Tin Tin's Sailing Calendar

Friday, 10 February 2017

Cartagena de Indias

It's a couple of days since we arrived from Santa Marta in very strong winds with sustained 55 knots gusting 66 knots at times (a near hurricane). We crossed the Magdalena river outflow at dawn about 8 miles out as planned, keeping a good lookout for logs (saw none) but crossing a crisply defined boundary between clear and muddy water. We hauled up a bucket full to taste, but it seemed just as salty as the sea. With big following waves we were surfing into deep troughs, but the autopilot coped well most of the time. However during the night Justin had to grab the wheel to straighten the boat up when a large wave slewed us across, and the following waves didn't give "George" time to correct. As we approached the Zamba Bank, built up by the rib sediment, the water shallows from 400 metres to 40 metres, and I was quite concerned that we might find dangerously breaking surf. However the transition turned out to be uneventful, mostly because I think the strong following current smoothed out the effect of the shallows.

With so much wind we are,Ives a good three hours early at Cartagena, and having called the Port Authorities got permission to enter via the narrow pass in Boca Grande. Across this wide entrance a defensive underwater wall had been built to stop pirate raids, after Sir Francis Drake sailed his fleet in and held the city to ransom.
with Port Control keeping in close touch we were authorised to anchor near the Club Nautico de Cartagena amongst many other yachts.
I went ashore and got hold of an agent to handle the customs and immigration formalities as required. The two I had emailed before hadn't answered!

The following morning we were cleared in, and by midday were free to all go ashore. We walked the mile or so to the old City in sweltering heat, eventually collapsing under a cafe sunshade in the Plaza San Domingo, where I sketched the bronze sculpture of a reclining lady of very ample proportions, a colourfully dressed palanquero, or fruit seller, and an elegant Colombian lady. Later at another cafe the waitress saw my sketch, and said "That's my grandmother, Angélica Maria!" I think she meant the fruit seller, but now given her own proportions I wonder whether she meant the redoing nude!

The streets of Cartagena are a wonderful maze of colonial architecture, with overhanging wooden balconies, huge double doors studded with metal bosses that allowed the master to ride his horse in, and small inset slave entrance portals for daily business. The colours are vibrant ochres, reds yellows, blues and greens, but subtle and elegant rather than the rather less sophisticated Caribbean colours we have seen on other islands.

We met up with Kate Kendon, her sister Deb and friend Sue, for a walking tour of the city which was fun and then explored until we found a much recommended restaurant, La Mulata, which served a simple but exciting menu of fish. I had ceviche de Rubalo, which is raw fish cubes steeped in lime juice. Very good.

We said farewell to Kate et al as they are off to Santa Marta next. Quite amazing to meet our aunt in Cartagena!

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