Posts Tagged ‘Cartagena’

Gordian Knot

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

A Gordian knot is  to be  knot so intricate that there is only one way to untie it and alas that too is next to impossible. Well, we tried for the impossible and we were thwarted.

A Jungle Gym on Sistership

A Jungle Gym on Sistership

W/ had finally persisted enough in saying that we needed to simplify our cruising by making our boat more complex, she persisted so much that I acquiesced. 🙂 Thus we had decided on adding a Jungle Gym (as is the apparatus hanging over the stern that is sometimes affectionately called) or more commonly referred to by sailors as an Arch. To add an Arch the best place we were willing to go was Cartegena. So we set our sites on traveling  back to Cartegena.

We contacted our SSCA resource and wanted / needed  to stay at Club de Pesca where we knew the  marina had standards and we could work with a welder  there that made a similar arch on Brudaire, and a fellow boater that had stayed at  de Pesca told us if we wanted to be there in December we needed to start now. so we set about to secure a reservation now. We emailed the Club and emailed our SSCA contact. There went by about 4 weeks of back and forth communications, information, time lines, etc. We had asked for 2 month figuring that would give us enough time to have the arch built, entertaining any of our fiends or family that wished to visit,  have my eyes checked out and possibly repaired; yeah, I’m not fond of glasses, and continue to enjoy the city.

Eventually Club de Pesca said they couldn’t give us 60 days but possibly 30. Ok, we’ll work to complete what we can, the Arch being numero uno (1)  on the list and so we waited for a confirmation.  None came for a bit  and today we receive it, or lack there of –  No.  They couldn’t confirm a reservation for us.

Well, we’re not going back to Cartegena on a wing and prayer, the bay is dirty (barnacles grow like they are on  steroids on anchor chain & boat bottoms)  and the anchorage is rolly with not the best

San Pedro Claver Church Dome

San Pedro Claver Church Dome

holding and in some places a foul bottom. Getting measurements for the arch and having it installed while at a rolling anchorage isn’t on the bucket list for the boat. The city is lovely; rich in history and beauty, and the people understanding of our attempts at Spanish and pleasant to be around;  but,  with no place to tie the boat for the work to do and what we wished to accomplish we’ve decided that the Gordian Knot in this case wasn’t going to be untied. Ironically this is  most likely the first time in my life I’ve been bummed about NOT spending lots of money.  Weird Huh?

We’ll hang out in Panama longer and maybe go through the Panama Canal earlier then we had been planning and enter the Pacific.  So expect more writing and pictures of Panama and  Kuna Yala. Cause we’ll be here  awhile longer . 🙂

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Gettin round in Cartagena

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

While most know our car is an 8 or 12 foot dinghy with a whopping set of oars, 2hp or 15hp engine, traveling on land in the city is another matter.There is a vast plethora of options. Mostly we walk everywhere we can; however, time and location can dictate another mode.

Besides owning your own vehicle in Cartagena; which requires a full year course in “Crash Car Racing”,  you have: Group Limos, Buses, Taxi’s, Motorcycles, Horse and Carriage, and Bicycle Carriages. All come with various prices and expectations.

Our tryst with a Limo occurred when we visited the Tutomo Volcano and spent a day with other cruisers doing a little of the sights. The cost of the limo was included in the package.

Yellow Taxi's

Yellow Taxi's

Mostly we take one of  the thousands of yellow Taxi’s throughout the city; that is when walking takes too long or we’re tired or we need to travel through a suspect (not really safe for tourist) area. Taxi’s cost from  5,000  – 10,000 pesos for the ride. This is quite different from the Windward and Leeward islands where the Taxi cost is per person.  We found the per person price to be IMHO unfair for us so we rarely if ever availed ourselves of taxi’s there. In Cartagena we were offered at one time a ride for 12,000 pesos but we turned it down and the driver settled for 8,000 pesos from Club Nautico to Boca Grande. Mostly the minimum  is 5,000 pesos if we stay around Manga (the basically residential neighborhood the marina is in)  and if we leave Manga  the price goes up to a supposedly maximum of 10,000 pesos. One driver spoke passable English (the one who wanted more money) but most have only a couple of English words. So we end up working on our Spanish Language skills to get where we’re going and for the most part that has worked fine. We’ve always gotten to where we’ve wanted to end up. The cars are small (which IMHO is a smart thing) and you can cram 4 adults into them. Don’t know if there is an upper limit; we’ve not tested it yet nor I’m guessing will we try.

