Isla Fuerte Travel Blog

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Awaking to the ever present swell which was particulary bad at this anchorage, the thought of reaching cartegena iin the morrow sent excitment through my viens. This was amplified by the fact that back in australia it was dads 50th b'day and i really wanted to be on land to call and say Happy B'day. i was truly ready for a much needed shower to remove the accumalating layer of salt and sunscreen from my body. It had almost been 2 weeks since setting sail from panama and the once dreamy expedition through the san blas had now become somewhat of a chore with long hard days of nothing, unable to read due to the rocking, unable to stand for fear of falling. Even the simple pleasure of taking a leak was to say the least a task but one i did not mind as it occupied some of the slowly passing time. the previous day the boat had began to fill with water in the engine bay, this had caused a bearing to go bad and cause a horendas noise only comparable to a mixture of nails on a chalk board and a blender. To stop the noise a belt on the on of the generators had to be cut. it was now up to the crew to heave the 70kg anchor from the sea floor as the anchor reeling device was powered by the now not functioning generator. it was an effort to balance on the raising, falling, rocking, rolling bow let alone orcestrate a 3 man tug-o-war with this dead weight. With one man almost overboard, 30 aching fingers and at least one put out back we won the tug-o-war and secured our oppenent in his place upon our sturdy vessel. victorious it was time to begin what we hoped would be the second last leg of the trip which was to see us arriving that evening  at isla fuerte. The day was once again filled with copiuos amounts of nothing. watching birds skim effortlessly between the peaks and throughs of the swell i noticed colombia sitting on the horizon below clouds that caused a slight worry, iwas not in the mood for a storm, focusing back on the birds the worry disappeared as quick as it had come. the wind was not in our favour this day so we were painstakingly tacking back and forth at angles allowing us to use the lift of the wind to move indirectly toward our destination. the captian gave up his position to let me have a go behind the wheel, its hard to keep a straight heading with lag and swell constantly countering your every move. fighting a losing battle i slowly managed to veer enough off course that the captain decided to take back charge so we didn't miss our anchorage. retiring into the cabin away from the salty wind, i managed to find a spot to chillax away the remaining minutes. approaching the entrance to the bay in which we were to spend the night, it was a race against the sinking sun. as the light faded the captain started up the radar which had previously been hidden behind a plastic cover. using the positioning equipment the captain struggled to manuvour the boat between reef hidden under the surface. sitting inside conversing with my fellow boat buddies, it wa noticed by liam that we had missed the turn into the bay and for some reason yet to be known had passed on by. shortly after rod popped his head in, with a concerned look upon his face and a waterproof bag in hand he camly said "everybody please collect together anything of value that you do not want wet and place in this bag"   to be continued......
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Slightly alarmed we struggled to move about the boat bumping into walls chairs and each other whilst collecting together passpaorts cameras and items of the like. we were filled in with the minor detail that the metal rod between the steering wheel and the rudder had broken in half. No longer in control we were at the mercy of the winds and currents, who decided to be kind. luckily drifting towards land and not out to the open seas, we hoped not to run into anything and have a small scale titanic scenario. Having found the colombian police number in the lonely planet and using taricks mobile, which surprisingly had reception, rosey being the only person with enough spanish made the call. being under alot of pressure rosey was excellent and eventually she managed to get the point across that help is what we needed. By this time the drifting had continued towards the coast and we were i nwater shallow enough to drop anchor. About 1 or 2 kilometers from land the swell was quite hectic and we rocked back and forth, back and forth. Looking up at the person across from me then suddenly looking very muchly down at them. The police contacted the colombian coast guard and in return they called us. Super stoked that the message was not lost in translation and the coast guard were the ones on the other end of the line we gave our coordinates and not to much time later and a few signal flares shot off, a boat appeared with 3 massively powered motors hanging off the rear and ac ouple of spanish speaking heros on bored. Skillfully pulling up beside the boat one of our spanish speaking heros waited until the swell postioned the boats for a daring leap. Having boarded the boat the coast guard got the details and decided we needed to be towed to a better location. leaping back across to his own boat we were once again stranded but with more hope. Rod freaked out that they would not return and wanted to go with thm. Captain pual thought this not necessary and the situation became intense with a few harsh words exchanged the two of them seperated to either end of the boat. The rescue boat left only to return promptly with a tow rope. Tied securly to the front we were now faced with a situation of once again having a game of tug-o-war with our friend the anchor. This time theodds were against us the swell twice as bad as the morn and the sun sunk well below the horizon. We gave it a go but the anchor defeated us and chose to remain firmly planted on the bottom of the ocean. The chain had come loose and poor old captian paul watched a couple of hundred dollars worth of equipment sink intop the depths. everyone settled into a place of reasonable comfort for the long haul to our safe haven the anchorage @ isla fuerte. One of our spanish speaking heros had remained on our boat and was keeping our recently appointed comunications officer company. It was a slight effort for her to keep up the conversation in spanish as she had become quite ill from the boat rocking. I carefully climbed to the front of the boat, holding on tight i looked to the moon hanging in the sky like a well placed picture frame. the events of the previous couple of hours all of a sudden caught up to me and all i could do was laugh out loud histerically. As the the laughter wound down, still looking to the moon i finshed off by yelling "HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD" across the caribbean sea.............love ya dad!!!!!
Isla Fuerte
photo by: Giggaty