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Catagena
09/10/2010

CARTAGENA 1ST TO 10TH SEPTEMBER
Our time in Cartagena, Columbia has been very enjoyable, although short. We are desperately trying to brush up on the Spanish as communication is important in a foreign country and as Debbie says, we feel a little intimidated by not being able to speak fluently. I suspect that by the end of our trip thru this area we will be talking like locals.
We are anchored off Club Nautico, which is undergoing construction, in the suburb of Manga. The water is muddy brown and encourages healthy barnacle growth. Lots of floating debris and floating grass islands. We have had to get our hull and propeller cleaned before departing after only 10 days in the anchorage!
The highlight in Cartagena is, in my opinion, the Old walled City, known as Centro. It is European Spanish beautiful and the photos I post will give a better idea. Narrow streets, overhanging balconies decorated with trailing plants and bougainvillas. The architecture is stunning , very romantic and eye catching with the earthy colours mixed in with the bright blues, orange and reds. Solid large old wooden doors with smaller doors inset. Old churches, sculptures ( by El Gordo ) and many Plazas and parks dotted around the old city where everyone hangs out in the shade.
Street vendors selling everything from fresh fruit beautifully presented in little cups to virtually anything you can think of. Also many boutiques both international and Columbian selling leather goods, artifacts and emeralds and more emeralds ( very expensive ).
On one of our walks through the old City the men were approached by a suave gent who was offering an unbelievable rate of exchange pesos for dollars. Very tempted the men begin to negotiate, although warily. This went on for some time and eventually the money began to change hands, again with everyone watching carefully. Just as the dollars were going to be handed over, Vossie caught the slight of hand trick and snatched back his $ 100 dollar note, whereupon the trickster turned on his heels and hot footed down one of the streets having been caught out. A small crowd had gathered during all of this and all were warning not to have anything to do with these banditos ( would have been more helpful before the fact ). Well, lesson learnt and we were ready the next time .
We visited 2 very interesting museums in the Old City. The Museum of the Spanish Inquisition being the first one. The priests of the Catholic church invented very simple, deadly and efficient machines of torture to inflict pain and thus get the required confessions. Undoubtedly there were many sinners and guilty people in this period of history. For example, there was a list of questions being asked during the torture session to determine if one was a witch, which undoubtedly one was, after days, if not weeks of torture . Unbelievably barbaric customs and one must consider that this was only about two hundred years ago.
The second was the Gold Museum which was very interesting. The history of the various groups of peoples which populated Columbia and their skills in the manufacturing of gold jewellery and other adornment for the rich and powerful and in the agricultural field, managing the irrigation of the fertile growing region when the yearly flooding of the rivers would otherwise have caused devastation to the area. The history is too much for me to elaborate on here in this blog but would make for very interesting research.
Food is really a good deal here. The typical local meal " la corriente or sopa y seco" consists of a good bowl of soup, a fruit juice and a plate of rice, beans, veg, salad and either a piece of meat ( carne ), chicken ( pollo) or fish ( pesca ) The cost of this hearty meal ranges between $4.00 to $6.00 depending on the restaurant.
We have been using the taxis here quite often and at a very reasonable rate, typically 5000 pesos, about $3.00. There are also motor bikes taking one passenger or a bicycle with a 2 wheeled cart behind ( similar to our rickshaw guys in SA). Everyone needs to make a living.
In conclusion, a very vibrant and colourful city and we are happy with our decision to have spent some time here.

09/27/2011 | Bill and Debra Anderson
Sounds like an amazing adventure! Stay safe. We had two boats stolen in the Bahamas, and both were in Marinas.
Aruba to Cartagena
Gaynor
09/04/2010