Motorcycle Taxi’s are for us just too risky.  Neither of us have dared try one. The cyclists weave in and out of traffic like

Motorcycle Taxi's

Motorcycle Taxi's

they’re playing in  a video game. At lights they sneak between the cars, buses, trucks, and other taxis to be at the front of the queue. We understand the basic rate is 1.500 pesos up. Don’t know what the maximum is. Individuals use them all the time and we’ve only known of 2 accidents involving motorcycles in the 8 weeks we’ve been here.

What would a tourist destination be without the Horse and Carriage. We’ve not taken one yet but a ride is on W/s list. Mostly the drivers / owners are all Spanish speakers and they give a running commentary of the history of the Old City (where 99% of them hang out). Becca and IB took a trip with some vacationing friends and the price was roughly 60,000 pesos for somewhere less then an hour.

Something I’ve rarely seen; pedal carriages,  rounds out the various ways to get around. These guys hang out where people seem to congregate and will pedal one or two adults to any local destination. They’ll also  include (if you speak Spanish) an overview of the neighborhood and buildings.

Pedal Power

Pedal Power

While these methods may provide one with differing the views of a community, living on a boat, I still prefer to walk where ever I can, often dragging W/ along. And like many of the attributes that have filled my life, research seems to indicate that the things I do physically are quite beneficial, walking being one of the most important.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Cruzin in Style

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

While here in Cartagena doin some projects and enjoying the Latin culture – the ship The World pulls in. This ship is a floating condo and people purchase or rent living units. I tried to find the cost of purchasing  a basic unit but couldn’t; however,  I did find a price for renting. A veranda unit can be rented for the paultry sum of about 2k / day for two people. Of course you don’t have the luxury of shopping for food in new cities, nor of rowing or powering a small dinghy ashore. Everything appears to be done for you –  or to you.  If that’s the way you want to cruise then get ready to empty your bank account. Of course, in this case the old saying about boating  is most certainly true. If you have to ask how much; you obviously can’t afford it!

The World, Cartagena, Colombia, SA

The World, Cartagena, Colombia, SA

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Baby Steps

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Yeah, we still have to take small steps, to crawl to make progress. Sometimes we go sideways and other times we back up first. I spend so much time on my hands and knees I don’t always feel like baby steps is a metaphor.  I’m calling the plate change out in the Freezer complete and actually she system seems to be better. The hold down is much, much longer!  We increased our holding plate size by about 50% going from approx 980 square inches to 1512 square inches. Of course there is some room in the plates taken up for the two independent sets of Copper tubing; how much I don’t really know.

What a fun job (sic). On a boat one gets to be a jack of all trades and rarely master of any.  I evacuated the DC side 3 times. That meant running our smallish vacuum pump for 20 plus hours each time. The first time I evacuated only the hoses to the gauges!  Then when I was ready to add refrigerant I discovered I hadn’t turned the knobs to open up the lines into the refrigeration unit.  I thought everything was going great.  The second time I at least had the valves opened up and now we’re vacuuming the unit; then as I add some refrigerant I discover a leak in one of the new lines. damn!  Ok, so I go and tighten the nuts on the Swagelok fittings. I tighten them so much that I’m afraid of breaking a tube open so I stop. Still leaking. DAMN! Only one option; pull it apart and make a new connection. When I pull it apart I discover that I didn’t put the ferrules in the fittings. They never would have been leak proof. Mike on Abake (another Westsail 42) tells me that in the trades they call that a test fitting!

