Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bay of Cholon, Colombia – N10.09.684 W75.39.747 Feb 24 – Feb 25 2011

We were happy to return to this small idyllic anchorage tucked safely away in the mangroves on the mainland near Baru only 20 miles south of Cartagena.  This is an excellent stop for cruisers who desire to rid their hulls of the overabundance of sea life that has attached itself during a brief layover in the Cartagena Bay.  We arrived here to find our friends 

 Mike and Lillian Sv Meikyo

Sonny and Kay of S/v Valentina

 Tom and Pattie on S/v Liberty

who introduced us to Robert,

Robert is a retired boater who now lives on the hillside overlooking his Motor Vessel Manatee

which is the home of Happy Hour as well as occasionally transiting to Cartagena for an all you can carry shopping spree for the cruisers in the bay.  Robert is a very friendly and knowledgeable and offers a variety of services to the boating community.

This was a pleasant and restful overnight stop in the company of great friends, old and new.

Cartagena, Colombia, N10.24.549 W75.32.527 Feb 13 – 24 2011

We arrived back in Cartagena after a pleasant downwind passage, again under headsail alone.  The only exciting (non event) was the passing of the River Magdalena which is reputed to be an area of some concern because of all the water detris and debris that outflows off the mainland after heavy rains.  We traversed this area approx 10 miles offshore and still found ourselves in muddy murky water infested with large flotsam worthy of ‘keeping an eye’ for that elusive log that could tear away the rudder.  Unfortunately we did not escape totally without some damage as our rudder apparently did take a strike with some minimum surface damage.  Lucky for us it was not serious and we did not notice the damage until our arrival back in the busy bustling port of Cartagena.

Our purpose for returning to Cartagena was to provision, get our mainsail repaired, dinghy cover patched and get Doc’s next chemo treatment taken care of.  So with provision completed, refueled, water tanks full, sail and dinghy repairs finished and with only Doc’s treatment to do, we discovered, that morning, to our dismay that our dingy and motor had been stolen during the night.  Needless to say, we were not happy and our good friends John and Jerie on Peking came to our rescue and loaned us their dinghy to get Doc ashore.  It was a couple of days before we were able to find and negotiate a replacement dingy and motor.  

We did enjoy spending time and reacquainting ourselves with old friends and spending time and enjoying wonderful food at the fine eatery de Olivia as well good pizza and fellowship with fellow cruisers on Wed evening at ???? Pizzeria followed up with desert at the local ice cream boutique...mmm what a treat! One of the must see things to do while visiting Cartagena is a trip into the Old Walled City.  The largest oldest and largest Cathedral stands majestically at it's center.  There are miles of paved stone pathways lined with small shops and restaurants.  It is a real treat to re-visit this quieter gentler side of Cartagena.

One of the fun things to do while visiting Cartagena is to take a tour to the ‘Mud Baths’.  This is literally what it sounds like.  It is an offshoot of a Volcano that has created this mammoth cone filled with bubbling warm liquid mud.  You are greeted by a tour guide who takes you up 150 +/- steps and you are slowly immersed into the crater along with another 25 hot sweaty bodies too be totally covered in grey liquefied clay.  For $3.00 you can have a massage while you soak in the mud.  The experience lasts 15 minutes, the memory a lifetime.  After climbing out and sliding down the long staircase you walk to the nearby lake you are stripped and scrubbed by experienced hands until you are squeaky clean…or at least mud free.  Kaija highly recommends this experience.

 We left Cartagena with very mixed feelings given the circumstances.  The city is beautiful and the people can be warm and friendly.  However, clearly the anchorage around Club Nautico is not safe and cruisers need to beware that there is no assurance of protection for your valuables unless they are securing stowed, lifted & locked to your vessel.

Five Bays – Ensenada Gayraca, Colombia – N11.19.200 W74.06.47 Feb 9 – 12, 2011

After a lovely 24 hour downwind run under headsail only we arrived at Five Bays Colombia.  This unique landfall is easily equated with the Norwegian Fjords in its formation.  With high surrounding Santa Marta Mountains the deep water bays make for well protected anchorages.   The surrounding elevations also make for interesting wind patterns as a continual series of short high gusting winds sweep down from the high hills over the water from most every direction.

We were met onshore by a local name Renaldo Garcia who has lived here his entire life.  His local knowledge makes him a favorite amongst cruiser passing this way as he offers his services as a guide.  He was proud to show us his boat card collection which numbered into the hundreds of which we were pleased to say we knew many and ours is now amongst his collection.  We also provided him with a new Canadian flag as the one he had was in tatters.  He was proud to display it along with his other collection of country flags.

Cabo de la Vela-Ensenada Huaritcheru, Colombia - N12.11.992 W072.09.228 - February 6-8 2011

Just after departing Aruba about an hour and a half out, we caught our first black-fin Tuna…yum yum…and two and half hours later we landed a beautiful 4.5 lb Mahi Mahi…yum yum yum…

add to that the fact that we were under sail alone in ideal conditions and this made for a most enjoyable passage.  We were buddy-boating with our friends Terry and Barb S/v Wind Whisperer and stayed in close contact throughout the 22 hour passage arriving in the mid morning in almost perfect condition.   

It was with some surprise we noted when taking our sails down, that our mainsail had parted about a ¼ of the way from the top from luff to leach…needless to say this was not ideal.  However it was not the end of the world and the next legs were all downwind which we could facilitate easily with headsail alone.

We found this wide open roadstead anchorage to be quite comfortable with an easterly off shore breeze altho we might not recommend this in a south or western onshore breeze.  We anchored in closer to shore than the Pizzazz guide book recommends and we had good holding in 6.3 feet of water…not too deep but with inches to spare it was very good and comfortable holding.  We were near the village and easy to take Doc ashore.  The locals were friendly and the long sandy beaches allowed for leisurely strolling while we enjoyed watching some tourist Kite surfers do their acrobatics skimming along in the shallow waters only feet from the sandy beach.