2008 Fountaine Pajot Catamaran For Sale $309,000 US


Walk through video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDqM0fkhaQo

You can see more of our adventure on Facebook at SailVentus, or on YouTube search SailVentus for our channel. Also, feel free to email us at sailventus@gmail.com. We look forward to visiting with you!

Hallway to Cabins


Master Cabin


Master Cabin


Master Cabin


Water Maker Control Panel


Starboard Bow Cabin with Door to V-berth



Starboard Bow Cabin with Door to V-berth
Laundry and Storage in Starboard Head


Starboard Bow Cabin Under Bed Storage


Bow Escape Hatches


Starboard Bow Cabin Closet


Starboard Stern Head


Starboard Stern Head
Master Cabin Under Bed Storage


Master Cabin Under Bed Storage


Master Cabin Under Bed Storage
Navigation Desk
Navigation Desk
Interior Generator Control Panel
Kitchen Oven with Under Oven Storage
Kitchen Food Storage
Kitchen Cabinet
Kitchen and Stair to Starboard Side
Kitchen Top Open Refrigerator
Kitchen Top Open Refrigerator
Kitchen Additional Refrigerator
Interior Seating Space


Interior Seating Space
Exterior Seating Space
Exterior Seating Space
Exterior Seating Space
Exterior Seating Space
Interior Seating Space
Interior Space Overview
Exterior Seating Space
Exterior Seating Space
Exterior Seating Space-Port Side
Port Side
Exterior Seating Space
Roof from Port Side
Walkway and Dinghy Davits
Helm Station
Life Raft and Dinghy Mount
Exterior Space
Exterior Space
Interior Space
Helm Station
Helm Station
Helm Station
Port Engine and AC Units
Port Engine
Starboard Engine with Breaker Box
Starboard Engine
Starboard Engine
Cummins Onan 9.5/11.5 Volt Generator
Cummins Onan Generator Interior View
Cummins Onan Generator Interior View
Port Stern Cabin Under Bed Water Heater/Storage
Port Stern Cabin
Port Stern Cabin Closet
Port Stern Head
Port Stern Head
Port Bow Cabin with Door to V Berth
Port Bow Cabin with Door to V Berth

Providencia, Colombia: Pirate Treasure

We have few sails that are so terrible we remember them. Until the sail from San Blas, Panama to the Colombian Island Providencia, the only terribly memorable sail we have is beating upwind from Puerto Rico to Bequia. As the previous clues may show, the sail to this small island was terrible. We were all sick at some point and unable to have any real times of rest. But, we survived and arrived.

Check in is easy, though expensive (for our family of five). The charts are reliable getting into the anchorage right outside the town. I could be more specific, but everyone just called this place ‘town’. In all areas of Colombia, you need an agent to check in and out. If you do not contact the only agent in town, he will radio you on channel 16. Bernard Busch is the agent, and he is a decent guy. He was always vague about cost, but in the end, everything was priced as we read online. That cost is $50US here and in San Andreas for the agent. The real frustration is that there is also a $40US per person charge. So, for us to check in to this island the cost was $250.00US. After all the Eastern Caribbean islands with free/low cost check in this was a shock. You can stay for 24 hours without a charge. You only have to pay the per person charge once between Providencia and San Andreas, but you have to pay an agent in San Andreas and again in Providencia.

Our adventures were somewhat limited. The island is mostly uninhabited, with one road that leads around the entire island. There is also the small island of Santa Catalina joined by bridge to the main island. We started with the hike on this island. It was well marked and cleared. The hike does not circumnavigate the entire island, so you will have to backtrack. Morgan’s Head (rock) is the end of the hike. On the way back we stopped at a French-run restaurant for ceviche. It was tasty and well prepared, but we are not huge fans. The cost was about $35US for two ceviche dishes, two juices and two beers. We later went back to Morgan’s Head to snorkel. While we actually stopped at a few places to snorkel, this was the best spot on Providencia Island. The kids even had fun looking for Morgan’s treasure.

Another popular day trip is renting a mule (4-wheel drive cart) or scooter to drive around the island. The cost for our family was $50.00US for the day. You can visit the beach and have a mixed plate and see the lovely trees. We did not participate in that as we wanted to save our adventure money for SCUBA diving in Roatan. But many have enjoyed the trip.

Nick and I were interested in hiking on the island. There are only two ‘trails’ and on one you have to pay a guide $50US per person. The hiking here is not worth it. We did the independent hike to the waterfall and it was just not worth it.

