Saturday, March 22, 2008

Boat haul - (oh what fun – NOT) & Good Bye Cartagena !!

Getting your boat hauled is always a somewhat traumatic experience. When you are cruising it is more likely than not a ‘new lift’ to you and each one, combined with the operator seems to have quite life of its own. There are the usual things to consider, protecting the hull from scraping on the cement walls or steel pilings, tugs and other watercraft in the way, the preparing the rig stays for dis-assembly etc. But all of these things are usually quite easy to manage.

We will long remember this haul out experience was one for the books. It started soon after leaving the anchorage with the Pilot guide from the Haul out facility on board to assist in the navigation of some very skinny water. We hadn’t travelled the first mile, when we touched bottom the first of three times and the last one just outside the haul out facility with not much hope of getting ‘off’ the bottom without the assistance of a tug. After a few words between the pilot and the ‘yard’ manager they called the Coast Guard for assistance.

In three years of cruising we have never needed the assistance of the the Coast Guard. Gary worked his ‘MOJO’ and gently worked KS out of the mud (thank goodness for a rising tide and a very happy and well loved little engine that could).

We arrived at the haul facility, which by this time was well aware we were coming, only to find yet another obstacle in the way, another boat sitting in the sling waiting to be hauled. Now we are not talking about a lot of maneuvering room here…and spent the next hour trying to stand still against a building breeze within 50 feet of a gigantic rust bucket of a Columbian freighter that would not have noticed or cared if I became one more scratch on his big red hull.

Finally we got into the sling and after three attempts, two bent stanchions and a four foot scratch in our Awl Grip we are here now, inside the Ferroalquimar Shipyard, which at its very best is like being in the middle of the Gobi desert surrounded by boats. The dust flies continually, and getting work done in the heat and dust is quite a challenge.
We are having the inside of the main salon, re-varnished, the outside bottom, cleaned, painted, the topsides waxed, the deck and rig cleaned and hopefully within the next week we will be ready to re-launch provision and head out of Cartagena back to the San Blas for a couple of months of much need rest and solitude. (Footnote: The varnish work looks great, the rig and deck are clean, topsides polished and bottom paint looks good. Oh and if ever you need work done on a broad range of skills ask for Jaime at Ferroalquimar yard. He is honest, good natured and diligent.

Cartagena is a beautiful city with a great deal to offer the casual tourist whether it be in the choice of foods, music, nightlife, sightseeing and cultural events that are quite different than those we are used to in Canada. We have enjoyed our time and taken advantage of the many offerings during our time here, however, this big city life can be quite strenuous and not anything we really miss, even when you can get internet and pizza takeout which is making quite a concession on Gary’s part.

As we prepare to launch, provision and sail west back into the Island paradise of the San Blas we take with us memories full of fun and laughter and new friends, and a few interesting stories to tell. Hey we survived, unscathed and little worse for wear.

We are just now heading out to dine at what has become our favourite 5 star dining experience here in Cartagena, the Olive restaurant…one of the best Filet Mignon’s on the planet.

Till the next time - Hasta la próxima vez!

No comments: