I always have had a sneaky suspicion that I was a pirate in a past life. Sure, my obsession may have started with One Eyed Willy from The Goonies, but that is besides the point. Sailing to Colombia was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I learned that I’m truly a sea dog who has a damn fine pair of sea legs.
We sailed with Captain Gisbert of the fine catamaran Santana. After hearing horror stories of other voyages, was extremely grateful that luck was on our side. Let’s just say that another ship did not have a working bathroom and everyone on board had to poop in a bucket or in the sea.
Nothing I can say can really convey the feelings I had during the pinnacle voyage of my life. Here are some things I wrote down in my journal over a period of 5 days.
– Our ship embarked at about 8am. In true “Erica and Shaun bring rain everywhere they go” fashion, it is misty and overcast. All good though. Everyone is in high spirits. Looking around I’m super excited about the group we are leaving with – 4 Aussies, 3 Brits, 1 Japanese chick, 1 Canadian, 3 Germans (5 including the capt and crew!), and 2 Swissessssessss.
– We’re off to a rocky start. We have a few hours of sailing until our first San Blas island and Shaun is already knocked out and in bed due to Dramamine. He is feeling like hell.
– Caught a HUGE barracuda on the fishing line! I helped clean it and prepare it for dinner tonight.
– A storm came out of nowhere. Wind, rain, and howling came up on us in a matter of 5 minutes. For the first time I could hear the ocean moaning. I cannot tell you how much I’m in love with the sea.
– The islands here are like out of a story book I read as a kid. You’re telling me there are actually islands made of only white sand and palm trees? AND starfish right off beach? I’m in paradise.
– I woke up at 6am on my own accord. Unheard of. I felt like a kid waking up on the day they are due to visit Disneyland for the first time. It is overcast and a bit cold. I’m holding a cup of hot steamy coffee as I look out into the ocean – smooth like glass with the occasional spinkles.
– I learn, in a rather disgusting way, that the toilet empties into the ocean without a filter. Floaters while swimming. Gross.
– The clouds decided to stay away for a bit, just in enough time to snorkel through crystal clear blue waters over a shipwreck. I can’t believe I’m here, living this life.
– Shaun is feeling much better now that we’re not over choppy waters. He has even come out for a swim!
– We arrive at a small island with 3 palm trees. Looking at the reef maps, we carefully maneuver between shallow waters and sharp reefs. Apparently most of the San Blas islands are surrounded by them and need a captain who knows the area.
– Tyson and Aaron (Aussies) jumped into the water and swam to shore. In a span of 30 minutes they managed to grab some coconuts from the trees and open them up using rock tools.
– A few casualties on board with some people swimming over sharp coral. All get named “Shark Bait” as we try to swim back to the boat faster than them.
– James and Christoph kayak to the island with a machete to recover some coconut juice for booze. It was a good night.
– More rain. More silent morning moments with coffee. I’m one of 3 people up (besides the captain) enjoying the solitude and beauty of the morning. I guess I really can be a morning person under the right circumstances.
– Aiden, an Aussie, kayaks to the small island with said machete to break open ~10 coconuts to use the juice and pulp for coconut cream rice.
– Shaun is having another good day. We’re cruising at a slow speed and he is able to feel “okay”.
– We sail to another island and local fishermen bring us 15 small lobsters and a crab for later. YES. I look at them and smack my lips.
– No sun all day. How gloomy. It is almost too cold to go swimming.
– Last day to go all out. The boat busts out into a dance party. Tara and I go all out on Beyonce – it may have been the beer and rum. There is no shortage of booze. Should be an interesting day tomorrow as we make our 2 day straight trek to Colombia.
– Wow. You should see the hangovers on some of these people matched with extreme seasickness as we head into the 2 days of straight rough sailing.
– Shaun is laid out. Cold and clammy, he is not eating and I’m a wee bit concerned.
– The sun finally came out today… when we’re leaving and can’t go into the water.
– Tara broke out the ukulele. Sailing across the sea with the soft music – cliche – maybe a little but I can’t help but have a shit eating grin on my face.
– There was a break in the clouds at about midnight and my breath was taken away. In an instant we had wind in the sails and the light of the full moon reflected on the ocean’s surface as the stars stared down from the sky. I was experiencing the sea as sailors saw hundreds of years ago. No amount of words can describe the experience. Sublime.
– Weird to think how quickly time has passed by. I’m not ready to see land. I’m not ready to part with our new friends. Poor Shaun, he is extra corpse like today and hasn’t left the bed for hours.
– Gisbert won’t tell us what time we will arrive – something about superstitions or something. I can live with that. I’d rather not be lost at sea.
– We come up to Cartagena at about 3pm. The skyscrapers can be seen from miles away. I had NO CLUE that this is what the city looks like. How metropolitan!
– Sailing up to a city is probably the best way to experience a new part of the world. Welcome to South America – and we’re bringing it in CON GUSTO.
– Shaun came out of the cave known as our bed. He is so happy that he is about to set foot on land.
– It turns out that no one on the boat had reservations for hostels and we’re showing up on the 200th Independence Day of Cartagena. Crap.
– All good. Gisbert pulled some strings for us…
Our next adventure? Trying to survive the craziness known as Cartagena Independence.
For those of you who are looking for a boat going from Panama to Colombia or vice versa, let me know. I couldn’t have asked for more with our captain and boat.