So, now on to what was the most amazing part of the island. We checked out and sailed the 8.5 nautical miles from Providencia to stage for our 3-day sail to Honduras in Low Cay. After the noise from town, this was a welcome relief. Low Cay is a reef area, so you can only go in calm seas/wind. We are so lucky the conditions were good. We anchored close to a section of reef that was BEATUTIFUL! It was the teeming with coral and life. We have not seen anything so beautiful since Bonaire.  

We were all ready to leave for Honduras. We were all also nervous as this trip takes us through the waters off of Nicaragua and Honduras with pirate attacks.

Panama Mainland: Very Different Than Expected

So, we finally made it to mainland Panama. There are so many reports of thefts and rapes that we decided to go into a marina. The only anchorage where you may not get robbed is right outside of Shelter Bay Marina. But, even that is iffy and the water in Colon is supposed to be ugly. The most popular marina for staging to cross the Panama Canal is Shelter Bay. You can have your boat officially measured here and have access to provisions. As we did not need those services, we went to Linton Bay Marina. We felt very secure, especially as there are at least three armed guards walking the docks/surrounding area. The cost was nominal at $27.00US per night not including electric. However, the marina is in the middle of nowhere. Actually, aside from Panama City, most of Panama feels like it is the middle of nowhere. You do not need advance notice for this marina. Just pull in and take a spot. There is a trailer just outside the marina office where you can get your annual cruising permit for $185.00US (2020). You then take that into customs/immigration in Portobelo. The only charge there was for copies (we have found in all of the Latin American countries you need multiple copies of your passport, clearance paperwork, and registration.). Portobelo is a very small town with a few fort ruins and mini marts. On the corner of the main street and the immigration office is a delicious bakery with donuts!

The bus system in Panama is always on time, unless it is late…or early. So, it is unreliable. The bus is an artistic journey! They are covered in artwork and flashy siding. It was always fun to see what would greet us. And, they shove as many people as possible on the bus. It was standing, leaning, sitting room crammed on every ride we joined. But, everyone was together for the adventure and in good spirits.

After weeks sailing and in San Blas, we were very low on provisions. So, one day Asher and I made the two-hour trip to Sabinitas, Panama. This was the closest place with actual groceries, vs a mini mart with overripe fruit and suspicious meat. If you spend at least $500.00US the chain called Rey will deliver your groceries (and us) back home. For our family that amount is low, so we quickly arranged the delivery and began our shopping. The driver even went through McDonalds for us! We have not seen US chain restaurants in some time. It was sinfully delicious!

Our main adventure was to Panama City to see the canal. The Panama Canal is a 50-mile (manmade) canal joining the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The first building of the canal dates back to the 1500s when the French tried to organize the path. However, the US was instrumental in the early 1900s with the canal we know of today. On December 31, 1999 the US handed the canal’s running and maintenance back to the government of Panama. From that time, the structure changed from the US stance of charging ships enough to transvers and maintain, to the Panamanian theory of for-profit management. As Ventus was not going through the canal we at least wanted to see the museum and watch ships go through. I must admit we are getting travel tired, so we planned a one night overnight.

The family went to the bus eearrlly and took the 2-hour bus to Colon (approximately $4.00US each). We then boarded a large coach with comfy seats and AC to go to Panama City. This bus was still standing room only, but was comfortable (approximately $3.00 each). That bus goes to the main bus center. This is located in a large mall full of many food places and stores. We all chose something different to each and grabbed an uber to the Panama Canal Museum. That cost was around $7.00US.

I have mixed feelings about the museum. It was pricey for what it was. The total cost for our family was $80.00US. The exhibits were interesting and well designed, but there was not much substance. And, there was no video to watch. You could pay an additional $12.00US per person, but on top of admissions that just did not seem worth the addition cost. The main part of the museum are the stands to view the ships going through the canal. And, there are always ships going through the canal. So, don’t worry about not seeing one. It was very interesting seeing how the locks work with the massive cargo and small sailing boats.

Panama City is full of American franchise chains for both food and clothing. There are barber shops everywhere, at least 4 per strip mall. The hotels are in a downward spiral. You can see that 20 years ago they were well maintained and thriving. But, now they are in need to repair with crumbling structures. Our second morning we walked along the waterfront of Panama City. There is a huge tidal variation. The boats in the marina were sitting in the mud! This was the most developed and maintained area of the city. If you walk two blocks in from the waterfront you see abandoned buildings. There are armed guards along every street corner and carry automatic weapons. They also stop buses that travel from town to town. When we were in a private car, we had to show our passports (we carried copies here) to the officer.

Panama mainland was very different than we expected. Upon reflection, we realized that we thought Colombia mainland would be dangerous and poor feeling, but it was well developed and thriving. We thought Panama would be well developed and thriving, but it was poor and dangerous feeling.

After a week of work and provisioning we were ready to go back to the peacefulness of San Blas.

