|Visitors||Emanuel and Bigna, January, 2006|
What luck! We expected to sail to Colombia with our friend Charley, the captain of Blue Moon, but he decided to take his boat out of the water for maintenance work. We didn't know what to do; this idea to go to Cartagena was fixed in our minds. Luckily we met Christine and Keith in Spanish Water, Curaçao. It was the 2nd of January and they wanted to leave on the 4th. Christine and Keith invited us to join the trip on their boat! Our bedroom and bathroom were already beautifully prepared for us. We were so thankful that they gave us the opportunity for this sailing trip without knowing us very well before.
We left Spanish Water after topping up the water tanks in a very good mood and so happy to be on board Poco Andante! After the first nervousness because of a shallow water section, Christine drank a rum punch and Keith a beer. No wonder! We started one of the toughest passages of the world.
By sunset we dropped anchor in Santa Cruz Bay, a point on the north west of Curaçao and a good starting point for the next day to go to Aruba. We enjoyed a nice dinner and they very quickly made us feel "at home". The next day we planned to sail to Aruba, but the perfect weather conditions and the ugly skyline of industrial buildings in Aruba persuaded us to continue over night to the little rocky island called Monjes Del Sur. We arrived there around ten o'clock in the morning. Some friendly soldiers, a lighthouse and rocks were all there was on it.
On the trip to Monjes, the gennaker tore, so Christine took a sewing-machine out of the darkest corner on board and began the repairs. It was humid and extremely hot, but she did her work with a lot of patience. After a snorkelling tour in the nearby cave (the highlight of the day!) we left before sunset for Cabo de Vela! This is the notorious cape in Colombia. We passed it in "Poco Andante-style"; that means unexpectedly easy sailing
conditions - so easy that it was possible to unblock the toilet hose! (tough work for both captain and admiral). Ahead of us were the Andes with snow on the tops as we steered in the direction of the Five Bays. The wind was getting stronger, waves bigger - the nervousness also increased! Getting closer to the third Bay we couldn't identify if there was a rock or a boat at the beach. However it was a boat - as Keith hoped. Things were getting calmer. We dropped the anchor there next to the beach. We had arrived at the coast of Colombia!
But the Andes had their own wind tunnel effects; every two minutes the "woomphs", as called by Keith, came over the boat! You cannot imagine the power of that blast. For once there was no electricity limit on Poco Andante! For Christine and Keith the journey still wasn't finished - they had a hard anchor watch during the night because of the wind - and let us sleep! How friendly. It was not our intention to have just a holiday on board.
The National Park of Tayrona begins at the Five Bays and is one of the most beautiful spots in the country. We spent a wonderful time there, made our first contact with locals who invited us for a shot of "aperitivo". We had dinner at the beach. In this relaxing period waiting for calmer sea and winds we had time to observe the region, meet some Colombians in a fantastic bay around the corner, who explained us about the root of the Incas in Colombia. At night after a delicious dinner, prepared by Keith, our chef de cuisine, we learnt to play "Newmarket" with "funny money", we laughed a lot and, as usual, Bigna won all the time.
We were ready for new explorations, so we sailed to a "sixth" bay called Taganga, around the corner from the Five Bays. It's a vacation place for Colombians - full of restaurants on the beach and loud music everywhere. Exactly at beer o'clock it was time for the first beer and a detailed planning for the day after. The weather forecast should allow us to do the next step: crossing the big delta of Rio Magdalena. Nice wind from the back was giving us an easy sail, the waves were huge, around three meters. Gradually the color of sea changed; from deep blue to washed out green, getting more and more an ugly brown! It smelled earthy. Suddenly a borderline between the brown and the blue sea indicated the end of the outflowing river. All the stories about the danger of strong current and floating trees were passed easily without any complication. Shortly after sunset the full moon rose and we had enough light to pass a reef (which was not mentioned in our chart) to drop the anchor in the lee of this reef, near the beach. In the morning we realized that we were surrounded of hundreds of thatched sun shelters waiting to give shade to their customers.
We went together to the beach to get an impression of this "pueblo"; all the locals were running in our direction to rent his shelter to us. Without local money we were stuck - until we met the brother of "Jabba the Hutt" lying with his fat body in a hammock, while giving commands to his employees. He gave us a high exchange rate, better than the official rate; strange, but of course we changed the money. We decided to eat a little snack and drink some beers in his posada. We waited more than an hour for the "arepas" we had ordered. But when we asked for the check, the ugly fat guy wanted to have double the price we had agreed. With the combination of Swiss tactic and English diplomacy we paid a fair price, but we decided to make a quick departure as soon as possible! Days later we heard that this is still a high crime and guerilla-region - who knows if "Jabba the Hutt" is involved too?
Now the last section of our trip was before us - a night sailing trip to our final destination, Cartagena. Strong winds and huge rolling waves were responsible for our good speed; then the last miles the wind was gone and the sea calmed down so that we motored into Cartagena. We arrived in the harbor around 10 o'clock on the 13th of January. The marina was full of cruisers who intend to sail further to Panama. The colonial city is famous for its beauty and history. The old part is surrounded by a wall and a chain of forts. Inside the wall are small streets with restaurants, souvenir shops, fruit markets and street artists.
We are proud to have sailed that inshore trip without any problems - and it is noteworthy that only a few sailors do the same! We gained a lot of experience; we learnt better English, how cruisers manage their daily life, and we were provided with an insight into the English/New Zealand sailing artistry.
We would like to thank you thousand times for your kind hospitality, the great cuisine and the very useful hints on board! We hope also that we made the trip a little bit easier for you and were helpful occasionally. All the best for your future journeys, thank you for the wonderful time!
Bigna & Emanuel