After pulling the two fittings and copper tubing  apart, then  redoing the tubing, reconnecting the fittings with the ferrules this time,  I again evacuate the system and again recharge. The same place I find a very slow leak with our electronic leak checker. I tighten the fitting up and check. Still very slow. I make up a soap solution to check. I paint it on the fitting and find no bubbles. Either the leak is so low that I don’t even get any bubbles or I’m reading leftover oil or residue on the fitting. The checker is able to read a leak down to  1/2  oz / year of refrigerant and if I’m anywhere close to that I’ll be happy. We live with it.

That done we now needed to evacuate the generator side. I set it up in the engine room and thankfully with the sound deadening material I’m able to sleep while the vacuum pump is removing all the air and moisture from the system.

The following day I added the refrigerant and checked for leaks. Finally!  No leaks that I can detect on this side. We replace the insulation around the parts that need to be insulated in the engine room and start up the DC5000. Three hours later both sides are down to temperature and we’ve begun to put drinks in the refrigerator and ice in the freezer.

All this while I’m doing what I need to, to recover from my surgery. When I first got back to the boat I was to ice every hour for the first 3 days  and then every 3 hours there after. Day one wasn’t bad but by day two every hour was a PITA and on day 3 I was looking for a break. I washed up the eyelids lightly as from all the salve they were feeling greasy but when we went to the Dr. on the 3rd day he said not to do that anymore. Guess I lucked out. One week later my left eye was showing very little signs of trauma but my right eye showed that I had been in a good fight, most assumed it was with W/ and she won. 🙂

After surgery, eyes shut

After surgery, eyes shut

One week after the surgery I got my stitches out. Thank you!  Things were going along well enough that the stitches were starting to be a little irritating. And the Doc said to switch over to heating every 3 hours and massage with a prescribed cream to. I didn’t like it but II was to continue with the lubricating drops (thick) till they ran out. Finally almost another week later they were gone.

I again have eye color!

I again have eye color!

So as things progress we’re getting antsy. We’re looking at leaving this urban life and moving on to the San Blas. Our Visas are up the first week in March and we’re not sure if we’ll need to renew them or we can get a travel Zarpe to take care of us as we march across the N coast of this country.

There are a couple of necessary things to do yet on our list. Most important is a small sail repair. There are 5 load distributing straps built into the clew and 3  tore out the threads on our wild ride to Cartagena.  We’ll stitch them up this weekend. I want to make a new sail for the windvane (believe it or not the Home Store has the material), I have some shackles to add to the windvane ( the Al is bubbling the paint and the surfaces aren’t smooth anymore and chafing the control lines).  I couldn’t find a bead blaster here so the project of repainting the wind vane will have to wait. I want to strip the Al down and re-coat the castings with Awlgrip (an aircraft paint that we used when we painted the decks). Other than that there are small projects that always work their way onto the list and off. Not much different than a home except that we get to do the projects always with a new view out the hatch.  In the last few days I’ve replaced a florescent bulb  in two Alpenglow fixtures (they’re said to last forever – yeah right), I’ve tightened the bolts on the Lavac head base (still has a smallish leak so I get to do that again), I’ve tightened up a PVC fitting on the cooling system for the generator. Didn’t leak before but in the last month the parts chose to provide a small path for the water to exit the system.

Alas, it’s not all work, a great deal of time is spent meeting others and sharing life stories.  But cruising isn’t a vacation and what happens in life on land happens to us on the water, the only difference is; if we neglect some issues, we sink.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Nothing is Permanent

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

We had waited a couple of weeks to come into the marina “Club Nautico” (For a contrasting

Club Nautico Docks

Club Nautico Docks

view)  to be in what we felt was a private, quiet spot. Kite (a Valiant 42) had the spot and they were about to head out to the San Blas so we had asked John, the dock master, if we

Club Nautico - Where we don't want to be!

Club Nautico - Where we don't want to be!

could have their old spot. Sure! The following day we brought Elysium in to do some projects that were on our bottomless list.

About a week ago John had been told by Pablo (the owner’s son)  to move boats, pointing them into the wake and the Summer winds.  As we were only here for a month we had asked to remain in the slip we were in and that we had waited for and we chose. Well, we had about 4 more days there. Saturday am John said he really, really, really, needed to move us. Damn!  We didn’t want to cause as I said,  now we had less then 2 weeks left but alas he is the dock master so we moved. The new position is a little more bouncy, out on a busier dock and actually has a little more shade with our awnings.