San Blas, Panama: A Little Slice of Paradise

San Blas is an archipelago with a series of 365 islands off the cost of Panama. The native tribe of Guna Yala live here and run according to its own set of laws. The Guna Yala are still very independent from modern day amenities. They are known for their beautiful Molas. This fabric is steeped in history. Before the missionaries came to the Panama islands, the Guna Yala would tattoo elaborate designs onto their skin. Once the missionaries came and introduced cloth/clothing, the tribe the people transferred the beautiful tattoo artwork to cloth.  They also create intricate beadwork bracelets that crawl up their arms and legs.

If you stay/check in or out in the San Blas Island areas the process varies from the mainland. San Blas was visited in two parts for our crew. We stopped for ten days before visiting the mainland, and another week after visiting the mainland. There is a lot of conflicting information about checking in and out of Panama, so we were a bit confused about how this works. And, the government seems to change its mind day by day. Everything is officially illegal in Panama, but most minor laws seem to be unenforced. For example, you cannot fish, kite surf, take pictures, remove coconuts and etc. There are multiple check in points for Panama and two are in San Blas. However, if you check in at the San Blas locations you have to pay an additional park fee (approximately $120.00US) that you are not charged on the mainland. There is also a governing body that will come around the anchorages in San Blas and charge a fee for anchoring for the month. That cost is $20US per boat and $20US per person (2020). While we never ran into this collection, our fellow cruisers did. They recommended getting a receipt. Otherwise you will be double charged.

Adventure Time! The islands are all very similar; paradise with beautiful beaches. You must go with plenty of supplies as there are no grocery markets or any other kind of shopping on the islands. There is a veggie boat that comes through, but we never ran into him. There are some islands that charge $3.00US per person to explore. But those are well posted and rare. However, the Guna Yala own all of the coconuts, so you cannot remove them from islands. And, you must ask permission to take their picture.

From Santa Marta, Colombia we landed in Aridup outside Snug Harbor. The anchoring was easy and such a great break after three days of sailing. The island is lovely with only one inhabitant. After a 30-minute walk we circumnavigated the small land.

Our next stop was Niadup/Sindup. They are two islands joined by a bridge. Niadup was an amazing island the Guna Yala inhabited. The kid to adult ration was mind blowing. There is also a large number of albino decedents. The buildings are all traditionally built and Spanish is the only language spoken. The most modern building, still made of local materials, was the church in the center of town. It is also the only place with internet. The children gather there and many are being, self-taught via duolingo, English and German. We were able to purchase some pan (bread) and it was delicious. The kids played and taught some new games. Sindup, the sister island joined by the bridge, housed the modest health center.

Our favorite anchorage was Dupwala, also known as Coco Bandero. There is a series of small islands and lovely reef surrounding the anchorage. We very carefully navigated the reef and anchored. There is a sandy knoll with lovely snorkeling and Lover’s Lane reef. While there we also had a beach bonfire on the smallest island (that had no inhabitants). There were other kid boats here and that made life much more fun for our kiddos.

The Holandes Islands were our next stop. It is best to change anchorages in the high light of day. We entered around 4:00 pm and with the setting light it is harder to identify coral that may ground your boat. The charts are not reliable and it is best to use the Eric Bauhaus book and open CPN charts. Off of this cluster of islands is BBQ island. We took the dinghy here and it is nicely developed for back packers. We did not pay to stay and swim as we can do all of that off of our boat. That evening, however, we had another smores bonfire on Bonedup.

Chichime is the busiest of the islands as it is closest to the mainland. The island of Uchtupu Dummat has many bars and a few cabins for tourists. There are still not markets or anything along those lines, but if you want a beer this is the place. The anchorage is generally busy. But, it has good holding. We even met Eric Bauhaus here! His family is very cool and he gave us some great tips.

We left our friends here and went to the mainland, but after one week in the city we came back to our favorite island in Coco Bandero for a couple nights. And, there were more kid boat friends!!! Everyone is happier when there are kids to play with. After a campfire and snorkel adventure we move to Kanlildup, aka Green Island. This seems to be the anchorage where cruisers gather. This is a great place to launch and ride the wind for kite surfing. Nick had a blast.

Alas, it was time for us to leave San Blas and take advantage of the weather window to Providencia, Colombia.

Colombia: The Trek to the Lost City

4 nights, 39 miles, and a 1200 stone step staircase through the Colombian Sierra Nevada Mountains led us to The Lost City. While the city was never lost to the native Colombian tribes, called the Arhuaco/Koguis/Wiwas, it was kept secret from foreign invaders. The city was constructed in 800CE (650 years before Machu Picchu) and was a spiritual center for the community. It was officially rediscovered in 1972 by treasure hunters.

