Thursday, November 27, 2014

Made it Panama

We had a not so fun motor sail from Rosario, Colombia into the San Blas islands in Panama. Winds on the nose and 1-1.5kt current against us. This is the longest motor we've done in over a year. The bay we dropped anchor in is the bay where the Scots tried to put up a fort to gain an overseas colony. Didn't work out for them. If you look at the jungle here, you'd have to wonder what they were thinking.


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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

We’re Wimps

Ain’t she pretty? These brightly coloured ladies sell fruit and pose for tourist pictures in old town Cartegena. Just one of its many charms.
cartegenaIMG_6271 We checked out of Cartagena with our agent David. You are required to use an agent in any port in Colombia. This guy was easy to work with and had good English (if he is not around the Club Nautico docks at 10am, have the office call him). It is always smart to pick an agent with red shoes. Total cost was COP$200,000 or about US$92 for the week we stayed.
I ended up getting a nasty sore throat and cough (thanks, Andrew on Eye Candy). There was no wind out at the anchorage, it was the hot and steamy of a tacky detective novel. Like oppressively steamy. I finally broke down and re-invigorated the A/C units, started the genset, closed every port and laid back to enjoy an hour and half of A/C. What wimps we are.
We left Cartagena this morning for Panama.  The winds were too light to be able to make the San Blas islands at a good time of day and I was still feeling sick – I know wimp. So we stopped at an anchorage on Isla Grande in the Rosario islands for the night. Chris bought a big crab off a local panga that followed us in. It’ll be off to the San Blas in the morning. This will probably be the last Internet we’ll have for awhile.
cartegenaIMG_6270 The beach area outside the old city walls is called Boca Grande. Sometimes known as Little Miami. We really enjoyed the old town of Cartagena. Not sure I’d come back in November though – too still and hot!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Old Walled City

The old walled city of Cartagena is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Don’t get me going on how UNESCO is blowing the value of their brand by applying it to so many places and things. Like to traditional Japanese or Mexican cuisine.  The walled city deserves the recognition. It reminds of a much larger and in some ways less touristy version of Antigua in Guatemala.  If you are into photography , you could take pictures on every corner for weeks on end and not get bored.cartegenaIMG_6165
Lots of 16th and 17th century churches, government buildings and just plain houses.
cartegenaIMG_6167 Locals use the plazas, restaurants and stores. This is a preacher and what appears to be parishioners quaking in one of the plazas.
cartegenaIMG_6171  Chris gazing over one of the interior courtyards of a colonial building.
Street after street of colonial and republic buildings. Colonial being the buildings put up during Spanish rule (1533-1717) and Republic after the independence of Cartagena (Nov. 11, 1811). That’s 11-11-11. The same day they do the country’s beauty pageant every year.
cartegenaIMG_6182 We took a detour into the museum of the Spanish Inquisition, the building where they actually held the inquisitions in Cartagena. Chris really liked the bruja section – witches. The seat above is where the accused witches were strapped in and a metal screw was slowly twisted into the base of the neck, until the unfortunate ‘witch’ confessed.
They also used simpler methods to determine if a woman was a witch. Weighing was effective. If they were too light, then they could fly and were clearly a witch. If they were too heavy, then they were full of sin and were also clearly a witch. No wonder women are so obsessed with their weight.
cartegenaIMG_6185 Here is a list of questions that helped the Inquisitors determine if a women was a witch. A few sample questions:
1. How long have you been a witch?
6. What is the name of your master amongst the evil spirits?
11. What demons and people attended your wedding?
22. To which children have you cast the curse of the ‘evil eye’ and why did you do it?
25. Why does the devil strike you blows at night?
27. How can you fly through the sky?
31. What worms and caterpillars/slugs have you created?
33. Has the devil put a bow/ribbon to your curses/oaths?
Now really, how many people could pass this test today without a lawyer?
cartegenaIMG_6186 Makings for a witches brew.
A machine for getting to the truth or painfully crushing the skull.
cartegnaIMG_6189 Not sure how you are supposed to confess with this on your neck. I guess it didn’t really matter.
Only the lucky ones got it over quickly.
Testing out the guillotine. Not sure why this was here, as I thought it was a particularly French instrument. Turns out its been used by many countries, even East Germany in an official execution in 1966. Either way, Chris gave me a reprieve when I promised not to create any more worms and caterpillars.
cartegenaIMG_6202 Here is a tile plaque excusing the Inquisition as not that bad and an artifact of the times that suffers from exaggeration. Argh!
Those that forget the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.
cartegenaIMG_6199 Building plaque at the palace of the Inquisitors
Meanwhile, on the commerce side, this chest used for carrying gold and other treasures back to Spain was seriously built of iron strapping and rivets. It would be tough to get into even with today's tools.
Bill working on lunch.
And lunch itself. Fried plantain with good stuff on top.  
OK, I forgot this famous Colombian sculptor’s name. But he liked big women.
Can you guess what time it is?
Patina on old building wall.
Smiling fruit lady and local policia.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Here’s our course from Curacao on the right to Cartagena, Colombia on the left. (Click on it to biggerate). The blue was the planned route. The two stars show where we actually were at on each morning of the 3 day trip. Conditions were decent till we got to Punta Gallinas. From there to NW of Santa Marta the seas were 8-10feet and made for a rolly time. Winds in the 22-29kt range with a few rain squalls. After Santa Marta the seas laid down and the last day was a pleasant downwind sail. All in all, decent passage.
cartegenaIMG_6105 An offshore visit from the dolphins. Chris got some nice GoPro footage of the dolphins at play. I’ll try uploading after she edits it down to a small chunk.