The caveat too was that the electric was going to be out for the day as they were upgrading some wiring and so the move would be less disruptive.  Our batteries were down ( I was massaging them with a deep discharge), our refrigeration was just vacuumed and recharged – we were ready to run the DC5000 to put the chill back in and this would set us back another day. However, move we did.  Power would be restored by 4 pm; we hoped.

Yeah, Right. At about noon, John left. The rumor mill was abuzz that  he was fired, he quit, he

A typical shower at Club Nautico

A typical shower at Club Nautico

took his stuff; he owned the computer that ran the DHCP server (where you get the number from to actually get information from the internet)  and fed the AP (access points) for the internet. Very quickly things went from a pain to a persistent sore spot.

We ran or shall I say walked some errands in the afternoon and when we returned about 4 pm there was; you guessed it,  no electricity.  At six still no electricity. We went out  to grab a pizza and when we got back at 9 there was still no electricity.  There was however work still being done on the wiring so we held out hope and were blessed with power somewhere shy of 10 pm! Tomorrow we can cool things down. Hurray!

Sunday came and went and the marina didn’t care about the internet. At least those that had spoken with the owners son had discovered the indifferent attitude of youth and heard the common refrain that many of  today’s kids use “So”!

We spoke with those that had spent more time here then us. One simply suggested a wait and see attitude; one that I’m not really good at showing and others had in the past gone and purchased a USB modem from Tigo (one of the Colombian cell providers) and that works quite well. New job added to the list for Tuesday, go buy a modem.  While here in paradise amidst 1.3 million people we didn’t feel like we wanted to be disconnected from our electronic  circulatory system. We do have a cell phone but calls to friends and family from one continent to another are prohibitively expensive while Skype and email fits well within our budget. It is hard for me to imagine why the price is so different when all the technologies use the same information highway.

By Tuesday we now have the cool back in the refrigerator and the cold back in the freezer so we began our trek to the various errand destinations. We stopped at Sven’s Labratorio Electrical (Sven is a genius when it comes to component level repair) to find out what’s happening with our Xantrax Prosine 2.0 (POS that it is). The unit is not yet ready and when it is I’ll report on Sven’s comments on the product, and we walked to the mall. Yep, malls are everywhere nowadays, how can we think that a good idea will only stay in the USA.  This one is filled with stores similar to any mall in the US; a food court several cell phone kiosks, as well at the major players, a grocery store; a Home Depot style store, huge bookstore,  and a parking garage. So we find TIGO and purchase a modem, then shop a little more and we finally choose to stroll back home. On the way back we stopped at a delightful Ice Cream lunch place that has an enormous  variety of fruit Sundays. There we shower ourselves with a decadent meal and arrive back home in the early afternoon.

I ice my eyes (still participating in the therapy needed from eye surgery) and we install  the modem. Although everything (instruction and screen dialogs) are in Spanish we work our way through the screens and Whalla! We’re part of the virtual universe again.  IB and Becca stopped by for a bit to discuss the evenings planned  adventures and we lounge in the cockpit. They leave to secure a customs extension for their boat and for themselves while we hang tight.

As most cruisers are by nature nosy people, we’re not really any different. W/ likes to keep the VHF radio on and I’m not fond of all the chatter but for the most part I acquiesce. We hear on the radio that John is back!  That the differences between Pablo and him have now been ironed  out. Hurray!  All’s well with the world. There will be some order maintained here; the internet will be set back up for cruisers   (oh – now we’ll have two connections), sanity is restored and we’ll all sleep better tonight.

2,500 years ago Heraclitus said “There is nothing permanent except change”. We often forget how intelligent the philosophers of old were yet his observation still bears fruit as we travel and observe the world on the South American Continent.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

I’m so Vain, I’ll Bet You Think This Blog is About Me!