Our first major adventure in Colombia is the four-night trek through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. To begin, we researched the various companies that offer this adventure. According to Colombian law, you must use a guide on most of the trails in the national parks; there is very little free-style hiking here. There are six major companies that offer the trek, and each company uses the same camps/facilities. Each company also charges the same price, $350.00 US (2020) for either the three-night or four-night hike. So, when researching companies, I was looking for reviews and an agenda that would allow for the kids to enjoy the pace.

There are two options; a three night or four-night trek. On either trek you visit the same camps and spend the same amount of time in the lost city. The three-night trek has a longer hike on day two. You then visit the Lost City first thing in the morning. This longer hike means that there is a shorter amount of time to stop and swim in the river along the route. We needed the stops to be a little more enjoyable for the kids, and breaking up the hike accomplished their need to play. Also, because of our agenda, we visited the city in the afternoon. We were the only hiking group there. It made the city feel more authentic and not as though we were one of the hundreds of tourists traipsing through each day.

So, we opted for the four-night trek using Ecotour (https://expotur-eco.com/en). The company was uber responsive to emails, has great reviews, and is conveniently located in the city of Santa Marta (approximately 0.6 miles from the marina). Now, it was time to pack! I read a few travel sites for tips and then figured what our family could carry for the journey. Below is the list recommended by some travel blogs, along with my own thoughts and additions. Keep in mind we trekked during the dry season (January), so our clothes were not soaked with rain whilst we hiked. And, keep in mind, no matter what you do, you will smell like a monkey at the end!


  • 1 x backpack
  • 1 x refillable filter water bottle (we used Camelback styles)
  • 1 x hiking poles (we don’t use these and were fine hiking)
  • 1 x sport shorts
  • 2 x high-wicking vests (nope and was fine)
  • 4-5 x pairs of underwear (YES!)
  • 4-5 x hiking socks (we each brought 2 pair and that was plenty)
  • 1 x hiking boots (we hiked in our sneakers and Sophia used her hiking sandals)
  • 1 x sweat rag (Yes! Especially those head cloth things)
  • 1 x swim stuff (YES!)
  • 1 x packing cube (Don’t know what this is so….)
  • 1 x rain poncho / jacket/lightweight sweater (Yes)
  • 1 x long-sleeved shirt / hoody (Yes)
  • 1 x camp slouch trousers/yoga pant (Yes)
  • 1 x cotton t-shirt (Yes)
  • 1 x flip-flops (Yes for showers and lounging at night)
  • 1 x travel towel (Yes we brought a few Turkish towels, not the heavy cotton towels)
  • Various toiletries (including bug spray and sun cream YES!)
  • 1 x head torch (Yes)
  • 1 x battery power bank (Yes we took 3 small batteries. There are plugs but you are fighting with others to use them)
  • 1 x mobile phone (Yes for pictures, there is no cell service)
  • GoPro (Yes)
  • Wet Wipes (Yes, because you feel grimy and will probably get diarrhea)
  • Toilet paper because not all camps are fully stocked
  • Sweet treats for hiking (I thought I was nuts for adding that weight, but the chocolate M and Ms really helped the kids)
  • Ibuprofen and Imodium (Yes! Thank goodness a fellow hiker had the Imodium or it would have been tough)
  • Deck of playing cards for the evening (Yes, so fun and breaks the ice with others)

Now, it was time to begin the trek! On the morning of the trek we walked to the office (a bus will pick you up if you want). We arrived at 8:15 for a 9:00 departure time. Check in was easy because we were early. As the morning wore on more and more people arrived. Our family began to worry that we were going to be cattle trudging in line toward the city, but rest assured that once you leave Santa Marta you only see other groups in the various camps at night. We were especially isolated because of doing the longer trek. Most of the hikers were in their mid-twenties and completed the three-night hike. Our group hopped on the bus and headed toward the city of Mamey. The ride was eye opening as to the differences between those with money and those making ends meet. Also, we became aware of the tourism springing up all around.

After you arrive at the park, you check in, mount your packs and begin the long uphill climb toward the first camp. It was not too tough and everyone was excited! Camp One is lovely, though could use more showers. The tour company kept us constantly fed. Water was available via a three filtered process. We felt safe drinking this water (more on that later!). Day Two wake up call came very early. For the three-night hike this was a looong day of hiking. For our group, the four-night hike, we only had to make it to Camp Two. There is a great river along route. We stopped and jumped off its highest point and splashed in the icy waters until we could stand it no longer.

