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Old 06-19-2012, 05:46 PM   #1
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Colombia to Aruba

We were finally able to break the hold that Colombia had on us and leave for Aruba. The first ~95% of the trip was almost too good to be true. It was a bit rough when we first left Santa Marta but things calmed as predicted. We stopped briefly at Cabo de la Vela to get Morgan to shore (what a lucky dog!) then continued on. We ran into some big seas (9 feet at 8 seconds) as we rounded the cape, but winds were light and we rode the waves quite comfortably. Once we got around the cape, all was great again. We even baked corn bread to go with dinner that night. We were feeling pretty lucky till about 3 am on Monday when the winds went from less than 10 to over 20 kts, then built to 30 with gusts in the 40's (on the nose naturally) and of course the seas to go with the winds. It took us 5 hours to cover those last 18 miles; yet nothing broke or failed, so it was a good trip.

Checking into a new country is always an experience and we were not disappointed. The Coast Guard came first for an inspection once we tied alongside the government dock. They had stopped us about 8 miles out but it was too rough for them to board. Immigrations was quick and easy and we left with a 30 day visa that can be easily extended. Customs arrived with 6 inspectors and a dog. 1/2 hour into the inspection I asked if the level of effort had anything to do with us just coming from Colombia. They all looked at me and said "of course! laughed and continued on. You could easily identify the low man on the totem pole; he was the guy who spent 15 minutes in the very hot engine room. They were all very polite, inquisitive about our travels, and just doing their job.

The only problem we had was while in the customs office filling out forms. They asked if we had anything to declare and we told them that we had spirits (liquor, wine and beer) all over the limit and meat (restricted from Colombia). They said, that's ok because you have to eat and drink. Then they asked about guns, no; ammunition, no; spear gun, yes; oops - wrong answer. They said that they were going to have to take the spear gun and destroy it since spear guns of any type are illegal in Aruba. I said, "Were a yacht in transit; if we had a gun and declared it you would hold it till we left so why would you destroy a spear gun"? Lena even suggested they really only wanted the spear gun so they could sell it on EBay. Nothing like a little humor to smooth things out. The Customs boss didn't laugh. After many phone calls and lots of back and forth conversation, they finally agreed to hold the spear gun till we left. They even gave us a receipt so we may actually get it back. New law, who knows, maybe too much sun.

How long are we here for? Good question. When we arrived in Santa Marta, we said wed stay one week and then we'd start looking for a weather window. Two days short of 6 weeks we left. We're here for a week and then we start looking for a
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Old 06-19-2012, 06:15 PM   #2
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Great story thank you for sharing that! I hope you do get your spear gun back.
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Old 06-19-2012, 06:40 PM   #3
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What an adventure...I fantasize cruising the Caribbean but our little Manatee shudders at the thought.

Where to after Aruba? We’ll be diving Bonaire Oct 6-19th.
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Old 06-19-2012, 06:55 PM   #4
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That's real cruising, Larry. Love hearing about it. Pictures follow?
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Old 06-20-2012, 04:36 PM   #5
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Great story thank you for sharing that! I hope you do get your spear gun back.
Thanks. If we don't get the gun back we'll live. We still have the Hawaiian sling that Customs didn't bother with and it was on the back deck. Who can figure.

The last time we were in the Caribbean we did not use the spear gun much since most countries on this side frown on their use. The Bahamas was quite clear that spear guns aren't allowed but slings are.
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Old 06-20-2012, 04:59 PM   #6
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What an adventure...I fantasize cruising the Caribbean but our little Manatee shudders at the thought.

Where to after Aruba? Well be diving Bonaire Oct 6-19th.
You'd do great in the Caribbean. We met a retired couple in Colombia who bought a Cruiser Yacht 3750 with twin gas in Florida. They basically day hopped their way there and they don't even have an autopilot.

After Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, the outer islands of Venezuela (insurance won't let us on the mainland) and then Trinidad for some cosmetics on Hobo. At the rate were going we may see you in Bonaire.
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Old 06-20-2012, 05:31 PM   #7
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Larry do you have long range comunication equipment Ham SSB or sat onboard? Great trip reports, will you return to the US island hopping back up the Eastern Carribean Islands ?
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Old 06-20-2012, 08:31 PM   #8
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Larry do you have long range comunication equipment Ham SSB or sat onboard? Great trip reports, will you return to the US island hopping back up the Eastern Carribean Islands ?
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Steve: We have SSB/ham radio with a Pactor III modem; no sat phone. Lena has her ham license so we use Airmail. We are able to get more weather information than we can use plus emails at no cost and the SSB/Ham nets are an easy way to stay in touch with friends.

We'll get back to the US as you said. We did the same trip in 2005 on our last boat. This time we'll spend more time at our favorites spots.
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Old 06-21-2012, 05:22 PM   #9
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Larry,
Any danger down there?

You hear stories.
Are you safe?
I cruse in some pretty remote areas but there are no people or foreign countries.
Or pirates of the Carribean.
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Old 06-21-2012, 09:11 PM   #10
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Larry,
Any danger down there?
No more than you'd encounter in any US city. Remote is remote and down here remote pretty much equals safe. But there is a basic level of care you have to take being in a foreign city - which is not that different from that you'd take in any city in the US.

Pirates however... We've also heard so much but haven't seen one yet. But you learn about it when you get close to pirate territory (the coconut telegraph is a fine tool) and you either redirect your route or take extra care. Venezuela is now a 'hot' area where people are so desperate they've attacked visiting yachts. But even that warning holds true only for certain areas (e.g., Margarita) while other areas (e.g., the Aves) remain safe. Maybe we've just been lucky so far, but common sense and talking to other cruisers seems to work.

And maybe a big black dog isn't a bad idea either.
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