After we had boarded the Stahlratte, we were told to get to our bunks and sort out our luggage and then reconvene in 15 minutes on the upper deck for a full briefing before we headed out to sea. You can read about getting to the Stahlratte here.
All the cases went into storage areas, and I had a lower bunk and kept my backpack, helmet, clothes bad (including wash bag) and tank bag with my bed. All of our bikes are already under covers when we board.
We headed up to the upper deck where I was introduced formally to everyone Klaus, Chis, Sam, Onur, Stefano, Russell, Serkan, and Marcus are all names I can remember, there were more! Ludwig was our captain!
The Stahlratte is a German ship which had its maiden voyage in 1904 and has been used for many different purposes since the. (History below). Today the Stahlratte is used primarily for tourism and taking motorbikes from Panama to Colombia and back. It also does a few adventure trips elsewhere. You can read more about its journeys on the Stahlratte website. Its crew is all volunteers (except for Captain Ludwig), and on our trip, there were three crew members and the captain.
Once we settled in we were briefed by one of the crew, a German girl who had been on the Stahlratte for six months and this was her last trip. She basically told us all the things we were not allowed to do (like peeing from top deck), some of the passengers thought she was a little rough and coarse, but I didn’t think it was too bad.
After this we set sail, and the wind was very kind, we had a great tail wind that propelled us along nicely. After a few hours, we stopped by the San Blas Islands and took a swim to a little island where a couple was getting married, some tried kayaking and others just stayed on board.
During this time some local islanders come onboard with about 50 fresh live crayfish (lobsters), and that would be our dinner – a lobster curry and rice, yummy!
After washing up, we all went our separate ways and did what we wanted. Some read, some relaxed, some slept.
I slept the first night below deck and although stuffy and humid – I was able to crank out about 5 hours sleep before heading up to the deck for sunrise.
Breakfast was a mix of bacon eggs, bread rolls, etc. Ludwig informed us we had made amazing time with the tailwind and we would be just outside of Cartagena by nightfall.
The day was spent relaxing and reading, doing some writing and taking photos. Mostly open seas and spent some time on the bow and just getting to know everyone and their journeys. Some real interesting characters.
A couple of people got seasick and for some unknown reason thought it would be good to spend that time below deck (just prolongs it)
By nightfall, we were right outside Cartagena. We had full sails up and were maki9ng most of the wind all day, so it was good to be close. I decided to spend that night on the deck on a chair and in a hammock sleeping.
First light was a beautiful day in Cartegena, although we were told that the person doing our import permit paperwork had passed away the day before, and we would not get our bikes until the next day. No one was worried about this. Poor fellow!
Sam, Chis and I spent the night at an Airbnb, had a few beers and headed for a bite to eat locally. Getting to Puerto Carti and The Stahlratte.
The next day we returned to the point, got a dingy out to the Stahlratte and headed for a wharf to get our bikes. This took about 1.5 hours. Then when we got off the ship with our bikes, we all rode together for about 45 minutes into Cartagena, where most of us went our separate ways.
Sam, Chris and I stayed in the same Airbnb for another few nights before both Sam and Chris continued their journey!