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Ready to go

It’s now just a few hours to go before we head out of here. This morning is another one of those mornings where the bay smells like a toilet so we are keen to go.

Yesterday was a little busy. We did another provisioning run to the Carrefour supermarket in the morning. On the way we bumped into Gerald. The agent with our passports wasn’t around so we agreed that whoever found him first would collect all our paperwork.

We loaded up with more food and a little more beer – just in case the kids get too thirsty before we get to Panama City. We also picked up a lot of good quality beef which is very cheap here.

In the afternoon Gerald and Tom came over and we spent a few hours copying useful files and info we each had. Later we headed off to the local supermarket for more frozen and fresh food including our Christmas turkey.

Got a little more tidying to do before we go. Around 9am we’ll head round to the fuel dock and fill up. Then we’ll head out of the bay and find a shallow, clear patch to drop anchor and clean the props. The weather forecast still looks good (if not slightly better) to make it in two days albeit with a slow start perhaps. We’re going to head to Linton (9 36.7N 079 35.2W) as our first landfall. We’ve learned we can hire cars there and have the boat looked after. This gives us the option of going to pick the kids up from the airport which would be nice. We’ll look into the feasibility of doing that.

It will be sad to leave. We’ve made some good friends here and most we know we won’t see again. Every time we stay somewhere more than a week we grow a few roots which makes it all a little harder to move on. Problem with Cartagena is that if we don’t leave soon, the bay will grow roots into us.

Last Party in Cartagena

On Tuesday morning we walked over to the Carib mall so I could buy some pipes and sticks to make an extension pole to our grease syringe. Basically it’s a water pipe with a stick in it cut out on the end to accept the syringe. This enables me to squeeze grease into the dripless seals by removing the drawer under the bunks rather than open up the beds and removed whats stored under them.

We couldn’t find the agent yesterday so we’ll try again today. Yesterday was a public holiday. He said he’d be working but noone we know found him.

We also defrosted the fridge. It seems to do well for a long time but once the drip tray gets iced and the outflow blocks the thing frosts up very quickly. We’d reached that point so it had to be done and best before we do our provisioning today.

In the evening we were invited over to Whiskers for a Durban Curry cooked by Dianne. Tom and Marge from 3/4 time were there too. The food was great and we had a good evening. Again, a little more beer/wine that was good for us.

Bar anything unfortunate that delays us we should be off tomorrow. That makes last night our last night of partying here in Cartagena. We’ll want to be fit and straight for our two day crossing to Panama. The weather forecasts look good. It’s hard to predict the coastal winds but the forecasts seem to be consistently predicting good winds for us out at sea. Our current thinking is to sail to Portobello and stay around there until Monday morning when we’ll head over to Shelter Bay Marina in Colon and kick of the admin ourselves.

Christmas Lights

Monday was the day of the much anticipated Christmas Lights tour of Cartagena. That had to wait until the evening so we had the day to get a few things done.

In the morning I dropped off our passports with our agent so we can clear out. Later, I picked up the filled dive tanks and refueled the dinghy. I also ran the hookah to see if it was ok – it was. Given that it seized up last time it’s probably running it if left for a month or two. I was also called over to Panda to reverse their laptop setup as they had a connection problem with one of them. It should have been straightforward but it took a bit of o/s wrestling to make work.

We decided to eat out and have a pizza for before the tour of the lights. We had an ok pizza and a couple of beers each before heading back to Club Nautico to meet up with everyone.

Stuffed onto a bus we were given our free rum (I managed to get two) and then set off. After what seemed ages we were ejected to see a little park where they had a large, lit tissue paper doll nativity scene. The ‘baby Jesus’ looked lit a glow worm / maggot. Still, the trees were lovely and lit up nicely.

We were then packed back onto the bus for our next treat. Along the way we got stuck in the wrong street and had to back up which took forever. The next ‘treat’ turned out to be a residential street with a few lit up houses. To be quite honest, the lit apartments right next to Club Nautico were better. I imagined locals asking us how far we’d travelled to see this street. I was embarrassed.

