Cartagena, The passage and Facts and formalities - Part 1

Pacific Bliss
Colin Price
Sun 29 Aug 2010 16:57

Aruba to Cartagena, The passage and Facts and formalities

We left The ABC Islands with great excitement feeling we really are beginning our adventure,  the only concern was that we had to do one of the 5 most treacherous passages in the world to reach the start line of the next phase (according to Jimmy Cornell).  The crossing has played on our minds a lot over the past 6 months especially as the last time Pacific Bliss made the crossing it's blog entry had been titled 'the crossing from hell'.  Our time in Aruba was short lived, just enough time to have a birthday party, stock up and discover that Aruba was not an island for us, very very much adopted by America.  The architecture is worse than the Dutch stuff on the B and the C and thats saying something.  Aruba looks like Vegas,  full of guastly resort  trying to dup folk into believing they are having a luxurious time.  Aruba is also full of fast food outlets.  Colin and I have managed, without really knowing, to indoctrinate the kids into believing McDonalds is truely evil.  But as we had never experience Taco Bell we had this culinary treat in Aruba, Luckily the kids came away not liking fast food,  hoooray,  good parent status achieved........

Back to the Journey,  We left a day behind Bonaire and kept in touch on the SSB radio,  They had had a pretty uneventful time for the first part of the journey,  it seems that there is either nothing to report of far too much.. there reported trip was mainly of fish catching,  a mahi mahi as big as Fin, a tall 7 year old.  But then the worst bit of the journey,  they got stuck in a storm and discovered they where being pursued by a water-spout, never before have Bonaire's engines been pushed so hard.......

We where enormously lucky with our journey our only excitement was a few Lightning shows coming a bit close and a we caught 2 ganets.  Cosmo caught his first fish about 3lbs of Mahi Mahi.  The first day we motored a lot of the day and picked up wind and hoisted the sails when a breeze came our way. Neither of us where moaning.  The biggest obstacles was the mass out pouring from the Magdalena River,  Second only to the Amazon in length, thus spewing out great carpets of grass and wooden infrastructures of Buildings,  neither very good  for engines or hulls so best avoided by day and fingers crossed
during the night passage.

Our Sail in to Cartagena was a joy,  It's the first real City we've seen since leaving Europe and it's quite something to behold.  The waters hedge holds mostly Sky Scratchers as Z calls them.  with a few ageing forts left over from the era of the Francis Drakes ill fated attempt to capture the lucrative trading port.  The Original and Cargo enterance into the City is strewn with battlements.  Drake must have been a wee bit barmy.
We have yet more jobs to acheive here but enjoyable ones.  Having the saloon cushions re-upholstered, and collect our new altra light aluminium dighy. We ordered it 3 months ago from the factory here,  and as we have been without a dingy for 2 weeks the kids are very excited.  We have in fact been borrowing Bonair's spare dingy and whilst it gets you for ship to shore your usually rather wet at the end of your trip and in Cartagenia's Nutrient rich waters this isn't exactly recommended.
For the first time on our trip we have to engage an agent, manditary, to get us through customs. Seems to be that lengthy governmental proceedures and the police force is a form of social security,  the government employ more people than it seems necessary to push paper about.   So given checking in is lengthy, it turns out exporting a product produced in the country near on impossible,  no wonder folk turn to exporting the illegal stuff,  it's probably a damn sight easier...............  So after a bottle of Whiskey bribe and countless empty promises 2 weeks into our stay and on the day the factory shut for a month our dingy arrived all gleaming.
 Us with some of Cartegena's finest
Back on the boat life was interesting and sometimes varied.  The kids invented a game called 'knickerhead'! Can you spot why? 
One day we even had a garden around the boat that had drifted in on the tide and wind.

Having just understood that South American 'manyana' is twice as lengthy as a Spanish 'manyana' we are shocked to find our cushions arrive a week ahead of schedule.  So we are ready for the off but really do not want to leave.