It has been a busy week. The pilot arrived as scheduled Monday morning
and guided us through the mangrove channels to the travel lift during high
tide. There was a whopping 1.8 feet of
water under our keel when we reached the travel lift slip. Lifting the boat was a challenge for several
reasons: obviously the boat must be lifted enough for the deep draft keel to
clear the ground surface and the 40-ton travel lift was not very tall, plus the
width of our beam caused a problem. The
travel lift has a large I-beam along each side, connecting the cables that hold
the lifting bands which slip beneath the boat.
As they would lift the boat and the weight of the boat would settle onto
the lifting bands, these steel I-beams moved closer
together and pressed against our stainless steel life rail and stanchions. We very obviously did not want our life rail
bent or the stanchions broken loose from their base along the toe rail. It required a great deal of maneuvering to
get both beams placed higher than the life rail and also not pressing against
mainmast shrouds. Two hours after
beginning the lifting procedure, we were finally in place in the yard with
chocks and ladder and ready for work to begin.
We stayed at the yard all day
Monday and watched workers doing the various little maintenance jobs. The taxi arrived at about 4 o’clock to take
us to the hotel, and we were more than ready to go. We stayed at Tres Banderas (Hotel 3 Banderas)
in the San Diego
section of Old Town Cartagena, which is located half a block from Plaza San
Diego. This is a small boutique hotel
and was fine for our needs. It was about
one-fourth the price of the Santa Clara Hotel, which is part of the Sofitel
chain and located directly across the street from Plaza San Diego.
Each morning the taxi would
arrive about 9:30 to take Bill to the boatyard. Bill would check on the work being performed
and the taxi would arrive about 4 o’clock to bring him back to the hotel. I walked around the San Diego district on Tuesday but didn’t
really enjoy it very much. Lots of
interesting things to see and the people watching was great, but everyone
stared at the single gringo woman and it made me feel conspicuous; so on
Wednesday and Thursday I pretty much stayed in the hotel room watching
television and playing on the computer all day.
When Bill got back to the hotel each day then we would walk around and search
out restaurants. We enjoyed an
outstanding Italian dinner with a superb bottle of Spanish wine at restaurant
Da Danni. Really enjoyed the bar in the Santa Clara
Hotel, very sophisticated and great music.
One night I had a Martini Bugs Bunny.
Wish we had brought a camera.
Never had an orange martini before, especially one served with a
paper-thin slice of carrot garnishing the rim of the glass. Bill thought I was crazy for ordering such a
thing, but he also knows that I always order the most usual thing on any
menu. After all, you can always have
ordinary at home; you should try different things when you have the
opportunity. Must say, don’t think I
will be having another Martini Bugs Bunny.
One was enough.
Our best evening in town was
our final night in the hotel. We walked
along the top of “the wall” along the beach road. This wall is about 50-feet wide. I had no idea it was so thick until we
reached the top. We walked down from the
wall in an area of town that we had not seen before. Several small tourist buses were unloading
passengers in this area and there were rows of shops, all selling things we
aren’t interested in buying. Amongst
these shops was the neatest bar – dedicated to bull fighters. There were framed posters advertising bull
fights in Spain
spanning 30 years, along with lots of photos of individual bull fighters in
action. They even had half-dozen mounted
bulls’ heads hanging on the walls. We
know nothing about bull fighting; but from what we could gather from some of the
pictures and diagrams of bulls, there are names for each shape of bull. These did not appear to be specific species
of bulls, just different body shapes.
This is not a topic that I want to research but did enjoy looking at all
the memorabilia. The proprietor talked
to us for a long time. The first thing
he said was “Welcome to my country.” He
was very proud of his country and wanted to make sure that we are enjoying Colombia. He told us his name was Colombia. He is a very friendly man and we truly
enjoyed talking with him.
Then we walked the street a bit and came
across a street vendor selling hot dogs.
Bill is not a hot dog kind of guy, but he wanted to try one. He also enjoyed standing around and visiting
with the vendor. This man said that he
sets up in the same place each day, and that he sells approximately 700 hot
dogs every day. Wow! That seems like a lot, but he certainly did
have a steady stream of customers while we were standing in the area and
watching. For 2 mil (2,000 pesos is
called 2 mil – about 90 cents US) you get a good-sized hot dog on a delicious
bun, topped with finely chopped onions and crushed potato chips with streams of
mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise and 2 other sauces that we couldn’t identify. They were great; so good that we bought a
third one to split.
Then we spotted a street
vendor selling arepas con queso. I love
arepas. These are made from corn flour
and look like corn tortillas on steroids, about ¼-inch thick. Arepas are heated on a flat griddle or skillet. Then the vendor would slice partially like
you might open pita bread to fill as a sandwich, and he would place a slather
of a creamy white cheese inside the hot arepa and hand it to you wrapped in a
paper napkin. This is not cream cheese
as we know it in the states; it tastes different. I buy arepas in the supermarket and have them
We had an evening of hot
dogs, arepas, grape drink and beer. This
was our least expensive evening out so far in Cartagena and one of the most enjoyable. Bill called it our night of getting to know Colombia since
we were out among the locals in their city neighborhood environment.
The taxi picked us up early
on Friday morning so we could arrive at the boatyard at 8 o’clock. Everything was supposed to be finished Friday
morning. High tide was shortly after
noon, so we wanted to be back in the water immediately after lunch. Our boat was cradled in the travel lift; the
workers broke for lunch; and when the “end lunch” whistle sounded the travel
lift started moving us to the travel lift slip.
Going back into the water was much easier than lifting out for some
reason. There was not a bit of trouble
with those steel beams pressing against our life rail or stanchions. We followed our chartplotter track of the way
we came in, and getting out was simple.
Arrived back in the marina and tied up and everything is now back to
normal. Good to be back in our home.
A couple of things were of
interest in the boatyard. First was that
a boat that had been sitting for months in a marina was seized by the Colombian
government because the man who claimed to be the owner could not provide
documentation proving that he was indeed the owner. So the port authorities impounded the boat
and had it delivered to Ferroaquilmar boatyard.
This boat was literally covered in barnacles. The barnacles had to be 4-inches thick. There were even oysters growing on it! There is a photo attached to this posting so
you can see how badly the barnacles grow here in Cartagena.
is supposed to be the worst place in the entire world for barnacle growth. You need to have a diver clean your prop and
check the bottom every 2 weeks while your boat is in the water here. This costs only about $15.