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Yeah! Remember the Carly  Simon song… You’re so vain…. I do. While I don’t think of myself as vain I know there are those that would argue. W/ said I’m the first one of us to get cosmetic surgery. She’s close, I think capped teeth are as cosmetic as getting my eyelids tucked. I know that’s not the technical term; but that’s almost the result. I’ve been told one lid  is hanging a bit; but I can’t really see it (But the picture shows it!) . The Doc said both have some extra skin. I always like a little skin but I’ve never thought of me as having the little skin!

Before

Before

So I’ve been to the consult, had my blood work done, been with the Anesthesiologist and am scheduled for Monday.  Taking a relaxing pill Sunday evening, then Monday am, then taxi to the medical complex and then under the knife. And the hardest part is not having to wash my eyes 3 times with Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, but I can’t enjoy sundowners with the other cruisers Sunday evening. Damn! The operation is all done with local injections and the Anesthesiologist said he’d be there the entire operation. Dr. is going to take a thin slice from my upper eyelid on each eye and then stitch them back up He indicated he’ll not really take any muscle but did day there is some muscle that gets sliced off with the skin. I”m guessing I’ll end up with black and blue eyes. Maybe I’ll look tough, like being in a fight. I don’t know. We’ll see.  Back home (yeah the boat is home) we go  and then I’m told no heavy lifting for a week – that’s easy as I don’t want to do any grunt work anyway, then stitches out a week later,  after 3 more weeks I’m to be  fully recover for any activity.

We’ve still not really played tennis yet. Two major boat projects are getting the Xantrex Prosine 2.0 fixed and changing out a plate in the freezer. The Xantrax Prosine is at a great electronics repair shop, the guy (owner) can actually do component repair ( a lost art in the US).  As a side note NEVER BUY ANY XANTReX PRODUCTS!  They call them marine. Yeah  right!  IMHO they’re not worth the fecal material that would fit in the same size unit. I’ve  actually considered sending them some (fecal material) in one of their boxes as a comment on the quality of product they sold me and thousands of other cruisers!  My biggest problem being that the cost to send the feces  would be more then their product is worth. If you think I’ve had it up to my eyeballs  with Xantrex then you would be right.  If only I could have seen clearly when I bought their product then maybe I wouldn’t be in this pickle.

Hopefully with my new look (not so sad )  I’ll have that mischievous sparkle back  in my eyes.  With my new sparkle and clearer vision I hope to be able to make smarter choices for the future; where we go and what to do. Maybe. I’m sure I won’t be alone in my thinking as W/ will have something to say  too, she always does.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

A Day in the Life

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Woke up.
Fell outa bed.
Dragged a Comb across my head
….

(Beatles – A Day in the Life)

Remember those lyrics… that’s mostly how our day starts. Well if you know me you understand the 3rd line is a joke. I don’t have much hair left, well not on top anyway.  Once my assistant said “You’re the hairiest guy I’ve ever known”. She may have or have not been kidding; but hair on the top of my head is tough to find.

I woke at about 6 ish. Ever since retirement I can’t seem to sleep in. W/ and I have discussed getting a cover made for the hatch so it stays dark longer. Maybe someday. Not today. John on Peking said I can’t sleep longer cause each day is so exciting. So what’s exciting today.

I check the internet (we’re in Cartagena) to see if people remember me and write, I check the sailing boards (CSBB, Cruisers Forum, and Westsail) to see if anything interesting is being discussed. I check the news sites to see if there’s something significant that W/ and I need to know about and avoid or move to avoid. About 7 ish she usually climbs out of the berth.  Usually too about that time there is a rather large wake caused by a tourist boat that plows along not far from us and she’ll either rise on her own or be thrown out of the berth (not quite that bad but we do hear some wave slap and Elysium rolls a bit), enough to fully wake her.

Tben we have breakfast (bored yet?).  Her’s consists of cereal, mine often two eggs (shades of South Beach), our happy pills which consist of  B-12 and multivitamins; and I usually finish off with something sweet, like a few M&M’s or a Nutty Bar!  Dishes and  then we discuss what the days schedule will be.

Some days, we don’t do much of anything, today we’ve a boat project, then reading, playing Sudoku, Chess, more reading, cut my hair,  and this evening we’ll visit with other cruisers at a local hang out with $1.50 beers and Pizza.  Tonight’s bill was a tad shy of $16 US.

