10:23.367N 75:31.545W W/e 23 February 2009 Hauled Out

If Knot Y Knot
Patricia Day
Sun 22 Feb 2009 22:36

Monday, 16

I spent over 2 hours in the water with wetsuit and snorkel and scraped the bottom of the boat.    I needed to clear the engine water intake and the prop to get the boat to the yard later this week.   I have scraped my hands on the barnacles, but I don’t think it is infected.

Today was going to be my last trip into the old town for the things I wanted to buy from there.  I set off after lunch and showed 4 Australians where they wanted to go.  Talinga Too remembered me from Coral Cove in Trinidad, so we had a bit of a catch up at the ice cream parlour, which was on the way.

When my card was refused last week I tried a different ATM for less money; it refused the transaction at the end and did not give me any money, but the withdrawal has shown up on my bank statement.  Let’s see if I can get the money back, it is going to take up to 10 weeks to check.  Getting cash in foreign places is sometimes more of a trial than it should be, and at times like this rather expensive.


Tuesday, 17

I went over to the tourist beach sector of Bocagrande.  I had already bought some Colombian cigars for someone, but was trying for some Cuban ones.  There was nothing under 6US$ each, which was more than I had been told to pay.  I bought the last of my souvenirs from this side and went back.  I had an address of the main cigar shop in the Old Town and so I hunted that down.  The shop said open, but it was locked.  I waited quite some time before I spotted the notice telling me to ring the bell as they were in the factory.  The cigars were no cheaper here.

I was being plagued by a man selling T-shirts, I was going to get annoyed if he kept this up.  Evenutually the price came down to a reasonable amount and I bought 2 on the assurance that he would then leave me alone.   At least they are not white which makes a change, but I expect they will shrink when washed.

I got back to the boat and there were two boats dragging .  Last week the person on the boat behind me was visiting another boat and saw his boat go past.  Both these boats were unattended, but we then found that one belonged to a single hander who was in a clinic and very ill.  A little later the doctor phoned John at the marina and said the man needed 4 pints of blood immediately to stand a chance and he had no money.  The authorities have taken a charge on the boat.  The free clinics have no resources and the others you have to pay.

John did a call to anyone to come in and go to the clinic to give blood.  Even if it was not the right blood group we could bank it and then they could take out the 4 pints they needed.

10 minutes later 12 of us were heading off.  John went in the first taxi load to get things organized.  Here they have motorbike taxis, which are not the safest form of transport.  I had wanted to try it, but didn’t want to put on the mandatory helmet that every passenger had worn.  David, the agent, had a motorbike and I went on the back.  He is a big lad and I was not going to be able to get round him to hold on, so I opted for holding onto the back of the seat behind me.  I was rather scared that I would fall off, but we were going to a clinic so presumably they would have patched me up.  I did not have a helmet, evidently I was the one who would be fined for not having one.   We got to the clinic before the taxi that had set off before us, due to a bit of weaving through traffic.  It was an experience, but not one that I will repeat in a hurry.

Cartegena motorbike notice on wing mirrors – objects in the mirror are closer than they appear. 

Meatloaf - Objects in the rearview mirror appear closer than they are.  Who is right?

The patient was at the clinic, but we had to go to the blood transfusion centre.  Back in taxis and a long way into another area of town, with lots of road construction to cause havoc.  We got out of the taxi and got sent from one building to another one, across the road, up the road, further up the road. 

Eventually we were all there and now had to deal with the paperwork.  The 12 volunteers were quickly whittled down, a lot of cruisers, though fit, are over 55 and ineligible.  You also had to weigh over 50 kilos and we lost one there.  We were down to 3 who had to fill in the questionnaire, very medical and all in Spanish.  I was the only person who had to answer Si to the last question.  Have you lived in England between 1980 and 1986 for more than 8 months – Mad Cow disease has a lot to answer to worldwide, but that was OK.  No alcohol for 24 hours nearly lost us another one, but only one beer was acceptable.

In the rush we did not have ID, so I made a good guess at my passport number, it was nearly right.

I was weighed and they asked the important questions again directly to me.  John had to come in with me as  I needed a translator.

Then they took the sample test tubes and we had to wait 20 minutes for the results.

Then we went for the armful.  I didn’t like the needle, but after that it was ok.  One pint later and 10 minutes lying down afterwards and we could go.  First we had to sign a final piece of paper saying that we believed our blood to be uncontaminated, we had not been pressured into donating, or too embarrassed to answer the questions truthfully and we wanted them to use it.

I know they don’t want us transmitting anything bad, but it is no wonder they have no blood, they make it so difficult.

Mine was the only one with the same blood group as the cruiser and I hope he likes it.  Another first for me today.

I thought volunteers got tea and biscuits afterwards, but not here.  John got us an energy drink which was thoughtful.

The others had left hours before we were finished and AKKA had given me a lift in to the dock.  I managed to hitch back to the boat, which is at the front of the anchorage and in the opposite direction to all the rest.  This means a longer, choppy ride than they otherwise would have had.  Luckily it was a big rib and we did not get very wet.

