Category Archives: Santa Marta

Santa Marta, Columbia

Since my last post, our tracks took us past the eastern tip of Cuba, the western tip of Haiti and thus into the Caribbean.  As we did so, the Trade winds became apparent, up to 35 mph, which necessitated moving fuel and heeling water to the port side to compensate for the resultant heeling of the “Amsterdam”

The evening of the 6th was our first ‘Gala’ night and Introductions were conducted during the cocktail parties.  This involves me formally presenting not only myself but also our senior staff and important members of our various departments.  Memorising  their ‘bios’ takes me a couple of hours prior to the event, which I try to keep light-hearted and humourous.  It always seems to be a nice ‘icebreaker’, setting the tone of the voyage.

I can still remember having to do this for the first time, back in 1995, when I took command of the then new “Veendam”.  I was new to the company, new to the ship too, however I worried not a jot about commanding her. There is a ‘however’ though; I had never spoken on a stage in front of a large audience and nothing could have prepared me for it.  I paced up and down my cabin for 2 days prior, reciting names and the bios of each officer, writing it down and then more reciting…..Come the night, it all turned to custard, quaking in my shoes, my mind seemed to be everywhere, except for those names, could I remember them?  Well, a few I suppose, however, in my view it was a disaster.  Now, after 22 years, I can do it which scarcely a rise of heartbeat.

So, on a windy morning, we approached Santa Marta. The city lies in a cove, thus forming an inner harbour, relatively sheltered from the prevailing strong winds. It is a major commercial port, importing grain and General cargo, exporting bananas, bagged coffee and coal, (more about that in a minute…)

We are at the top of the plan, the Colombian coast in yellow and the harbour, where the green is.

As we approached the harbour, Thomas, our Staff Captain and 2nd-in-command took the ‘Navigator’s’ role and maneuvered the ship.  The pilot boarded, pleasantries were exchanged, however he showed no intent to con the ship himself, merely asking for a cup of coffee and “oh by the way”, we’ve changed your dock”..What the!??   O well, welcome to the Grand World Voyage.  A short Sitrep, a discussion as to what we were going to do, all parties informed and everyone in the loop; we swung in the bay and backed down towards our berth, a ‘coal’ export berth, thank you very much…..

Our track in green, a ‘loop’ where we swung and backed towards the berth. The red track is where we were originally told we were going.

The berth beckons us, conveyor belt and all…..

Having embarked the pilot, the boat heads back to its berth, Santa Marta in the background

Santa Marta from the port bridge-wing.

Santa Marta. seen from the starboard bridge-wing

K1 is ashore with Hazel, (who is cruising with us again this year).  She has taken her camera, although I was somewhat concerned when, before leaving, she asked me “how it worked again?”, fingers crossed, my roving photographer will return with some of her photos.

I write on Sunday afternoon now, I haven’t had time to re-visit the blog, up until now of course.  We are making 10 knots and heading for the Panama Canal, our transit is due to start at the uncivilised hour of 5 a.m. and all being well, complete around 7 p.m.; it’s going to be a long day.

K1 returned with lots of photos and so I post a selection.  She toured Santa Marta with Hazel and took in markets, Cathedrals and folkloric life. Don’t forget that one can double-click on any photo and open a larger version and I post on Instagram as DJmercer51.

Yes, she bought one….