ARUBA TO CARTAGENA 26th August 2010
We left Oranjestad at first light 6.00am to Monjes Del Sur 54 nm away which is a Coast Guard station. The guys are sent here for a year at a time and their supplies come in by boat. This rock ( and rock is all it is ) is part of Venezuela and the thought was to rest overnight as the rest of the journey to Cartagena is a 3 plus overnighter. Boats tie onto a rope which has been added from the old dock across the small bay to rocks on the other side. After achieving this feat with the help of Bob, we relaxed. A very pleasant young man came to check us in and only Spanish is spoken. Later we had Bob and Debbie over to enjoy the small tuna on the braai that Bob had caught on the trip and an early night for a planned for an early departure the next morning. At about 00.45 hours a squall came over and Vossie got up to check if all was ok, which it was. At 4.00am we were woken with a bang and rushed outside realizing that we must be on the rocks, which we were. We had obviously slipped along the rope when the wind shifted and had been pushed to the rocks. Vossie used the boat hook to push the bow off and to pull ourselves forward to release the boat line from the rope and in reversing, the keel once again hit underwater rocks. Now really worried as to what damage has occurred and whether there might be a hole in the boat, we alerted Bob and Debbie on Passat with lots of nervous shouting . We picked up a rope from Passat and hung off her stern until first light.
Having picked up the stern line, there was enough time to check the bilges and other compartments for any leaks . Thank goodness, nothing spotted. First light brought MORE problems. A big thunderstorm approaching. Counted the seconds, eight miles away. What is happening now? The wind is shifting again and Talacam, hanging off the back of Passat is being pushed towards the dock. Stern now very vulnerable but also, Passat is being pulled parallel with the ROPE and into very shallow water.
Lots and lots of different maneuver's later, Vossie managed to climb off the stern and onto the dock where he managed to secure first a stern line and then a line off the bow. Lightning bolts now very close 2 seconds later thunder. Passat gave a floating line off her stern and Vosssie managed to get it around a bollard and Bob was able to winch himself off the rope into a more favourable position. Lightning and thunder now virtually instantaneous. It is right on top of us, pouring rain with Vossie out there on the dock. Terrible surging on the dock, first one line then the second spring line breaks. This is not a good situation to be in. Pop goes one of the bigger mooring buoys. Man, this is really a lot of hassle.
To cut a longer story short, we were eventually successful in getting off the dock and tied back onto the rope "properly" this time at about 11.30. Consensus reached, we are GETTING THE HELL OUT OF HERE now, before more drama hits the fan. 12.30 Bob released from the rope and Vossie released Passat from Talacam and we followed suite seconds later. Another very good lesson learned...
In complete contrast to the early morning squally weather we motored out of Monjes del Sur into flat seas with no wind. This continued for the next two nights and days with us alternately motoring and motor sailing in light winds. Saw dolphins and a sight of Bonnitas jumping to feed off the surface on what we presume to be insects being washed out with the flow from the Rio Magdalena, as we have an invasion of them on Talacam, even though we are about 20 miles off shore. The water has turned from blue to green as we get closer to land.

SUNDAY 29th AUGUST
We approach the 3rd night out surrounded by gathering dark clouds and what promises to be a squally night. Vossie goes down to rest, very briefly, as the lightening lights up the sea for brief moments and he is called up to keep me company as this is not my forte. Wind picks up and the autopilot stalls, 360 degree turn and mad scramble before we get her back on track again. We suspect that this band of squalls are the same that Passat had to deal with a short while later, but being further ahead of us they were in the thick of it. There was no rest this night as the waves grew monstrous and the squalls kept coming bringing strong winds. We were obviously in the area where the river and the sea converge and it is renowned for rough seas when the wind is up. In hindsight we would have been better off another 20 miles out, but you live and learn. With me huddled in the corner of the cockpit hanging on for dear life, Vossie and Talacam dealt very well with the buffeting we were getting.
MONDAY 30th
The dawn brings slightly quieter seas as we try to make our way further out to sea to avoid the floating debris coming down the river. This turned out not to be as bad as we were expecting, although there was a fair amount of floating plant life and wood. We had a good sail and thought to make Cartagena by the end of the day. Unfortunately the wind again drops and with the current against us on our last leg we decide to motor to try and make landfall. Beautiful day and Vossie catches a nice size barracuda.the first fish caught since we started sailing. We ran out of daylight on approaching the city of Cartagena and came in on GPS alone in the pitch dark and with the city lights as a back drop, making one totally blind when approaching the entrance. We came through the small entrance successfully and made our way slowly to the anchorage, slowly because again the city lights make it very difficult to pick up the navigation lights in an unknown harbour. We are very proud of ourselves for getting this right even though it was nerve wracking at the time. Anchoring turned out to be a bit frustrating as we were tired and the anchor would not set properly. Eventually put our heads down at 3.30am. In the morning we had to scramble awake to re-anchor again, as we were drifting around and got too close to Pacific Bliss. This encounter resulted in a light kiss but fortunately no big damage. We are properly anchored now and hopefully it remains that way as the squalls bring 30-35knot winds from the south when they come through.
We have cleared in with our agent at a cost of 150,000 pesos ( US$82.50 ) allowing us 10 days to explore Cartagena. Decision has also been made to take haul Talacam in the Manzanillo Marina to fix our waterline and check for any damage caused by our encounter with the rocks.