The second thing was a
Venezuelan looking fishing boat that arrived Thursday morning. Do not know how that boat made its way to the
travel lift area because it was large and had no working motor. At one point this boat went aground and a
single man pushed it back into water deep enough for it to float. The boat was too big to fit into the travel
lift slip, so they used 2 cranes to lift it and move it to a work area of the
yard. The men who had come on the boat then
started working on it. This is a wooden
boat and many planks on the hull needed replacing. These men were using the only tools they had
available and were doing a darn good job of repairing that boat. They had an ax, a pick ax and a machete. The only thing they used for making
measurements was a divider compass and pencil. It is amazing to see what these people can
accomplish with whatever tools and materials are available. They have learned to make do with what they
This morning our anchor chain
was delivered; we were not expecting it back so soon. The chain was fine but we had it
re-galvanized anyway in hopes that it will last several years longer. We wanted to take advantage of being docked
at a marina and also being in a country where it is still possible to have this
done. A man in a dinghy comes to the
bow of your boat and you use the electric windlass to lower your anchor chain
into the dinghy. It is taken to Barranquilla where it is
hot-dipped into the zinc mixture and tumbled.
Tumbling is very important so that the zinc doesn’t clump and fill up
some of the chain links. The chain is
then delivered in the dinghy back to the bow of your boat and you use the
electric windlass to haul it all back into the chain locker. Talk about making hard work easy! The whole process takes a couple of weeks and
we were not expecting our chain back until next Wednesday. The chain looks brand new again for a
fraction of the cost of replacement.
We had purchased an
additional 25 meters of chain in Grenada. Then we ordered a quick-connect link and that
was delivered to us when Aaron and the kids visited in Bonaire. Bill first put the new 25 meters into the
chain locker and then used the quick-connect link to connect it to the old
chain, then used the windlass to lower all the chain back into the chain
locker. So now we have slightly more
than 100 meters of anchor chain on our primary anchor. We
also will have the quick-connect link spot-welded before we leave Cartagena. That isn’t necessary but would make us feel
Remember the fruit lady who I
mentioned recently? She walks around
daily with a large bowl of fruit on her head and calls out what type fruits she
has available to sell. She also has a
tiny machete in that bowl and will cut up the fruits you select to make you an
on-the-spot fresh fruit salad. Well, she
came by to visit one day. She was
walking down the dock last Sunday and saw Bill, and she asked him if she could
come aboard our boat. Mind you, she was
speaking Spanish; so something might have been lost in the translation; but
that is what Bill believes she said to him. It was her day off from regular work, so she
did not have the large bowl of fruit on her head. I was down below and heard Bill calling me to
come into the cockpit because we had a visitor.
We sat in the cockpit and talked in Spanglish for about half an
hour. Her name is Maria, Maria,
Maria. Why you have to say Maria 3
times, we have no idea; but she says her name that way. She was nice and we enjoyed chatting with her
but still are puzzled why she wanted to come sit and talk on our boat. She did not go to any other boat at this
marina to visit. Guess we seemed special
to her in some unknown way.
Last night at the
weekly Wednesday happy hour at the bar here in Club Nautico a couple of
cruisers (who shall remain unnamed) told us all about their experiences in the
San Blas Islands, other parts of Panama and locally here in Colombia. It is always good to hear from people who are
familiar with places that we have not yet visited; however, one thing they
bragged about struck me as just plain wrong.
They bragged about how many small lobsters they could buy in the San
Blas for less than $5 USD. The large
lobsters are now exported (mainly to the US), so only smaller lobsters are
available from the local fisherman in San Blas.
You are no longer permitted to harvest lobster yourself; you must buy from
a Kuna; which I think is only right since you are in their waters and that is
their livelihood. But these cruisers
said sometimes they would buy lobsters that were barely bigger than large
shrimp. That is just plain wrong! The small lobsters should be allowed to grow
and multiply before being harvested. If
this practice of cruisers continuing to buy tiny and immature lobsters
continues, then the San Blas Islands will have a lobster shortage just like
that now experienced in the rest of the Caribbean. Can’t blame the poor Kuna fishermen because
they are just trying to make a living with what they have, but the cruisers
should know better. The cruisers should
refuse to buy the tiny lobsters and ask that they be returned to the sea to
grow and multiply. If we don’t buy the
tiny ones then the Kuna will stop harvesting and trying to sell them! Use a little common sense folks!
The Club de Pesca
crowd also talked about how much nicer the facilities are in Club de Pesca than
here are Club Nautico. They are correct;
we have seen that. But, if it is so
great down at Club de Pesca then why are they doing all their socializing here
at Club Nautico. Because the cruisers
gather at Club Nautico, that’s why.
Either place is fine and we are very happy with the people here at Club
Nautico. We do have our passarelle for
access from the dock to our boat instead of having to use one of those big
planks that hang out from the dock to each boat. That does make a difference in how you feel
about this place. I would hate to have
to walk that plank every time I wanted off or onto our boat! Our passarelle is controlled by a halyard and
we lift it when not in use, and lower it only when we are getting off the boat. It has a hand line and stanchion to hold onto
as you walk the passarelle, plus the dinghy davit is right there so you can
also hold onto it. Makes for a more
secure feeling when walking that narrow passarelle. When I tried walking the plank to get onto
BLUEPRINT MATCH the other day, I flat could not do it! Bill moved the plank closer to their dinghy
and I managed to get on and off that boat by touching the dinghy for balance,
but it is rather disconcerting to walk the plank over the water while watching
the moving stern of a boat so you can step onto it at the right movement. It makes you feel dizzy. I am just not that coordinated.
Past few days
have been very hot and humid, so much so that we have pretty much hibernated
inside with the air-conditioning. Walked
around Manga a bit just to get some exercise; but saw nothing exciting, just a
typical neighborhood. Last Sunday we did
walk over the bridge into the Getsemani District of Cartagena. It is the district inside the first thick
wall of Old Town Cartagena. All the shops
were closed since it was a Sunday afternoon; only a few restaurants were open
but we weren’t hungry at that time of day and in that humidity and heat. It was fun walking the very narrow streets
and the very old stone buildings with balconies filled with flowering plants
overhanging the narrow sidewalks.
At Plaza Trinidad
Bill bought me a ice treat—what we would call a snowcone. It tasted wonderful and really was an ice
treat to cool off on a hot afternoon. A
man with a wheeled cart had 5 flavors of syrup flavorings in plastic bottles
with squirt dispensers on the bottom edge.
