22 December 2010 | Cartagena, Colombia
The waters off of Colombia are touted as being some of the most dangerous in the world. This is an area where a lot of weather conditions can converge, complicated by winds, currents and the flow from the river Magdalena (largest in the Caribbean). A prudent sailor makes sure that the conditions are just right before attempting a crossing of Colombia. The dreaded "green monster" had been showing on our weather charts. You don't want to meet him anywhere, especially off Colombia. We were getting close to Christmas and we had a good friend who would be flying into Colombia to meet us. We saw a 4 day weather window and we decided to take it. We would rather be early than risk getting stuck by weather. As far as Colombia is concerned, there are also the coastal areas. We could have stopped along the way but with the weather being in our favor we decided to go straight to Cartagena. We would pass Aruba this time and as long as the weather held out arrive in Cartagena 4 days from leaving Curacao. The trip was as expected. The seas were calm for the most part, no wind and clear. For the first time in our boating history, John and I were both nauseous. This was due to the smell of old transmission fluid which had soaked through the insulation covering the exhaust pipe Not fun. This goes on the list to replace.
We left Curacao with another boat, CapsTres from Spain. We have found that we usually travel well with sailboats. We go about their speed which makes it easy. The only problem is when there is no wind for sailboats. We go consistently at 6-7 knots, and with wind, we go faster due to our sails. Smaller sailboats speed will vary greatly depending on the wind. With no wind, they can't keep up with us and we can't go as slow as it would take to stay with them because of the possibility of lugging the engine. CapsTres arrived 24hours later than we did ito Cartagena. We enjoyed being with Jose and Virgi on Caps Tres during the holidays sharing meals and customs.
Cartagena was an unexpected surprise for us. First of all , it is beautiful, the people very friendly and you can find almost everything you need here. It is a National Heritage City and well restored. We had enough time to become acquainted with the city before our friend Fay Stevenson-Smith arrived for a visit from Connecticut. She was here a week and we had a great time sightseeing, mud baths, eating out and just relaxing. She escaped some cold snowy weather and we enjoyed visiting with a treasured friend.
We were able to replace the smelly insulation in the engine room. We also got the engine painted. The engine had only been primed coming from the manufacturer. It had been on our list to have done but it wasn't until Cartagena that we found the right person and price to have it done. Another problem we had been having was with our SSB and pactor modem. It was a huge frustration. I could not receive or send emails through the SSB. The computer would read the Pactor but when it came to connecting, it would fizz out and the computer would freeze. I didn't know if it was a software or a hardware problem. At last in Cartagena, we met Felix Malo, a local, who would not give up until he had repaired our system. It turned out to be 4 different problems that were all dealt with and now we can send and receive message on the SSB as well as download weather gribs. Feliz was here all day long and including a new cable, the cost was well less than $100USD. We are going to like the Western Caribbean.
We have enjoyed the people here, both cruisers and locals. We also have taken Salsa and Meringue lessons and we are not so bad. We have had a wonderful time so far.