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Published: November 18th 2011
Finally the day came for us to leave Panama on the good ship MetaComet. On Saturday night all 15 passengers got run out to the boat in a boat in the pouring rain. By the time we got to the boat we were all soaked to the bone. And here is when we realized the good ship MetaComet was perhaps not so good after all. After getting settled into our very hot cabins we discovered to our dismay that a) there was no running water b) there was no lights c) there was no indoor area to hang out in besides the cabins d) we would have to cook our own food, all while still paying the average cost of $425 for the passage. Not cheap! I was not a happy camper that night and Chev and I contemplated jumping to another ship especially the next morning when the engine would not start! After two hours of hard work, and three new batteries, the captain, a crazy French man named Herve, got the engine started and there was much rejoicing. At this point all the passengers were so ready to get going that we were all willing to put up with the ship. At least there were life jackets and safety boats. We set off for the San Blas Islands and after 6 hours arrived in paradise just in time for a swim and dinner. A few of us whipped up some spaghetti and the rest of the crew took care of clean up. It actually brought us together as a weird little family. That night we drank and played cards and commiserated over the sad state of our vessel. Then there was some excitement when our vessel collided with another due to winds and poor anchoring skills. Due to the drunkenness of our captain by this point he took no responsibility for the collision and was yelled at thoroughly by the Swedish couple who owned the other boat. A bit embarrassing but the next day there was a lot of room around our boat. That morning we loaded up the kayak with all of the gear we would need for a moral raising visit to the nearest island and swam in to hang at the beach. I ended up going snorkeling and saw some cool brain coral, tropical fish, sea stars and sea urchins. After that we hung out at a local Cuna's house while she cooked up some sea food we had brought in with us. We raced hermit crabs, played ball games and ate a feast of fish, lobster, crab and octopus. We could not have had a more perfect day. Another day of the same would have been good but we were all anxious to get to Colombia and the weather was rainy so we voted to pull up the anchor the next day and head out to sea for the 30 hour crossing to Cartagena. Most of that day was lost to sleep as most of the crew didn't want to have to face seasickness. I was pleased to learn that I do not get seasick anymore! The next day spirits were up, as was the sun, and there was picnicking on the front deck, complete with wine, and laughter and suntanning. We arrived in Cartagena around 4:30pm and headed off to La Casona, a hostel in the old part of town, where we all revealed in showers and clean clothes. That night was a quiet night of recovery from our big boat adventure and preparation for exploration of Colombia in the following days. All in all the MetaComet was not the best ship but it was an adventure. I came out of it with at least 4 new friends, and we got to Colombia safe and sound if not a bit grimy and smelly. We partied hard together and worked as a team to keep the boat in ship shape, and the crew and captain fed. We laughed and cried and yelled. Not sure of I would go this route again but I have plenty of stories to tell and memories from it. Lessons learned- 1) Don't be in a rush while trying to get a boat to Colombia 2) Websites can lie about the state of a vessel 3) Flying isn't such a bad option 4) Boats leave when they are good and ready, not when you're ready for them to leave 5) A positive attitude takes you a long way 6) Captians are crazy!
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