Look Back: Sailboat to Cartagena

Since we retired near the end of 2010, our plan has been to travel, well pretty much full time travel.  We no longer had a permanent residence or even a rented one so we were mostly forced to keep moving.  Sure, in between, we were able to spend time with Valerie’s Mom or visit with friends and family.

We made extensive trips to Central America, South America, Mexico and Europe.  We took off on extended road trips, one across the country to the East Coast and one to the great Northwest ending in Vancouver, BC.  We did some house and pet sitting at various locations.  In 2015, we purchased a motorhome and spent 4 years wandering the US.

But now, well, the nomadic lifestyle doesn’t seem very realistic given the current circumstances.  Perhaps one day that will change but for the near term we have to rethink our travel centric approach to life.  In the meantime, we’re going to recall some of our favorite travel experiences of the past 9 years.  We’ll call these articles, the “Look Back” series.  Sometimes it’s fun to reminisce, especially since we may not have any new such experiences for a while.

We’ll start with one of our most interesting and memorable travel experiences.  On July 19, 2011, we arrived into Managua, Nicaragua.  This was the beginning of a four month trip that would take us through Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia.  Way before we took this trip or even conceived of taking this trip, I had discovered a fun way to travel between Panama and Colombia.

You see, there is no practical land route between these two countries.  The way through is via the Darien Gap, a very rugged area that is something of a battleground between the government, various rebel groups and drug smugglers.  The Pan-American Highway is missing a 66 mile section though here so it’s just not realistic to expect to make this  trip.  The alternative is to fly or go via boat.

I discovered that private sailboats offered transportation between Panama and Cartagena, Colombia.  Many of the hostels in Panama City and Cartagena keep track of which boats are operating and can help facilitate scheduling.  When I first became aware of this option I was determined that this was something that we would absolutely have to do.  So this became a central focus of this particular trip to Central America.  In mid-October, 2011, following a visit to Panama City, we made it a reality.


The first 3 days of the trip were spent sailing among the stunningly beautiful San Blas Islands, more formally know as the “Comarca de Kuna Yala”.  We went snorkeling, did the Pirate Swing and some slow speed skiing behind the dinghy and went onto a few of the islands.  Then it was time to head south to Cartagena.  Check out the full story at the link above.  It was a super fun and very memorable travel experience.


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