Friday, May 30, 2008

Sapzurro Bay – Columbia, N08.39.593;W077.21.829 March 30 – April 6 2008

At 4pm, on a dark and gusty afternoon, with reefed main set for the night passage we departed Isla Fuerte. Planning a 14 hour passage across the 83 miles of open water to arrive at the sleepy little bay of Sapzurro on the Columbian/Panama border. We could not slow down! We let out the sails until almost flogging and still we were doing better than 8 knots over the ground. At this speed we would arrive at 3 am…on a lee shore, in the dark, trying to navigate unfamiliar water into an unfamiliar reef ringed bay.

Short of sailing backwards and putting out an anchor to slow our passage, we arrived two hours ahead of schedule off the rocky cliff lined shore of the Columbia/Panama border. Hove to in the dark ahead we could just make out three large fishing trawlers hauling their long nets passing in front of us. We made our way thru and saw the faint harbour lights of Sapzurro Bay.

Passing by the lights into the bay there was not a light anywhere. We slowed to a crawl and almost ran broadside into one of three coastal trading boats at anchor. Luckily, it was not long before enough of the dawn allowed us to find our anchorage and we settled in. Arriving in the dark is not recommended!

Sapzurro Bay is inaccessible by road. It is lined with jagged hilltop jungle vegetation. It is also a border town for Columbia and Panama. There is a steep well-worn path up thru the jungle and Kaija and Doc trekked to the top of the hill. The two guards, one from each country welcomed them and registered Kaija’s visit. Doc settled into the coolest place he could find after the long hot ‘grind’ up the hill.

The Bay is lined with beautiful white sand beaches. On the windward swept side, the constant rolling waves are filled with fresh flotsam from lands afar. The opposite side of the bay is a ‘mui tranquil’ setting and an ideal place for locals and visitors to gather in the cool sands and clear calm waters. Here we met Carlos and family, dog and pet pigs.

In between these sandy beaches lies the quite well organized small village of Sapzurro. Each house is well turned out and many have quite architecturally pleasing accoutrements. Here we met Chile speaks better English than we do Spanish and a good friend of our friend ‘Dennis the Wild One’. Chile was ever so gracious during our stay. We purchased a small piece of local art from ‘Miriam’ and enjoyed a wonderful dinner complements of the sea prepared at a local restaurant where we chatted with a Cindy and Bob from Walla Walla We. They were visiting their son and so impressed with the people and the place, as were we.

We also met S/v Enata from Norway, Lucky and his wife and their 6 month old baby, as well S/v Ahnri from Sweden with Heidi and husband. So with Kaija being from Finland we pretty much had the ‘Scandahoovians represented.

Along with all this good news and fun, of course there must be a little pain. Gary insists on a clean engine compartment, and after each run he makes sure it is. Upon checking the engine compartment we discovered a large amount of transmission fluid evident throughout the engine compartment. What a mess!...We cleaned it up and checked everything and double checked and couldn’t find anything evident. We restarted the engine and immediately saw this ‘jet’ of transmission fluid spraying from the gearbox cooler. We shut down and Gary grunted and groaned and finally got the unit off the engine block. It was upon closer inspection we realized that over time a small hole, the size of a pin, had developed in the casing. This was not good news, and we were facing a major dilemma as we are already nursing our tranny along, and this meant turning around and sailing back into Cartagena with a non-functioning gearbox cooling system. With not many options in store, Gary invoked the ‘dremmel’ rule. When nothing else will do, get Dremmel!. He pretended he was back at the dentist and performed a dental procedure of some sort, enlarging the hole from the inside enough to provide sufficient space for the bonding material we carry aboard called Marine-Tex (this stuff is good!). Long story short, when re-installed, it all worked, and as Capt G is fond of saying…”It’s Alllll Good!”.

This is a place less travelled. We heard about it from fellow cruisers and as we prepared to leave this wonderful little bay and both agreed that this is a place you could spend a lot of time.

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