5 days at Sea – Panama to Colombia

Day 1

I held my breath and watched from the small boat below as my motorcycle was being hoisted onto the top deck of the ship. Three meters above the ocean my motorcycle swayed slightly and I hoped and prayed that the ropes had been tied correctly. Jumping from them small boat and racing to the third deck to help secure my bike, I found a petite Colombian woman and two giant South Africans easing my motorcycle around the upper deck with ease. The woman was part of the crew of the Independence, the ship taking us to Columbia and the giants were fellow bikers, riding the Pan American highway with two more of their mates. After a little more lifting, grunting and a lot of sweat my motorcycle was securely in place and well tied down, ready to make the 5 day voyage. The process was repeated four more times for the South African’s KTM’s and a bicycle belonging to a guy from the Czech Republic. I wasn’t long before we had set sail. Colombia here we come.

It was obvious from the moment I boarded the 85 foot, three level ship that this was going to be a real pleasure cruise. Captain Michele Mehle and his all-female crew took care of everything right from the start, beginning with a first class breakfast, then the paperwork, loading and securing the motorcycles, we were in good hands. The South Africans has brought on ten cases of beer, several bottles of wine and the crew had just loaded fresh fruits, chicken and meat purchased that morning from the local market.  My cabin was private, clean and spacious. There was enough room for my side boxes, top case and all my gear. We sailed throughout the night and I slept like a baby on a comfortable bed while the sea rocked me to sleep.

Days 2 & 3

We stopped by a small group of Islands inhabited by only a few local Indians. The captain reassured everyone that there were no sharks in the waters so a couple of us made the 50 meter swim to the island to explore the local way of life. Only 15 people were living on the island which measured approximately 50 meters wide by 100 meters long. They seem like a very relaxed and simple way of life, fresh water was obtained from natural spring wells, a few pigs were being raised and all other supplies, which were few (mainly beer), had to be brought by boat from the main land. Our second day was a fun day of swimming, snorkeling and kayaking around some old shipwrecks that had crashed against the reef. 

We set sail at 6:00am to another island for more snorkeling and kayaking, it is nice to be off the bike and get this much fresh air and exercise without having to worry about where to park the bike. Dolphins appeared swimming beside us and stayed long enough for us to be fascinated by their presence but as soon as we moved for our cameras they were gone. The crew is taking great care of us, preparing all the snorkeling gear, the kayak and serving some of the best meals that I have had on this trip. The night was spent anchored at the islands and was passed playing poker and sharing travelling stories.

Day 4

Setting sails again at 6:00am we were in for a long voyage at sea, our Captain told us that we would not stop until we reached Cartagena Colombia some 36 hours later. Even though we are in well-travelled waters the day passed without sight of another vessel of any kind. It can be bit lonely at sea but fortunately I had my travelling companions to help pass the time we watched old James Bond movies, trading more traveler stories and of course more poker. In the middle of the movie “Man with the Golden Gun” the wind seemed to suddenly change direction and the seas became very rough. I consider myself lucky that my Mother comes from a long line of Maritime fishermen, seasickness is has not been an issue; I must have inherited a gene.

Day 5

My pirate beard is filling in nicely and has stopped being too itchy, but it has too many white hairs and I am vain enough that I will shave it once I am on a surface that is more stable. The ship was really rocking this morning as we encountered another storm. The storms out here don’t seem to last long but they can sure toss the boat around. We arrived in Cartagena late in the afternoon with enough time to explore the city. The bikes can wait until tomorrow.


The Independence – www.independence-ms.com  Captain Michele Mehle indeteam@gmail.com  mobile 00707-6825 7979 or 6743-6542  Cartagena Representative Maria Jose – 316-555-6924 or 311-688-0880

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7 Responses to 5 days at Sea – Panama to Colombia

  1. Roberto says:

    Greg, I envy you in a healthy way. I think you were in paradise. I see you was very nervous when you load and unload your bike. Fortunately all went well.

    Greetings from Chile

  2. Pete Chester says:

    Greg, some people just know how to live the good life. I’m pretty sure you are one of them. I am looking forward to reading about & looking at the pictures of your travels through Colombia. You will enjoy yourself, it’s a beautiful country.
    Have fun, Pete Chester.

  3. Nancy Powell says:

    Sounds like you a had a great time both on and off the ship, something I wished I had the opporitunity to do when I was younger. I was aboard my Dad’s boat many times and was never sea sick and believe me the ocean can be pretty rough at times, so maybe you did inherite a gene. Enjoy the rest of you journey

  4. Ana says:

    HI Greg, I’m from Colombia and just today a friend of you talk to me about you, it’s been great to read that you really enjoyed my country until the weather made you head south. Hopefully I get the chance to meet you whenever you make it back home (if you do 🙂 )
    I truly hope you enjoy the rest of your journey.

  5. Mary says:

    Hi Greg

    We are making a similar trip on Independence next week and were delighted to find your blog telling of your wonderful experience. Thanks for posting!



  6. greg says:

    You will have a great time. Say HI to everyone for me!!

  7. Jose Moreno says:


    Good shit ! Your blog is really good and helpful. I am currently planning a little something on my own and I was wondering if you could give me a bit more details of your crossing from Panama to Colombia.

    How much did you end up paying for shipping fees ?
    Was it troublesome? If you can advice anything, what would it be?

    Any help would be appreciated!

    Good luck!

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