A New Chapter- FMD Leaves Colombia

In the last few weeks, since Colin went home to Australia, we have learned that his health will not improve enough for him to join FMD’s adventure back to Australia, and that this ship must get back there without him. That leaves us in a strange situation, as we joined Colin on FMD to be additional crew. Now we are here to take care of her, while getting her into the Pacific Ocean to continue her journey Westward.

After being in Colombia for over a month and a half, we decided to make our departure to Panama.
It would be a different adventure for us now, not having Colin onboard his boat, and with mixed emotions, we set out to take care of FMD as best we can. Darren and I are both pretty experienced on the water, but it’s a different feeling when you are not on YOUR OWN boat, but looking after someone else’s investment. As much as we feel she is a part of us, it’s big responsibility. Being on a different time zone than Colin, with him being in Australia, makes communication difficult at times as we also like to keep him informed and still get his feelings

A few weeks back, Jim and Blieu, from Missouri, asked if they could join Darren and I back onboard FMD so they could try out cruising for a longer term, to see if it works for them. So joining us in Cartagena, they immediately got work with us fixing the generator. The raw water intake manifold and exhaust manifold had seen their time in the salt water, and were in desperate need of repair.

So after getting the name of a machine shop from another cruiser, we headed out to get the parts made. Victor said he could do it and to return in a hour! We completely expected a next day turn around, but were amazed that in one hour, the new parts in fresh shiny stainless steel were built!

Besides a few other minor jobs, provisioning, and general maintenance for a passage, and accepting our Zarpe ( exit papers) from our Agent, David, we were set to go. Headed out on flat sea with calm winds we headed back to Cholon to clean the bottom and relax for a few days before setting out for Panama.
It was a bit different in Cholon this time, the beach bars were not full, the boats were not zipping in and around the bay, and the music was not loud and obnoxious all day long. It was peaceful and quiet, and a welcome treat after the exhaustion of Cartagena.

After Three days, we left looking for a weather window with some wind, yet not too much. It was a Friday when we left. I’ve NEVER left anywhere on a Friday before as there is an old superstition about leaving on a passage on a Friday, but the weather was right, on the forecast anyways. Actually, there was not enough wind to sail. We have 8 knots of wind for most of the 36 hour passage and it was from directly where we wanted to go. We managed to sail for 2 of the 36 hours with the parasail up.

ParaSail UP!

The morning treated us with a SailFish Catch… it would be fresh fish for dinner tonight!!

Sailfish!!!
Sailfish!!!

Arriving before dark, we made our way thru the reefs and took our first anchorage at the deserted Isla Mono in Eastern San Blas. It was a welcome feeling arriving in Panama, with its palm lined beaches, beautiful water and beautiful seascapes.

FMD at anchor in San Blas
FMD at anchor in San Blas

The every palm tree and its coconuts in San Blas are owned by the Gunas, or often spelled Kuna by North Americans and picking of them, even if they are laying on the beach is not allowed. Gunas make their money by the trading of coconuts, lobster and Molas.

Blieu checking out the coconut.
Blieu checking out the coconut.

San Blas or Guna Yala, as they Indiginous people prefer it to be called, is a different world in its own right. Guna people govern these low lying islands.
The Gunas shunned being filmed or photographed, although they would make worthwhile subjects, with their colorful molas, glass beads around arms and legs, black face paint and gold nose rings, earrings and breast plates, the women must be asked and often paid to have their picture taken.
Children and men are always happy to have their pictures taken, however.

Ignacio in Kuna Yala

The Gunas live in villages that are very well cared for, with many stick houses topped with palm leave roofs line the dirt “roads”. Every village has at least three Sailas, or chiefs, of which one is the superior. It is a Matriarchal society where the woman is held in high esteem, and many dress in very traditional dress, sitting in the doorways making Molas.
See Wikipedia on Mola Art

Guna home in San Ignacio
Guna home in San Ignacio

Men spend their day in their dugout canoe, paddling over to the mainland where they tend their trees, Coconut palms, banana, or pineapples, or they fish with traps. At about 2 in the afternoon they make their way back to the village and the remainder of the day is spent with the family.
Banana trees, which Jim stalked for weeks.

They were very happy to sell us lobsters one day. We had a bucketful of lobster and large shrimp ( langostas and lagostinos) which cost us $10 plus three beer. And made a fantastic dinner!

Lobster bucket

DinnerTime On FMD in San Blas
DinnerTime On FMD in San Blas

We needed to make our way to Portobelo to do our arrival and check into the country and so we headed westward, to return to these beautiful islands and lovely people in a week.

Getting out of Cartagena, Cholon, and some GOOD news!

After being in Cartegena for over 3 weeks, Darren and I decided to head south to an anchorage called Cholon Bay. It was a 18 mile journey in light winds and soft seas. We were still waiting on news of Colins prognosis, and we thought that being out of the city may be a bit less depressing for us.
Colombia Google earth

Cholon Anchorage

Making our way thru the reefs, which are lightly marked, we were welcomed to the bay by the beach bar and the masses of boats there. It was a Wednesday just before dark, and many boats were just on their way out, but a few boats remained with their music playing loudly.
Palapas at entrance to Beach Bar

We found an anchorage with two other boats and immediately jumped off and had a swim in the cleaner water. It was a welcome treat after the cess-pool of Cartegena.
Along the mangrove lines shores of Cholon Bay are many beautiful homes and a few hotels. We found wifi in one Hotel Sport Baru http://www.sportbaru.com

Before we went into Cartegena, the bottom of the boat was relatively clean, but after only 3 short weeks, it was COVERED in a mass of slime and barnacles. After two days of cleaning, we could again recognize the bottom, and figured we deserved a beer at the beach bar.

We stayed in Cholon Bay for 9 peaceful, tranquil nights, with flat water most of the time. We did have to endure the jet skis and SeaDoo’s, who always seem to think that circling around sailboats is a fun thing to do. They should ask the Sailors what they think about that though.

It was a peaceful easy place to do some boat work, seemingly one issue after another, first the rerouting of the bilge pump, then the generator impeller, then the air compressor, Between trying to get the boat clean,.. we were constantly making a mess trying to fix something that needed attention; Definition of cruising?: Fixing things in remote anchorages.

Generator fix

IMG_5034

IMG_5046

We did get time to dingy around, visit with friends, and visit the beach and the beach bar. We did find a beautiful little boutique hotel on Playa Azul, that was just lovely! A small hotel for 20 people, a beautiful white sand beach, and NO ONE there! It was a lovely spot for a sit on the pool chaise and relax for a few minutes.
Poolside Beers

Blue Azul Beach Hotel

White Sand Beach

On the way back from the beach, we saw an inlet into the mangroves.. and decided to go for a dingy adventure up the half mile long passageway searching for wildlife, We did see birds and crabs, but no snakes or wild things.

Mud Crabs

Indiana Darren and his mangrove adventure

Mangrove Adventure

In the meantime, while being at anchor, we got some good news about Colin. While he has been in the hospital for the last week or more, due to his increased pain with the radiation treatments, he has had many tests and procedures. He is under the careful attention and care of Dr Liz Kenny, in Brisbane Hospital, who has confirmed some secondary cancers in Colin’s hip and spine. Under good care and treatment, they expect Colin to be around for a few more years to come! Rum Punches all around!
Colin's on the mend

After 9 days in the jungle, we had to head back to the city for provisioning, to get some parts and wait for our next set of crew to arrive.
If you would like to learn to sail or just be part of our Adventure, send us an email or use the contact us in this webpage.
Sunset and Sea

Next post we will be headed to San Blas!