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Cartagena de Indias: Leaving a boat for a long period of time

By SV Ganesh — last modified Jun 24, 2014 11:22 AM

Published: 2014-06-19 23:00:00
Countries: Colombia

Cartagena	 de Indias: Leaving a boat for a long period of time

SY Ganesh at Club Nautico

Our experience in Cartagena de Indias

Cartagena de Indias is one of the most beautiful cities we have ever seen and there is no doubt that it is worth spending a long time there with your vessel. However, after having left our boat Ganesh there for about 10 months, we are not sure that we would consider Cartagena the ideal location where to leave a yacht for a longer period.

Marinas in Cartagena

In Cartagena there are two marinas where you can moor a sailing vessel. Both are located in Manga, a residential area not far away from the old town ("Centro").

The first one is the exclusive Club de Pesca, expensive and elegant, equipped with every comfort, where rich Carthaginians keep their yachts and where it is difficult to find a slip for a vessel in transit.

Club Nautico

Club Facilities: The other is the Club Nautico, which has undergone several ups and downs during the last years. When we arrived in 2013 the docks were quite shabby and the on shore area was a dusty yard full of rubble. There were two chemical WCs and an open air shower.

When we came back this year (March 2014) we found out that the construction work on the ground had made a lot of progress and that there was an air-conditioned office, but with regard to the facilities there was still a lot to be done. WCs and showers were still under construction and you had to manage on your boat. However we bet that by May or June facilities should be settled.

Docking: The mooring system is quite peculiar: there are mooring posts, but to get one you must wait for Kiko, "el chico del muello" (the docks guy) to catch a rope from your boat and attach it to the mooring post. For this purpose you must have quite a long rope ready.

Another peculiarity of the Club Nautico is that they do not accept yachts arriving during lunch time (from 12 to 2 pm) nor on Saturday afternoon and Sunday. During these times, however, if you want you can moor by yourselves, using the anchor.

If you prefer to anchor in front of the Club, you can take advantage of the dinghy dock bypaying a small daily or weekly rate.

That said the Club Nautico is a very nice place, where you can meet sailors from all around the world and you can find able workers ready to help you solve your problems.

Facilities ashore: There is a Carulla supermarket a few meters from the Club Nautico, where you can find a laundry and almost everything you need. Three ship chandlers are located on the promenade, a few steps from the Club. The historical town is about 20 min walk from the Club.

Long term mooring here: You can leave your boat moored at the Club Nautico for long periods, but be prepared to find your hull transformed in a underwater forest when you come back. In this case Kico would be happy to help you clean it underwater.

Hauling Out: Problems arise if you want to leave your boat on the hard. Up to one year ago there were three yards ready to store your boat. But now Ferroalquimar doesn't accept private yachts any more, as they decided to deal only with commercial crafts. As per Manzanillo, last year the owner Maurizio took us around for a long time, telling us that for the moment there was no place, but to call him back in a couple of days , then "we will see...". In this way he kept us waiting for more then 2 weeks, always telling us to call again in a few days, ending up with declaring that as a matter of fact he didn't intend to store more yachts as it was more convenient for him to haul out, paint and splash, rather then to keep boats on the hard. He just could have taken this decision 2 weeks earlier...

Todomar: So the only yard that will haul you out is Todomar, that for this reason can make the prices they want. And we found that the prices are quite high compared to what they offer. It is a big yard where they build fibreglass offshore yachts, and it has a travel-lift and plenty of space to keep boats on the hard. Located about 20 km from the centre, it is dusty during the dry season and muddy during the wet season. Definitely not a pleasant place to live on board. After 8 months, in spite of the coverage we had installed to protect the boat, we found our Ganesh dirty as she had never been before. The mast and the forestay, that were not protected, were covered by a thick coat of black dust.

Aside from that, however, the boat remains safe and the yard is a good one, with also a small ship chandler with the essentials. Another plus point is the foreman Johnny Melendez, competent, friendly and helpful. No English, I am afraid.

Baranquilla, Puerto Velero: North from Cartagena, in Baranquilla, a new marina is under construction: Puerto Velero. Last year we were told that a large open space for storage on the hard would be ready by the end of the year (2013). This year we have been told the same thing. Being curious we went to see, and we found out that the marina is located in an isolated and very windy area. We asked to visit the marina but we were not allowed to enter. No travel-lift to be seen.

Santa Marta: Further N in the town of Santa Marta there is a beautiful marina. There is a travel-lift, but no space to store boats on the hard.

Service Recommendations

Cartagena is a really good location to do some works on your boat. We found excellent craftsmen and technicians, labour is usually well done and for very convenient prices. In this regard we would like to mention:
• Engine: the engineer Elvis Castro (El Prof), good, attentive, and extremely honest, he knows what to do. And , which is very rare in Colombia, he respects his schedule. Tel. 313 5237843
• Upholstery: the brothers Esteban and Nestor Perez do excellent work at unbeatable prices. Take the chance to renew the upholstery of the boat, the bimini top, tarps, etc.. Tel. 310 6514545 o 317 7729948.
• Computer. Mr. Felix Malo can install a wi-fi antenna on your boat and take care for some pc repairs. Tel. 311 4105647
• Liferaft.: ASTEMAR, liferaft revision (Viking dealer, but review also other brands). Kind, knowledgeable, very helpful. Tel. 035 6628773
• Antifouling. We had our antifouling applied by a young man who offers his work in Todomar: Deime, tel. 3126222602. The painting work was done properly and at a reasonable price. If your yacht is an aluminium one pay attention that the antifouling for aluminium boats is difficult to be found. You will have to order it and it will take its time (at least 2-3 month). Therefore order it in time. We ordered it at Tienda Acuatica, Tel. 035
6605338.
• Batteries. You can order your batteries to Mr. Fernando Cammaert , Energias Alternas, tel. 313 5852214, mail: contactenos@energiasalternas.com.co. (fluent English). Fernando is the only one that sells VAT free batteries for yachts in transit. Unfortunately the company does not accept payments with credit cards, which makes the purchase more complicated. Otherwise you can turn to MULTIELECTRICOS (Tel. 035 656-2111), they are very serious and the prices are honest. If you have to order the batteries, be prepared to
wait.
• Customs. Customs agent David Arroyo , tel. 313 5230742, mail: alasmarltda@hotmail.com, was of great help. Polite, quick and helpful. If you have to order some items, keep in mind that it will take time. Consider at least twice the time that the dealer will tell you. If you are lucky....The antifouling painting that we had ordered by mail one and a half month before leaving for Cartagena, arrived one month after we got there!

Money

To get a significant amount of cash in Cartagena might be difficult. Cash dispensers are often out of service or might not accept your credit card. Even if they work properly most of the machines will not allow you to withdraw more then 3-400.000 COP. We could not find a bank that changes Euro (maybe with US$ it would be easier?), nor that allows you to withdraw cash through your credit card. There are some Western Union offices (one is in the Carulla supermarket near the Club Nautico), but they apply rather disadvantageous rates. There are also some Currency Exchanges in the Centre, near the "Torre del Relojo". Their rates may be more advantageous.

Lilia & Roberto
S.V. GANESH

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