It was after 5 and that was my free afternoon gone.  I hauled the dinghy up at 6 and it was very windy and the nose up/engine down scenario comes into play which is not good.  The wind is expected to be strong and they will probably take the unattended boat into the marina for its own and other boats safety. 


Wednesday 18

The yard confirmed they are expecting me tomorrow.  I had planned to go back in the water and scrape some more, but with the needle hole from yesterday straight into a vein I thought this might be taking an unnecessary risk; good enough excuse for me.  I took the rudder off the hydrovane,  I do not antifoul that rudder as the paint comes off on everything when I do take it off; this means the growth is particularly dense.  I am just glad that I got it off without dropping it in the water, which is always a worry as it does not float.

Time to go in and pay for my last week and last Happy Hour here.

My agent has not got the importation papers yet.  I tried to get it started last week, but he said there was no need, as it was supposed to be 2 days, so I asked him on Monday.


Thursday 19

I got the boat ready to go into the travel lift.  Ropes, fenders, dinghy in the middle, nothing in the way. 

7am I turned on the engine and at the exact second I pushed the button a navy boat blew his horn –  Don’t do that.  Now for the trip to the yard, I have entered the 13 waypoints into the chartplotter, the GPS and the handheld GPS which I put on the binnacle, all I had to do was go from one dot to the next. 

First there was a big Navy boat anchored in the channel between me and the waypoint, officially I think it is a restricted area and it is their channel, so I went round it.  Then a tug was leading a freighter in and so again I gave way to them as I needed to cross their channel.  Just when I thought it was clear another tug came out and wanted to pass me.  The big boat channels may have been busy, but I had 15 to 20 metres of depth, but now it was the smaller channel with 10 to 15 metres and a Venezuelan boat wanting to cross ahead of me.  After that I had to navigate the shallow part where 5 metres was luxury.  I did go round the green marker, but the shoal extended further out and I had a short moment when I hit 1.2 metres and had to reverse and go a little further to the right.  I had abandoned the autopilot by now and was steering. 

The Navy has a fleet of sailing yachts, all matching paint jobs, but different types of boat.  They are all boats that were impounded for drug smuggling and have been redeployed.  A cheap way to acquire a yacht. 

Why does the Navy still teach sailing, then they get on destroyers or submarines, not a sail in sight.

I got to the travel lift and had to pull up on the outside,  I was going to radio or phone, but I was too busy and Elio was there waiting.  He is a very nice Italian, speaks very good English and Spanish which is so useful and his boat, Crapun, is already on the yard.  He has been in anchorages along the way.  I waited for another boat to be launched, but they had 3 guys struggling to re-attach his forestay.

Pierre in the office had asked Elio if he knew me and what was I like.  Elio confirmed that he did and I was not to be trifled with, otherwise I was a lion.  He told me to roar a little at the start and they would treat me better.   I had said I did not want to take my forestay off, perhaps it would be a good idea to try, they would have to get it back on.  I moved into the dock, but then they decided to take my backstays off instead and so I had to go in backwards. We turned the boat round by ropes, I’ve done this before.  The backstays came off, I took the topping lift off and attached it to a strongpoint to provide some support. 

The travel lift trundled up and an unfortunate young man had to go in the water which was full of garbage and take the sling under the rudder and past the prop.    Then he had to take the front sling under the boat.  He was very careful and the slings were in line with the lift arrows.  I took out the log, which hasn’t worked for so many thousands of miles I don’t know why it was still in there.  I was concerned that they might put the sling over the log and break it, but they stayed clear of it.  While I was inside doing that they had moved the lift up and I came out to see the bar across the top of the lift in front of the mast and behind the forestay, an enclosed area, clever.  They did then also remove the babystay.  The lift was slow and smooth.  When we got to the back of the dock I got off and they chocked the boat up on the land side of the pontoon.  This gives me easy access to water and electricity.  I am trying not to use the electricity as it is extra.  I am told that here everything is a problem and everything is extra.  At least I won’t have to tell them that I don’t want them to pressure was the boat, that’s extra too, but the water is off.  The water is what I need to clean everything and put it away, hopefully it will be back on tomorrow. 

The guys only speak Spanish, when I tell them I don’t, they repeat what they just said, obviously that helps.  I got the idea of most of it. 

I went to lunch with Elio, it must have been all of 100 yards away and is very cheap.  Not so easy for me, I can’t just eat what is today’s special.

I scraped the rest of the barnacles off the hull, it was not too bad, I had done most of it in the water. 

I reattached the rigging and then I went and paid the bill before Elio and I went to Club Nautico, he had some pilot books to pick up.  These books had come from Europe via the African Congo and on to South America.  They came all this way via couriers and they managed to deliver them to the wrong place when they got here.

My importation papers have been inspected by Customs, but are still not ready for me.

There is a room we can use with internet, TV, a fridge and a microwave.  I have asked to use the fridge, but each time I have to get the security guy to come and unlock it.  I said that I would go to Club Nautico on Sunday to play dominoes and Elio suggested a game tonight, 9pm, no way, make it 8.  There is a big dog that lies round all day and is no problem, but at 11 they let out 2 dogs that you don’t want to meet.

