Fork ‘andles.

Scrubbing left to right.

10th October 2022

Cartagena de Indias, Cartagena, Colombia – Cartagena de Indias, Cartagena, Colombia via Cholon, Colombia & Isla Grand, Colombia

Every week the comic geniuses of ‘The 2 Ronnies’ signed off with ‘It’s Goodbye from me, and it’s a goodbye from him’*. In the previous hours they’d effortlessly amused their viewers with skits about ‘Fork handles/four candles’, Hovis adverts and jumbled words while ordering drinks. None of this was possible without days of preparation and hard work. We feel like the 2 Ronnies as after days of prep and hardwork but now its a ‘Goodbye from me and a goodbye from him.’** to Colombia.

The preparation for our departure started as soon as our anchor dug into the thick mud in Cartagena and we ventured ashore into the bliss of the air conditioning of Club De Pesca. Even with all our technology powered up the air conditioning didn’t blink as laptops fired emails, iPhones updated, data downloaded and tablets crunched numbers. We knew that in weeks to come connectivity would be non-existent and we had to prepare for it.

Along with lack of connectivity we knew we were heading to a place with a lack of support and lack of infrastructure, Ruffian therefore had to be full of anything and everything we’d need. Inventories were taken of medicines and pharmacies visited, food stocktakes were made and supermarkets emptied and every available container was filled with petrol, diesel, oil, and other suitably environmentally unfriendly liquids.

As Ruffian was being filled and her waterline becoming lower, we knew that Ruffian also needed some preparation for her trip south. The water in Cartagena seems to be so full of nutrients that barnacles appear overnight, you can almost hear the weed grow and coral, which usually requires a pristine marine environment, is happy to attach itself to noxious antifoul. All this needed removing.

Sitting alone in the calm clear water of Cholon we plunged into what felt like a bath and set about our chore. Hour after hour we scraped, scrubbed, and attacked every critter that felt they’d found a new home. In their final death throws, as they sunk into the depths, they were quickly gobbled up by the fish that had been patiently waiting. Hopefully that’ll send a message that the only thing welcome of Ruffian’s bottom is antifoul.

With Ruffian full and chores nearly finished we now just had the ‘simple’ task of checking out of Colombia to complete. We usually take the cheap method of checking out of countries which involves lots of time, trapsing around docks into random buildings and using our best sign language and smiles to convey our needs. This time however we had an agent and everything we were assured that everything was going to be easy peasy.

In the middle of yet more provisioning, we had word from the agent that customs wanted to make an inspection and were waiting for us on the dock complete with epaulets, guns and hob nail boots. Not wanting to get of the wrong side of this first stage of officialdom we rushed back only to find that they grown bored, retired to a café and decided that email was enough.

Having got the all clear from customs, immigration now had to be tackled by surrendering our passports to our agent. We were whisked up to the top floor of a glamourous building in Cartagena where plush surroundings enveloped us and sweeping views of the bay allowed us to take our minds away from the painful fee’s that we were paying. We left with promises of our passports turning up in the morning and good weather to head south.

Still full of promise we patiently waited on the dock for the return of our passports at the appointed hour and worryingly neither they, nor the agent turned up. After frantic text messages and missed deadlines we waited again and yet again our passports where nowhere to be seen. Finally, after agonising hours knowing that our passports were MIA they finally turned up and we were all ready to head south.

With all the preparation done, Ruffian full to the brim with everything we’ll need for months to come we can Say ‘Goodbye to Colombia from me and a goodbye to Colombia from him’.

* Iain really should have done more preparation as after writing this we find that the 2 Ronnies said ‘Goodnight’ and not ‘Goodbye’.

** We’ll ley you work out which one of Iain & Fiona is Ronnie Corbert or Ronnie Barker.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

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