Tag Archive: colombia to curacao


Santa Marta, Colombia

COLOMBIA

     We arrived to the marina in Santa Marta, Colombia after a brutal 26-hours of travel.  Our bags were strapped to the smallest taxi ever and

There is one piece of twine holding all our bags for the 4-hour taxi ride

we had traveled four hours in this Romancing the Stone-esque car (the one that Danny Davito hid in when they were looking for the stone).  The kids poured themselves out of the taxi, having been woken up every hour or so as the taxi pulled into a random-open-all-night gas station to put a couple pesos worth of propane in his car.  Every time he filled up, we all had to pile out of the car.  It is now four-o’clock in the morning and we are beyond exhausted.  We get all of the bags out of the car and traipse down to our boat.  She looks beautiful, the kids run around yelling, happy to be back, exhaustion apparently forgotten in the light of old, familiar toys.  It is already hot, Brad tries out the air-conditioning, since we are still attached to the dock and can use electricity, it works, wonderful.  We all finally decide that old toys will be just as cool after a few hours of sleep.

Coffee at Juan Valdez on the main square

After a couple hours of sleep, we get up, unpack, and see our boat in the sunlight; it is nearly black with dirt.  Caked on, sooty, literally….black.  Too exhausted to even deal with that, I concentrate on the inside.  It seems less intimidating.  After a couple of hours of Pinesol, she’s smelling like a Colorado Pine tree Forest….perfect (the less charred part).  We decide to take a nap and I look for my book…..Where is my book?  Uh-oh.  I left it in the taxi from Cartagena….including the kids’ favorite snuggly toys, Brad’s snoopy from childhood that has now become Turtle’s favorite snuggly toy, my wallet, my favorite skirt that the wallet was in, and probably ten more things I am forgetting.  The full magnitude hits us and we start frantically calling the credit card company.  No new purchases but now what do we do for money?  We don’t know if we can stay past another 48 hours so we can’t have them

Fun in the city

send another one.  Brad has a different card but it keeps declining because: we “didn’t tell them we were traveling.”  After Brad explained that we had been traveling for a year and he told them that then, at which point the worker said he’s only been working for three months, great.  Can you make a memo please?  He said it should be working in 2 minutes.  Meanwhile

Ella performing in front of the machine gun toting guards. Glad she’s good because they won’t be throwing rotten tomatoes if she’s not.

we are standing in a packed grocery store with 785,000 pesos worth of food (meat, ice cream, other various really-painful-to-you-foods-if they-spoil) surrounding us and people wondering who the obvious foreigner-freaks are that are holding up the line.  They put us in the “other line” and Brad tries again with the card after the designated “2-minutes” (it has really been about 15) it declines again.  We return to the telephone salesman and ask to use the phone again.  This time Brad is

not so pleasant as he pleads our case.  A new customer service representative doesn’t know why it won’t work and explains that “99% of the credit card purchases in Santa Marta, Colombia are fraudulent” Great….Did I only have one card in my wallet or was the other one in there too and now we have $??,??? charged on our accounts….I start panicking.  Brad gets the ok to try the card again, it works.

 

We go home, put the food away and await our “agent” to see if we can stay in Colombia for longer than a few more hours.  I talk to the

our Cowgirl turning 7

home school program that was supposed to send Ella her curriculum in Colorado but there was a mix-up at the main warehouse and we didn’t get it, then they said they could send it to Colombia, but turns out they don’t think they can after all…..great.  Ella just got a continuance on her summer for another four months.  We wash the outside of the boat, put everything out and get ready to sail.  We hear from our agent (after Brad sat in Customs for four hours) that we can stay for another three months if we would like.  Good.  That out of the way we turn to properly provisioning the boat, slowly.  After we leave

Fresh fruits

Colombia, we will be in the beautiful San Blas Islands of Panama.  Brad has been talking about them since I met him so I am excited to see them.  The only downside is we have to have all of our food and drink on board; Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts and drinks for two plus months.  Provisioning is difficult as Chase and Ella sometimes eat a lot…..sometimes not so much, and what do you get that you will want to eat for snacks, dessert etc. two months from now??  The problem is daunting but we are now taking it slowly and buying a little bit each day.  Ella is tired of going to the store every day but it is a necessary evil.

We can also relax and enjoy being in Santa Marta again.  It is a bustling little metropolis; the marina has many more cruisers in it compared to when we left.  We have met a lot of other people stocking up before moving on to San Blas.  When we were here in May, we had met

Hazards of walking include open manhole covers leading to the sewers below

another cruiser family on a catamaran, Freda and Jean-Noel.  They had two girls slightly older than Ella and Turtle.  We had a great time with them in a short amount of time; I find that I miss them a lot.  We have met another French boat with two little girls, 1.5 and 4 years old.  The kids ran endlessly up and down the dock, until after dark, Chase was “tagged” into the dark water.  With Ella screaming: “Mommy, Daddy!  Chase went into the water!!! Chase went into the water!!!  Brad was over the side, completely clothed including sunglasses, and propped him back up onto the dock.  He was not happy and that was the end of freeze tag with an “I get to be the tagger next, mommy.”  Salt water was dripping off of him everywhere.  The kids played a couple more days until it was time for their boat to move on to Cartagena.

