16th OcCartagena de Indias, Cartagena, Colombia – Isla Tintipan, Colombia via Cienaga de Cholon, Colombiatober 2022
Paperwork is unavoidable. In everything we do paperwork follows us. Sometimes this paperwork open doors, other times it firmly shuts them. Having completed all the paperwork in Colombia the door wasn’t quite closed, but it was slowly swinging shut and we knew our time in Colombia was coming to an end.
As if to mark this ending with a bang the navy in Cartagena were in full flourish as we started heading south. Submarines were dressed overall; salutes were being made and bell bottom clad crewmen lined the decks. Unfortunately, all these stealthy machines were not just on the docks they were also floating about and always seemed to be in our way. We couldn’t work out which way round they were pointing, how far they extended underwater and most importantly if they were a danger to us. For miles they followed us and every time we thought we were free one would literally pop up from nowhere.
As soon as these manmade stealthy creatures disappeared, they were replaced with natural ones. Dolphins leapt and jumped around us, endlessly amused by the simple pleasure of our bow wave and were endlessly amused by their simple antics. As we put the camera underwater everything looked serene and easy as they whisked around at breakneck speeds and missed us and each other by mere inches.
With nightfall coming things above the water were not looking a serene as below. Even in the protected flat water of Cienaga de Cholon we knew that we could be in for a scary night. Clouds looked threatening and built to tremendous heights, towering above Ruffian and making us feel small. As darkness came the first rumbles of thunder started and lightening sliced across the horizon making the clouds look they were being shattered in 1000’s of pieces.
As the night wore on the lightening moved closer and the strikes pelted the ground around us. The thunder shook Ruffian’s mast and reverberated through her hull and all we could do was wait. The hours passed and thankfully all we were left with in the morning were sleepy heads and very clean decks.
Sailing into Tintipan the fear we felt the night before had faded to nothing as new fear was rising. Tintipan is surrounded by reefs and even the official Colombian charts didn’t shed any light on where we could find safe water. Just saying ‘Here be beasties’ would have been as helpful as everything they contained. With our hearts in our mouths, we approached the scary entrance and out of nowhere a saviour appeared. Free Spirit was tucked up in the safe water of the mangroves and Wiebe had come out in his dinghy to guide us in, show us the dangers and welcome us into the serenity.
Nothing disturbed the water inside the mangroves and we could have been floating on a mirror. These were the conditions that we needed to attend to a long-needed chore that Ruffian had been crying out for.
Ever since last Autumn when we put Ruffian back in the water in Portimão the anodes which protect her propellor, shaft and hull had been slowly rotting away and now we could finally change them. The usual process for changing anodes is to lift the boat out of the water, undo some nuts and bolts and simply bolt new anodes in place. We however, in true Ruffian style, were doing this in the water with all the dangers this entails.
Some of the dangers were catastrophic like dropping the anode components, tools or critical nuts and bolts, others were less worrying like getting caught underwater and drowning, or tangled in ropes and drowning or Iain simply being too ambitious with his breath holding and, errrr, drowning.
Above the water we spoke about the intricate process of installing the anodes and with Fiona on deck keeping an eye on things Iain dived time and again working upside down with tools tied to his wrists and anodes tied to the boat and bolts tied to the anodes. Slowly the remnants of the old anodes were removed and shiny new ones installed all without losing any tools or any loss of life. Now the process of managed rotting can start all over again.
With nights spent at Cienaga de Cholon and Islas Tintipan and more days to spend at Isla San Bernardo, Cispata, Isla Fuerte and Sapzurro there is a need to continue to move on. The door that the paper work started to close is starting to shut and there is still so much more to see.
If you see this after your page is loaded completely, leafletJS files are missing.