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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.

More Good Company

So Saturday morning we managed the provisioning run originally planned the day before. We walked to the mall for a bit of exercise taking a slightly different route from last time. On the way we decided to try some local breakfast freshly fried on the street. No idea what the things were called that we picked up but one was a sort of chicken pasty, one was like a sour dough bread and the other a spherical doughnut. We took one of each, the three coming to under a dollar. I wasn’t too keen on the sour dough thingy but the others were delicious. Helen enjoyed her share of all three.

First stop was the home store where we picked up a few items. I found a couple of pipes which I can make a long extension to our syringe for injecting grease into our dropless seals. Problem was they were 3m long so they’ll have to wait another trip. Next stop was the Carrefour supermarket where we picked up a little food and a lot of beer/wine. We now should have enough for the family all the way to Panama City in January.

After getting all our provisions back on the boat I headed back to Panda to complete their network setup. As ever, sleeping on the problem seemed to bring ideas into focus and it didn’t take too long to have everything going the way they hoped for. Next stop was Glide who’d also learned I enjoy a challenge. He’d been having problems with his printer. He was just completing his third attempt to install the drivers. While the compute was rebooting I removed the printer cable and put it back. By the time it had rebooted the printer was working. No idea if it was the final install or cable which fixed it but it’s the result that counts. I ended up being able to borrow their Panama Cruising guide for a couple of days. We have a copy in NJ coming to us with the kids but this allows us to plan a little ahead of time.

Helen, in the meantime, was busy preparing for the evening. We’d invited Derek and Martha back to the boat for a return meal and invited the Whiskers over too. Derek and Martha had plenty of questions still and Gerald and Dianne added an extra perspective on things.

Evening came. I picked up Derek and Martha from the dock and we spent time touring the boat before Dianne and Gerald showed up. The meal was excellent, the company better. (Right now Helen’s a little cross at me for opening too many bottles of wine. She does have a point.)

When Martha and Derek were ready to leave I dinghied them back over the bay. It was quite flat so no dinghy bums as far as I could tell. We were left with an invite to visit Martha and Derek at their sailing club today (Sunday) and go out on the clubs sunfish. Flying back on my own in the dark was fast and fun.

Dianne and Gerald stayed a little longer but soon we were left to crash.

We are awake now. We’ve got to pull ourselves together to be fit for this afternoons outing. We’ve never sailed boats so small so it will be interesting to say the least.

Work Done and Time Off

Thursday morning was supposed to start with an 8am pickup of both the A/C guys and the stainless steel guy. I dinghied in with the trash and waited but none turned up. I gave in and went back to the boat to wait it out.

Back on the boat I learned that the big news of the morning was that the previous evening a sailboat had been boarded and robbed while entering Boca Chica around sunset. This was the same entrance we had taken returning from the Rosarios just a few hours earlier. We knew it was not at all safe to anchor there but to be boarded is another thing. We have emailed and warned some of our friends on the way here.

I decided to head back to the dock around 8:30am and immediately ran into the first of the A/C brothers. We waited a few minutes for the other brother to show up before hopping into the dinghy. Just as we were pulling off the stainless steel guy appeared so I was able to take them all together.

The morning ended up with a lot of running around. The A/C reinstallation seemed to take longer than it should and was a little worrying as they kept popping the circuit breaker when testing. In between supporting the A/C guys I was helping raise the wing gen mast. After a couple of hours of this everyone finished together so I was able to drop them off with a single trip.

My next stop, after a quick bite to eat, was to head over to Panda to help them extend their boat network. I was there for two hours and we made some progress but only in the direction of identifying some specific issues that required resolving or circumventing.

Back to Dignity at 2pm we were getting ready to go to the notorious open air market when our son Ben skyped us. He’d already spoken to Helen while I was out. It was nice to see him as he’s hard to get hold of.

After this chat we headed ashore with Dianne and Gerald and took a cab to the open air market. It was quite an interesting place; vast, crowded, hot, filthy and often smelly. Helen and Dianne both bought some cheap young girls jewelry as hand outs for when we reach the Marquesas. I bought a hat. We ducked into the Caribe Mall for some sanity, cool air, ice cream, rotisary chicken, beer and wine before heading back to the boat for a quick wash and minor clear up before heading back out to meet Derek who’d emailed us the day before.

We didn’t have to wait too long, Cartagena standards, for him to arrive in a taxi to take us over to their apartment in Castillo Grande on the other side of the bay. There we met his wife, Martha. They had a wonderful apartment and served a great meal. We chatted about a whole bunch of things. They were particularly interested in our transition and our lifestyle as they, being avid sailors, are planning to head off around 2012. Later in the evening we walked the 2-3 miles to the Old Town where we sat in the Plaza Domingo (check) drinking fruit juice. They regularly make this trip, several times a week in fact, and are well known by the owner and the five piece band that serenaded us with three Colombian songs.

We parted company after midnight promising them dinner and a show around the boat on Saturday evening. Being many hours after our normal retirement time we fell asleep instantly upon arrival.

We woke late too so I missed my normal slot for doing the blog. Shortly after 8am I dinghied Helen over to the other side of the bay again for her dentist appointment. Back on Dignity I was joined by Gerald who’d offered to assist with installing the wind generator.

After a couple of hours work we had the unit atop the mast and the cables run down through the mast and into the starboard transom through a rubber seal.

It then took me another two to three hours in cramped sweaty condition down inside the transom wiring it all up with a cut off switch and breaker into the same box where we have the breakers for our solar panels.

Then came the testing. With Helen on the inside calling out the amps being drawn/generated I turned the unit off and on several times. Not sure what the wind speed was but it wasn’t great. We were still making 2-4 amps which was not bad considering a lot of wind gens in the anchorage were not turning. The unit is pretty quiet. We can’t hear it at all in our cabin although it can be heard in the starboard aft cabin.

Now I’m relaxing. Working in that sweat hole is exhausting but I’m glad it’s done. Tools are still strewn everywhere so the clear up still needs to be done. We’ll probably head back to the big mall today to start stocking up on Xmas essentials (ie, lots more beer and wine).

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.