cartegenaIMG_6128We arrived at Cartagena at sunrise. Lots of tall buildings – reminds me of Miami Beach. While 5 miles offshore we got a call from the Port Authority over the radio requesting our arrival time and when we would like to take onboard a Pilot to enter the harbor. After I explained we weren’t a thousand foot cargo ship and didn’t require a Pilot, he wished us a Good-day.
cartegenaIMG_6141 We anchored off of Club Nautico and went in to start clearance. We instantly knew we were back in Central/South America. Check this guy’s improvised cardboard hat to cut out some of the brutal sun. The rebuild of Club Nautico has been going on for something like 4 years. To the left in the picture is the new Laundromat. It has nice new washers and dryers. It has water, but no electricity yet. We needed to get some laundry done, so we dropped the bags off at the marina office. The place that picks them up and does the washing had electricity, but no water today. Dirty clothes for another few days.
You have to use an agent to clear-in to Colombia. The price for us was $200,000 pesos (about US$92). It is close to triple that if you stay longer and therefore require a temporary import cruising permit.  The agent, David, said we could get by with a few extra days.
curacaoIMG_6099A couple of pictures from our visit with Rose and Jani, in Curacao. Not sure what you get at the Rasta Car Wash.
curacaoIMG_6100 Here’s Bill in the foreground with Rose standing by her rental car, under the brolli, in the light rain. Note the unfortunate boot on the rear tire. We forgot to put money in the parking machine. A quick call to the number on the sticker they slapped on the window and $25 Netherlands Antilles Florins (aka 18 bucks US) and they came and let the car out of jail.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Anchored just about exactly 3-days after we left. Nice sail the last day as the seas laid down. Got a call from Cartegena Port Control on the way in wanting to know what time we wanted our pilot. We are off in a bit to start the good old check-in process.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Curcaoa to Cartergena Day 2

It got a little more rambunctious after day 1. We were down to a 2nd reef in the main and the small jib. Winds in the 25-29kts range. The seas have built. We shipped a sea into the cockpit and roundedup off one wave. It was near dark so we decided to drop the main and sail with the jib only. Making about 160 miles per day and should be into Cartegena tomorrow morning. Sad, no dolphins, but its sunny.


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Monday, November 17, 2014

Curacao to Cartegena

We're on our way to Colombia. Left yesterday morning. Not too bad a sail. About 22-25kts of wind and a little rolly overnight. We were all hanging on the bow to oow and awh at the dolphins putting on a show on our bow when a low flying Netherlands Antilles twin-prop Coast Guard plane swooped over us to have a look. They were on their typical drug interdiction run, making sure that the dolphins were not offloading to the mothership. A couple more days till we make Cartegena.

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bye Bye Bonaire

A very Bonairian road sign
After using up almost all of our allowed 90-days within 180 days visa, we left Bonaire for a quick stop in Curacao. Chris figured that since her family ancestors were from Holland and that she’s blonde she should be able to stay as long as she wants. Bonaire was a really great stop – fantastic water and easy living for a cruiser. It was all I could do to stop Chris from putting down a down payment for a townhouse here.
bonaireIMG_6065     Cruise ship season has started and Bonaire does get a bit too many now. Here’s the ‘Explorer of the Seas’ demonstrating that safety always comes first.
 bonaireIMG_6037 Our friend/crew Bill came down from San Fran to sail to Cartegena with us. Here he is looking for bats during our tour in Bonaire’s Washington-Slagbaai Park.
bonaireIMG_6036  One last good-bye to the Flamingos before we left.
It was an easy, slow sail over to Curacao. We left about 8:30am and were anchored in Spanish Wells about 5:00pm. Our friends from El Salvador, Rose and Jani on s/v Lovely Lady, have their boat in the yard here for some serious repair work. Detailed on their blog
They’ve rented a place near the Curacao Yacht Club. We anchored and headed over to their apartment for a great red snapper dinner. Today we head into Wilemsted to check in and check out of the country for a day’s stay. When the rain stops (the rainy season is now here in earnest), we’ll do a little sight- seeing. Then in the morning it is off for a 3 or 4 day sail to Cartegena, Colombia.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Last Underwater Photos

We were snorkeling one of our favorite spots and spotted this green turtle in about 20 feet of water. She was under these corals and busily scratching her back. First on one side and then on the other. Its important for a girl to keep her shell clean.
On the way up from taking this picture I looked in the view screen of my camera and at first I thought I saw the horizon. Then I realized that the case was half full of water. Another ruined camera. I’d like to do a big DisLike for Ikelite brand cases. This is the second time I’ve had this expensive case fail and ruin a camera.
bonaireIMG_6024    This is what the insides of the Nikon camera look like after they have been fried by salt water.
A school of blue tangs painting the underwater sea blue.
A well disguised scorpion fish sitting on the rocks in shallow water- don’t step on me.
An octopus way back in its cave keeping an eye on the collection of shells by the opening of his lair.
Another underwater cruiser, a busy little trunkfish.
Goat spotting. A couple of goats cruising along the low cliff where we were snorkeling.
A spotted moray eel out and about with a couple of damsel fish friends nearby.
A little more UW color.
A small parrotfish slowing down for a picture with a couple of small, juvenile yellow wrasses hanging close.
This is the biggest rainbow parrotfish I’ve seen, probably a fully grown male, 3-4 feet. It was a little shy about picture taking and headed into the shallow water to make the studio shot tougher.