Saturday, January 13, 2018

Jamaica 2017

I'm finally catching up with some blog posts as well as re-posting many of our earlier photos. It was just brought to my attention today that many of our early photos were missing due to Photobucket now trying to make people pay an astonishing $399 per year to use their service (which for many years has been free). Ripoff alert! So, no more Photobucket for me!

Sirena left Cartagena, Colombia bound for Kingstown, Jamaica on April 11, 2017 with sunny, clear sky and light wind. I was sad to say goodbye to this city that had been so welcoming to us, but looking forward to being on the move again!

DAY 1 Caribbean Sea Crossing

We exited Cartagena Bay and almost immediately felt the effect of the ever present wind. Just a week prior a sailboat from our marina had been lost at sea and the Captian drowned. This was going to be a rough crossing and we knew it. No matter how carefully you choose the weather window, the area just north of Cartagena is infamous for wind, waves, and lots of current. We sailed in wind 25 knots gusting to 28 knots and 9-12 ft seas.

Around 15:30 we passed a drifting 472 ft cargo ship that was transmitting AIS but status listed as "Not Under Command" and it appeared abandoned. The name POLESTAR was on the side. Kinda scary thinking of something that large just floating around out here. It reminds us why there is always someone on watch!

We brought along one crew member, Ryan, a backpacker we met in Cartagena, to help keep watch. Unfortunately he was so sea sick he was not much help! Chris took the majority of the watch during the day and we rotated at night with someone always staying with Ryan because he was inexperienced. The sea and wind were rough the first day and night. We had constant waves crashing over the dodger and washing the deck. Wind tracked from 45 degrees to about 60 degrees as we progressed North, but the 25 knots remained almost constant. We sailed as close to the wind as possible to gain enough easting prior to hitting the adverse current on day two. My log notes from watch that night were simply, "hellish night".

Day 2-3 Caribbean Sea Crossing

The wind calmed a bit and we sailed for two days at 7.5 knots with sunny skies and a dolphin escort. Everyone was feeling a little better by the second day. Wind was 16-18 knots at 60-65 degrees true. Adverse current did not effect us as much as anticipated but it was good that we had the easting as it put us on line for calmer weather overnight.

Day 4 Arrival in Jamaica April 14

We sailed slowly through the second night so as to arrive at Kingston Harbor in full daylight. Officials greeted us at the Royal Jamaica Yacht Club and entry was uneventful. I had been concerned about bringing Ninja, but the officials did not seem interested so long as he remained on the boat.

The Royal Jamaican Yacht Club

Royal Jamaican Yacht Club Contact info 2017

 Royal Jamaican Yacht Club dates from 1901

We had to stay at the fuel dock here because the slips are mostly for smaller vessels. The bar and restaurant and swimming pool were very nice (although expensive) but the marina was shallow and electricity was iffy. Laundry facilities were the worst we had encountered to date with one dilapidated machine and no dryer. These days, RJYC  is a yacht club mostly for local fishing boats and a few smaller sailboats. The occasional cruiser who finds themselves on this side of the island will have to make due. The marina staff is helpful and we were driven into the town by a trustworthy taxi driver who accompanied us to the local grocery and KFC. Entry in and out was accomplished with little trouble and so long as our cat stayed aboard there were no issues with him either. It was a relaxing stopover on our way North.

View of Kingston Harbor from Royal Jamaican Yacht Club Bar

Royal Jamaican Yacht Club Pool

 RJYC Clubhouse with awards dating back to early 1900's

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Cartagena, Colombia Shopping

My shopping partner, Irma, and I set out to see what was to be found in the walled city of Cartagena, Colombia on a day of shopping. We started this trip in the colorful shopping plaza of Las Bovedas "the Vaults", a series of arch topped cells along the northeastern wall of the city along the Caribbean Sea. Built in the early 1790's these fortifications were used to store munitions and provisions prior to becoming prison cells in later times. Today each of the twenty three long, narrow, arch-roofed cells houses a shop overflowing with colorful goods made in Colombia.

Plaza de Las Bovedas

Hand woven bags.

Colorful hammocks.

This would certainly scare the cat!

Someone finally came up with a good use for all those Molas they make in San Blas!

Of course what would Cartagena be without the famous jewelry shops? Seemingly every street has at least a few stores offering various qualities of emerald and gold jewelry, mostly emeralds set in 18K gold, 14K white gold or Sterling Silver "Plata". Quality varies widely and prices are high, so buyer beware. Educate before you go and bargain hard or you will be paying way too much. Don't be afraid to walk away and come back the next day for a better deal.

Irma shops for an emerald ring while Bob looks on worriedly. 

Lots of gold to be found as well!

On to the next street in search of treasures.

Colorful buildings abound.

At last we find the one and only antique shop in town. 

My love for ancient treasures has taken me in search of antique shops throughout our journey. Unfortunately, they have been  few and far between in our ports of call. 
All that shopping worked up a mighty big thirst!

Is it the one?
Irma declares success at last and shows off her new emerald and diamond ring.

We rendezvous with the guys at the KGB bar where apparently the Soviet Union dumped all of their memorabilia from the 1980's. 

Hey, Bob...whose that looking over your shoulder?

Marching on...

C'mon take the picture already! I'm hungry.

Down the street is an eclectic mix of decor at this Argentine themed restaurant. 
Very popular for good quality beef!

Fireworks are plentiful here with a lavish display at least a couple time each week.

So ends a successful day in the walled city of Cartagena, Colombia.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Tour of Convent de la Popa

One of our day tours was to a popular attraction the locals call, "La Popa", short for the Convent de la Popa built in honor of Nuestra Señora de La Candelaria, the patroness of the city of Cartagena. 

Perched atop the tallest hill overlooking the city, the convent was originally built in 1608. The story goes that an Augustinian monk Friar Alonso de la Cruz Paredes said the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and ordered him to build a church on the hill closest to Cartagena in order to bring the Christian faith back to the people. Local mulattoes were said to worship a goat, a statue and shrine to which previously occupied the hill. But the monk threw the idol from the mountain and built the chapel in its place. The convent has a commanding view of the city and surrounding area. Today it is a restored chapel and religious museum open to visitors from around the world. 

Modern Cartagena with the peninsula of Boca Grande (where all of the fancy hotels are located).

Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas sits surrounded by modern Cartagena.

Old walled city, now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Marina Club de Pesca (center) in the inner harbor. Caribbean Sea in the distance.

The convent is built like a galley "la papa" with the chapel at one end and a central garden surrounded by living quarters. An old well occupies the center of the courtyard.

Chapel built in honor of Nuestra Señora de La Candelaria, the patroness of the city of Cartagena.

The bottom floor of the convent has been turned into a museum which houses historical documents, maps, and religious items.

Bones found on site during restoration of the convent.

Gowns used to dress the statue in the chapel for various celebrations.

Lists of the Superiors of the Convent through the ages.

Photo of the deteriorated convent prior to restoration in the 1960's

Convent today.

Of course I had to notice the skinny kitty wandering the grounds. I followed her to try to get a photo but she disappeared into an old piano and this is what came tumbling out to greet her...

Awwwwwww...too cute!

Safe haven for kittens.