He had solid pieces of ice that had obviously been frozen in small deep
bowls and he would hand grind one bowl of ice to make each snowcone. The hand-crank grinder looked to be at least
100 years old. Then he would dispense as
many flavors of flavoring as you chose onto the ice in a the paper cup. He then drizzled condensed sweetened
evaporated milk all over it; put in a straw; and handed to me. This cost 1 mil (1,000 pesos or 45 cents
US) It tasted great. Bill wouldn’t touch it; he said because of
the condensed milk on top. You know how
doubtful that stuff must have been after sitting in the heat all day! I thoroughly enjoyed it as I tried not to
think about the quality of the water that had been used to make that ice. Since I didn’t get sick later, I probably
will enjoy more snowcones---but without that milk on top. All I really want is the sweetened ice
watching the local people just hanging out at Plaza Trinidad. Lots of kids playing in the plaza. The church looked ancient. After finishing the snowcone we decided to
return to the boat and do more sightseeing another day. We had no map or diagram and had no idea
where we were or the significance of what we were looking at. You really need a good tour guide to tell you
about the history of all these buildings; otherwise, you are just looking at
old buildings. Hopefully we will
eventually get around to finding DuranDuran; he is supposed to be the best
we started to grab a taxi to go into the Centro District of Old Town
Cartagena. We made it as far as the end
of the marina dock before deciding that it was just too darn hot and that we
would enjoy it more if we waited until early evening. So, back to hibernate for another day inside
our air-conditioning. We each grabbed
our laptops and played computer games all day since the internet wasn’t working
well. I think too many people in this
marina take their laptops down to the bar and spend the entire day talking on
Skype. That uses up all the bandwidth
during prime hours, IMHO.
A little after 5
p.m. we decided that the sun was low enough that we could be reasonably
comfortable walking around narrow stone streets between hot stone buildings, so
we dressed again and caught a taxi to the Centro District. Cartagena
is divided into several districts.
There are 2 very thick old stone walls that encircle the old town
districts. Our marina is located on a
small island called Manga which is just southeast of Old Town. It is an easy walk over the bridge to enter
the first thick wall which surrounds the Getsemani District of the old city Cartagena. That is where we walked around last
Sunday. If you walk straight through the
Getsemani District then you pass the Centre Convenciones. After the convention center you pass through
another thick stone wall surrounding the Centro District (directly in front of
you through the Clock Tower entrance of the inner wall) and the San Diego District
of the old city (to the right or north of Centro). There is also anther area called La Matuna
which is off to the right separating Getsemani and San Diego.
I have not been able to find out what La Matuna is all about; it is
inside the first wall but outside the inner wall, and there is another partial
wall around part of it. The other 3
districts (Getsemani, Centro and San
Diego) are filled with shops, restaurants, bars,
churches, libraries and museums. The La
Matuna area is a mystery to me as I can’t find information on anything that is
supposed to be located there.
We told the taxi
driver to take us to Plaza Simon Bolivar in Centro. He drove straight through Getsemani where we
had walked last Sunday. Then he turned
left around the south side of Centro and followed the wall around to the beach
side. There he found that the entrance
that he had planned to use into the walled city was closed for the
evening. The tourism police do this to
ensure safety for the hundreds of walking tourists at night in this historical
district. So the taxi followed exterior
of the wall along the beach almost to the end, where he finally found another
entrance through the wall that was not closed for the evening. This brought us into the walled city into the
San Diego District, which is where our hotel is located where we will stay
while the boat is hauled next week. The
taxi proceeded through the San Diego District southward to the Centro District;
so we sort of got a little driving tour most of the way around the old walled
city and then most of the way straight through it. Those streets are really narrow for
automobiles, and the taxi was a very small car.
When the taxi
finally reached the corner to turn towards our destination of Plaza Simon
Bolivar, he found that street closed by the Tourism Police as well. So we hopped out of the taxi and began our
self-guided walk around the Centro District.
At this point I should mention that we see more police in Cartagena, and different
kinds of police, than we have seen anywhere.
Not to forget also the private security guards that are absolutely
everywhere, most carrying guns and looking like they are not people who should
be doing so. So far in our limited
travel around the city we have seen Municipal Police, Museum Police, Tourism
Police, Traffic Police, the Colonia Policia and the plain Policia. And we have not seen one policeman detaining
one single person. Seems pretty safe
here as long as you use common city sense.
District is literally filled with shops of every kind. Lots of clothing and shoe shops, mostly
higher quality items. We walked for a
couple of hours and finally decided it was time for dinner. The restaurants have good-looking babes
standing in the streets with menus. Most
of them wear tight skimpy tops and tight jeans with high-heeled sandals to get
attention. They approach you as you walk
down the street and try their best to get you to eat at their restaurant. Same hawking is true for the hundreds of
jewelry stores, except the jewelry stores all use men who are not nearly as
attractive as the restaurant babes.
We chose an
upstairs restaurant with a balcony table overlooking the Plaza Santo
Domingo. This provided us with a
wonderful opportunity to people watch on a Saturday night as this is the most
popular plaza in Cartagena. I had mango ceviche appetizer and fabulous
seafood pasta; Bill had a less-than-stellar churrasco (steak). This meal cost more than twice the price of
the great meal that we had enjoyed at the lovely de Oliva on our first night in
Cartagena. Still not an expensive evening at 92,000
pesos ($41.50) including both taxis and dinner with tip.
watching was fun. A dance troupe
performed in the street; there was a mime; a man juggling fire sticks; several
table-side guitar players for the 3 restaurants whose tables fill the plaza at
night; a puppeteer; and a couple of the black boys that are famous in
Cartagena. These boys (appear to be very
young men or teenagers) paint their skin and clothing totally black. They sometimes cavort around but mostly just
sit quietly with a black-painted can placed in front of them to collect
tips. We have heard that these black
boys can cause problems during carnival by ganging around tourists and
demanding money, getting black paint onto the tourists if they don’t give
enough money or sometimes resorting to robbing the tourists. But all the black boys that we saw this
evening were quiet and well-behaved.
It was a fun
evening. Still can’t believe we are
actually in Cartagena.
September 17, 2007 Monday
No more Chocosanos over the
weekend, thank goodness. Things have
been quiet except for a couple of unbelievable lightning storms. Really glad our insurance rider is in
effect! We have walked around, nothing
too adventurous as it is too hot and humid.
We just cannot seem to get out and get moving early in the morning
before the day heats up.
We tried out a restaurant called
Arape that was recommended for steaks.
Bill ordered the medium size lomo fino which was 300 grams of beef. The regular size lomo fino was 500
grams. Who could eat that much at one
dinner! As it was, even though he liked
it; Bill only ate about half of his meal.
What a shame to waste that good steak.
I ordered a dish called pollo relleno, knowing full well that it would
not be anything like what would be served in Houston, Texas. And it wasn’t. But it was very good. It was chicken breast in a very tiny amount
of red sauce of some kind that had almonds in it. The nuts really completed this dish; it was
quite good. Like Bill, I could only eat
about half of the amount served.
Bill has wanted to try the
marina restaurant for lunch but hasn’t yet been able to wait until their hours
of lunch service. He is accustomed to
eating lunch promptly at noon, and lunch isn’t served locally until about 2:00
p.m. They also eat dinner very
late. You can tell the cruisers in the
local restaurants because we all want to eat between 6 and 8 each evening. The locals don’t eat dinner until more like
10 to 11 p.m. Different culture; but
Bill will never adjust to those meal times, no matter how many packages of
crackers and cookies he eats between meals.