Curacao to Aruba
Gaynor
09/04/2010

CURACAO TO ARUBA 23rd August 2010

We left at first light on Monday morning in good weather, winds not to strong. Made good time to Aruba ( 57 nm away ) even though the swell picked up considerably and George ( our autopilot ) tried very hard to keep us on course every time our stern was swept sideways in the 6-8 ft swells coming from the sides. As per normal no trip can be without incident. This one turning out to be a worrying one.
About 15 miles from our waypoint we decided to start the motor to try and stabilize the boat and charge the batteries. She started well and ran for about 15 minutes and then promptly died. It sounded like a fuel problem so Vossie went down and changed the filters thinking this might be connected to the bio diesel problem we had previously. However that did not work. Much talk between Passat and Talacam trying to resolve the problem and in the process flattening the start battery, but all to no avail. It was decided that Passat would wait for us close to the entrance of Oranjestad and tow us in, after obtaining special permission to do so as clearing in needs to be done at Barcadera which has no anchorage facility.
We were also boarded by the coast guard who were very friendly and efficient and who took our details and took swabs in various areas of Talacam for illicit substances. These were taken back to the Coast Guard cutter, which was standing by, for analysis. After the tests coming back clear, the guys left and returned to the Coast Guard cutter wishing us well.
Once we were in the lee of Aruba the seas flattened and we were sailing along at a good 6-7 knots and picked up our tow line from Passat and taken to anchor. We immediately had to report to Immigration at Barcadera, who were waiting for us. So a quick transfer to Passat who came alongside Talacam and Vossie and I had to hop over while Bob did a slow pass. Too many first times in this trip for me!
Anyway we were given 48 hours ( because of the visa requirement ) to fix our problem and to report back if more time was needed. When we went to checkout we found out that this situation was not true as we are a St Maarten registered boat with a St Maarten address and therefore would have been able to stay in Aruba longer if we wanted to.
Vossie got to work first thing this morning and managed to trace the problem . There was no fuel coming from the day tank as air had got into the line. Firstly got the generator working ( which also died this morning ) and then the main engine. All of us very relieved that it was not a major problem to solve so we can continue on our way.
Spent the rest of the day walking the beach area of Oranjestad and after some roties and beer for lunch went for a swim at the Renaissance hotel pool and then we made our way back to the boat.

Last weeks Curacao
Gaynor
09/04/2010

LAST WEEKS IN CURACAO 22nd August 2010

Our stay in Curacao is coming to an end but it has been very enjoyable what with the happy hour at Normans's Bar every Friday evening and having met new friends in the anchorage. The important jobs are done and Vossie seems to have mended well.
Last week we paid a visit to a Mexican training schooner in Willemstad who had an open boat for a few days. It was very impressive and obviously a lot of spit and polish keep the trainees busy as it was spotless and gleaming . They flew a HUGE flag like a kite to keep it open, almost as big as the boat. That was a very interesting outing.
We have checked out and have moved to Santa Cruz bay up the coast. We spent two nights here left 6.00 am on the 23rd for our trip to Aruba, more to the west. Leaving from here makes the trip a manageable day trip. A very quiet bay and sitting having breakfast in the cockpit watching wild green parrots flying around, plus pelicans and other wild life, reminds us what a pleasure life can be and how lucky we are to be able to sail to different places .

LAST WEEKS IN CURACAO 22nd August 2010

Our stay in Curacao is coming to an end but it has been very enjoyable what with the happy hour at Normans's Bar every Friday evening and having met new friends in the anchorage. The important jobs are done and Vossie seems to have mended well.
Last week we paid a visit to a Mexican training schooner in Willemstad who had an open boat for a few days. It was very impressive and obviously a lot of spit and polish keep the trainees busy as it was spotless and gleaming . They flew a HUGE flag like a kite to keep it open, almost as big as the boat. That was a very interesting outing.
We have checked out and have moved to Santa Cruz bay up the coast. We spent two nights here left 6.00 am on the 23rd for our trip to Aruba, more to the west. Leaving from here makes the trip a manageable day trip. A very quiet bay and sitting having breakfast in the cockpit watching wild green parrots flying around, plus pelicans and other wild life, reminds us what a pleasure life can be and how lucky we are to be able to sail to different places .