Camp Two is where the trouble began for our group. The drinking water is extra filtered. But the shower water and general dish washing water is river water. So, not only are showers freezing, dishes are washed in tainted water. The donkeys that bring supplies through each camp poop in the same area as the camp. That poop eventually makes it into the river system. Nick fell first with fever and diarrhea…the rest of us were not far behind. Luckily, I packed some ibuprofen and kept us moving. And, there are stops along the way with bathrooms. These stops generally charge, so bring small 2,000 COP bills. In our group of 16, only 4 did not get sick, and they were Colombian.

So, Camp Three. We arrived by lunchtime and had to decide whether to do the Lost City that afternoon or the next morning. Knowing that hundreds of others would begin hiking at 6am made the decision to go in the afternoon easy. And, we are so thankful we went that afternoon! We were the only group in the city. Our guide gave the most amazing presentation of the native tribe that still uses the city today. The trek is closed in September because the native tribe uses that month to drive out all of the negative energy and bring balance back to this sacred space. We hiked to the river, crossed with shoes in hand, and huffed up the 1200 steps to the Lost City. We learned about its restoration, soaked up the spirits in the fountain of youth and learned of the traditions on top of the many circles. The afternoon was amazing.

Now, to hike back. The adrenaline was gone and we were all sick. So, it was tough. Because we chose the extra day hike we could sleep in an extra hour (meaning a 6am wake up call) and take a slower pace. At Camp Two there is a waterfall inside the rocks and a fun current that took us down river. At Camp One, we were just done. I think our whole group was asleep by 7:30pm and not awake until 7:00am. We completed the last portion of the hike, had lunch, boarded the buses and returned to the marina.

We were so disgusting that I did not let the kids go onto the boat. Our backpacks full of dirty clothes went straight to the laundry and kids straight to the showers! By 7:00pm we were all asleep. You will smell like a monkey. And bring the wet wipes! Diarrhea is terrible without them on this trek.

Time for overall thoughts…I am so glad that we did this adventure. I cannot imagine skipping this learning experience for the kids and adults. And, I am so glad I will never have to do it again. Just book it…just do it…the trek is worth the cost, both financially and physically!

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Cartagena, The Old City: Getsemani, The New Neighborhood!

After two days rest from our trek we packed up again, loaded up the kids again and began a nine-day adventure through inland Colombia. If I knew how difficult the trek would be, I may have pushed off this next adventure to begin a few days later. But we only had three weeks in Colombia. So, we forged ahead. To travel from Santa Marta to Cartagena you have a couple options. The first is to take the public bus. This cost about $9.00 US (2020) and takes about six hours (or so). You go to city center and pick up the bus. The other is to have the marina call a bus company. That bus will pick you up at the gates of the marina. You travel in a comfortable seat with AC and a movie, in Spanish of course. That option costs about $17.00 US (2020). We went the second route. So, at 7:30am the bus picked us up, and dropped us off in the center of Cartagena. Because we were only spending one night, 2 days, I wanted to stay in Old Town or the Walled City. That location made the cost significantly higher. And, because we tip the scales at five people, versus the average family of four, the cost was even higher. But we found a decent place near all the action (https://www.booking.com/hotel/co/soy-local-cartagena.html).

Cartagena is as amazing as everyone said. The architecture is beautiful, and there are flowers overflowing every balcony. We happened to see a red umbrella, aka free tour of the city just after it began. I love this stuff. Traipsing around the city and learning about each aspect of its history. My family….not so much. So, after one hour, they were out. We continued to meander our way through the streets and soak in the atmosphere. There is a performer on every corner. And, water/beer sellers every 20 feet. The only real downside to this area is the cost of food. The restaurants were very expensive!

BUT, the next day we wandered about 7 minutes outside the Old City into the Getsemani neighborhood. This quaint area is full of hostels and cheap street food. We spent the day hopping from taste to taste. Our flight to Medellin was not until 10:30pm, so we had plenty of time. We even happened upon the NFL Playoff game. A few minty drinks later and it was time to collect our luggage from the hotel and go to the airport. Here is one great thing about Colombia. Each hotel will hold your luggage after check out…for free! We always take anything we care about being stolen with us. But other than that, it was glorious to adventure without heavy backpacks weighing us down.

Flying in Colombia is great. We planned this inland adventure a little late. So, the flight from Cartagena to Medellin was $86.00 US one way, per person. It you plan a few weeks out that goes as low at $46.00 US (maybe lower!). The cheapest airline is Viva Air. If you fly with a backpack and download the boarding pass to your phone you save a lot of money. The infrastructure is so good you can take a bus to the airport. We always balance the cost of five people cost vs taxi. And, in this case, the taxi won out. From Old Town, Cartagena to the air port the cost was $6.67 US (2020). Just as in the US, you can check in online and have the tickets sent to your phone. The airport was well equipped and we had an easy flight to Medellin.

