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After having a great turkey day with 90 of our friends and fellow cruisers, we set out again on our quest for more beautiful people and places. We had a great "dog and pony show" as we had so many helpers shoving us off with each one listening to a different drummer that it looked like we were going to take the next boat with us. Either they all wanted to see us off in style, or they were all anxious to see us leave.
There are two entrances to Cartagena. We came in Boca Chica where two Spanish forts, one on each side of the harbour still keep guard and where the Spanish used to put a giant chain across, and we decided to leave through Boca Grande; however, we couln't find the buoys marking the undersea wall which the Spanish had constructed to keep out enemy ships. It was supposed to be marked with a red buoy and a black buoy. We saw what we thought were red and black buoys only to find upon closer inspection that they were two dugout sailboats luring us into shallow water for a tow fee it seems. Our first heart thumper. We finally had to turn around and head for the well marked shipping lanes through Boca Chica.
The ocean seemed much rougher than the weather fax had indicated; everyone had said the first 24 hours out of Cartagena are hard, but the second wasn't getting any better. Jerry brought down a weatherfax which indicated 8 foot seas and they were. We finally decided to head for the nearest port after 36 hours of continuous dipping and swooping. This would put us in a following sea and was it ever following. Looking back the waves were as high as our dinghy davits; they looked like they were coming in. Grace would lift her stern at about 6 knots, shake it a little or a lot, then surf down the waves at a good 8+ knots. It could have been fun except for the rain, the lightning and the thunder. Oh, how I wish I had insisted on curtains for the cockpit.
We arrived at Portobelo's beautiful calm harbour. Our friends Emmanuestra were here to greet us and invite us for dinner. We will rest, try to dry out for 2 days, head for Colon where I can call everyone, fill with diesel and try again for San Andreas.
- 26 November 2001