Rick & Ami's 8 Year Sailing Adventure

...or, how to log 8000 miles in 8 years!

12 January 2010 | Southern Caribbean
01 January 2010 | Bahia de Chalon, Colombia
19 May 2009 | San Blas Islands, Panama
25 December 2008
05 August 2007 | Mochima, Venezuelan coast
25 May 2007 | Trinidad, West Indies
28 February 2007 | Trinidad, West Indies
23 December 2005 | Trinidad, West Indies
12 August 2005 | Trinidad
14 July 2005 | Trinidad, West Indies
28 June 2005 | St. Lucia, Eastern Caribbean
09 December 2004 | Peru
10 June 2004 | Chatham Bay, Union Island, The Grenadines
19 March 2004 | Trinidad, West Indies
22 December 2003 | Trinidad, West Indies
11 December 2003 | Trinidad, West Indies
13 November 2003 | Trinidad, West Indies

Curacao to Cartagena

25 December 2008
It's Christmas morning. We woke to a balmy 85 degrees and a nice 15 knot breeze, making it feel quite comfortable on the boat. A relief from the heat and humidity we've endured during the last few months, partly because there has just been no wind. But mostly because we're in the tropics, only 10 degrees from the equator.

We're anchored in Bahia de Cartagena de Indias, just alongside the old city of Cartagena. We've been in Colombia for a few months now, pleasantly surprised at how much we're enjoying the culture, the music, and, most of all, the Colombians.

Like most people, we thought that Colombia was a dangerous country to visit, with drug lords and kidnappings and anti-American hatred. However, Colombia has changed over the last 7-10 years, and other cruisers reported that is very safe, and one of the countries they most enjoyed visiting. So, after much research, we decided not to bypass Colombia on our way to Panama after all.

On our trip here from Curacao, we found the Colombian coastline mostly uninhabited, and quite dramatic, with rainforest covered mountains, and enticing little coves just begging to be explored. We loved Bahia Guayraca, which was part of a large national park. A fisherman, Reynaldo, took us hiking in the hills behind the little fishing village, showing us the remains of some pueblos of the indigenous Torona Indians, and it was fun hunting for pottery chips and other artifacts. Leaving Bahia Guayraca, Rick caught a huge tuna, which fed us well for many dinners and lunches!

But the highlight of Colombia so far has been Cartagena, the oldest city in the Americas. The walled Centro Historico has been renovated, and is perhaps the most magical city we've ever visited, just dripping with history and exploding with culture......Latin music and dancing in the streets, ancient cathedrals, impressive forts, horse-drawn buggies, and vine-covered balconies overlooking narrow cobblestone streets. We can see the old city from our boat, and hear the music till wee hours of the morning. It is indeed safe here, especially in the old city. The Colombianos love Americans, and often stop us on the street to ask us about life in the States. Needless to say, our Spanish is getting quite good!!!!

Just a quick sail from Cartagena are some lush, lightly populated islands called Los Rosarios. After a month of indulging in the vibrant city life of Cartagena, it felt great to swim in the crystal clear water, to kayak and free dive, and to do some serious stargazing! A hike to the small pueblo on Isla Grande, which was really quite small but the largest of the islands, was like a walk back in time. A small community of people surviving on fishing, living in thatched roof huts with dirt floors, happy barefoot kids running everywhere, and big smiles on every kind face we saw. We spent hours listening to stories that some locals freely shared with us, about their lives there in Los Rosarios, and their quiet little community.

After we left Venezuela last year, we spent some time in the Dutch Antilles islands of Bonaire and Curacao, enjoying the Dutch culture, but not the Dutch prices! Bonaire was a delight, as the entire island is a protected marine park. The diving is spectacular there; the reef is alive with a biodiversity of fish and coral life that is supposedly unrivaled in the world. We did over a hundred dives there, and identified over 300 varieties of fish, and well, we just really had a blast!

After the holiday festivities here in Cartagena, we plan to head west to Panama. We are looking forward to exploring the San Blas Islands, an archipelago of about 360 islands that stretch from the Colombian border to the Panama Canal zone. Only a handful of the islands are inhabited, and the only inhabitants are the Kuna Yala Indians, an indigenous tribe that fought with Panama in the 1930s for the right to self-govern, and so century old tribal laws and practices are intact and in place. We are busy preparing the boat, and provisioning for months of sailing among these beautiful, remote islands.

We hope that everyone is enjoying the holidays. May this new year bring joy and love to all! Please write when you get a chance....we will have internet access until we leave for the San Blas in mid-January.

Vessel Name: Tara Vana
Vessel Make/Model: Nautitech 435 catamaran
Hailing Port: Laguna Beach, CA
Crew: Rick & Ami Bergstrom
About: With little previous sailing experience, we decided to sell everything we owned, buy a cruising catamaran, and explore the world.
Extra: Retired at 40, we've been living aboard Tara Vana in the Caribbean since Sept. 2001. It has been a rich and varied experience. New people. New cultures. Lots of dance and music. And spectacular scenery.
Tara Vana's Photos - Main
Cruising the Colombian coast....wandering the streets of El Centro Historico in Cartagena....we fell in love with the Colombian people and their colorful Latin culture...
40 Photos | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 6 January 2010
A slice of Paris in the Caribbean, "...French wine and cheeses; warm summer breezes..."
29 Photos
Created 5 January 2010
Stunning scenery, welcoming locals and a strong music culture endeared us to the islands of the Eastern Caribbean
45 Photos
Created 5 January 2010
Trinidad feels like home...we spent a good part of our first 6 years on the boat there...we have family there now and so many wonderful memories...!
1 Photo | 6 Sub-Albums
Created 5 January 2010
We've explored so many incredibly beautiful places in the Caribbean....take a peek at our paradise!
55 Photos
Created 4 January 2010
100 miles north of the Venezuelan coast, these islands of the Dutch Antilles offer spectacular diving, sailing, and cruiser socializing
39 Photos
Created 4 January 2010
We loved exploring the underwater world of the Caribbean, especially in Bonaire...meet some of our newest friends!
33 Photos
Created 4 January 2010
We so enjoy the other cruisers we've met along the way...a wonderful international community of fun-seeking, adventurous spirits...
71 Photos
Created 2 January 2010
We loved Venezuela, especially the remote offshore island groups of Los Roques and Las Aves.
39 Photos
Created 1 January 2010
Take a virtual tour of our boat! We've got lots of cool pictures....
30 Photos | 8 Sub-Albums
Created 1 January 2010
We delighted in the scenic beauty and tranquility of the San Blas Islands, and enjoyed meeting the indigenous Kuna Indians
45 Photos
Created 30 December 2009
A quick get-away to see this part of the world and visit our friends on SV ZEN
34 Photos
Created 21 October 2009

Who: Rick & Ami Bergstrom
Port: Laguna Beach, CA