Georgia J

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Sharon’s Blog 4/21/14     The “A” Island and our Passage to Colombia

We finished up our tour of the ABC Islands (or in our case, the BCA’s) in Aruba.  Each of these three islands is totally unique and actually is very little like the others.  We almost opted out of Aruba since we had heard that the clearance in and out for boats was rather onerous.  This proved to be worse than rumored as since officials were trying to change the process and everyone was confused.  In most countries we have visited, you can check in and out at a marina.  During check in and out we had to move the boat to two different harbors neither of which had a decent dock.   Upon arrival we rafted to a Venezuelan fishing boat whose crew was most helpful.      Aruba has been called Las Vegas on the water.  I wouldn’t go that far, but it is covered with casinos, restaurants, bars, fancy shopping malls and more jewelry stores than you can count.  The marina was directly across from a high end mall with two Starbucks.    The marina which had been described as high end had very minimal facilities and lots of surge, but an incredibly nice and helpful staff.   I was glad we went there if for no other reason to say we had done the ABCs. 

Aruba is also a great spot to wait for a good weather window to Colombia.  This passage can be very difficult and Kim studied weather forecasts continuously to time our departure.  The two night passage started out with very moderate wind.  In fact, we barely had enough wind to sail efficiently during Day One.  We were eager to get past Venezuela waters, so we motored most of the day. 

About 30 miles from Colombia, a local fishing boat approached us with no fishing lines or nets visible.  We became nervous about drug smugglers and pirates when the boat turned back in our direction.  Just then, a Colombia Coast Guard plane buzzed us very low making two passes to check us out.  The fishing boat turned away and we throttled up to Colombia.

Day Two proved to be more difficult sailing.  During the second night, the wind jumped up suddenly (to 44 knots) and we had quick 15 foot seas.  We had too much sail out for these conditions but it was too rough to reef the main.    We did all we could to slow the boat down but Georgia doesn’t always like to slow down!     We were tired but relieved when we arrived in Santa Marta much ahead of schedule.

We did not anticipate arriving at the beginning of a four day holiday for Easter, Semana Santos.     Essentially the entire country is shut down except for restaurants.    The marina had one employee working who was able to assist us getting into a slip, but we have had to wait to get access to any of their facilities and services.   The Colombians have an interesting way to celebrate Easter.  The day we arrived, the marina was the location of an all-night “Electronic Music” concert.  We were so exhausted we slept through most of it.   Some of our family and friends have expressed some concern about our being in Colombia.  True, Colombia has had its problems.  However, it is now considered a pretty safe place to visit.  The marina security guards carry guns and this weekend the place has been crawling with machine gun toting military personnel.   It turns out that government officials like to take their boats out on holiday weekends.  We are not entirely sure if this show of strength makes us feel better or worse! We plan to stay here two to three weeks.  We have also decided to visit Cartagena by land. 

It seems odd to realize that we have now been to six continents on this journey. I am drawing the line at Antarctica!


 S/V Georgia J, moored at Santa Marta Marina, Santa Marta, Colombia, South America

Sharon poses for Chamber of Commerce photo

Downtown Oranjestad