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Friday, December 05, 2008

Bahia de Solano, Colombia

I'm afraid our fast sailing passages may have come to an end. We raised anchor in Utria at 7 AM on Monday and motored the 40 nm to Solano accompanied by Sarana. The wind was too light to try to do any sailing in the lumpy seas coming from all directions (both Sherrell and I were a bit sea sick at first), and it poured down rain until we began our entrance to Solano in the mid-afternoon. We don't have a cockpit cover with standing headroom, and we needed to keep a good lookout for the many floating logs and tree trunks floating close to the coast. John volunteered to get soaked while I stayed dry down below. He wore deck shoes, swim trunks, T-shirt, wet suit jacket, light rain jacket, and a ball cap, and managed to stay warm except for his feet.
We anchored in deep water off the Guarda Costa station and municipal pier at Solano where we watched a small cargo/passenger ferry being loaded with lumber and other goods. The next morning the military guys came by in their boat to get our boat name and general info (where have you come from, where are you going, how long are you staying, how many persons on board, etc.). They were very nice and polite and even offered us a ride to shore. Since it wasn't even 7 AM yet we declined and waited until after the morning Panama-Pacific HF radio net to go ashore. We locked the dinghy to one of the concrete pillars of the small black wood building and set off on the very wet and muddy road, happy we had chosen to wear Teva style sandals instead of flip flops (which would have left us with muddy stripes up the backs of our legs).
It's only a 15 minute walk from the pier to town and we went directly to TransBahia to meet with Juan Carlos, our ship's agent for Solano. For only $50 (compared to the $120 in Tumaco) he is taking care of helping us with the paperwork for the Port Captain and Migracion. We will be getting our international zarpe and officially exiting Colombia for Panama from here on Friday. We then explored town to find the one bank (with ATM) and several small tiendas (no super mercado here), none of which had any vegetables other than some tired potatoes, onions, and garlic. The town has been waiting for a cargo ferry to arrive from Buenaventura with a load of supplies but no one knows when it might arrive. We are in desperate need of some fresh veggies (Sarana even more so since they are vegans), but it's not looking good for the supply boat to arrive before we leave. We did manage to have a 30 lb tank of propane delivered to the pier and John spent the rest of the day transferring gas from it to our tanks (one 10 lb and two 5 lb tanks). Since we had to pay for the whole thing anyway we donated the rest of the tank to the lady at the snack shack where we lock the dinghy.
It rained hard Tuesday night and most of Wednesday but on Thursday the sun is managed to shine through a mostly overcast sky. After checking prices to have laundry done at one of the hotels (there is a new lavanderia being established but it isn't quite open yet) we opted to do some hand washing since rain water has been so plentiful. We're anchored between two waterfalls on shore and the snack shack even installed a fresh water spigot on the beach during our stay. John filled our water jugs from that but he had to filter it through a pump and we'll use it for washing only.
On Thursday we ate almuerzo at "Gloria's" (no sign outside; it's just a couple of doors from the Artesania place as you come off the road which leads to the pier) which was very good. While we waited for our agent today we had juice drinks at Cabalonga, a charming restuarant with an actual menu. Too bad we didn't discover it earlier in the week because it looked very good. Everything is priced higher here than we're used to with almuerzo running about USD$5 a person, but it's mostly very good. After our lunch on Thursday we hiked to a waterfall up the river which runs through town. The last 20 minutes were spent wading up the stream itself which was easier than clambering up the banks to smidgens of trails which didn't go far. The water flows quickly and the rocks were not slippery. It was pretty, but too misty to take the camera out.
As I write this we're waiting for our agent to arrive with the Port Captain so that we can complete our check-out and be on our way to Panama. We were hoping to depart by 2 PM, but of course now (at 1 PM) it's pouring down rain. It doesn't sound like there's any wind blowing on the coast so it could be another sloppy motor trip overnight to Bahia Pina.
Linda and John