The tasks for today was to torque the set screws on the Shaft Lok and cut my hair.  One may think this isn’t a lot. But on a boat – little things can easily be a lot.

To do the Shaft Lok we needed to get out the manual to find the right size Allen Wrench. Then get out the Allen Wrench that fits.  While I”m getting this contraption to work  W/ is emptying out the locker we have to go through to get to the Shaf Lok. All the stuff in the locker must now be moved out and put somewhere out of our way. The floorboard lifted up and stored too. W/ had already dragged all the tool bags out that I said we would need. I was  to get the torque wrench setup  and make sure I can get from  a 1/2″ drive to the Allen Wrench. Once I had that all set up I went to check and see if I could get it all to work and with the drive and extensions I couldn’t get the Allen key down into the set screw. Just not enough room. Oh-Oh!  Back to figuring. I was thinking about cutting off the angle on the Allen Wrench but first I would try to use a socket I had cut a slot into for removing thru hulls. I know it won’t be a good torque but it will be much closer than what I can get with my arm twisted backwards.  I worked out all of the fittings  and taped the pieces together, then set about tightening the bolts. Remember this is one item I had to re-tighten in Aruba. Ironically, then I only tightened two of the four set screws. This time I discovered there were four set screws and one was rather loose. Not anymore!  As I was getting to the last set screw to tighten I haphazardly dropped the Allen Wrench in the bilge. The bilge is deeper then I can reach. We got out a long thingie that has a push button on one end and a grabber on the other. I can’t see the wrench in the dirty bilge water.  We then dug out a Swiffer mop end and tried to sweep up the wrench so I could grab it. No go. We dropped a towel into the bilge and soaked up enough of the water that once the wet dripping towel was removed I could see the wrench. Bingo. Wrench is caught, brought to the top and put back into service.

I tightened the last screw and went to the next one to make sure I didn’t miss count. It too was snug. W/ took a permanent maker and wrote the size of the Allen Wrench on the unit so it will be easier to find the information the next time. Putting things back in place we made sure the Allen Wrenches were in the correct spot. I took the Micrometer and checked the dimensions and the put the wrenches in their correctly identified places. That should ensure future work will go smoothly. As smoothly as can be expected.

We then spent the next 15 minutes putting everything back where they had  earlier been removed from. Total time for this simple project was about 1 1/2 hours.

Since we had been walking by the sink and smelling a rather odd odor we added a sink flush to the list. Somehow the coffee and tea grounds get down and hang in the plumbing. The water ferments and we get a foul odor out of the sink drains. So I find some spare line and tie it to the bucket, W/ locates two plugs and we fill up both basins of the sink with water from bay.  (No need to use fresh water here as the water in the plumbing is all bay water anyway). Once filled we pull the plugs and both drains flush anything in them out and now everything is hunky dory again.

Break time. Reading,  relaxing,  playing. Lunch is brief and light. We know tonight we’ll go with the crowd so W/ warms up a left over for her and I have a PB & J on some great local bread, followed by about 20 M&M’s for dessert. Gotta have my dessert.

In the afternoon W/ cuts my hair. We get out the clippers and clear off the aft deck. Run the powercord into the boat and turn on the Inverter.  I sit on the hatch and W/ cuts away. I hope she doesn’t cut me as boat traffic isn’t real predictable but we often have notice of various wave trains approaching. She’s conscientious and good enough that on a slightly moving boat I show no blood! With less hair now I’m cooler, and much happier. We had checked at a local barber shop and they indicated they wouldn’t do the beard. 🙁

After the new do we clean up, vacuum, brush and put the items we removed from the back deck , back.  On a boat; almost everything you do you have to move something for and the put something back.

Until we left for the evening we read, W/ took a nap ( I tried but didn’t sleep), ran the generator to keep our ice – ice and our drinks cool. we checked our email and played some games on the iTouch.

All in all a productive day.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Cartag YEAH na!

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Well we’ve been here over a week now. Settling in. We’re having “Elvis” paint the engine. We’ve walked the walled city. We’ve eaten at several restaurants, we have a scheduled for a Dermatologist and we went swimming in a Volcano.

