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Thursday, August 22, 2013

August 22, 2013-Two of a kind, and Other Coincidences

Two of a Kind

Ed Dubois is a sailboat designer from England, race boats mainly, and you don't see too many of them out here among the cruising fleet, but sometimes they turn up and I always like seeing them; they have nice lines.

So it was a coincidence to see these two tied alongside of each other here at Club Nautico: Victory, an old Ed Dubois IOR 43 race boat and an un-named Wauquiez Centurion 49. I love the shape of the transom on these boats; beautiful.

But the coincidence does not stop there. Victory I know from before. In 1984 I sailed in the San Francisco Big Boat Series on Bill Rudolph's Challenger and that regatta was the first time I saw Wings, when Roger Hall owned her, a year before Judy and I bought her. She was parked right alongside Victory and both boats were racing in that regatta. Neither did particularly well but I liked their looks and dreamed of owning a boat like that. Little did I know at that time that a year later Roger would put Wings up for sale and Judy and I would wind up buying her. We are not exactly tied up next to Victory now, but as far as I know, that was the last time, and the only time before today, that Wings and Victory have been in the same marina together.

Those were some good days; the Big Boat Series in 1984. There were 68 IOR boats racing, one third of them were Doug Peterson designs including Wings and in fact there were 12 Serendipity 43's or other Peterson two tonners. The racing was close and exciting. I didn't have much of a role on Challenger, Keith Lorence was driving and he took me along as rail weight and to look after the owner. I remember one wild spinnaker jibe right in front of St Francis when Challenger rolled down until the mast was in the water, as well as me, still holding onto the stern pulpit 3 feet under the surface. I remember looking up at Bill, the owner, who was looking down at me, underwater, and I was thinking, probably Bill was too, "OK Keith, you can stand it up now."

Many of the boats from Big Boat that year wound up in Seattle and Judy and I sailed Wings against all of them at one time or another. They included Glory, High Noon, Chimo, Flying Machine, Challenger, Blade Runner, Earl of Mar, Whistle Wing V, Carissa, and Ondine (Atalanta).

I rather enjoy coincidences and this year we've had a few. In addition to seeing Victory again, while we were in Bonaire we ran into Andy and Greta, whom we last saw in Gizo, Solomon Islands, in 2002. Andy and Greta, who are now operating a big power yacht for a Floridian surgeon, happened to be in Bonaire when we pulled in and they recognized Wings from 12 years before . While we were getting re-acquainted with them another couple pulled up in their dingy and stuck their heads over the side of our deck and asked if it was Fred & Judy? That was Jan Eckmann and her husband Dave who, while we'd never met before, had a connection to us from Seattle. Jan worked at Bank of America in the same department as I worked in years ago, though at different times, and my old boss, Cathy Ackert used to always tell me I should look up Jan 'cause she was out there sailing around the world just like we were. Well, Jan saw Wings and she came over to see if it was Fred & Judy, and it was!

Just recently, since we have been in Cartagena, we had another one of these wonderful coincidences.

We'd been walking the shopping center in Cartagena one day and we stopped in a bar for a cold beer and they had music videos on. I looked up at the big screen and recognized the song that was being shown. It was Led Zeppelin, from the 60's, doing Stairway to Heaven. I had never before seen that particular Led Zeppelin video but I saw the original performance, live, back years ago and I recognized it immediately by the lighting and the sound, the same blue lighted fog, the same back spotlight on Robert Plant's big hairdo. It was at the Seattle Center Coliseum in Seattle in 1969 and I took some photos at that show. They're still around the family somewhere. They look just like the video. images-

You Tube-Stairway to Heaven (1973)

I thought that this was really cool, in 2013, in Cartagena, to see that particular performance from Seattle, after all those years.

But there was more coolness to come.

Back at the marina we saw Kenny, a boater like us, lounging on the back of his boat and we stopped to talk.

We told Kenny about the coincidence of the video.

His answer blew us away.

"Hey, I was there man, I was light and sound for that show!"

He told us how he stood back stage between two giant speakers and worked the light console himself while his guys did the spots and other of his guys worked the sound boards.

" I did all the shows that year for them."

Too much.

But the coincidence I like to tell about the most happened in Hong Kong in 2005.

Two friends of ours, Murray and Allison from the yacht Kokomo, were visiting and while we were at a coffee shop in Mon Kok we heard a song playing that we all recognized, but we could not remember who the artist was. The words to the song, you will all recognize, as we did, go, "if you come to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair...".

