Sun 1 Jun 2003 04:07
We have just been rammed by our second boat in an hour!!!
Not to worry, these out of control craft are the slow moving paddle/ peddle
'O' boats popular in the '70s in most other parts of the world. Not so here
in Rodadero, one of Colombia's seaside play grounds where we find our selves
waiting for wind. Yes, that's right, in the last 48 hours we have gone from
surfing down waves in 30 kts to sweltering in 30 degrees of windless sun
providing a rounding buoy for the thousands of Colombian Summer holiday
The contrasting weather is matched by the coastline, that has gone from
dry sandy flatlands to green mountains rolling down to the coast.
20 hours of hunkering down behind Cabo de la Vela, whilst the gusting
wind sand blasted Avalon to a new shade of brown, proved all we could
handle. With a
slight drop in conditions ww set off on a flying down hill run parallel with
the coast on Wednesday
By first light Thursday the wind had abated and a huge cloud
mass was towering up ahead, hiding the 5000+ meter mountain tops.(snow
covered!) Our pace had slowed but was steady and we were enjoying the first
lull in the breeze.
Of course as the wind dropped and the sails flapped our
humour ran thin. The chart showed good anchorage a bit over 20n miles away
so on with Alvin the atomic 4 and off we chugged. Dropping the pick with
time for a swim before sunset we looked forward to a good nights sleep.
Again we were not so lucky. The light evening breeze dropped out and
Avalon sat side on to the small but constant swell. The alarm sounded all to
soon to remind us that the Pacific was awaiting and we should push on.
Thus began this morning, one of our most memorable days for a long time.
The sailing was great past the jaggered headlands at sunrise. Then it got OK
as we encountered the unfavourable current that had slowed us yesterday. By
9:30 it had hit rock bottom as we started to get pushed backwards!! Alvin
sprang to life once again but where to go? A quick calculation showed that
we could only motor for about 10 hours before we would get to our reserve
fuel limit. This would put us over 200n miles short of the San Blas islands
with the possibility of drifting that distance over the next week. It also
meant that we would be on can rations as its now Friday, a week since we
have stepped foot on land.(or near a store) The answer had to be put in for
provisioning stop.
This is where things get interesting. First, although we had already
stopped twice in different parts of Colombia, we hadn't cleared with customs
as so far we had been to uninhabited ports. Clearing customs in most Latin
countries is a expensive pain in the butt (not just the regular one)
Colombia is the king of posterior pain requiring an agent and $100 US in
port!!! Second we really don't have a great chart of this area, especially
one that shows a gas station! Third is the fact, that most of you know, that
Georges Spanish goes as far as ordering beers and Becs is good for the
pleasantries. Disregarding all of this we motored towards Santa Marta,
Colombia's oldest city, according to our shipping pilot guide, anything was
better than going backwards.
Our primary source of information was an article found on the internet
from some cruisers that had been up and down the coast three times. They
claimed that just past the large port area there was a resort beach with
multi story condos and restaurants on the sand. The best news was that if
you only stayed for a short while the port captain would not make you clear
in. Best yet was the fact that there was a petrol station not far away!
Things went well motoring over the glassy sea until we heard the
distinct call of 'blue sailboat this is the coast guard' on the radio as we
were passing the port. My first thought was that maybe he was calling
someone else but a scan of
the horizon showed that we were the only sailboat moving or otherwise within
20 miles! A long and broken radio relay between us and the port coast guard
followed, him taking our details and us saying "sorry can you repeat" many
times. The main reason he called turned out to be the fact that he wanted us
out of the way as a large container ship was entering the port!!
With out to many other problems we motored around the corner to find not
only the before mentioned condos and peddle O's but the complete beach
scene. Out board powered water taxies zipping people to remote locations,
banana boat and jet skis going in all directions. The beach, whilst not
white, had a good strip of sand that appeared to have as many bathers as
vendors covering it's width from tall palms to breaking waves. The jewel in
the crown for me was the water park with its slides and rides watched over
by a large Virgin and child.
Although it felt like it had been a long day, we arrived shortly after
noon and quickly set-up the dingy. (At this point I think Bec was already
visualising walking on solid ground) Heading in with cash, credit card and
travellers checks we went in search of fresh food and gasolina. Getting
money (Pesos) was not a problem as there were plenty of ATMs, working out
what a peso was worth took a little longer. Our first withdrawal of 20,000
was not going to last long when we found out that the rate was around 2,800
to 1.
The rest of the day has been a bit of a blur.(Something to do with the
guys that walk the beach selling cold beer for 35 cents!) Will go into more
detail later but we have full tanks and lockers and several new Colombian
friends which we finished the day drinking beers with. Tonight a ripper
thunder storm is blowing past so we have come back to the boat. Don't think
that there is much hope of us leaving tomorrow as we would need to leave
here at 3am in order to get past a river outflow at the right time.
More to follow love G+B