I taught Elio Mexican Train dominoes and he enjoyed it.  It was unusual to have someone working things out and muttering in Italian, but charming.


Friday 20

The water was back on and I spent the morning cleaning the boat and putting things inside.  I was exhausted by 11, when someone turned my water off so that he could have more pressure, nice of him to ask.  He said 10 minutes and it was over an hour when they stopped for lunch - it was because the water was off again.

I did manage to book a flight to Bogata next Thursday.  With the boat hauled out and the flights booked I feel more relaxed.

I topped up the batteries, the solar panel is making too much power and dumping it.  I will have try covering up the large panel and just leave the small one.


Saturday 21

There is a regatta to the Rosarios today and tomorrow, the yard offered Elio a free launch and haul if he took part, but he declined.

I went to Club Nautico and went with Matthew, Coco Pele, and Janet and Duncan, Consort, to the Carnival in Barranquilla. 

The agent was at the club and again did not have my papers, they should be ready Tuesday. 

It was a long way to the bus station which is right out of town, the bus was leaving straight away.   One of the passengers started a lecture on the power of advertising and then produced a huge suitcase and started selling leather goods and perfume, reminiscences of Venezuelan coach. 

Someone kept visiting the toilet, when I went along it was obvious that they not well, so I decided I could wait. 

We got to the bus station in Barranquilla which was again a really long way out of town.  20000 Pesos for a taxi or 1300 each by local bus. 

By the time we had arrived at the carnival street it had taken us 5 hours from Club Nautico, and I had an extra taxi journey before that.

This was not a free event and we could not buy tickets at the gates.  The others went into an area which was too crowded for my liking.  I stayed outside and climbed a metal gate to a yard.  I had as good a view as I was going to get and took some photos.  The time delay on this digital camera is just enough for your subject to have half gone before it takes the picture.

The others came out and I wanted to leave, but we moved up a bit and again it was crowded.  Someone was pushing my leg from under me, pretending that I was standing on his glasses.  That distracted me enough for someone else to relieve me of my purse.  I had taken the money for the agent which meant I had more than I would have wanted, but I had put my credit card and the excess in a pocket.  I should have put it all in pockets.  Duncan also had his camera taken from his pocket, it was broken and needed to be replaced, but still annoying.

I could not face the 5 hour trip and said we could use the service I had done last week, it would take half the time of the bus.  We went to McDonalds and got a rather nice air-conditioned people carrier.  The price was now reasonable as there were 3 other people to fill the back seats.  

Just when you think things are getting better, although the air con was freezing, the small child behind me was sick.  The driver did not stop, but he took it very well considering that the car was clean and in good condition. 

I was going to be last out of the car and I really wanted to make sure that this driver knew where the boatyard was.  Yes it is near the Naval School, but he has to drop me at the gate of the yard.  It was now dark and yes, this was the Naval School, say hello to the nice uniformed boys, now turn round and find my boat.  We had left the road I knew and I had said then, but hey.  We carried on, we asked people, we went along several dirt roads in dodgy areas, but they were not the right dodgy road.  I knew we had to follow the waterfront and although we could not see it from the road I knew the general direction.  We found the yard and he beeped his horn, I rang the bell and he did not go until I had been let in. 

So I am back and everything should feel better, but now came the last phase of the operation.  I tried to call Elio on his boat, but was told that he had gone on the Regatta, presumably as crew.  Now I was faced with a security guard that did not understand English and seemed to be unable to understand my Spanish, not that I could think of any of the words that I needed.  I had hoped that Elio would translate, but that wouldn’t have been necessary because I could have asked him to lend me some tools.  In the purse with the money was the key to the padlock on the boat.  I had made a point of locking the hatches, why?  Then nobody can get in, but I can’t get in. 

It was dark, I was tired, I had not eaten all day and my Spanish just didn’t come up to the task. 

I have been robbed, in the purse with the money was my key.  My boat is locked and I need a cross head screwdriver, por favor. 

I did get the point across using more sign than spoken language and he took me to the workshop and got me a screwdriver.  If this did not work then I would have needed a hacksaw.  It is usually always easy to break into boats with a little force, but I did it so easily without any damage it does make me wonder about Dufour’s sense of security.  Presumably criminals go armed with a crowbar and not a screwdriver and a brain cell. 


Sunday 22nd

Today I am going to Club Nautico, just for a change.  I am going to play Dominoes and pick up some mail for the UK.  There doesn’t seem to be a usable postal system here.  People were quoted 50US$ to post 2 birthday cards to the States, or they could use the local system, but the cards would never arrive. 

I am also taking a CD of the photos I have taken for Duncan and Janet.  My photographic skills are not great at the best of times and trying to do it 10’ up on top of a gate does not add anything positive.  I have to admit that most of them are quite dreadful.  Perhaps I should have held onto the purse and let them get the camera.  They realized later that their phone had also been lifted.  Matthew’s fellow crew had taken the boat out for the day and did not get back until really late or early this morning so he was a guest on Fia.