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Medellin: Breaking Preconceptions

Arriving at midnight, into a new city, with a language you do not understand is an adventure. This was a time when the kids’ patience really shined. We were trying to figure out, at midnight, how to get from the airport to our hostel in Poblado. Uber was the cheapest, by far, at $16.00 US (2020). But that was for only four people. We had five. The first Uber took us and then turned around and dropped us back at the airport. Because of the language barrier we did not know why (guessing it had something to do with the number in our party). There is no Uber for more than four people listed in Colombia. So, we took a taxi. That cost was $26.00 US (2020). The driver was great, knew where to go, and even helped us get into the hotel!

The Poblado area is amazing. Think of the hip area where you live, with lots of restaurants and bands playing each night. That is where our hotel was located. It is called the El Jardin de Provenza (https://www.booking.com/hotel/co/geohostel.html). It was clean and modern with a rooftop terrace. Throughout our 3 nights here we hopped from place to place eating. The sushi burrito and Japanese place were our favorites! It is an easy walk, downhill, to the metro. The metro throughout Medellin is an efficient and cheap way to travel. You buy the card and add money in the station at a person-manned kiosk. Even with our limited Spanish we could figure out how to travel to the San Antonio square.

There are a lot of centers to this city. But this one seemed the most active. There is an amazing open-air market here for anything you need to buy. And, more shoe stores that any place I have ever visited! Whilst here, we ate, shopped and stopped at the local sites. This does not feel to be a significantly historic city. It is full of fast-paced traffic and amenities.

The second day we planned on visiting Arvi Parque (parquearvi.org). Below are the simple steps to get to this parque. If you only have one day here…do this adventure!

  • Take an Uber or walk from your hotel in Poblado to Metro Station ($2.00 US 2020)
  • Take the Metro train A to Acevedo Station. Do not exit the station, follow the signs for the cable car. This is the same ticket ($0.67 US 2020)
  • Take the cable car to the top
  • At the Santa Domingo station exit and pay for the cable car to Arvi Parque, it is clearly marked ($3.40 US 2020)
  • You will ride this for 10-15 minutes with some of the most beautiful views’!
  • Do the reverse on the way down

The parque is restful and lovely. Again, you have to pay to hike most of the trails in the national park. You can organize this at the entrance of the park. However, there is one free trail. That is the route we chose to take. The park ranger will tell you where to go. But here is the gist:

  • Take the concrete path to the main road and turn left
  • Walk down the main road for longer than you think. You will catch yourself thinking, “Did I miss the turn?” You did not. Keep going.
  • At the bottom of the hill are several restaurants. Turn right and go for a long time again (long is relative, a few kilometers, but it feels like longer because you are on a main road)
  • Vere left into the park.

The walking trail is lovely. There is a picnic area and we brought lunch and snacks. You can purchase food if you did not prepare anything ahead of time. We then walked along peacefully with the other Colombians. There was music playing and sunshine. It was very nice, even with the kids karate chopping each other in front of us.

Medellin broke down many of my preconceived notions of Colombia. This is a vibrant city full of first world expectations. The public transit and other infrastructure knocked my socks off. I am so glad that we took the time to travel inland. Now, on to Guatape!

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Guatape’ and Jardin: Jewels of Colombia

After speaking, and reading, with other cruisers/bloggers we narrowed down our adventures to the vacation town of Guatape’ and the quaint town of Jardin. We always debate the best way to travel in any country. The experience of taking public transport adds to the authenticity of the adventure. But, renting a car allows for the freedom to discover special niches. The cost and schedule of buses/transport to get to the buses made us believe renting a car would be the better way for our family of five to travel. So, we went on to Travelocity and rented a car for $19.00 US per day (we did not get insurance). So, after taking a taxi BACK to the airport, we picked up our car. Basically, we should have just done the car rental from the landing of our plane. We were just unsure of our plans. We wanted to wing it a bit on the details.

Now we have the car! That afternoon we drove to the vacation town of Guatape’ and stayed in a hotel on the hill there. It was called El Mirador De Guatape (https://www.booking.com/hotel/co/el-mirador-de-guatape-guatape-antioquia.html) Thank goodness for booking.com. We could arrive at 4:00 and have a place to stay. Beware that most hotels in Colombia accept cash only, not the registered credit card. So, pesos in hand, we embarked to this tiny vacation village. It consists of a square of restaurants and a large rock. The think to do here is walk up the many, many steps and enjoy the view. You also should have cinnamon rolls in the square one morning before leaving. Yum!