Right round the corner we saw a clone of the first park with the holy glow worm but we were spared the ordeal of getting off the bus. Then it was off to the old town which raised spirits. Having seen some impressive lights go up recently we were hopeful for more. Sadly, we’d already seen the best of it on our previous night’s excursions. Although I enjoyed the company of friends (Pandas, 3/4 Times were there among others) I was personally quite bored with the trip and would rather have done something else. You can’t win ’em all.

As we approach Thursday, our planned departure date, I’m paying more and more attention to the weather. Typically the good winds are north of 11N which means a big arc up north to catch them for a while. The current predictions have better weather north of 10N which may mean we get an easier ride but need to be careful of stronger weather a little north of our track. We’ll see but it’s looking promising.

Happy in Cartagena

Yesterday we woke to clear skies and relatively still waters so we up anchored and left before 8am. I was glad of the effort to take waypoints the day before as this made transiting and exiting the reef stress free.

There was little wind so we motored all the way back to Cartagena, this time taking the longer route via Boca Chica to see a different view and to live a little in history as this was often the entrance taken by invading fleets.

Now that we’ve settle into Cartagena we probably won’t move until we leave for Panama next week so here is our current position and our tracks within Colombia.

View 2009 Colombia in a larger map

Once back anchored we were soon met by Gerald from Whiskers and made plans to meet up in the evening for the Wednesday Happy Hour. I also called the A/C guys and the stainless steel guys to line them up to complete their work. The A/C guys are due in at 8am this morning and the s/s guys were due to show up at 2pm although I had to wait until 3pm before they arrived.

I also caught up on emails, etc. We received one email from a couple who live part time here in Cartagena who have been following our blog. They have invited us round to dinner this evening which we’re looking forward to.

Back to the work. Mounting the mast was mostly completed yesterday afternoon leaving a little work to be completed today. They will also arrive around 8am (they say). If we’re lucky they’ll arrive along with the A/C guys and I can save a dinghy trip. That leaves me to complete the install of the wind gen. Shortly I’ll check cable lengths, etc and see what I have that I can use and what I need to buy later this morning.

Yesterday evening, after dropping of the s/s guys, we headed off for Happy Hour where we met up with the Whiskers as well as Tom and Marge from 3/4 Time among others. The six of us ended up in the nearby burger joint.

Either today or tomorrow we’ll head off to the fresh fruit & veg market where I am told I can also pick up cheap water cans. I’ve also made a promise to the folks on Panda to help them set up their boat network. They heard what I did for Whiskers and are looking forward to the help.

Once the two sets of work are done we’ll be free to relax. We’re booked on a city tour on the 7th of December but beyond that we’re free to go.

Finally – I’ve uploaded pics for our time in the Rosarios.

Castillo San Felipe de Barajas

Our original plan for Tuesday was to go and see the castle in the morning. This was until we learned there were two cruise ships in town and that they would probably leave around 2pm.

We therefore idled the morning away until 2pm came by. We met up with Whiskers at the dock along with Marge from “3/4 Time” was coming along with us.

We walked there and were greeted at the foot of the hill on which the castle stood by a statue of Blas de Lezo who successfully led the defense of the city on one occasion against superior British/American forces despite being short an arm, a leg and an eye.

Exploring the castle was fascinating as it was geared up as last line of defense with several layers behind which besieged troups could fall back. Within the solid structure were warrens of tunnels which I presume formed the escape channels as soldier retreated into central defenses.

As we finished off our exploration the place filled up with tourists, perhaps all from a cruise ship, so we were very lucky with our timing. At the foot of the castle we saw a sculpture of a large pair of shoes. The symbolism referring to a poet who loved the city as one loves and old pair of shoes.

We shopped for food on the way back picking up some nice ribs for dinner.

This morning we’ve been sharing expertise with Gerald from Whiskers. We’ve helped him set up his PC a little better (without too much going wrong). In return he’s shared some good info about the Pacific islands which they visited on their first circumnavigation.