I think I am going to get my
hair cut this afternoon. After we left
the restaurant Saturday night we noticed a hair salon down the street. It was open at 8:30 on a Saturday night,
which I thought was odd for a shop that is not in a mall. So I walked in and tried to get a
haircut. They would have done it then
except that there is only one guy in that shop who cuts women’s long hair. Others were doing men’s hair and others were doing
women’s short hair cuts, but only Alain does long hair cuts for women. So the receptionist made an appointment for
me for 2:00 p.m. Monday. Mind you, all
this communication is being done with no one in the shop speaking English and
me not speaking Spanish. But I think we
managed to communicate okay. Will know
for sure when I show up for what I understand to be a two o’clock appointment
this afternoon. I figure a haircut here
can’t possibly be any worse than the cut I got in Grenada in May. Wish me luck.
September 18, 2007 Tuesday
Yep, did get my haircut; it
cost only $9 USD vs the $55 I paid in Greneda and this guy did a much better
cut. Nicely appointed L’Oreal
salon. Couldn’t believe the price was
such a bargain. Of course, other cruisers here have found places to get haircuts for as little as $3 but I'll stick with the L'Oreal salon.
We are spending the day holed
up inside our air-conditioned boat. Feel
like we should be out sight-seeing, but since we plan to be here about 2 months
it is hard to feel any sense of urgency about it. Bill has been searching the internet today
trying to find a hotel in Old
Town section where we can
stay for a couple of nights next week while our boat is hauled. I have been searching the internet trying to
find just where we might want to visit for tourist stuff. Can’t believe we did not buy a visitors guide
for Cartagena. Too late to do that now because everything
sold here is in Spanish.
Remember the photo of the
fruit lady that I posted last week? I
found the following letter online to a newspaper about these women:
“Fruit, fruit juices and fruit sweets are among the unforgettable
experiences in Cartagena.
No one has described them better than Anastasia Moloney in the Guardian Weekly:
Every day black women draped in flowing, colourful dresses stroll along Cartagena's stretch of
grey-sanded beach. They effortlessly balance large bowls of tropical fruits on
their heads. These sturdy women are known as the palenqueras, named after their
native town of Palenque.
Over the centuries these fruit queens have become a symbol of the city.
The palenqueras carry an array of fruits that are commonplace and in
abundance in Colombia
all year round. These range from oversized papayas, mini-mangoes, yellowy
banana passion fruits, bitter tree tomatoes, guavas, pitayas, succulent
pineapples and sweet green feijoas to tangy orange lulos shaped liked tomatoes
and the juicy white flesh of the soursops.
Using a small machete, the palenqueras peel and slice these fruits with the
flair of an artist and in a matter of minutes rustle up a fruit salad to your
individual tastes for less than $4 a go.
The king of fruits, as it's the most expensive, is the mangostino. It is a
rare leathery deep purple fruit that looks a bit like a pomegranate. Inside is
a succulent aromatic white flesh, with a similar texture to a lychee.
My favourite is granadilla, a round, orange shiny fruit with a thick,
brittle rind, known to be good for the digestive system. Inside are fragrant
crunchy black seeds in a jelly-like pulp, which despite looking like frog
spawn, is delicious and refreshing.
Street vendors sell peeled strips of unripe mango served with honey and
salt, giving a bittersweet taste that Colombians crave. Along the narrow
streets, fruit-sellers wheel carts laden with pyramids of ripe avocadoes the
size of small melons.”
September 14, 2007 Friday
About 2:00 p.m. yesterday
afternoon the sky suddenly darkened.
About 3 minutes later one of the notorious Chocosanos arrived! Everything we had heard and read about these
sudden high-wind storms was true.
Chocosanos are a local phenomenon that also occurs in the San Blas
Islands. These are very sudden, high,
sustained, straight-line winds that may or may not be accompanied by rain. They usually last 30 minutes to an hour, but
have been known to last as long as 3 hours.
The winds yesterday afternoon
topped at 35 knots. That doesn’t sound
like all that much because we have encountered 35 knot winds while out sailing
and managed just fine. But these winds
are different. Best description I can
give is that they are straight-line solid winds, not gusting winds. This makes a huge difference.
Now we understand why boats
are required to have three 100-foot bow lines tied to the underwater cable
anchoring system here at Club Nautico.
The winds started directly on our bow.
They slowly clocked to our port beam, without ever letting up a
bit. The strong wind caused the water to
become extremely agitated and caused all the boats to start hobby-horsing like
crazy. Everyone was instantly up in
their cockpits ready to start their engines if a bow line failed or if the
lines stretched too far and let their sterns pound into the dock behind
them. It was most exciting – an
excitement that we would just as soon not experienced.
Then heavy rain began to blow
with the strong winds. The whole thing
lasted about 30 minutes as best I remember.
Then it was perfectly calm and still.
I have read that these Chocosanos typically occur in afternoons but the
other cruisers here at the marina said that lately these storms have been
happening about 3 a.m. We are glad that
the first one that we experienced was during the daylight. Now we have an idea of what to expect.
All the boats on our dock
were fine after the storm passed, but a catamaran on another dock lost one of
its bow lines. It would have been
pounded into the dock behind it except for a French sailor berthed next to
them. The 42-foot Manta catamaran has
two 20-horsepower engines. These two
engines were not strong enough to hold the catamaran away from the dock at
their stern. The Frenchman tied a line
to the catamaran and started his engine.
He used his boat to help keep the catamaran off the dock until the winds
passed. This is the second time the
Frenchman has come to the aid of that catamaran this month during these
Chocosanos. How disastrous would it be
if the owners were off shopping or doing tourist things when these winds
suddenly appeared! Makes you want to be
close to home during the afternoon just to be on the safe side.
Then, at 2:00 a.m. this
morning we experienced our second Chocosanos!
This is most unusual to experience two in less than 24 hours, and these
were only 12 hours apart! The one this
morning did not have any accompanying rain, just the high sustained winds. All the boats were again hobby-horsing all
over the place. I was very concerned
about the boat on our port side. It has
a large pulpit on the bow that would really beat up our boat, and their bow
lines don’t look very heavy-duty to me.
In fact, I think all three of those lines look pretty darn flimsy
considering the strain that they must hold.
Plus, that boat does not have any spring lines rigged to the concrete
pillars on the dock behind us. Thank
goodness that Bill thought to add two spring lines. These help keep our bow from turning when the
winds come off the beam. Since the boat
next door doesn’t have any spring lines rigged, his bow was being blown sideways
and getting much too close to our boat.
