Colombia Slow Start

Cartagena shot from the anchorageWe haven’t been very productive from a tourism perspective so far in Colombia. We arrived on the weekend and spent two days before we found the agent we had been looking for to help with getting our clearance. Fortunately, some friends of ours were here the first evening (but, left for San Blas the next morning) and gave us some insights on local conveniences and information. Of particular use is the local marina’s guide to cruisers, which is available on their web site here. This is the best online guide I’ve seen by a marina to date. You may not find all the services you want here, but at least they have information on what is available.

Unfortunately, the marina – Club Nautico – is in the middle of doing a major re-construction. For some reason the local government put it to a halt at the worst possible time. So, they are operating out of a rustic shack of an office and the main facilities are in shambles – no showers, no bar, etc. And, they aren’t allowed to continue construction (no building permit?). The docks are still in place, and have power and water though. And, the staff are doing their best to maintain services for the boaters.

Cartagena doesn’t seem to have full-service chandleries (marine stores). There are two nearby stores, but they only have a subset of the usual items found in chandleries catering to serious boaters. I couldn’t even find 3M’s popular 5200 glue/sealant at the two stores, nor the usual oil we use for our engines, and I haven’t been able to get the cruising guide for Panama I expected to buy here. More importantly, and this isn’t as surprising, they don’t have the pump we need – to replace the one that drives the water pressure on our starboard hull. I spent two days trying to determine the best way to have a new one sent to us here. We finally ordered two of the pumps (one as a spare) in the US, and are having it sent to Miami. An outfit there sends it to Colombia in the main port. Then it is brought down to Cartagena, clears customs, and is finally brought to us – where we pay the fees for the shipping, handling, and customs. If all goes as planned, it will be here by next Tuesday. We may also see if the old pump can be overhauled.

Meanwhile, we have gone to a few restaurants. We even went to Centro – the old part of Cartagena – and had a nice dinner and walked through the scenic area one night. Cartagena is a beautiful city, and we look forward to seeing more. Karen has been a bit out of commission having consumed something that didn’t agree with her. We’re hoping she’ll be well enough today to do some sightseeing. There is a wonderful grocery store with nice Internet cafe nearby that has been our favorite haunting ground outside the boat.

We have a couple of candidates for crewing on Tahina for the upcoming long passages. If you think you may meet our criteria/dates, please contact us soon.

There is a young married couple, who are photo journalists, with whom I’ve been communicating with for several months now on the chance we could get together. Turns out they are in Colombia right now. They may be joining us for a couple of weeks as we depart Cartagena and go to San Blas in Panama. Then they would leave us when we reach the Panama Canal. We hope to pick up some traveling tips from them as they have done two round-the-world trips (not by sailboat). And share some photography tips as well.

The weather here has been hot and muggy. It hasn’t been helped by the lack of wind the last couple of days (and more still air the next few days). We have actually been running the A/C while charging the batteries with the generator the last two times (something we never did in the windward islands).

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