Monday, December 6, 2010

Aruba to Santa Marta, Colombia

December 6

Yes, it's been a while since I blogged. We've been busy and it's been hard to find time to blog. In addition, it's been more work, since I write the blog and save the photos on my computer then have to transfer everything to the ship's computer. It is hooked up to a wi-fi antenna that's not available to my netbook.

Aruba to Santa Marta, Colombia

We were out of the marina by ten in the morning then motored to Barcadera Bay to clear customs and immigration. The exit process went quickly and soon we found ourselves in rough seas and perky winds - but fortunately, we were going with the weather and not against it. Santa Marta was nearly 300 miles away - a two-night trip.

For most of the day we sailed with a double-reefed main and a reefed jib. Even with little canvas up, Lahaina Roads often exceeded 9 knots. In the evening we took the main down and reefed the jib even more - we still were moving at over 6 knots.  Coming from the quarter, the steep seas made things very lively below decks. It was hard to stand up much less do anything else such as cook. We managed a quick meal and went on one hour watches for the rest of the night. Sleeping, though, was impossible because of all the creaky noises down below decks.

The following day, tired as we were, we had a nice sail with the seas and the winds somewhat moderating. By evening the winds died down - we decided to motor since we wanted to make sure we got to Santa Marta during daylight the following day.

By mid-morning the following day, we were off the coast of Colombia - and it was pouring rain....again. The rain seems to follow us wherever we go. We continued to motor the rest of the way into Santa Marta Bay. Even without charts, it was a relatively easy harbor to enter. We located the marina and eventually got into a slip.

Colombia has a different entry procedure than all the other countries we visited. Here we needed an agent to clear us in. "Dino" did all the customs and immigration clearing, got the boat checked in and got our passports stamped. He was a nice young fellow who spoke reasonably good English. In comparison to the ABC islands where it was free to clear in or out, though, in Columbia the cost to enter was about $100.

The Santa Marta Marina has nice docks but it's not yet finished. As a result, we have no bathrooms and showers. Showers are on the dock with a hose or on the aft deck with a sun shower.  

After getting settled, we took a walk along the waterfront and through town. Santa Marta, founded in 1525 by the Spanish, reportedly is the oldest city in the Americas. It has a small town atmosphere but has the hustle and bustle of a larger one. All along the shoreline there was a boardwalk. Lots of families enjoying the waterfront, which also was busy with food and beverage vendors.

The area has numerous near-naked statues of indigenous Colombian Indians - the Amerindians from the Tairona culture, Arhuacos and Koguis.

On one of the days we took a bus to the nearby fishing village of Caganga. It’s a fishing village, a backpackers hangout and offers a relaxed atmosphere. Lots of Colombians head for its beaches and waterfront restaurants. I ended up talking to a fellow from Croatia who lives there part time as a dive master. He invited me for a dive trip, which I ended up doing the following day.

We had dinner at a couple of different restaurants. None were memorable. Luckily, there were too expensive, either.

The dives I went were fun but nothing out of the ordinary except for the sighting of a giant moray eel. It must have been 5-7 inches in diameter. The dive master who I dove with had never seen one that large either. For the rest of the dive, we saw numerous types of fish, including a beautiful lion fish, which they're trying to eradicate. Also I saw a variety of hard and soft coral, tubular coral and a coral that looks like a bright purple volcano - very beautiful.

Some other comments about what we've noticed. Colombia seems like a very family oriented country. On the other hand, you see lots of very young girls (under 15) with babies. They're not carrying them around as babysitters, either. Also, lots of older men in their 40's and 50's with women that appear to be in their early 20's.
Fruit vendor

Regardless, we've really enjoyed our first stay in Colombia. Very friendly people, not many who speak a word of English. No mosquitoes and no flies like we had in the ABC's.
Tomorrow we are off to Cartagena, an overnight sail of about 130 miles.

Marty in class - Bargaining 101

Beats me! Soldering cell phones? 
Cute little girl getting her hair done
At a local restaurant
Marty, hot after a new franchise opportunity