Well not really swimming. More like floating. Jeri on Peking organized a tour to the Volcano, $30 US / person and we signed up. We traveled in a new minivan (for me mini isn’t all it’s cracked up to be) and had Alex as an English speaking tour guide. We meandered through the city a bit with Alex telling us of various neighborhoods and how the growth has occurred and tidbits  of the history of Colombia; political as well as long past.

We went through a toll booth and even passed the first speed trap I’ve seen since in the US.  Just as in the US, autos coming the other direction flashed their lights as a warning.  Things that work just seem to be universal. We turned off the highway and went up a road to the mud volcano. The road had just recently been paved and wasn’t yet finished. There we passed some small Tiendas and received instructions on the experience.

Mud Volcano, Colombia

Mud Volcano, Colombia

Most of us had worn a bathing suit under but those that didn’t went to change. We left our shoes at the bottom and climbed the stairs to the top making sure to hang on to the hand rail as the steps

Mud & Me

Mud & Me

were covered in the mud from people descending. Any moisture on the steps and they too were a bit slippery. At the top we watched as people entered the mud backwards and one of the massagers (people working in the bath’s for tips) laid you on your back and then slowly covered you with “MUD”. It wasn’t an unpleasant experience. The mud was slick and barely warm; most definitely not cold. Once covered from head to toe he massaged the legs, torso, face and arms (all in a couple of minutes – not nearly long enough) then he gently pushed you as you floated to another who rolled you over and massaged the back side. You could hang on to a wooden lattice work on the sides to keep your face out of the water. After a few more minutes you were rolled back over and he pushed your feet under you so you could hang upright in the mud.

Hang is the best word to describe it. The mud had so much material that you floated about chest high. Just for fun I slowly tried to dunk W/ (she was aware of it) and I couldn’t get her shoulders below the surface. I kept rising out of the mud.  One group of the tour, Fay, commented that she couldn’t seem to find the bottom!  We all laughed at that as we had understood the bottom was over a 1,000 ft deep!  All of us floated in the mud for about 30 minutes; slowly moving around, sometimes our body getting out of a vertical plane and then our feet would come floating to the surface. The best way to get upright was to have some assistance in pushing your legs back under you or balling up, and rotating slightly and getting your legs under you; then projecting them back down.

As we began to exit we paused at the ledge and scraped the gobs of mud off of us and back into the Volcano. Of course as legend goes the bath is good for “curing” any skin issues you might have as well as removing years of age.  Now I know I look 40 again!

After being washed off by another in the fresh water lake we cooled off with some local drink and food. We tried their equivalent of the Egg McMuffin; without the Muffin, ( I wasn’t fond of this) and I had up a fruit salad which was IMHO; excellent (cost approx $2.25).

We boarded the bus and went back through a small community that excelled in making cast nets

Good Luck!  Dark are is all fingerlings.

Good Luck! Dark are is all fingerlings.

and fishing. Megan and Becca (another two on the tour) tried their hand at throwing the net but they would have been on an extended diet if this would have been their life’s work as they both came up empty handed. This is one place the lake exits to the sea over a small dam and the fingerlings were so abundant here they literally  turned the water black. The dark area in the photo is a mass of fingerlings. The larger fish come to feed on the smaller with the Colombian’s hoping to feed on the lager fish!

Back at the boat we did what all good folk do at the end of a day’s work – we rested.

In the Walled City, Cartagena

In the Walled City, Cartagena

The walking tour was self guided and we had started with Jeri as our tour guide on Peking ( a beautiful Diesel Duck Motor Yacht).  She had bought a book All Cartagena De Indias (which ironically isn’t even available in the US) and there we followed Jeri like good

An Artist; He moves, he lives!

An Artist; He moves, he lives!

puppies as she led us through the “Walled City”.  Once upon a time Cartagena  had been referred to as the Stone Playground. Even though this was  a tour we spent more time simply gawking as we walked through the city. We tasted some of the local “sweet” fare that people were selling outside the courtyard, we toured the “Gold Museum”, we found a restaurant  that had mostly locals eating in and thus we figured it would be good and reasonable!  It was both.  We ended another day totally exhausted and ready to count sheep.

