The new marina in Santa Marta, Northern Colombia was a great place for us to park Balvenie for 12 nights and take some time to do those always present boat jobs and to have some time out to explore a little of this area of Colombia.
Maintenance and Chores
First up was repairs to our reasonably new (purchased in Turkey 2008) hot water cylinder. We had noticed that the generator had started to make different noises to normal and on further investigation discovered that the hot water cylinder was leaking all over it …… always something!!! So it was out with the cylinder, the marina organised a welder who promptly arrived and took it away for repairs to a pinprick leak. He was back with it the following morning, the weld looked good but the thread for the element look compromised and on trying to insert the element our suspicions were confirmed – back it went for rethreading. It returned again, just not quite right, and many many hours were spent by skipper, upside down in the engine room in over 30c of very sticky heat while he installed, filled, fitted and gooped it all together (several times) until it didn’t leak anymore. Meanwhile I entertained myself by washing and drying nearly everything onboard Balvenie, it’s a long time since we had affordable self service laundry facilities at our fingertips so I kept out of skippers way and washed everything in sight ….. and then you wonder what we do all day!!!!
Heading for the hills and rainforest
We took time off one day and headed with David and Brenda on Bandit into the hills. Firstly we got a local taxi to the “terminus” for transport to Minca. The transport of the day was this very beat up old Renault, door linings and handles missing, tyres looking very much in need of retreading, all in all it didn’t look capable of getting the 4 of us plus driver up the windy road into the hills – oh well here we go. Amazingly it did make the journey and our young driver knew where every pothole was enroute and did a sterling job of missing most of them.
The tiny village of Minca is set high up in the coolness of the hills and was a welcome change to the heat of Santa Marta. We found an eco-resort/cafe and relaxed over excellent Colombian coffees then set off for a walk into the jungle along one of the paths. Our plans for a pleasant stroll to a nearby waterfall with maybe a quick dip in a refreshing pool followed by our picnic lunch didn’t quite go as planned. The heavens opened and we were reminded that we were in a rainforest, shelter was found – eventually - under a derelict building, and while the water fell down in bucket loads we stood and enjoyed our soggy picnic lunch – well at least it was warm rain!!!
It was rather a muddy walk back and our enthusiasm was dampened somewhat for a further excursion to a a nearby coffee plantation, we retrieved our taxi driver from the local bar where he was happily playing pool and embarked on our adventure home. Old cars always manage to go much faster downhill and we all were worried about the flooded roads, swimming pool sized potholes and squeaky brakes but we arrived back in Santa Marta unscathed – it was an entertaining outing.
Dropped back in Santa Marta within the local market area we took the time to explore some hardware stores where we found all sorts of goodies we needed at very reasonable prices then we strolled through all the stalls – there was not much at all you couldn’t have got here if you looked hard enough.
Seaside lunch excursion
On another day we caught a taxi out to the neighbouring bay of Taganga, our 18 year old Lonely Planet describes it is a quaint fishing village with a couple of shacky cafes. It’s still a laid back cruisy place, but the locals have made way to tourism - it is now the backpacking centre for this area with access to the Tayrona National Park and starting point for the 4 day hike to Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City). Several restaurants' lined the waterfront, tastefully set under thatched roofs with open sides to catch the sea breeze. We enjoyed a stroll along the waterfront followed by a lazy lunch in the shade as we looked out over the pretty bay.
The weather offshore was settling again and it was time to farewell Bandit, they had been waiting for a weather window to head across to Providencia then onwards to Guatemala where they will leave Bandit for a few months while they return home. We have decided not to head for Guatemala just yet and will head further down the Colombian coast and across to Panama and cruise there for a couple of months before heading north. We have had a great time in company with David and Brenda and hope to share many more anchorages with them next season.
For our cruising notes on Colombia including waypoints click here for our cruising info blog