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Old 17-10-2010, 08:40   #1
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Update on Cartagena

We have been in Cartagena for two months and it is a delightful city below the hurricane belt. While the trip from the ABC´s to Cartagena has a bad reputation for high seas, we motored it in a dead calm! Pick your weather window. The prefered entry to the harbor is through Boca Grande which is well marked but narrow and listed at 7ft depth at low tide but I have been through it 6 times and never seen less than 9 ft.

The Old City is a marvelous place, lovely restaurants, museums and old forts. A 10 min taxi ride into the old city from the marinas costs $3 and there are more taxis than cars.

There are two marinas near town. Club De La Pesca is expensive, hard to get a slip but with great security. Club Nautico is reasonably priced, a little rough and has marginal security but allows more extensive boat work than Club De La Pesca. We are there and we have two excellent carpenters relaying, recauking and sanding my teak deck, working an industrious 8 hour day, for $100/day for the pair. Club Nautico´s docks can become very dangerous when big squalls come in from the south. We are stern to and have a 55 kilo anchor out on long scope and 3 heavy lines to the bow mooring blocks to the seaward side. Our stern is 8 ft from the dock, there is a boat on the dock with a one ft hole in her stern.

The boat yards have good inexpensive workers but charge US prices for liftout and storage and add a premium to the cost of outside contractors working on your boat. However, they do allow you to work on your own boats

The work force is excellent, hard working and competent, carpenters and fiberglassers cost $7/hour. Canvas work is good and costs 35% of US prices even paying US+50% for the sunbrella. The only service that approaches US prices is stainless steel work. If you come to get work done buy the parts and raw materials in Panama, the US or even Budget Marine in the Caribbean. This also applies to bottom paint.

Food and beer are cheap (beer is $4.50 a six pack) but imported boat parts are US+50% or more.

Cruisers are making reasonable incomes in an unofficial trade transporting backpackers from Cartagena to Panama and back. The land routes are thought to be too dangerous and the backpackers pay $250 to $400 for a 5 day trip including a 2 day layover in the San Blas islands. Even the 35 ft boats are taking up to 6 customers and there is one 45 ft cat that takes up to 12 people and 3 motor bikes. There are about 12 boats in the backpacker trade and most get customers for both legs but as more boats get into the trade competition is lowering the profit margin.

The anchorage has reasonable holding but security is marginal, the Coast Guard patrol the anchorage but the cruisers net says 20+ dinghys have been stolen this year and in the last two months there has been a stabbing of a cruiser on land, a female cruiser thrown in the harbor and this week an Ausie found a robber onboard but won the fight. More than half the violence is conected with the fact that the Columbian boats in the backpacker transport trade are resentful of the American and the German boats in the trade.

In conclusion, Cartagena is a great place to hide from hurricanes and get good work done at a third of US prices but security requires constant vigilance.
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Old 17-10-2010, 08:52   #2
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Thanks for the update.....it is much appreciated!
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Old 17-10-2010, 08:54   #3
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I've been to Bogota and Cali and some other not so nice places before. Colombia is a beautiful country. I'd like to visit the coastal cities someday. Santa Marta and Barranquilla I heard are very beautiful places to visit too. Have fun and stay safe!
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Old 17-10-2010, 08:57   #4
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Thanks for your excellent report, Phil!
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Old 19-10-2010, 18:52   #5
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I live in Cartagena, (the food is great and cheap and the women are stunning!) and I can confirm that theft is a problem. ALWAYS HOIST YOUR DINGHY/OUTBOARD AT NIGHT. Barranquilla is definitely NOT beautiful, though Santa Marta is and the area around SM is also lovely. Club de Pesca is safer (the nightwatchman is heavily armed and I have seen him shoot at a local in a dugout!). The city itself is very safe and peaceful, I personally have had no incidents in more than 10 years. Come and see, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Motley.
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Old 22-10-2010, 16:03   #6
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I forgot to mention that the Port Captain will not deal directly with cruisers and all immigration and customs matters must be done through a local agent. It is $140 for a two month stay, failure to renew resulted in one boat being confiscated and a custom demand for over $25,000.

There are two very professiona local ladies, Paola and Yesika, who live on a cruising cat called 'Little Wing' at Club Nautico that will handle the paperwork and help you get quality workers and local medical professionals.

They are contactable at cartagenacaribbean@hotmail.com
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Old 24-10-2010, 11:06   #7
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Phil,

Thanks, this is awesome info as we had been contemplating bypassing Colombia altogether.

We still owe you a drink when we catch up!