We have turned our efforts to exploring the city, finding markets and cold beers in little corner bars, museums and beaches.  The water is really polluted here so our little water babies have been land monkeys for the time being, they are definitely ready to return to the sea.  We talked with the Bartlett’s yesterday and made the final plans, as much as we could guess, for Evan and his wife, Olivia to meet us in Panama.  Looking forward to some good times with them and perhaps a new credit card)  Brad and Ella have just left to buy a paddle from a local fisherman, and Chase and I are “chillaxn” (Chase’s word, not mine) together finding new apps to fill the iPad for the long months ahead without internet.  We are looking forward to the quietness of the islands and the adventure of the next couple of months…. Enjoy the cold weather wherever you are…….it is HOT here!!

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Ella Modesitt

By Ella Modesitt

In Bonaire, I went SCUBA diving with my dad.  It was fun.  We went under two boats – the dinghy and

I’m a Mermaid!

Rivers2Seas.  I saw so many fish, there must have been 100 of them.  I liked it because we could be under the water together.  My dad and I shared the same tank.  I felt totally like a mermaid.  I moved my legs like a mermaid too.

We saw a parade.  There were people with really pretty dresses.  One little girl gave me and my brother a piece of candy.  They were dancing in their fancy dresses.  The music was really loud so that everyone could hear.  I think a little too loud.

I liked the colorful buildings

We sailed to Curacao.  Daddy went to customs all day long.  I played with a little French girl on our boat.  We played hide and seek with Chase.  I did not understand a single word she said.  She didn’t want to go home.  Chase and I played on the best park yet.  It wasn’t broken or torn or rusted.  Chase and I got ice cream.  We went to customs and looked at all the houses.  They were all sorts of colors.

On the passage to Santa Marta, Colombia in the night there was lots and lots and lots of lightning.  We all had to go down into one room so if the mast was hit by lightning we wouldn’t be killed or injured.  We put on wetsuits that were really hot and read some books.  Chase was throwing up.  There was lots of rain.  I did not see any cats and dogs.   I didn’t really sleep – it was too hard.

We were close to land but before we got there lightning came again.  We read some more of my Mermaid book.

Rivers2Seas is now tied up at a dock in Santa Marta Colombia.  I have sailed a super duper long way.  I have been to 21 countries so far.  My favorite country was Bonaire or maybe Saba or…all of them.

It’s 12:15 A.M.  My arms are wrapped around the boom holding on tight like I’m wrestling an alligator.  I’m scared, but loving it too.  Wind tries to rip me off with the help of the bouncing seas.  Cold rain pelts my bare back stinging as it hits.  It’s so cold and hard and big it feels like hail.  I’m screaming to Lindsey at the top of my lungs, who is only nine feet away but can’t hear me well, to tighten the mainsheet.  It takes about ten seconds and then I’m really swinging back and forth on the boom.

12 hours earlier - enjoying the large following seas

12 hours earlier – enjoying the large following seas

A minute and a half earlier, I was sound asleep in my room snuggled up to Lindsey.  Damian calls down to get me; the wind is acting strange he says.  When I look at the helm, the wind has clocked around and is now directly behind us.  An accidental jibe, where the boom gets wind from the other side and slams to the opposite side of the boat, is now a distinct possibility.  I turn Rivers2Seas 20 degrees to port.  I yell to Damian to pull in the jib while I loosen it.  As we manage that, Lindsey is on scene donning her PFD.

Engines are started and Lindsey turns the boat around so that we can go into the wind to drop the mainsail.  With the large following seas it’s a bit tricky to time when to turn and miss a wave hitting us broadside.  The complete darkness makes it almost impossible.  I have my harness buckled to my PFD and am making my way to the mast, clipping and unclipping my two straps to the jacklines surrounding the boat.  The key is to always have one clipped in.  With the jib pulled out to the side, I must clip and unclip eight times before I’m to the mast.  By the time I get there, Lindsey has us into the wind, which is now up to 36.2 knots.  Lindsey is focused on the boat displays and steering.  Damian is trying to focus on me; he can’t see me.  All he can see is my headlamp dimly through the rain.  Luckily, he doesn’t see it go overboard.

buying some fruits in Curacao

buying some fruits in Curacao

Quickly pulling the main halyard off the brake and lowering it quickly, the mainsail plummets.  There is no nice flaking of the sail tonight.  Get it down, fast is all I can think.  Once down I try to get it into the sailbag but can’t because the sailties holding the reef in essentially get rid of the sailbag.  I try to pull the sail in doing a crappy flake job when the boom slides quickly towards me.  The sail is being pulled up by the wind.  I jump aboard and hold on.  That’s when I started yelling to Lindsey to pull in the mainsheet, which would steady the boom.

