Tin Tin's Sailing Calendar

Sunday, 5 February 2017

The kindness of strangers

We made good progress overnight and by 10:00 were roaring along towards Santa Marta, in hazy conditions. I reviewed our timing and decided to put in to the Five Bays national park for the day, so that we would arrive at the right time in Cartagena.

As we closed the coast it slowly emerged from the haze to show massive mountains which rise to 5000 meters and are often snow capped. Reading the pilot information I selected a sheltered bay that would allow us to anchor and we were soon out of the crashing waves and motoring serenely up a fjord like bay. Violent winds gusting over the mountains struck the water surface sending whirling plumes of spray across the bay. Steep slopes rose either side coloured vivid ochre orange and with grey green scrub tinged purple. Tall olive green cacti punctuate the slopes. Ahead a little collection of huts seemed to be more sophisticated than the reed shelters at our last stop, and a thatched verandah at the water's edge suggested a well thought out bar or restaurant. We edged out of the squalls into still air and dropped anchor close to the beach. It was very peaceful with no one about, until a motor launch from the National Park came and told us that there was no anchoring allowed he
re, and indicated that we should go to Taganga further on.

Back out to sea and in such rough conditions, I didn't fancy the short cut inner passage past Isla Aguja, where currents and waves produce "el choque choque" or "bump bump" according to locals. So around the outer island we went, surprised to see small motor boats fishing with lines from poles each side, rather dwarfed by the turbulent water. As we turned back in towards Taganga the wind outdid its earlier efforts by blowing steadily at 45-55 knots. However we were soon into the bay where the a sleepy fishing village had turned into a vibrant tourist party centre with speedboats whizzing to and fro full of life-jacketed tourists. The beaches were packed with colourful humanity in vibrant swimwear, while swimmers, pedalos, canoes and paddle boards ventured off the beach. We passed a coastguard speedboat and nervously gave them a wave. Our documents state that we are going to Cartagena, so we may be allowed to drop anchor for a bit on the way there. Once anchored the coast
guard came over to tell us we were in the wrong place. Off we went as directed, and chose another spot. This time two policemen on the headland waved us away to a further beach, where finally we settled just offshore from a pulsing Latin beach band.

There we stayed enjoying the sights and sounds, swimming and relaxing. Various canoes and boats came and said Hola! Later, whilst I was trying to sketch the wonderful orange and purple of the mountains, Emily and Justin were hailed by a Canadian lady swimming by. Turns out Leslie regularly spends the winter in a beachfront house here. They invited her to come aboard for a rest and had a good chat, learning lots of interesting information about the area.

Later Leslie came by again in a boat and, having learned that we couldn't set foot ashore because we're in quarantine until Cartagena, brought us a delicious takeaway supper from a good restaurant ashore. Such a kind and generous act! She couldn't stay, but her timing was perfect for supper and we sat down to enjoy beautifully cooked fish, beef and peppers, salad and a spaghetti carbonara, topped off by "non GM fruit"! Wonderful! Thank you Leslie!

We were thrilled to get news that Alice & Matt's son has been born today safely. Being close inshore we had good phone links to get photos of the little lad, and to call Alice to congratulate her. Very excited PapaPaul, Aunty Em and Great Uncle Mark on board!

The wind continues to howl down the valley, and the forecast is for more tomorrow. We will set sail at midnight aiming to reach the mouth of the Magdalena River just after dawn, in order to cross its outflow in the light, as it is reputed to wash down logs and other debris.
Then it's full steam ahead for Cartagena, aiming to be there before darkness falls at 18:00.

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