We have spare fenders out and ready to try to fend him off if necessary,
but I would hate to have to do that because I am afraid one of us could be
badly injured as much as that boat was rearing up and kicking all over the
place. A foot or hand between our two
tossing boats would be instantly crushed to little bits. Our boat is 27 tons and his is at least that
much if not considerably more. Not a
pretty thought! But we didn’t collide so
all was well.
Some people leave their boats
here while doing inland travel in South America – not in Colombia
because that is still too dangerous. But
people do fly from Cartagena to various
destinations in South America. They are required to designate or hire
someone to care for their boat in their absence. After going through one of these Chocosanos,
Bill and I know for certain that we would never leave our boat here in Cartagena while we
traveled elsewhere. We would be worried
sick about our boat the entire time and would not be able to enjoy the
We hope to get some routine
maintenance chores performed here in Colombia where the labor is so
inexpensive. One of the things that has
bothered Bill for the past year is the turnbuckles. The guy in Trinidad
last summer put an acid-based cleaner on the turnbuckles when he was cleaning
our boat. This discolored the
turnbuckles. They truly don’t look that
noticeable, but they are not the shiny stainless that Bill wants them to
be. He is forever polishing the
stainless rail and stanchions, etc., and likes all the metal to gleam
spotless. (Frankly, I doubt that I would
ever even notice those turnbuckles; but they bug Bill to no end.)
Yesterday Bill hired a guy to
act as a general manager for the various jobs that he wants performed. First assignment was to find a stainless man
to polish the turnbuckles with jewelers rouge.
Bill had read that this would be the only way to get the turnbuckles
back to their original gleaming state.
Alberto, our project general manager, located a stainless man and had
him come inspect our boat. Turns out
that our stainless steel turnbuckles are not stainless steel after all. Our turnbuckles are solid bronze with chrome
plating to make them appear to be stainless steel. Seems like Amel would have made a bigger deal
about that fact. Bronze is the preferred
metal. We were pleasantly surprised to
learn that these turnbuckles are solid bronze.
The stainless man did use jewelers rouge to clean one of the turnbuckles
as a sample of what he can do if he is assigned the job, and that turnbuckle
gleamed again. Made Bill very
happy. So the stainless man is hired to
polish all the turnbuckles.
Bill also wants the hull
waxed again, with special attention to the boot stripe and that small white
line between the boot stripe and the bottom paint. That little strip never gets waxed when we
get a bottom job. The painters always
tape it off so they will have a straight edge on the bottom paint. The waxers just wax the sides of the hull
down to that tape. When both jobs are
finished then the tape is removed and that tiny strip never gets touched. And that tiny strip turns yellow-brown and
crap starts growing on it immediately.
It is a constant chore to clean marine growth off it. Another project is to repair a scratch on the
bottom edge of the keel. The bottom
paint got scraped a little on a rocky/shell bottom and we want another coat of
bottom paint applied to the keel. Labor
rates here in Cartagena
range from $20 to $30 for an 8-hour day.
That is incredibly cheap!!
So we hope to arrange to have
the boat hauled for these maintenance projects.
It is just so inexpensive here that if we don’t haul then we would be
kicking ourselves for the next year every time we have to scrub the water edge
of the hull. Hauling out is a bit
cumbersome because you are not allowed to move your boat at all without first
obtaining a letter from the Port Authority granting you permission to do
so. The Port Captain does not deal with
private yachts so that means that our agent must first obtain this letter for
us before we can move to the haul-out facility and boatyard. Hoping to do this next week. This will also allow the project general
manager time to locate the various laborers and materials that will be needed. Bill already met with the boatyard manager
and learned that hauling, boatyard time and splashing will cost only about
$400. Again, that is very inexpensive
for a 53-foot boat.
While the boat is hauled
(about 3 days?) Bill and I plan to stay in a hotel or hostal in Old Town. That should be fun. We are looking forward to it.
Today we walked around and
visited every ATM we could find. Each
ATM would allow only 300,000 pesos per withdrawal. We each withdrew 300,000 at three different
banks; giving us a total of 1,800,000 pesos.
Sounds like a lot of money until you do the conversion. That is only $810 USD. We must pay cash for the marina and
everything else; no credit cards accepted and they don’t want US dollars. Guess we will be visiting the ATMs frequently
to accumulate enough pesos to cover our needs.
We like it here so much that
we might stay two months rather than one.
Kind of depends on how often these Chocosanos happen. Wonder how long it takes to get accustomed to
September 13, 2007 Thursday
Club Nautico, Cartagena, Colombia
I looked at some of the stats
for our passage from Curacao and found them
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
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.
Log covers 10 Sept afternoon to 12 Sept 2007 morning,
Five Bays to Cartagena:
This morning a local man
paddled out to our boat in a hand-hewn dugout canoe to tell us “Bienvenidos a
la Colombia!” A nice man named Ricardo Garcia. He makes it a point to say hello to as many
visiting yachts as possible. Likes to
collect their boat cards. We gave him a
pack of cigarettes from our bribe stash and that seemed to make his day. He spoke only Spanish but we managed to
communicate just fine. We loaned 4 jerry
cans of diesel to Paul on BLUEPRINT MATCH because he had only ¼ tank left. They plan to stay in this lovely bay for a
few days. We left Five Bays shortly
after 1:00 p.m. Had a truly gorgeous
sail all afternoon. Then had a good shower
on deck before dark set in. I think Bill
has become a convert to deck showers at sea; much more comfortable than trying
to shower down in the head of a tossing boat.
In the late afternoon we
passed a very large platform of some kind which was not shown on either of our
charts. Did not look like an oil
platform or a natural gas platform. Not
sure what it was. But it certainly was
There were a couple of
submarine cable laying ships working in the path of our route. We had to divert slightly to allow sufficient
room for clearance of the cable.
Tues 2040 (8:40 p.m.) 11.11.234N; 074.56.904W; Course 263 true; 8.2 kts SOG; wind 18 kts
true; seas 8-10 ft following swell. Full
genoa poled to port & full mizzen.
Going too fast and will arrive in darkness if don’t slow down soon.
“Red over Red, the Captains
dead” came back to mind when we saw another cable laying ship after dark and
she was displaying 3 red lights, one over another. I will have to check our USCG rules book
because I thought there were different light schemes for a vessel not under
command and a vessel constrained in her maneuverability due to the nature of
her work. At any rate, this is the first
time we have encountered the 3 stacked all-round red lights in use.
Tues 2145 11.10.018N; 075.05.064W; Course 247 true; 6.6
kts SOG; wind 22.6 kts true; following seas 8-10 ft. Took in mizzen; sailing with double reefed
genoa only; still going too fast. Going
faster was much more comfortable.
