December 2008

Tuna catch


“John, we have a fish!  John, we have fish on both lines,” Ann shouts to wake John from an afternoon nap off the northeastern coast of Columbia.  We welcomed the month of December on the high seas, traveling from Curacao to the northeastern coast of Columbia. The 307 mile, 51 hour trip was our longest non-stop trip since we have been cruising.  The highlight of our trip was a 90 minute tuna feeding frenzy, where we hooked 13 fish, lost 3 lures, lost 3 fish and finally landed seven.  Our catch is shown in the picture, minus one tuna we threw back and one that had jumped out of the bucket into a storage locker.  Lucky for us, John found the “lost” fish and added it to the fillets that stocked up the freezer with wonderful fresh tuna.  It’s a good thing we found it right away because we would surely have found it by the smell after two or three days.


Our big catch

Our journey started about daylight on Sunday, November 30 and we arrived at our destination about 9:30 am on Tuesday morning, December 2.  When we sail, someone is always awake and watching for other boats or other hazards.  After the sun goes down we each take three to four hour shifts when one of us is responsible for the watch and the other person should be sleeping or relaxing.  If the movement of the boat is uncomfortable, then it may be difficult to sleep during your assigned “sleep” time. Conditions were good on this trip and we both had some good rest periods, but we slept for several hours after we arrived at our anchorage in Guayraca Bay.

Guayraca Bay, our first stop in Columbia, is located in a national park.  There is a small fishing village with about 12 small dwellings, a small restaurant, and a small bar.  There is no electric power in the village, but at least one building is using solar panels to generate power for a television used to show Spanish soap operas to the entire village.  There is no English spoken, but the people are friendly and helpful.   A dinner at the restaurant on shore was an authentic candle light dinner where six cruisers ate by the light of one small candle on the table.

Indian gold ornamentsWe don’t think anyone in the village owned a car, but the friendly Renaldo arranged for a taxi to take us into the city of Santa Marta for a day.  Santa Marta is a bustling city of over 400,000 with street vendors selling anything from fresh fruit, clothes, jewelry, luggage, liquor and fresh honey complete with a honeycomb and bees.  We got Columbian currency from an ATM, enjoyed a nice Columbian lunch overlooking the ocean, visited the oldest Cathedral in Columbia, and visited the Museum of Gold.  The Museum of Gold contained intricate gold and silver jewelry made by the native Tayrona Indians during the 13th and 14th centuries.  The jewelry was fashioned using wax molds and cast using gold and copper mined in the area.  The gold work was buried with the dead and the Spanish conquerors gathered up as much gold work as possible as they traveled throughout the South and Central American areas.


Tayrona Indian gold work

cart deliveriesAfter a few days of rest, we continued our westward journey along the coast of Columbia.  Columbia is a country of wide contrasts with sophisticated and unsophisticated lifestyles living side by side.  The beach tourist town of Rodadero with dozens of high-rise hotels and condominiums is located only 20 miles from the fishing village of Guayraca with no electricity.  As we neared Cartagena, we first sailed by the walled old city which was founded by Spain in the mid-1500’s. Sailing into the harbor, we passed by dozens of high-rise hotels and condominiums reminiscent of Miami Beach.  The Cartagena streets are crowded with automobiles and motorcycles, but you will also see vegetable vendors pushing wooden hand carts selling their vegetables and small wooden carts pulled by horses delivering construction materials and even sophisticated electronics.

The old and new:  cart deliveries in Cartagena

CartengaCartegena street





 Cartagena street

View of Cartagena

Inquisition torture



The beautiful old town of Cartagena is surrounded by walls and filled with 16th and 17th century Spanish architecture.  The city is bustling with cultural and historical attractions and museums.  Walking around in the old city and eating inexpensively from street vendors was great entertainment.  We enjoyed visits to another Gold Museum; the Naval Museum; the largest fort in town where construction was started in the mid 1600’s; numerous old churches, and the Museum of Inquisition. The Museum of Inquisition was filled with various forms of torture used by the Spanish during the years of the Inquisition. The photo of John lying on the “rack” shows two ropes for your arms, two ropes for your feet, and one last rope that you can guess where it was attached to the males being tortured!






Rack used in The Inquisition.  Can you guess where the middle rope attaches?

Santa visits the highrise

Cartagena was a great place to celebrate Christmas.  The entire city is decorated for Christmas and there were numerous concerts and activities in the days preceding Christmas.  There were also about 75 cruising boats in the city organizing parties and festivities for the holidays.  Ann made Christmas cookies and delivered to several of our friends on boats.  We had a busy Christmas day with guests for brunch on our boat, lunch on another boat, and evening snacks at a club house on shore.  We were away from our family, but we talked to all our children and parents on Christmas evening. 

As December ends, we will leave the hustle and bustle of the city of Cartagena to visit the San Blas Islands of Panama, inhabited and governed by the indigenous Kuna Indians.  Our January cruising log may be late since we don’t expect any internet access in the San Blas.


Santa visits a Cartagena high-rise

Cartegena Castillo

Castillo San Felipe