Sailing to Cartagena
Morning came too early, but we had breakfast and soon saw the Stahlratte chugging it's way towards the island.
We boarded by launch and were on our way for 3 hours to a small island where the afternoon was spent swimming and playing in the water. Just the short trip on calm waters had a few people turning grey-green and reaching for Gravol or Dramamine.
Adrian, an engineer for BMW Motorrad in Germany
Charlie said it handled like the 1200GS
Not too shabby...
That evening about 9, after a fresh lobster and fish feast, we set on for Cartagena. There wasn't enough wind to sail, so we chugged along by diesel into the night. Most went below to the bunks but I stayed on deck in a lounge chair, sleeping on and off through the night rain-free. I awoke to stars and a brilliant moon several times, watching the swaying mast above me and rolling side to side on the deck chair with the plunging ship. Alber, one of the crew, shook me awake at some point to excitedly show me dolphins alongside the boat, jumping high into the air in the moonlight. It was an epic night under the stars.
One by one folks from below would appear in the night and try to sleep up top, then go back. The next morning found many reports of seasick folks who'd done the Technicolor Yodel that night. Probably 2/3 of the group were seasick or queasy, despite the calm waters Ludwig reported.
I was quite happy to find out that I don't get seasick and didn't need any meds. Hearing stories and seeing others launching lobster all night required me to block thinking of it to avoid a sympathetic hurl.
The next day was spent avoiding sporadic rain amidst bright sun, the slow chugging rhythm of the diesel lulling one to drowsiness.
16 bikes on this side of the ship, 5 on the other
Benjamin from France and Riccardo from Italy
Robert from England, Bas from Holland, Doug and Scott from the US
Late that afternoon, the first sight of the white skyscrapers of Cartageña peeked slowly over the curvature of the earth and excitement rose.
By dark we'd arrived in the harbor to anchor and had our final meal on board, surrounded by a beautiful night skyline. Again, the night was spent on the deck and I awoke surrounded by some of the gang.
We were sent by boat to the shore with our overnight bags to find ATM's and our hotels for the day and night. We were due to return to the same dock at 6:20 am the next morning for delivery back to the ship and a sail to the industrial docks for offloading of our gear and cases.
It was exciting to stand on the dock and watch each bike being handled on the deck then lifted off to the pier. The Stahlratte crew did a great job handling so many bikes in such tight quarters and getting them off quickly. My bike fell over on the deck while others were off-loaded. Luckily only the crash bar was bent in a bit but it felt good to watch it finally touch down on the crowded pier, one of the last two bikes!
Pigs CAN fly...
We got all our gear and cases back on the bikes in the morning heat, struggling to dig things out of the piles and find all our stuff. Bas had some excitement when he locked his keys in his tailcase and had to run to one of the dock repair crews who had some small bolt cutters. He and I struggled with it until finally the big Masterlock hoop was cut through. We managed to bend the handles of the bolt cutters but there was no way in hell Bas was giving up! He'd broken off a key in the top case a few months back and they no longer locked, so he bought a big Masterlock that would go through the handle. He'd had to unbolt all his cases earlier for the ship, which had been rigged on, and in the craziness of the scene had tossed his keys in the top case and later just snapped the lock together.
We finally rolled out for the DIAN building in traffic a few clicks away. After a couple of roundabouts on one way streets we finally found the gate and were ushered in as a group. Stragglers arrived a few minutes later and we congregated in the main parking area for paperwork. After a while we received our Temporary Import Permits and Immigration stamps in our passports.
From that point we waited for insurance papers. As the frenetic morning rush subsided, I finally had time to savor the fact that I was indeed in Colombia and South America. It was a milestone for my trip and life. Now things would change, readjustments would be made, distances traveled would be substantially longer. It would take some time to adjust to after crossing entire countries in two days.