12.10.14 – Sunday – After yesterday’s exertion we stayed mainly around the boat with only a short walk in town. As we came back to the marina Dino came running from behind. He apologized saying that he just learnt that tomorrow was a holiday and that our Zarpe, the cruising permit, will only be ready Tuesday evening. Dianne and Wade (www.joana.ca) invited us for happy hour; an English couple, Paul and Andy, from the Jeantot 57 Talula Ruby III came too; they are on their second circumnavigation, the first being with the A.R.C World Rally.
13.10.14 – Monday – Dino showed up again and said he hoped to come back in the evening with the Zarpe. The hope was realized and we were ready to leave early next morning. The plan – stop for a night in Puerto Velero and then go to Cartagena.
14.10.14 – Tuesday – The distance to Puert Velero is 56 miles.Forecast: northerlies of 5 knots or less; going out of the marina we had the wind from the south at 20 knots… This kept up for about an hour and a half, then the forecast values came and we motorsailed using one engine. Approaching Baranquilla, where the Magdalena river flows out, the color of the water turned ugly brown. The flow fans out in a way that as you come from the east you have the current against and then with you.
Puerto Velero hides behind a low spit of land behind which we could see the masts of quite a few boats moored in the new marina. I was navigating by coordinates taken from the C-Map chart and saw that if I were to follow those I will be ashore sooner than planned. The chart was off by about one nautical mile. A good point to aim for when coming from The northeast would be 10 56.636 N 75 03.347 W; from there you can round the point and go into the bay. From afar we saw a familiar silhouette – "La Creatura", that motorboat we saw in Curacao.
pic by Gili
Not seeing them in Santa Marta meant that they postponed their entry procedures to Cartagena. A few minutes after we dropped our anchor, an Armada Nacional boat was seen headed in our direction, coming alongside "La Creatura".
They spent about 30 minutes there and then came our way. I was happy to have all the required documents and proudly displayed them. The Colombian marineros were nice and polite; they did their thing and promised to come back with a paper proving that we were checked. (actually they never came back).
After they left, Arturo and Rita, who took their two dogs for a walk ashore, came by. They said the Armada Nacional gave them no trouble about their not having checked in yet. On the other hand, in Curacao, when they tried going into Santa Cruz after checking out, they were warned by the Coast Guard not to do it, or face a heavy fine.
15.10.14 – Wednesday – We left the bay at 0600; very calm conditions made us motor but later in the day a northerly of about 10 knots came and we could sail at 5 knots. La Creatura followed and we came to the pass north of Isla Tierra Bomba at the same time. This pass is shallow, reportedly 2.5 meters, which is good enough for us but not for the 8 foot draft of La Creatura. Alberto tried to get information about the depth from port control but got nowhere. "Follow me" I told him and gave him depths as we entered; minimum was 3.7 meters and I saved him the 10 extra miles he would have needed to motor via the regular ship channel.
There was space for us on the Club Nautico dock and we went in squeezing into a tight place between an American ketch and a motor catamaran. At the office Pablo, who seemed to be the manager, called a mechanic for our outboard. Jose took the Yamaha promising to bring it back "tomorrow at one o’clock". Our agents, Gladis and Daniela of the "Cruising Services" agency, showed up and we made plans for doing the departure procedure for the next day.
Dinner at the recommended "La Casa de Socorro" was disappointing.
16.10.14 – Thursday – The morning was dedicated to a visit at the Cartagena old town; friends told me it was beautiful and it surpassed my expectations. The old architecture, big buildings with huge patios, balconies overflowing with flowering plants and the different vibrant colors were really fantastic.
A sculpture by Botero adorned one of the plazas.
In the area out of the walled city other form of art, astounding graffiti was present on many walls.
In the afternoon we did immigrations round with our agents. The Zarpe should arrive in the evening. hopefully we’ll be able to go out tomorrow!