When we got back to the boat I did a google search on the Internet and found the song which was San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) and that it was sung by Scott McKenzie and we all said, "Oh yeah, sure, we remember, how could we have forgotten that?" But while we were laughing about that and remembering where we were in 1967 when that song came out, I searched further for Scott McKenzie, and I found something else, something so delightful and fun that I almost fell off of my chair.

Looking up from my computer screen I turned to Alison and Murray, from the yacht Kokomo, and I asked, "Do you know what other real famous song Scott McKenzie did?"
They said no, they didn't.

I said, "It was a Beach Boys song, which McKenzie co-wrote with Tom Love and the other members of the Beach Boys band, in 1988. It was called Kokomo."

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Cartagena

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

August 15, 2013-Report from Club Nautico

Main Dock, Club Nautico

Imagine our surprise when, after months of hearing rumors that Club Nautico, in Cartagena, was out of business, we arrived in July and found Club Nautico to be a bustling and busy marina in full operation, with sturdy docks, good moorings and water and power. Despite what the cruisers in the rest of the Caribbean were saying, Club Nautico is not defunct, out of business, decrepit, falling apart, or controlled by cartels. It is packed full, all abuzz with activity of all sorts including significant progress on the new buildings, which are close to being ready for occupancy, and which appear to be quite upscale. The office will probably occupy its new space in the new building by late August. The bar and restaurant, based on the progress at this time, will open later in 2013. Unfortunately the showers and bathroom for the cruisers look to be completed last, as they are dependent on razing of one old structure which is still in use (the office).

Knowing that Club Nautico was going to be the best spot to base ourselves if we wanted to explore Cartagena, we were happy to find Club Nautico up and running and we were determined to get a spot here. The only alternatives were to anchor in the harbor or try Club De Pesca, which is also full and reported to be more expensive.

Not being able to reach anyone in the office by phone or VHF (this is probably a language issue), and not wishing anchor out and put together the dingy in Cartagena's heat and humidity, we wondered how to get a berth at the dock. However, we spotted a place at the corner of the dock where we thought we could squeeze in and we simply dropped the hook and backed in. A boat worker nearby took our lines. Ashore we located the marina owner Pablo Bennett, and found him to be helpful and speaking excellent English ( rare in Cartagena,). He chuckled when he saw where we were tied but he allowed us to stay there, had the power box modified to give us a connection and meter, and even had his guys put down a new mooring screw and heavy lines to make us safer when the squalls come (more on the squalls below). They helped us recover our anchor which we didn't want to leave down due to the reportedly rapid and thick growth which would accumulate on the chain.

Pablo Bennett

It turns out that few cruisers come into Club Nautico, most choose to anchor off the marina and use the marina dingy dock for access to the town and for fresh water; we are not sure why, maybe backing in is just too hard. The mix of boats here makes it interesting and busy. Many of the boats in the marina are either long term live-aboards, parked yachts of wealthy Colombians or Panamanians, or charter boats shuttling backpackers to the San Blas Islands.

Club Nautico is Pablo's family's business, has been for a long time, and it looks like it will be for a good while in the future too.

Culo de Pollo (Serious squalls in Cartagena)

Wave action and weather conditions can make Club de Nautico unpleasant at times. The worst problem are the occasional Culo de Pollo which means "Ass of the Chicken", which is the name that has been given to the violent squalls which hit Cartagena during the wet season, as often as once a month. They come suddenly and carry winds of 40 knots or more, but last only a few minutes. Other squalls, less severe, but more frequent, last long enough to allow a wave action to build. In addition, there are constant boat wakes which rock the boats at Club Nautico (and, to a lesser degree, Club de Pesca). Fortunately, except for the Culo de Pollos, which seem to prefer 04:00 for their arrivals, the nights are calm.

For all these reasons tying up to the concrete piers at Club Nautico is tricky. There is room for about 50 boats, most tied either stern to or bow in with the outboard end on underwater moorings. Boats must be well secured and far enough away from the dock to prevent damage when the wind and waves come. Fortunately the marina has good mooring blocks and "tornillos" (mooring screws). Most boats are tied up about 6 feet from the dock and long "diving board" planks are used to allow access. This makes coming and going from your boat quite an adventure and makes one think twice about arriving home inebriated after a night in the town. It is important to have multiple lines to the moorings. The marina helps with this.

Lines left in the water accumulate heavy growth in about one week. Rotating lines and cleaning them is a good idea.

The Manga Neighborhood

The possibility of these Culo de Pollos makes us very leery about leaving the boat here, or even in the anchorage where dragging is common. For inland travelling we think Santa Marta or Puerto Valero would be safer. In fact, we keep an eye on the sky when we are in town and if thunderstorm activity looks likely we hurry back.

Click here for more Club Nautico Images

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Cartagena

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