Christmas in Santa Marta

On returning from our grand adventure, we tried to wrap up all our projects and get ready for the next step. That meant figuring out where we would haul out and get the bottom painted, getting an appointment, and picking a weather window to get there. We settled on a yard in Cartagena, just after the new year, which meant that we would be spending Christmas in Santa Marta with Waterhorse and Nautilife. And Captain, of course.

On our return to the marina, a huge stand was set up ouside, and we got to see two days of a weird crossfit-esque fitness competition, with some local dancing at the afterparty. This was not at all unusual during our stay here; we would frequently wake up to find that the marina had set up some major event, which would be blasting music and hosting revelers all day. We were not invited, but they didn’t seem to mind us dropping by for a look.

We had Nautilife over for some pre-Christmas drinks and the traditional viewing of Elf. As usual, Captain got really excited about company and decided to dress up for the occasion.

We were looking for lunch one day and found altogether too many roses in one cafe (also noted in our food post), so Jazz put together a ladies lunch. This ended up with everyone drinking margaritas at the marina and not much else getting accomplished that day.

A couple of days before Christmas, the marina held a dinner for all the sailors. We brought Captain down to say hi, and he was, as always, universally adored and totally nonplussed.

On Christmas Eve, Jazz had her last pilates session, and had to say goodbye to her teacher and studio. She managed to get to sixteen classes over our two months here; unusual five-exercise-per-day semi-privates, but on a reformer so she was in her happy place.

For actual Christmas, Waterhorse sent a kid by in the morning with a delivery of fresh cinnamon buns. Then for dinner, we had a pot-luck with all three boats. It was maybe not the most coherent meal, with lobster sushi segueing into Mississippi roast and Portugese tart, but it was all delicious and the company was hard to beat. Note the hose going through the ceiling in the last picture: we had a lot of dishes to do, and didn’t want to use our drinking water.

Because it was Christmas, and because we were planning to leave the next day, of course Jazz had a terrible cold again. She put on a brave face but she was struggling.

So, final review of Santa Marta: cheap food and taxis, many restaurants and great people-watching in easy walking distance around Parque Novios, and you can find just about anything (or at least a knock-off) in the markets if you’re willing to spend a day hunting. For each item. The poverty is very visible, which is something we haven’t seen since San Francisco, and the constant begging and harassment grates on you. It’s very hot during the day. Access to the airport is pretty good, with cheap flights throughout Colombia. And the marina is secure enough that we had no qualms leaving our boat there, despite the occasional 50-knot gust in the evenings. As for the marina itself, the location is excellent, and Kelly in the office is a miracle worker. We did not care for the cold showers, or for the constant coal dust falling on the boat from the nearby unloading station. Having laundry machines on site was super nice. The air-conditioned Captain’s lounge would have been nice had it not been colonized by a gaggle of children who had turned it into the designated homeschooling house. Having non-potable water on the docks was inconvenient, but by the time we left they’d worked out a reasonable system for ordering drinking water in bottles. And finally, the on-site restaurant deserves a special shout out, for having the best view in Santa Marta, for being available literally all day every day including Christmas, and for introducing us to the tajin-rimmed michelada, which will be our go-to for probably the rest of our lives.


  1. Hmmmm. We’re here right now in Santa Marta, in the marina, and nobody told us the water wasn’t potable… This explains ALOT.

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