The importance of being “Nobody”

On my way to San Andres, Colombia

On my way to San Andres, Colombia

Another five days of monotonous routine and solitary introspection at sea. No matter, the excitement can always wait until after I have set my anchor.

Though it does make me wonder how other crews manage similar voyages. If a couple, I don’t suppose it makes much difference. One is on watch while the other sleeps. I guess you need at least three to make passage making a sociable event, otherwise it’s inevitable there will be long hours of solitude.

I wonder whether too much of this is healthy.

Fortunately, in San Andres, there were plenty of opportunities to socialise.

Nene's Marina certainly has character.

Nene’s Marina certainly has character.

My first impressions were positive. How could they have been otherwise when the first words directed at me (in English), as I anchored off Nene’s Marina were; “I admire you”.

That from the captain of a motor launch slowing for a closer look at Eileen.

I must say, being seen on a Yarmouth23 certainly does have its advantages. Too bad I can’t take her with me everywhere and prolong the admiration. All too soon I’m relegated the to the lofty status of “Mr Nobody” from the moment I step ashore.

Or even before I step ashore, given that I have to paddle there on my humble kayak.

Which, come to think of it, is just the way I want it to be.

Being nobody I get to:

Life is a beach in San Andres

Life is a beach in San Andres

Unobtrusively take photos of fellow nobody’s at the beach;

Wandering about town...

Wandering about town…

or in town for that matter.

I onlly went there looking for Aguila girls!

I only went there looking for Aguila girls!

Be proverbially growled at for sitting too close to the supposedly reserved VIP section of the bar in this establishment (where only the “beautiful people” are supposed to party).

Don't even contemplate it buddy!

Don’t even contemplate it buddy!

Be literally growled at for wanting to sit too close to the section of the wall reserved for dexterous local fauna…

I'm busy.... Doing nothing...

I’m busy…. Doing nothing…

Do nothing… other than sit and patiently wait out the bad weather…. (growling).

My conclusion?

A pleasant stopover. Somewhat bureaucratic (especially for sailors), with a distinct social dichotomy between tourists and locals. But is that not the norm?

I’d have only seen the one side (guess which), had I not chanced upon a resident sailor who took it upon himself to show me the “real” San Andres.

And where is this real San Andres?

All over… It’s where you get to enjoy good company, good food, good wine, and great music, without having to call for “la cuenta por favor” before you leave.

With a little help I was able to see the real San Andres

With a little help I was able to see the real San Andres

It’s in the houses and homes… not the hotels.

A rare privilege indeed Damien.



Santa Marta to Cartagena

Let's have a drink or six before I leave Santa Marta!

Let’s have a drink or six before I leave Santa Marta!

And so, the intrepid (in hindsight, a more appropriate adjective would be half-witted), adventurer left his newly found Moët & Chandon converts behind and set sail for Cartagena.


I’m still asking myself the same question, though impending alcohol induced liver failure does come to mind…

The sensible thing to do, given that it was blowing a gale, would have been to stay an extra day, or week for that matter. I certainly had the incentives. However, my departure documents stated I was leaving “pronto”, and who was I to contradict what was signed, stamped and dutifully bound in triplicate.

Changing my mind would mean having to repeat the whole week long check-in rigmarole, much to my agents joy, and my wallet’s distress.

Santa Marta to Cartagena via the mouth of the Magdalena River off Barranquilla

Santa Marta to Cartagena via the mouth of the Magdalena River off Barranquilla

I left it to Eileen of Avoca, (once again), to do all of the hard work of taking me from point A to point B. Having set her try-sail, stay-sail, wind-vane and other hyphenated sail-things, I thought it best to settle down below to nurse what was rapidly becoming a contender for the title of “mother of all hangovers”.

On route, I spent as little time on deck as possible. Partly because there was very little traffic to worry about, but mainly because I didn’t like what I was seeing there.


I’m not generally worried about big seas, the exception being when those seas break, as was the case a mile out from the mouth of the Rio Magdalena. It’s not the first time I’ve been among breakers with my Yarmouth23. You would think that I have learnt by now how to avoid them (breakers that is, not hangovers…), but no…, It’s much easier to sit through yet another lesson on white-water induced cork dynamics. In fact, I’m thinking of taking a double major in it.