I seem to just stack too much life into too small a space. Two big events in one week!  What’s happening?  In between the tours we had contracted with a local mechanic (Elvis) to paint the engine. All day Elvis and Alfonso labored to clean the oil off the engine, sand lightly any

New Engine? Not!

New Engine? Not!

rust ( I wish they would have just used Ospho), primed the engine and then paint it. In the states they would have been hung by some branch of our government.  Elvis had a small low pressure paint sprayer that he  had cut a hose off of the pressure end. Then he and Alfonso would exhale into the pressure end and “spray” the engine.  Better them than me!  They were able to complete this job in one day for  350,000 mills (about $220).  What he said he couldn’t do was the bottom of the engine. Oh well. I know W/ and I can.

We borrowed some Ospho from Passport, and then set about to paint the bottom. I first wiped off any oil, then wiped with mineral spirits, then put the Ospho on any rust areas. Two days later I rolled and brushed paint on all the ares they didn’t hit. I had run out of the small amount of paint that Elvis had left so I had to buy some more from him. Oh well. At least now the engine looks “pretty”.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Preparation

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

We were ready. That’s what we had thought. This passage is to be one of the most difficult in the world. One circumnavigator said it was the worst passage they had had in their two entire cruises around the world.  Others report broken booms, torn sails, busted engine mounts, etc.  You can listen to all

Aruba in Protected Airport Anchorage

Aruba's Protected Airport Anchorage

the bad stories and eventually you’ll end up paralyzed with fear.  But we have a good boat for any weather and a crew that has time offshore. The boat by all accounts is ready. We received our Sailomat part in Aruba and installed it. We’ve been looking at the weather, downloading GRIB files 2 x’s / day,  downloading rain files, and looking at the satellite files of the area.  We thought we had one opportunity a few days ago but something made W/ and I not take that one.

I’ve put our track on the chart and walked through the wx each time we download a new GRIB.  Even when it’s blowing 30 kts a 100 miles out it may very well be blowing 20 kts where we’re at. For downwind sailing our boat loves 15 – 20 kts of wind. 25 isn’t all too bad and 30 isn’t much to our liking. Obviously with the more wind we have greater seas and that’s been often what other cruisers on this route talk about “Green Monsters”.

The water from the Rio Magdalena  exits on the N shore of Colombia  and turns the water green. Then with the wind and all the water piling up  against Central America you can end up with some big seas with short wave periods.  Popular literature calls these the “Green Monsters”.  Finally with the GRIBS showing us as having a good trip we planned on pulling the anchor and leaving today. I was getting concerned that we could actually get stuck in Aruba!

We missed our great opportunity of a weather window because we had to wait for our Wind Vane part that had been stuck in US Customs for 20 days!  November – early December the trades are to lighten up a bit. After that the Trade Winds are there and they’re called the “Christmas Winds”.  Trades of 30-35 kts. The Bermuda High slips S in the Winter time and squishes the normal trades between the High and the Coast of S. America narrowing the gap the trades go through. Like putting your finger on the end of a hose to increase the speed of water past your thumb, the Trade Winds now squirt through the smaller opening at a faster speed.

But the GRIB’s show the wind we want for the duration of the trip. However;  Ma Nature doesn’t read the GRIBs and with all of the meteorologists  knowledge we know that forecasting is relatively accurate for 24 hours, a little accurate for 48 and pretty hazy at 72 hours and beyond. Lets hope that the 3 days goes in our favor.

I hitched a ride to Customs and Immigration with Gary on KaijasSong. A little wet but we made it and the clearance for Cartagena, Colombia was painless. Thankfully.  While I was at the office’s  doing paper work W/ was in the boat making sure things were stowed, and the boat is ready for the sea.  When I return we’ll put the Dyer Dinghy up wait till our time and then haul up the anchor. We were looking to get under way about 1500. This would give us plenty of time to clear the island and be well at sea before the dark of day. There was no moon out on this trip.