This is such a fantastic place, in every way and we will definitely be coming back for a lot longer if we get the chance.
The marina is well run, hot water showers and both hot water and 2 rinses in the laundry. Must be my birthday and Christmas! The docks are in great condition and it is an IGY Marina, part of the chain which runs Rodney Bay in St Lucia. The staff couldn’t be more helpful, getting us into the dock, connecting us to UK electricity sockets and providing maps and information on the area. We have water and electricity included in the 22.50 pounds per night charge.
Beyzano was great as ever on the passage and we didn’t have a drop of water in the bilges. Robert, from ‘Moody Mistress’ also let us know that we showed up as strongly on radar coming into Cabo de la Vela as the small island did, so that was good to know.
Unbelievably, the cockpit radio mic cable which was missed out of the pack shipped by Defender in the US that we picked up in Curacao arrived here into the marina on the day we did and at no charge.
Customs had to be paid in local pesos cash and cost us 314,000 or 60 pounds. We went along to the local ATM just outside the marina and tried to take out 1.5 million. Millionaires at last we thought but no, it said ‘amount not valid’, so we tried 1.1 million thinking it might be the denominations but again no. Instead we picked the highest number on the machine’s list, 600,000 but that is only about 120 pounds. Customs are supposed to check the boat but all the other paperwork was done in advance by Kelly at the marina, great service. We were told to wait for Customs yesterday morning but they didn’t arrive so we washed everything down on the boat with the ‘free’ water, finally cleaning off all the red dust from Bonaire and Curacao. I did 3 loads of washing, at 90 pence a load, very exciting but for once it smells clean and had a good rinse. We welcomed some of our fellow Rally boats in and then went out in the afternoon with ‘Balance’ and explored the town.
Santa Marta is vibrant, noisy and exciting. The mix of modern skyscrapers and old buildings, badly maintained pavements and lovely sculptures makes it interesting to explore and we felt totally safe. People smile at you all the time and everything is a wonderfully low price. Kiki and I bought light, cool dresses for less than 5 pounds and we drank coconut water from a street stall for a few pence. He kept the coconuts in a chiller and after we drank the milk he scooped out the flesh into a bag for us to take home.
The water in the marina is not potable and we have been advised against drinking it and this goes for ice in some places too. At least the coconuts were safe and we also risked it in a rather posh cocktail lounge where 4 large cocktails cost a few pounds. There are small restaurants lining old streets and countless vendors with stalls along the beach. A couple were cannabis stalls, with creams and potions for curing all sorts of complaints. Sadly, we saw several men sleeping rough in doorways and there are people trying to sell you something along the way but never aggressively.
The marina laid on a welcome party with drinks and snacks and Suzanne, the Rally organiser gave us some information about our week here. After a quick social gathering with all the fleet, we headed back into town with ‘Horizons’ to soak up some of the vibrant nightlife. Music is a big part of the local culture and it goes on near the marina, quite loudly, until 4am every day and starts again with an open air fitness class at 7am. We stumbled across a restaurant with a few tables in the small street, called ‘Saute’ and it was a fantastic night. A small group of musicians played just opposite our table and we sang along to some of the spanish songs we knew. They were excellent and we didn’t leave until we had had several mojitos and a local meal. Mine was cheese, potato and vegetables, piping hot and delicious. The entire night cost us 15 pounds each and we didn’t get back to the boat until gone 2300. Definitely going back there before we leave Santa Marta.
Today I’m up early to use the Captain’s lounge, an air conditioned space with desks for laptops, sofas and books and a view over the bay. 6 of us are off on a City tour today, so I’ll be posting about that tomorrow. Going to be a busy blog for a while before we reach the San Blas and there is no WiFi for nearly a month!