Rolling a lot more now that we have taken in mizzen and have slowed a
bit. Thousands and thousands of heavy
bright stars. Lots of shipping traffic.
Tues 2355 11.04.262N; 075.18.590W; Course 247 true; 5.6 SOG; wind 22.6 true;
following seas 8-10 ft.; double reefed genoa only. Passed 2 more ships off port side.
I did not update during the
night because it was again too rough.
There was lots of large ships passing all night long. The pleasant sailing vaporized during the
night, and it was very uncomfortable by daybreak. That is when we made the turn to head down to
the entrance at Boca Grande. There is an
underwater rock wall all the way across the entrance at Boca Grande. It was built by the Spanish to keep the
English out I don’t remember how long ago.
Anyway, when we made that turn it placed us beam to the waves; so it was
a miserable final 3 hours in the highest winds of the entire trip, sustained
28-30 knots. And to top it off, when we
attempted to take in the sails and start the engine we learned that the prop
was fouled! Bill gunned the engine
alternating forward and reverse until he began to get some positive
results. What a place to have a fouled
prop! Very large seas in 30 knots of
wind well offshore. He got the engine to
work acceptably for the time being and then we realized that our electronic
charting was screwed up. It was no
longer indicating any boat speed or depth and the little boat icon on the
screen started sailing sideways. Then
the icon turned around and we completed the passage with our little boat image
sailing in reverse. That really plays
with a very tired mind accustomed to the boat pointing in the direction on the
monitor that it is going.
A really good surprise is
that the narrow entrance through the submerged rock wall is now well marked
with huge red and green buoys. That was
a load off our minds! The entrance only
allows clearance for 2.35 meters draft and our draft is 2.05 meters. We had been concerned about this entrance
because it hasn’t been marked in recent years.
We were quite relieved to find such nice navigational markers in place.
Wed 0900 Arrived Cartagena. 10.24.676N; 075.32.525W; moored at Club
Nautico. Man, it is HOT in Cartagena. People are very nice and friendly. We are tired and hot and hungry. And very glad to be here in Cartagena.
Log covers 9 Sept – 10 Sept 2007; passage Curacao to
Five Bays, Colombia:
This log is somewhat
scattered in date order. Sorry about
We moved out to Anchorage E
in Spaanse Waters after our friends Donna & Bruce left last Wednesday. Of course, as chance would have it, the
weather turned perfect sailing conditions shortly after they departed. What a shame they flew all the way to Curacao for a sailing vacation and never left the
dock. But they did get to see the
island. And they got to experience
hurricane preparations for a boat. It
was great to be back out on anchor. We
like that so much better than staying in a marina.
We went to the cruisers’
happy hour at Sari Fundy’s on Thursday and met 2 couples who just returned from
San Blas Islands, Bocas del Toro, Panama City and Cartagena.
They came to our boat on Friday evening and gave us a wealth of
information about all locations. A big
thank-you to Rico & Jackson on S/V APPARITION and to Jim & Michelle on
S/V WIND MACHINE. They both use the same
Maxsea software that we use, and Rico provided us with actual tracks into Boca
Grande at Cartagena
and into various anchorages in San Blas Islands. We also learned from them that the
navigational markers are again in place in Cartagena for the narrow entrance through the
underwater rock wall. Yahoo!!! That is a big worry that we can now forget
BTW, I took the free bus from
Sari Fundy’s on Friday morning to the Centrum Supermarket. FWIW, Centrum is far superior to Strada which
is recommended so highly in the cruisers’ guide. I would recommend visiting both because
Strada does offer some items that are not found in Centrum, and the prices are
lower at Strada. But Centrum is as big
and nice as any supermarket in any large city in the states. We did not need anything, but we wanted to use
up all our guilders (NAF—Netherland Antilles Florin) as we will not be back in
Curacao or Bonaire any time in the near
Saturday morning we prepped
the boat for the long (for us!) passage to Cartagena.
We rigged both poles because we will be flying the genoa on the port
side until well past Aruba; then we make a
turn and will be flying the genoa on the starboard side. Better to rig everything now rather than
dealing with it at sea. Outboard engine
is mounted on the rail and the dinghy is tied down on the mizzen deck. We could have left the dinghy on the stern
davits, but I have read too many logs of people getting swamped on this passage
by big seas filling the dinghy on davits.
Better safe than sorry. Then I
cooked 3 meals so all I need to do at sea is reheat. We are set to leave at 4:00 p.m. so that we
should arrive in Cartagena
on Tuesday mid-day, assuming no bad weather is encountered. We are both freshly showered (important to
start off squeaky clean when we know it isn’t likely that either of us will
have another chance to shower until this passage is complete) and ready to go.
We just learned that S/V
BLUEPRINT MATCH is also enroute to Cartagena. They moored at Monjes del Sur (the Venezuelan
rocks with the rope tied between) last night.
They are traveling with S/V RED THREAD, whom we do not know. It will be interesting to later compare the
experiences of us on the offshore route at the same time they are on the
Trip Log: (note that this was written during the
passage; our opinions of the passage changed to a more positive note after we
reached our destination, turned on the air-conditioning, had a shower and ate a
Sat Sept 8, 2007 1520 (3:20 p.m.) anchor up and left Spaanse
Water channel entrance about 1545.
Course 306 mag; wind 20 kts ESE, gusting 24 kts.
Sat 1745 12.10.334N; 069.05.501W Boat speed 8.16 SOG; course 316 mag; wind
20-25 kts ESE; 6 ft seas; passed well astern of 2 large ships, both headed SE. Sails: full genoa poled to port and full
mizzen, double reefed main. Bill finally
might have learned to sleep at sea. He
is asleep and I am taking the first night watch tonight. Pork chop sandwiches for dinner.
Sun noon. Spoke too early; Bill has not learned to
sleep at sea. He came top deck last
night at 2130 after unsuccessful attempts to sleep for 4 hours. That was the precise moment when I chose to
blow my dinner all over the deck—much too rough to attempt to get to the rail,
safer to kneel on the seat of the cockpit and puke out onto the deck; easy
enough to wash the deck down with the water hose. We were rolling very badly all night and I
was seasick all night. Bill took care of
everything while I tried to sleep it off in the cockpit. At 0430 we took in the sails and motored
until daylight; needed to charge the batteries anyway. At daylight we set the genoa poled out to
starboard and mizzen to starboard. With
only those 2 sails we are making about 8 knots SOG; course 285; wind down to
just under 20 knots; seas 8-10 feet and very confused. There are white caps curling in every
direction and patches of foam, while the current and general main direction of
the waves are in the direction we are headed.