Through Boca Grande and on to Cartagena

Through Boca Grande and on to Cartagena

Thankfully the turbulent effects of the river were short-lived, even if Eileen didn’t seem adversely effected by it. By morning (24 hours after leaving Santa Marta), I found myself motoring tranquilly through Boca Grande.

Safely docked at Club Nautico, it was time to play tourist.

Foremost on my (predictably one-track mind? but let’s say…) agenda, was discovering whether Aguila girls prefer Cartagena to Santa Marta?


Santa Marta Colombia

Too lazy to go further than the beach or town square.

Too lazy to go further than the beach or town square.

Let me try to impart some useful information on Santa Marta in the form of pros and cons for yachtsmen contemplating landfall here.

Starting with the bad news:

  • It’s about ten times more expensive (about 250 US dollars) to stop in Colombia than in the windward islands. Why? Because it’s bureaucratic. By law you must employ an agent to do all your paperwork and it can take up to a week before it’s completed.
  • There are no Aguila girls.
  • You can’t go anywhere with your yacht once you arrive. Not without repeating the red tape and expense. Not even a little day trip to nearby beaches.
  • There are no Aguila girls.
  • The beach down town is fine for a walk, but I doubt my immune system would handle a swim.
  • There are no Aguila girls on the beach either…
  • While the town can boast being Colombia’s oldest, there really isn’t much left architecturally to support the claim.

So I spent my mornings by the seaside, and my afternoons in town at a café just soaking up the atmosphere. Which brings me to the pros:

  • Santa Marta has a great vibe! It’s a lively place. Vendors, tourists, street artists, restaurants, bars, you name it, it’s there and it’s all thriving. Even I had difficulty being bored once I’d worked up enough courage to leave my boat for the day.
  • It’s safe and it’s friendly.
  • If you are a little more adventurous than I am (which isn’t difficult), there are interesting places to visit just a short bus or taxi ride away.
  • But I’ve saved the best for last. While there were no Aguila girls in Santa Marta, I did find the next best thing. Two in fact.
  • Aguila Light girls!

The rest of my stay in Santa Marta is a happy drunken blur. Apparently Aguila light girls are no lightweights when it comes to partying.

Two reasons to stay in Santa Marta

Two reasons to stay in Santa Marta

Oh, and if the next time you ask a pretty girl in Santa Marta “what would you like to drink?” and she answers “Champagne of course”, you know who’s to blame. 😉

The hunt for Miss Aguila

Playing tourist on the beach in Santa Marta, Colombia

Taking bad photos on the beach in Santa Marta, Colombia…

Here I am at last on the beach in Santa Marta by the marina, camera in hand, and we… (that is, the camera and I)…, are not amused…

Royal anthropomorphisms aside, this was supposed to be a post full of images highlighting the bikini clad delights of Colombia enjoying sun, surf and sand. Let me assure you that nobody could be more disappointed than “yours truly” that I’ve not been able to deliver the goods.

Where oh where could those Aguila girls be?

Where oh where could those Aguila girls be?

I had to scour the Internet to find this photo as a stopgap to prevent my readership from lynching me while my search continues.

Could it be that the Aguila girl is a myth?

Because the only Aguila girls I’ve found so far look more like this…

No I'm not mistaken... It does read Aguila...

No I’m not mistaken… It does read Aguila…

Perhaps Santa Marta is where former Aguila girls go to retire?

In which case, there is still hope!

Bronze statues along the sea side promenade.

Bronze statues along the seaside promenade.

It’s academic whether the historic statues in the likeness of natives, prominently displayed by the seaside, should have been enough to dispel the naive preconceptions I apparently enjoy harbouring after watching too many beer ads.

But, as I’m not the appreciative artistic type, I’ve never really been all that interested in trying to understand it.

Friends of a more cultural and cerebrally inclined nature would frown upon my unadroit ignorance and lecture me on how the modern world is clearly reflected in the arts…

Art refects life or is it the other way around?

Art refects life or is it the other way around?

Yes… Perhaps I can see that… I might be making artistic inroads after all…

But I’d still like to find out where the Aguila girls are hiding. So I’m off on a bar crawl tonight to see if any are to be found where they keep all the Aguila.

What do you rate my chances as?