Fair Winds,
Mike
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Old 24-10-2010, 18:01   #8
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Was also just there not on a sail boat (a Navy ship this time) but would have no problem in coming back to visit when I retire. Good food, beautiful old city and lots of security. This is one of the safest places in Colombia according to embassy personnel and the US Navy visit had no incidents of any theft with the exception of some credit card fraud after we left so use cash as much as possible. Looked like a few good anchorages and Marinas around.
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Old 24-10-2010, 18:18   #9
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Thumbs up Thanks for the indepth information!

I was thinking of visiting catagena in between Cuba and Panama Canal in about two months or so.
Actually, asked a question about 1 hour ago.
Now I feel I know much better.

Thanks again.

y.lee
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Old 26-10-2010, 09:59   #10
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We definitely recommend Cartagena, where we've spend more than 12 months, off and on. It's a beautiful city.

The only disagreement we have with Moondancer's excellent summary is the cause of the thefts and assaults. The dinghy thefts are thought by the local authorities to be carried out by a ring that involves swimming out to boats from the shore. The thieves are after the outboard motor and tank, not the dinghy itself, which is too identifiable and therefore has no resale value. The underlying cause of these thefts is, of course, poverty -- Cartagena has the largest population of desperately poor people of any city in Colombia. Why such a large poor population? Ironically, because the city is so prosperous; it draws poor campesinos from the countryside, in large numbers.

So by all means visit Cartagena, keep your dinghy locked, don't wear jewelry, and take taxis at night.
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Old 26-10-2010, 10:35   #11
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Thanks, and How about security for haul out for a month or so?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Akka View Post
We definitely recommend Cartagena, where we've spend more than 12 months, off and on. It's a beautiful city.

The only disagreement we have with Moondancer's excellent summary is the cause of the thefts and assaults. The dinghy thefts are thought by the local authorities to be carried out by a ring that involves swimming out to boats from the shore. The thieves are after the outboard motor and tank, not the dinghy itself, which is too identifiable and therefore has no resale value. The underlying cause of these thefts is, of course, poverty -- Cartagena has the largest population of desperately poor people of any city in Colombia. Why such a large poor population? Ironically, because the city is so prosperous; it draws poor campesinos from the countryside, in large numbers.

So by all means visit Cartagena, keep your dinghy locked, don't wear jewelry, and take taxis at night.
-------------------------------------------------------------
Thanks so much!
Feels like I am there already.^^

My question is: how secure is it to leave the boat whether hauled out or in the water (in a marina) and go for a month or two's travel in S. America?
Would it be expensive in US standard or in Caribean or Columbian standard?
Would it be safe for the boat and things inside?

Thanks again.

y.lee
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Old 26-10-2010, 10:41   #12
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Great info, thanks Moondancer!
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Old 26-10-2010, 11:45   #13
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Security for leaving a boat in Cartagena

You can definitely leave your boat in Cartagena for S. american travel. The most secure marina is Club de Pesca (and it's also the most expensive option). If you were to eave your boat at Club Nautica, we'd advise hiring another cruiser to keep an eye on it. We left our boat there for a couple of weeks with no problems, but we've heard of others who have had thefts. There are 3 shipyards: Manzanillo, Rodomar and Ferroalquimar, and that's the order of their security. Manzanillo can take boats up to about 50 ft. and 6.5 ft depth. Its yard is always locked and patrolled by armed guards and dogs at night. Serious attention to security. The other 2 yards have similar security, but seem to have had "leaks." Ferroalquimar, in particular, had a series of thefts from unattended boats, but the culprit (an insider) was located and fired, and we've heard of no problems since. Unfortunately, this tale has spread and hurt them. We hauled our boat there, left it for a month, and had no problems. We can't give you price comparisons -- don't know US prices, and Cartagena has "wised up" and realized it was under-charging. But our guess is that it's gotta be cheaper than the US! Besides, it's such a neat place to be!!!
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Old 26-10-2010, 13:19   #14
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The yards are Florida/US prices or even more and the yard that has a very large lift that can take big cats is US++ prices. Club Nauticio is reasonable, I am paying about $600/ month for a 55 ft boat on the dock.. There is an excellent dockman named Alberto who will look after your boat. I have watched him check a boat every day at 07:15 for the last 6 weeks and if there is the slightest problem he immediately asks either myself or the Dockmaster for advice.

Certainly crime is no worse than at the yards in Chagaramus, Trinidad and Cartagena is an order of magnitude nicer.

ps the yard is Todomar.
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Old 26-10-2010, 14:28   #15
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Very good report. I have a Caribe 12 Dinghy and 15 HP Yamaha for sell in Cartagena.

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