The El Penon rock was a site I was interested in visiting. The cost to park the car was $1.67 US (2020) and $6.67 US per person (2020) to actually climb the steps to the top. Only Asher was willing to join me for this thin aired expedition. The steps were tough, but the view was great! It was nice having some time with a kid one-on-one. We only stayed a short time, as we needed to head to our favorite place, Jardin.

We stayed the night in Rionegro. We got caught without pesos because we did not expect each hotel to want to be paid in cash. So, we had to find an ATM/money exchange place. The exchange rates in Medellin and Rionegro were much better than Santa Marta. So, after a meander through a fancy mall we had cash. We traveled through lovely horse country to the Finca Hotel Santo Tomas (https://www.booking.com/hotel/co/santo-toma-s.html). Don’t stay here. The electric box caught on fire…twice. The rooms were dirty and freezing cold. All of the amenities were broken. The staff was friendly, but that did not fix all that was wrong here.

Finally, my favorite place, Jardin. If you can visit one place in Colombia visit Jardin. The views are beyond words and the square is beautiful Our hotel is a must. It is a little more expensive and out of the way (0.6 miles from city center as the crow flies), but it is worth the distance. You can either take your car into town or ride the gondola down the hill into the city center. It is called Cabanas Filo de Oror (https://www.booking.com/hotel/co/cabanas-filo-de-oro-jardin.html).

The family was exhausted by this point. So, we stopped by a market and brought dinner/breakfast back to the kitchenette for a relaxing evening playing cards in the hammock. We slept in the next day. One of the most looked forward to events was horseback riding here, but, of course, I did not actually plan anything. So, image our surprise when we walked into the tourist agency (http://jardinecotours.com.co/) and he said we could still arrange something! Yippee! We changed into our pants and met with eleven-year-old Juan Manuel and his abuelo.

When you ride horses in the US you sit atop a broken-in nag that knows the trail. That is not the case in Colombia. Our horses were feisty and ready to run! We started with a coffee tour. There are coffee plants all over the hills in the region. It is beautiful. The tour was completely done in Spanish, but our guide was phenomenal. With the basics, we were able to communicate and learn the steps from seed to coffee. We taste-tested the various types of coffee and the differences between Colombian and American coffee preparation. Only one member of our family likes coffee, but we all tried the cups with a smile on our face.

From the coffee finca (farm) we traveled to a small bar. Here we were introduced to the most fun game, ever, in the history of the world! It is called La Tejo. Basically, you are throwing rocks at firecrackers. You earn points for how close to the firecracker you get and more if you set it off. This game is made even better with beer. When you are arranging your tour, this stop is not mentioned. So, you may want to ask your guide if he can take you to this small bar up the road. The tour, officially, is only the coffee plantation and waterfall for $17.00 US (2020). But this extra stop made the day more fun for everyone!!  We were dragged away from this game by the sunset. We quickly stopped by the, lackluster, waterfall and then went back to town. Exhausted, again, we fell asleep quickly.

Traveling from Jardin back to the airport was 93 miles, but took almost four hours! That is because of the mountain roads. The highway infrastructure is great and there are major projects being completed. But it is still a hilly area. So, allow for plenty of travel time. Our last day was spent enjoying a cup of goodbye coffee in the square and driving to the airport. This was followed by a 1.5 hour, $36.00 US (2020) per person, plane ride back to Santa Marta. From the airport you can take a bus ride, $0.63 US (2020), or $10.00 US (2020) taxi ride back to the marina.

After this nine-day adventure we were spent. The family would revolt if I tried to squeeze anything else into our time in Colombia. Luckily, there is a great weather window to take us to Panama. The rest of Latin America has a lot to live up to after Colombia. This country has officially been added to a place I would like to live in retirement!

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Colombia: Our Arrival and Other Thoughts

Our arrival to Colombia was momentous. Ventus has been watching this area for some time knowing the sailing weather was strong. Sailing through this area is one of the more difficult in the world, so Nick was watching for our weather window. And all went well…until it didn’t. It took two days to crest the point and then the winds did what they do…break our steering cable. As we sailed around to Santa Marta, the winds converged, gusting to 40-50 knots. While we turned into the wind, the wheel gave way. If there was a camera on our faces you would see a comedy of realization. Luckily, we have back up systems to our systems. So, auto pilot got us closer to the marina. Then Nick used the engines to drive us in. Jess stood in the engine compartment manually holding the rudder. Between her strength, Nick’s engine skills and the marina staff’s line handling, Ventus slid into its home for the next few weeks.