LAST WEEKS IN CURACAO 22nd August 2010

Our stay in Curacao is coming to an end but it has been very enjoyable what with the happy hour at Normans's Bar every Friday evening and having met new friends in the anchorage. The important jobs are done and Vossie seems to have mended well.
Last week we paid a visit to a Mexican training schooner in Willemstad who had an open boat for a few days. It was very impressive and obviously a lot of spit and polish keep the trainees busy as it was spotless and gleaming . They flew a HUGE flag like a kite to keep it open, almost as big as the boat. That was a very interesting outing.
We have checked out and have moved to Santa Cruz bay up the coast. We spent two nights here left 6.00 am on the 23rd for our trip to Aruba, more to the west. Leaving from here makes the trip a manageable day trip. A very quiet bay and sitting having breakfast in the cockpit watching wild green parrots flying around, plus pelicans and other wild life, reminds us what a pleasure life can be and how lucky we are to be able to sail to different places .

11/06/2010 | MARc clement
good to see your picture make me travel a little
might going panama december
let you know
all best bon vent mon ami
marc
Exploring Curacao
Gaynor
07/14/2010, Spanish Waters

13th July 13, 2010
Sorry about the delay with the blog but here, finally, is an update of the last month. A lot of time in the first weeks was spent with Vossie recovering and the odd trip to the supermarket and of course to watch World Cup soccer.
Most of the spares have arrived and slowly we have begun to fix the few issues we had.
We were fortunate to meet up with a friend from St Maarten, Mike Voges of Lady C bar, who is originally from Curacao and he very kindly lent us a car for a few days, which enabled us to go sightseeing around the island. The first day we thought to travel the northern part of the island and we started off at the Hato Caves. These caves cover an area of 4900 square meters of limestone formations, a waterfall, water pools and the famous Madonna statue. Also present inside the caves is a colony of seldom seen long nose bats which are protected within the caves. We also walked the Indian Trail and saw rock carvings done by the Caiquetio Indians 1500 years ago. These carvings have been found only in this area of the Caribbean and in certain areas along the South American Orinoco river where this tribe originally came from. In the park around the caves saw many iguanas which were brought to the island as food by the Indians. They are strictly vegetarian and can grow up to 120cm, weigh up to 3 kilos and live up to 30 years. The bright green colored babies live in trees until they are about 18 months old.
We continued north passing through the villages and stopping whenever there was something of interest to see. There are many historical Country Estates dating to the 17th & 18th century dotted around the island some of which house restaurants or guest houses. Saw the traditional windmills pumping water at remote sites and stopped to see the impressive Wind turbines located on the San Pedro plain. A row of tall, white towers gleaming in the sun on the rough north coast, using the average wind speed of 19.7 mph with little daily variation, to generate electricity.
Next stop was the Bocas on the north east point. Here we visited the various inlets , the most impressive being Boca Pistole. As the waves rush into a narrowed area of rock they make the sound of a pistol shot going off and send water flying up into the air. Vossie also left his signature in one of the small gullies, he couldn't resist. This whole coastal area was desert like, the little shrubs that managed to survive growing horizontal to the ground from the constant buffeting by the wind.
In total contrast to the rocky and beachless north side of the island we arrived at Westpunt to a vista of a calm bay with fishing boats at anchor and beautiful clear blue water. All the beaches are on this side of the island and are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. We stopped at most of them trying to make the difficult decision as to which one to come back to at a later time.
We stopped at the Flamingo Sanctuary on the way back. What a beautiful sight! Unfortunately they were not very close to land so my photos cannot do justice to the spectacle.
Our first day sightseeing was very successful and rewarding and we arrived home tired but happy and ready for the next day.

Another early start to the day to visit the Ostrich Farm. Also an interesting tour in an open truck and we got to feed the ostriches as well. Saw emus and pot bellied pigs and crocodiles. Just like home! This farm is managed by a couple from South Africa so had a nice chat to them as well, much to Vossie's delight. Then off north again to find the right beach to relax on, snorkel and have our picnic lunch. Eventually decided on one that wasn't busy and had a very pleasant time swimming and exploring the rocky outcrops. It felt like swimming in an aquarium as Debbie pointed out.
Arriving back in Willemstad we stopped at the Nassau Fort built on a hilltop overlooking Willemstad. Built in 1797 to defend the St Anna Bay and the city and now has a restaurant and bar. From here we had a perfect view over the city and were able to watch the pontoon foot bridge open to allow a big tanker into the harbour guided by tugs.
On the way home took advantage of the car and did some grocery shopping, especially cases of beer, which are a little difficult with the bus. We have found and explored most of the big supermarkets and hardware stores which would have not been possible without the generous offer of the car.
On one of the days into Willemstad by public bus we visited some of the forts in town and Bob also wanted to see the Telecommunication museum but unfortunately this was closed until further notice. We did however visit a few of the Forts, one of which, Fort Amsterdam, houses the Governor and government offices and still has a cannonball embedded in one of the walls which was fired by Capt. Bligh's troops. The Rif Fort and Renaissance Mall built in 1828 at the entrance to the harbor is converted into a shopping mall.
Another interesting outing was a visit to the Chobolobo Country House where you see how the Curacao liqueur " Blue Curacao" has been distilled in the traditional way for 100 years. Naturally we took full advantage of the free tasting on offer.
Boat work, Vossie has moved the SSB tuner from it's old position to one of the "built" boxes so that the aerial connection to the tuner box can be shorter. This allows for better transmitting/receiving. So now that, that is done he hopes to fit the "aqua gen", a generator that is water driven and hangs off the back of the boat whilst sailing. It apparently produces a lot of power.
Lastly, we all enjoyed the World Cup final sitting in the bar, surrounded by Dutch supporters in Dutch territory, and adding support to the Spanish. For all of you that know Vossie this does not need any further explanation. Needless to say , when Spain won there were a few very angry Dutch supporters who told us exactly where we should not be. However it was an exciting game and a happy day.
As you can see we have been quite active, work and play has been mixed thoroughly and we have enjoyed sharing our adventures with our friends, Bob and Debbie. So let me get this one off and hope to do the next one soon.