Still rolly. Passed one ship
within 2 miles and saw 2 others far in the distance. Our fastest speed overnight was 10.8
knots!! That is when we reefed down the
Sun 1530 During the past 24 hours we have sailed 206.8
Sun 1645 12.48.057N; 071.58.683W Boat speed 8 knots SOG; course 265 mag; winds
same; seas larger at 12 feet. Have not
seen any other vessels since making the turn over Aruba. This is not a pleasant downwind sail. It is test of endurance. We both have been catnapping all day. We both are tired of this motion.
Sun 2130 12.35.621N; 072.34.966W Boat speed 8.20 SOG; course 255 mag; winds
lighter at 16-18 knots; seas much smoother at 8 feet; quite a lightning show over on the Colombian
mainland. Bill managed to get a shower
down in the head tonight. Not me. No way in Hades that I would go down there in
a shower with the boat moving this much.
Mon 0315 Wow, my watch again. My, how time flies. 12.09.769W; 73.14.501W Course 230 mag; boat speed 8.56 SOG; true
wind speed at 22.5 knots but feels much lighter; seas calm –can’t see in
darkness so can’t judge size but boat is sailing smoothly (finally!!) so seas
must be smaller. There was a lot of lightning most of the night, but you are
reading this so we didn’t get hit. We have
decided to tuck in at Five Bays to meet up with Paul and Michelle on BLUEPRINT
MATCH. No reason that we couldn’t
proceed directly to Cartagena
and arrive tomorrow mid-day, but we would just as soon sail along with them for
the rest of the passage. Plus, this way
we get to see some of the Colombian coast.
Mon 0800 11.50.338N; 073.36.097W Still within the 3000 meter depth line; it
cuts over very close to shore near the Five Bays area. Course 235 mag; boat speed 8 kts SOG; true
wind speed 14.5 kts; seas kind of flat with a very gentle 6-foot swell moving
same direction as boat. Pleasant
sailing. Have seen 4 large rather
strange looking ships plus had 4 other ships as radar targets but never seen. The charts call this a “shipping convergence
Mon 1230 11.31.802N; 073.55.000W Course 232 mag; boat speed 6.2 SOG; true wind
speed 10.3 kts; seas totally flat with nice swell. We are motor sailing because the wind is so
light; also lets us charge the batteries.
About 2 ½ hours to Five Bays. I
had a wonderful shower on deck this morning.
Not a soul in sight, so why not.
Nice to feel human again.
Mon 1620 Anchored 11.19.555N; 074.06.428W in center
bay of Five Bays, Colombia. This is not the real name for this location
but that is what the cruisers have come to call it. We wasted more than an hour trying to anchor
in the second bay before giving up and moving to this bay, so our time/speed
average for the passage will be skewed.
BLUEPRINT MATCH and RED THREAD are still on their way here. We motored the final 4 hours of our offshore
passage; they have been motoring all day on their coastal route. Basically, in about 48 hours we sailed 375
NM, even with a wasted hour trying to anchor in the wrong bay. Only mishap for the passage was that Bill
left our anchor snubber on the stern deck to dry when we pulled anchor in Curacao. We both
forgot all about it; and with the severe rolling that we encountered north of Aruba, the snubber fell overboard. Hope we can find a new one in Cartagena since we will be
anchoring a lot in the San Blas.
As we approached Five Bays we
were greeted by 4 to 5 dozen dolphin.
These were the smaller variety of porpoise; had a slightly speckled
appearance on their backs. And, yes, it was
50 to 60 dolphin; swimming and jumping all around our boat. One even did a backflip. Bill went forward on the deck and whistled
loudly (our kids can attest to how loudly Bill can whistle!). The dolphin love it when you whistle or make
lots of noise and they perform more enthusiastically. It was great!
And now it is time for a diet
coke and a cold shower to cool off.
BLUEPRINT MATCH and RED THREAD arrived in the bay just before
sunset. Not sure if we will leave
tomorrow for the rest of the trip to Cartagena
or if we will hang around here for a day or two. There is zero wind out there right now.
September 8, 2007
Leaving today for the long dreaded passage to Cartagena. We had hoped to buddy-boat on the coastal
route with S/V SCOTT FREE, but this perfect weather window presented itself and
SCOTT FREE has not yet arrived in Curacao. We don't want to lose the opportunity of this
unexpected weather window, so we are going ahead without them.
Hurricane Felix has sucked up the normal Colombian low that
causes such bad weather along the Colombian coast. Prediction is for it to take about 7 days for
the Colombian low to rebuild back to normal.
So this is the perfect time for us to make this passage. Winds are predicted 20-25 knots with a few
30-35 knot showers and seas 8 feet. That
sounds like something we can handle -- that is same weather we had for our
460NM passage from Bonaire to Virgin Islands
We plan to take the offshore route recommended by Jimmy
Cornell, outside the 1000 meter depth line, so the seas should be considerably
less rough than on the coastal route. We
should arrive in Cartagena
sometime Tuesday. Will update again when
we are docked in Cartagena
and have found the internet again.
September 5, 2007
Goodbye to Donna and Bruce.
They left mid-day for the trek back to Texas.
As always, it was good to visit with them. They are welcome to visit us aboard any
time. It was a shame that we didn't get
to do any sailing while they were here.
We spent the first 3 days exploring the island by car. Turned out that those were the best 3 weather
days during their entire 8 days with us.
Guess we should have gone out sailing first and then explored the island
by car. But with the hurricane and then
higher winds and rougher seas that are so typical of the ABCs, there simply was
not a good day for sailing. But we
enjoyed their visit even if we didn't get to sail.
CaribWX website posted several images from the hurricane
center showing Hurricane Felix as the storm progressed across the Caribbean. These
images graphically show why the Curacao area
was spared damage from this hurricane.
The eye wall changed shape as the storm passed north of Curacao and all the energy was moved up into the NE
quadrant of the storm. Since Curacao was about 40 miles south of the eye and all the
energy was up in the NE quadrant, we had no bad effects from the storm.
This has now happened twice with hurricanes while we were
aboard boats. One could become
complacent and think that as long as one is 35-50 miles south of the eye of a
category 2 or 3 hurricane, then one wouldn't suffer damage. How dumb that would be to make such an
assumption! We realize that we were
extremely lucky during both Hurricane Jeanne in 2004 and Hurricane Felix in
2007. We hope never to be so close to
another hurricane while aboard a boat.
We are checking out of Curacao Yacht Club in a few minutes
and will move out into the anchorage.
Bruce drove us into Willemstaad on Monday so we could obtain an
anchoring permit from the Harbor Authority.
The anchoring permits are free but it is a pain in the butt to have to
go all the way to the city to obtain a permit.
And you must have a permit for each anchorage that you plan to
visit. We planned to obtain permits for
several anchorages so we could sail around Curacao
a bit, but that wasn't possible because you must tell them the exact dates that
you want each permit for each anchorage.