She couldn’t see me or see what I was doing.  She’s nine feet away and the rain is so thick we can scarcely see each other.  Wind is truly howling around us. Alarms about the wind speed are going off and she is trying to maintain direction.  Normally, we loosen the mainsheet just before dousing the main to help it slide down with the wind.  She had no idea that I had already taken it down – certainly an all-time speed record on my part.  So when she told Damian to loosen the mainsheet, that’s what we normally would have done.  This wasn’t normal.  That’s why I’m flying around on the boom being rocked crazily back and forth.  My screams to “tighten, TIGHTEN!!!” were finally understood and the boom stabilized.  I wrapped a line around the sail, called it good and made my way back to the cockpit.

Curacao waterfront

Curacao waterfront

We turned the boat around again to go with the seas and wind under motor.    Radar showed that this wasn’t that big of a storm only about six miles across, so it should be over soon.  It’s wasn’t.  Rivers2Seas was screaming along at 9-10 knots with the engines on 2000rpm (about 2/3 power).  Even without sails a sailboat can move in high winds.  We were following the storm and staying with it.  Turning the boat around to go into the waves and let the storm get in front of us didn’t work either.  No matter what we did the storm stayed directly above us.  We resumed coarse again and watched the lightning show.

sometimes you sleep anywhere

sometimes you sleep anywhere

Most of the lightning is off in the distance, but some is within a mile.  Lindsey and the kids head down into the hulls for safety.  She was worried about the situation and decided to put the kids’ wetsuits on.  I suppose there were some good wave crashes and we caught some big surfs on the waves.  We even recorded a 12.5 knot surf down one of the big ones.  So I suppose her being worried and proactive was a good thing.  A good friend of ours Eric has a saying, “if you’re not scared now, you’re not paying attention.”  I am paying attention.  The kids wanted to read the Little Mermaid, which starts out with a boat being hit by lightning and blown to smithereens.  Somehow they liked it.

Putting the handheld GPS and VHF radio in the oven is the last precautionary measure I can do.  The theory is that the oven can act like a Faraday cage when lightning strikes and protect the instruments inside.  Every other electrical object with a computer chip will be destroyed.  I hope we don’t test the theory.

I have been wearing only shorts and the cold rain has me shivering uncontrollably.  Rain blasts at my eyes that now have clear sunglasses on to protect them.  But my skin must be blue.  Luckily, every once in a while a wave splashes over the rail and douses me with the 86-degree seawater; it feels like a hot tub.  I head to our cabin for warm clothes and finally get to wear my Denver Broncos wool cap.  How far south have we gone?

Sunset on the water

Watching dolphins

relaxation on the passage

The storm stays with us for two hours slowly deteriorating.  Damian has gone to bed.  Lindsey and the kids are “sleeping” in our cabin.  Neither liked the lightning.  Chase didn’t like the stuffy cabin and was throwing up in a bowl.  So, nobody was all that comfortable.  My shift ends at 5AM, I wake Damian, then collapse onto the sofa.

Worm

It’s one of the many times we are thankful to have Damian here.  Passages are difficult.  Sailing with kids is difficult.  Doing both together can tax a couple.  Having him here has taken off some of the load.  The kids love “Worm” too.  Chase especially likes throwing him overboard.  They tell him innumerable stories of life with great enthusiasm.  He has also become chief dishwasher, which has helped too.  Pitching in with everything and enthusiastically – he’s a great team member aboard Rivers2Seas.  We should have him back when it’s vacation time in easy islands.  One of these days I wouldn’t mind having a mechanic onboard.  My brain and knuckles could use a rest.

Somehow, the starter on the port engine has now failed.  Frustrating!  Tests and curses have confirmed that it’s bad.  My book on how to fix everything from Niger Calder saves the day when he says that I can “push start” the engine using the propeller.  Put it in neutral, turn the key, then slam the throttle forward.  Rev, reeevv.  The engine hums to life.  I have always been impressed with Lindsey for push starting a school bus for me once.  Now, I can boast about push starting a boat.  “You have to kick real hard…maybe wear some fins to push the 15 tons.”

We make it into Santa Marta Colombia with a fast passage of 2 nights and 3 days.  The kids never asked once “are we there yet” during either of our latest passages that totaled over 130 hours of sailing time.  We have our little sailors.  I’m proud of them.