07/20/2010 | Sandy Rae
Hello Vossie & Gaynor! MaryLou sent us your blog link and I'm anxious to catch up on all your travels to date and then continue with you on your journey. Stay safe and listen to Mother Nature!! Sandy & Jay
Curacao
Gaynor
06/15/2010, Spanish Waters

Curacao 1st Week
7th June Monday
Curacao is located in the southwestern Caribbean 70 km north of South America. 61km long 5-14 km wide. Official language is Dutch but English, Spanish and Papiamentu also spoken. Currency is the Netherland Antilles Guilder but US$ notes accepted ( not silver)
First things first, we have to go to Willemstad, the capital, to check in. So medicated Vossie with pain killers and off to catch the bus. This in my short experience takes the best part of the day...... first customs, then immigration and then license to anchor. And a lot of walking............
A really colourful city. It was decreed in the past that no building was allowed to be painted pure white and thus the appealing colour contrasts as one walks down the streets. After checking in we wandered downtown first and stopped into in few bars and did some window shopping. There is much in the way of historical culture and old forts which we look forward to exploring.
On the way back to catch the bus we passed the open air market where the boats from Venezuela come to sell their fresh fruit and veg every day. We just missed the bus so had to kill time ( over an hour ) until the next one.. Vossie was very relieved to get back to the boat.
The local supermarket sends a complimentary bus every morning for anyone wishing to go and do some shopping . They give you one hour which is very good of them before returning. We have taken advantage of this a few times and Vossie and Bob normally take the opportunity to visit Budget Marine and Napa around the corner from the supermarket, while Debbie and I wander the shop.
A lot of time has been spent on the boat as Vossie has to take it easy and try to mend....not an easy task.
There was no way he was going to miss the opening game of the World Cup soccer so medicated and strapped up we went to the Fishermans Bar at the dock to enjoy the game at 10.30 in the morning. We watched in the pouring rain under an awning, TV covered with a plastic table cloth to keep it dry, all of us soaked to the skin but hey!.....a good time was had by all.
Sunday 13th
Debbie and Bob kindly offered to take us to lunch for my birthday and we walked to the nearby beach and had a really good meal at one of the local bars. A popular bar on the weekend where there was also a TV, putting a great smile on Vossie's face. Walked back to the dingy via the Fishermans Bar to enjoy a few more Polars with new friends and finally made it home way after supper. Thank you guys for a wonderful birthday.
Monday 14th
Took the supermarket bus mainly for the outing and to pick up some of the spares that had arrived at Napa. Its only about 2 hours all in all but breaks the day.
Tuesday 14th
Tonight we will go to the Happy hour at 5.00pm to the Asiento bar and find out more about where to find what and hopefully meet up with Vossie's Budget associate in Curacao and perhaps organize a car for a day or two so we can begin to explore some of this interesting island. The walking and bus rides are not comfortable for Vossie's broken ribs and he tires very quickly.

06/21/2010 | jenny
glad u got wishes, they didnt let me know (. no time to get into...lots going on work, home,new car end july-merc ) tons of love &thinking of you 24.7 . jen+adel xxxxxx
07/08/2010 | Piet
Hi Vossie
Thanks for visiting us on the Ostrich farm,was really nice to have met you people,and to talk,n bietjie afrikaans vir n beurt,veilige reis verder,groetnis
Piet

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