Sailing to Cartagena

On boxing day morning, we checked out of the marina. We had arranged a zarpe before the holiday, which gave us a limited window to exit, but Jazz was still feeling sick. She was also feeling paranoid from the cough medicine, so it took us a while to get her settled into the idea of pulling away from the dock with the wind gusting unpredictably. We eventually left just a few minutes before Waterhorse, so we got to see them pass us as the city receded into the distance.

We’d had a bunch of people warn us about debris floating down the river north of Baranquilla. We didn’t see anything big floating, but we definitely noticed a color change. The silty band of brackish water went on for at least a couple of miles.

We had gotten a slightly later start than we’d hoped, with addled Jazz in slow mode, so we ended up anchoring in Puerto Velero in the dark. That was fine, though, as the anchorage is huge and open. It’s so huge, in fact, that getting in required a full hour of motoring into the wind, which is not Villa’s best direction. But we got to see an unobstructed sunset, and Captain got to wander around the boat without a harness again.

As we were dropping anchor, we found out that we’d cursed ourselves when packing the chain away. Instead of feeding it through the gypsy, we had just stacked it into the chain locker, and since the chain had just been through a shaker, it turned out that it was super twisted. So dropping it meant working a quickly growing knot of chain away from the windlass, which meant that instead of our usual 235 feet, we had access to maybe sixty before the knot got overwhelming. Oops. Fortunately the bay at Puerto Velero was fairly shallow, and we dropped in about ten feet of water.

We got an early start the next day, and had a pleasantly surfy sail into Cartagena.

The charts are a little ambiguous about the Boca Grande entrance; is there a wall right under the surface? Reports differ! But the channel seemed fine coming in, and we motored past Boca Grande and into the mouth of the harbor.

We dropped anchor in ten feet, technically outside the anchorage area though nobody else seemed to particularly care about the lines, and watched our neighbor (tied to the channel marker) take a dump off the side of his boat as we paid out chain. The anchorage lived up to this greeting, with a constant stream of tour boats either blasting by at top speed, or passing feet from out boat with drivers’ gazes fixed down at their phones.

That night, we tried to watch Encanto for the first time, feeling thematic since it’s set in Colombia, and pretty happy about being on the move again. And then Jazz spilled an entire glass of wine directly into Andrew’s laptop keyboard, abruptly ending the movie and starting the clock on what would end up being an incredibly frustrating 58-day repair saga that may get its own post later.

Needless to say, despite the pretty skyline, we did not much care for this anchorage, and were happy to leave the next morning and motor the couple of miles south to our haul-out at Ferroalquimar.

Not entirely certain where the channel was, we picked a northern approach, which was snug enough that we had to ask a docked boat to throttle down as we passed so as not to shoot us into the mangroves with their prop-wash. But we made it through, and only waited a few minutes for the previous boat to clear before it was our turn to nose into the travellift and become a treehouse again.


  1. Lovely journey. I loved the part about the man dumping off the side of his boat, so sorry your PC took a wine bath.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.