Isn't that one of the dumbest things you have ever heard!!! How can we possibly know what the weather
will be like on any particular day in the future! So we couldn't provide specific dates for
specific anchorages. Therefore, we got a
permit only for anchorage section E in Spaanse Waters. Curacao
really needs to rethink this permit restriction if they want more sailors to
visit their island. It would be too
cumbersome to have to find transportation all the way to the city each time you
want to change anchorages. Cruisers will
merely go somewhere else where these restrictions do not exist. I understand why Curacao
wants to know where each boat is located at all times, but there must be an
easier way to track the movements of visiting pleasure craft.
We will stay in the anchorage until the proper weather
window presents itself to begin the passage toward Cartagena.
S/V SCOTT FREE should arrive here in Curacao
in a few days. We will then decide
whether to wait and buddy boat with them or not. Depends on how long they want to hang around Curacao. I am
ready to leave on the first good weather window after we receive the Colombia rider
from the insurance company.
Don't know if we will have internet access out in the
anchorage, so might not update for awhile.
Okay, I admit it. I have totally lost track of times and events
of past week. Let’s blame it on
First, we are perfectly
fine. The hurricane passed 43 miles
north of where we are docked at Curacao Yacht Club in Spaanse Waters. Felix was a category 2 hurricane at that
point. We were extremely fortunate to be
on the south side of the storm and in a very protected area. The experience was basically a repeat of what
happened when Hurricane Jeanne passed north of Tortola
in September 2004 while we were at the Mooring docks. It was truly a “non event.” And we are so thankful that it was!
Donna and Bruce helped us
prepare the boat for the approaching storm.
S/V BeBe was tied securely alongside the dock. We had every fender against the dock,
including our old car tire in a heavy plastic bag and our huge inflated orange
teardrop shaped fender. The outboard
motor was on the rail and the dinghy was securely tied upside down on the
mizzen deck. No way that dinghy could
have blown up and away. Bill furled both
the main and mizzen sails completely into their masts. The genoa was furled and the jib sheets were
wrapped round and round the lower part of the forestay. Then we took a halyard and wrapped it around
the upper and middle parts of the forestay; so there was no way for wind to
cause the genoa to unfurl. Bill took a
spare line and wrapped it around all the halyards on the main mast, just as a
precaution in case one of those started to flail about in the wind. Everything was well secured.
We all went to bed early,
expecting to be awakened by high winds and rain about 2 a.m. Each of us did
wake up off and on all night long, but it wasn’t because of the really bad
weather that we had expected. Bill and I
took turns getting up and checking the computer for latest coordinates and
The anticipated high winds
never materialized. Highest wind was
less than 30 knots. And the barometric
pressure never dropped like we thought it would. Stayed slightly above 1008 the entire
time. Spaanse Waters is totally
protected from the seas with the multi-dog-legged narrow entrance to this huge
fingered lagoon. We expected to be blown
against the dock by the westerly winds and water as the hurricane passed, but
the conditions never got bad. No worse
than a regular rainstorm. Again, we are
so thankful that this area was spared from the bad storm conditions.
Donna and Bruce arrived last
Tuesday afternoon. It is great to see
them again. They brought a large duffle
bag of boat parts. Bill had provided
Bruce with a list of parts that we needed.
Bruce shopped for the best prices and hauled all that stuff down here to
us. They also surprised me with a new set of dinnerware. Bill had asked Donna to find and buy new
dinnerware for us; that is his anniversary gift to me (or our gift to each
other?). Bill trusted Donna to choose
whatever pattern she thought best; he trusts her good taste. The Amel dishes we have were looking a bit
tired and Bill knew that I wanted a nicer set.
Donna made an excellent choice.
The new dinnerware matches the wine glasses that I bought in St. Martin. Donna
and Bruce rented a car and we have enjoyed seeing the island. We haven’t sailed at all yet; hoping to do
that tomorrow and Tuesday. They will
depart on Wednesday.
We have visited the Punda,
Sharloo and Otrabanda sections of Wilhemstaad.
Each section has its own special flavor.
Punda means “the point” and Otrabanda means “opposite side.” I don’t remember what Sharloo means. Sharloo was the financial district in many
years past, inhabited mostly by Dutch Jews.
Sharloo is home to the Maritime
Museum, which we enjoyed
visiting one afternoon. Punda is the
site of the old Waterfort and has more shopping and restaurants and is more
interesting than Otrabanda. But one
musn’t miss out on seeing Otrabanda as that is where most of the museums are
We visited the African Slave Museum
and would highly recommend it. We each
learned tidbits of history that were very interesting. The most interesting thing Bill and I learned
is that the slave trading business was started by the Moors. The Moors captured more than 600,000
Europeans and transported them back to Africa
as slaves. So the actual business of
slavery was started by blacks. That was
shocking news to us.
Otrabanda held no interest
for us except for the museums. There is
a major renovation being performed at the Riffort area with lots of shopping
and restaurants being added. That looks
like it will be very nice once completed and should help Otrabanda district
garner more tourist dollars.
Punda and Otrabanda are
connected by a floating pontoon pedestrian bridge that also acts like a
drawbridge for shipping traffic in and out of the industrial harbor of Wilhemstaad. The bridge swings open widely to allow large
container ships egress to the harbor.
Would hate to have that job as bridge tender; doing nothing all day long
except swinging that bridge open and closed.
There is also a ferry across this harbor entrance. Both the pedestrian bridge and the ferry are
Another day we went to the
Seaquarium. As we were walking to the
ticket booth a young lady stopped us to give us a schedule of activities at the
Seaquarium. She also told us that if we
were willing to listen to a 45-minute tour of the timeshare resort that they
would pay for our lunch. So, uh, okay;
why not. We have nothing but time so
listening to a sales pitch for 45 minutes seemed fair to us. Turned out that we had a nice lunch and also
gained free entry to the Seaquarium, a value of $98 USD for the four of
us. Not bad just for sitting and talking
to a very nice man. Plus he answered
many questions that we had about Curacao and the island’s relationship with Holland and the building expansion that is occurring on Curacao. The
amount of building and development happening on Curacao
is amazing. The timeshare resort was
nice. If we were the slightest bit
interested in owning a timeshare, this would be the place.
Yesterday we drove out to the
Hatu Caves on the northern side of the
island. Unfortunately it started to rain
heavily as soon as we arrived. It is not
possible to do the tour in the rain, so we piled back into the car and drove
back to the yacht club. Bill got
concerned about being off the boat with the weather turning so bad so
quickly. The hurricane was approaching Curacao much faster than had been predicted. Returning to the boat was a good idea because
that allowed us plenty of time to prep the boat in anticipation of the approaching
Tomorrow maybe we can
actually take Donna and Bruce out sailing – they should appreciate that since
sailing is the reason they came down here to visit with us!