The first thing the staff told us was to NOT put the water into our tanks. So, we did not. We even went out into another anchorage to make water halfway through our visit. We had to notify the marina, get a Zarpe and be back by 5 pm. This is all in effort to control drug and human trafficking. However, other cruisers have put the water into their tanks with no side effects (cough, cough, diarrhea). We chose the Santa Marta marina (http://www.marinasantamarta.com.co/sitio/) for several reasons, one of those reasons is their security reputation. They are a bit elusive about pricing in emails. But, so long as you stay at least three weeks they give you the monthly rate. For our 44’ catamaran the cost was around $36.00 per night not including the water or electric. Another reason we chose this marina is that they handle all of the check in/check out paperwork for free (not including fees from the country). Using an agent has an additional cost of approximately $100.00 US (2020). Santa Marta is also an easy place to fly/bus into/out of. But there are some downsides. There are many (most) areas of the city that smell like urine. I did not even realize this was unique until after traveling to other areas of the country, but this city smells worse than the others. The groceries are not as plentiful as other areas in the country. There is one grocery chain, Exito. In Medellin it was huge and full of amazing food choices. The Santa Marta branch was not as stocked. But, it is good for provisioning. Be sure to go to the street vendors or Olympico supermarket for additional fruits. They are better stocked. One of the biggest draw backs to this marina is the dusting of black schmutz that covers everything! Luckily, the staff here is amazing. I would choose this marina again in a heartbeat!

A breakdown of observations. The country still deals mostly in cash. The peso rules here. So, upon arrival get a lot of it. Santa Marta does not have the best cash exchange rate (read my other blogs) and the ATM charges a large amount. If you can find a Scottia Bank they had the best ATM rate (2020). And, the limit for withdraw was 600,000 COP per transaction. That means that you pay withdraw fees each time for $200ish US. Also, most locals do not speak English. However, Colombians are so, so kind whenever you are trying to speak Spanish. The nine days we traveled showed me how the past two years of Spanish lessons, via Rosetta Stone, have influenced my kiddos. They were amazing in their knowledge, though lacking confidence to speak. They would translate, and Nick and I would actually say the words. That is something we are working on fixing. Colombians like to look and smell good. It was very rare to see a man or woman not dressed well with matching shoes. Hair and make up was always done. They were also perfumed.

I am embarrassed to say that I expected to arrive and travel alongside the drug cartel. I really and truly thought that there would be donkeys pulling carts to each mountain area. Even after three years of travel, and seeing how wrong my preconceived notions were, I still held this thought about Colombia. I am now ashamed about my naiveté. I like to think that I am more open minded. But media and stereotypes still influence me.  Thank goodness we came to Colombia to break this thought process for our children, and us. Bring it Latin America, our family cannot wait to see more!

Sophia’s Advice: Don’t think about the bugs that could be in your hotel room…just don’t think about them.

Asher’s Advice: Make sure you have bug spray.

Nick’s Advice: Use public transit. It is thorough and inexpensive.

Alex’s Advice: Book a comfortable place to come back to after all of your adventures.

Jessica’s Advice: Don’t overthink it, just book the adventure!

P.S. I did not realize how concerned my kids were about bugs lol. Apparently, they are a bigger issue than I realized!

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Aruba: The Vegas of the Caribbean


If you are looking for a place to vacation that has restaurants, beautiful beaches, hotels and all sorts of fun, Aruba is your place. It is an overpriced playground for vacationers. We were passing through the area and it seemed a shame to skip it. So, we stopped to celebrate Christmas.


Aruba is not a place full of cruisers (sailboat cruisers that is). As we enter any new country the first task to check in with immigration and customs. The only place for check in in Aruba is next to the landfill on the southern part of the island. The one hour we were taking care of checking in allowed for four million flies to enter the boat. After checking in we sailed further up the island to the anchorage. It is large and rolly. This anchorage is close to the marina and the downtown shopping district. The stores were all the high-end style shops. We had a lot of fun listening to the Christmas music and riding the free double decker trolley through the town. But, one day was enough. The anchorage had the disadvantage of being under the airport. So, from 5:00 am until 11:30 pm noise was overhead. After just one night we moved to the north part of the island.


They call the next anchorage Hotel Row or High-Rise Street. The beaches are amazingly soft here, and shallow fairly far out into the water. There is hotel after hotel lining this strip, and each hotel was bursting at the seams. There was so much activity happening. It was a great place to grab a coffee and people watch. There are a lot of restaurants and water play activities to partake.


We had our Christmas meal here. We spoke with the only other sailboat anchored in either location and was told that not many cruisers come to Aruba. There are a lot of pros, but more cons. While the second anchorage was lovely there were so many tour boats, tubing boats, jet skis and etc the water was too dangerous to swim in by the boat.


Our time here was short as we were just awaiting a weather window to sail to Colombia!! Luckily, it came quickly. Unfortunately, because there is only one immigration office, we had to sail back down to the landfill to check out. But, Colombia here we come.