Cartagena Fishing Club
The Fishing Club has occupied the Pastelillo Fortress since the expedition of Law 30 of 1943, according to which, the custodianship, conservation and care of this National Property were restored to the Cartagena Society for Public Improvement, after having been for a time the responsibility of the Colombian Navy. The aim being that the Improvement Society continue to maintain the Fortress as a tourist attraction via the Cartagena Fishing Club.
The Fishing Club was founded in 1938 by a group of keen amateur fishermen, most whom lived on Miramar de Manga Avenue, in Cartagena. The original members were José Vicente Mogollón de Zubiría, also known as “Pepino”, José Vicente Trucco, José Cesáreo, Rafael Román Vélez (“Fucho”), his brother Enrique Román Vélez, Manuel Jiménez Molinares (“Jimeneco”), Roberto de la Vega Gerlein, Rafael Escallón Villa, José Antonio Martelo, Antonio María Arenas, Daniel Gómez Cáceres, Alberto H. Lemaitre (“Mr. Tollo”), his brother Carlos Lemaitre Porto, Ernesto Carlos Lemaitre Tono, Gustavo Lemaitre Román, Antonio María Martínez Martelo, Carlos Martínez Martelo, Antonio Arenas Barragán, Ernesto Tono De la Espriella, Máximo Cantillo and Tomás Tatis.
“Pepino” Mogollón, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, had recently returned to Cartagena from the USA. Having lived in the States from the age of twelve he had become a keen swimmer, sailor and sports fisherman at the Harrisburg Academy and from time spent in summer camps on the Hudson river.
On arriving in Cartagena, “Pepino” lost no time in building several “lightning” type sailing dinghies in the carpentry workshop of J.V. Mogollón y Cía., the company founded by his father José Vicente Mogollón Lavignac. These he sold to his good friends “Fucho” Román, José Vicente Trucco, Roberto de la Vega Gerlein and “Jimeneco”. The latter owned a hardware store in Candilejo Street that sold fishing tackle, hooks, lines, etc… José Vicente Mogollón Vélez, son of “Pepino” and provider of this information recalls seeing one of the boats fitted with a “Penta” outboard motor. He adds that later, around 1941 or ’42, his father built the boat Penta, precursor of the Elenita, on which boat “Pepino” acted as host and unofficial and unacknowledged publicist for the city of Cartagena, which benefitted greatly from his spreading the word about its attractions.
1 (Information provided by José Vicente Mogollón Vélez, son of “Pepino” Mogollón).
The members of the recently founded club decided to talk to “Pepe” Mogollón, to see if he would use his influence as a good friend and fellow liberal party member of then President Eduardo Santos to obtain the Saint Sebastian de Pastelillo Fortress as club headquarters. 2 The response was positive, but with several conditions attached: The Fortress would continue to be state property; the Fishing Club in exchange for being allowed to use it would be responsible for restoring and maintaining the building. In addition, the Fortress would be open to the public and there were to be no restrictions on access to the Club restaurant.2
The version of Alberto H. Lemaitre, “Mr. Tollo”,3 is a little different. According to this childhood line-fishing enthusiast, it was he who invited a group of like-minded fisherman friends (those same ones listed above) to the office of his advertising company, La SPLENDIN, to propose starting a club for fishing fans in Cartagena and other parts of the country. Mr. Tollo tells that a committee was chosen to find a house on the waterfront that could be used as Clubhouse”.3
After a few weeks had gone by, Mr. Tollo says, “we realized that the Pastelillo Fortress in Manga, which was more or less abandoned, would be the ideal place for our activities. Without further ado, we investigated and found that it was in the care of the Public Improvement Society, of which the president was none other than Antonio Lequerica Gómez, brother-in-law of our friend and fellow club member Manuel Jiménez Molinares.
The next day we went to Don Antonio to request the Pastelillo as our headquarters. He agreed and sent us to talk with Society secretary Jorge Hernández Posada (El Gallo).
The day arrived for receiving the Fortress, but on taking possession of it we were horrified to find that the place was in dire need of renovation. Around 150 roof tiles were missing. There was no water or electricity and the backyard was piled high with garbage, having been used as the neighborhood garbage dump. We didn’t let this deter us though, and decided to get to work straightaway. We would get together every afternoon and “Fucho” Román would bring two large pitchers of water (which we poured into a tub), and a petrol lamp.
“One of the first motions of the committee was that each club member had to personally remove two wheelbarrows’ full of garbage, and was not to pay anyone else to do so. For the electricity and water, our Uruguayan friend Federico Brauer told us that if we erected the poles, he would arrange the reconnection.
“Fucho” Román immediately hired three delivery drivers from Kola Román, the family soft drinks company and went out with them to his farm El Ceibal one Sunday, bringing back 15 posts made of the wood of the “monkey’s saucepan” tree, which he had had cut especially for the purpose.
But we still needed wire. So the interpid “Fucho”, after downing a few drinks, went with me and two other club members to the Velez Troja boatyard in manga where one of the Velez boats was being repaired. He went in with a pair of wire cutters and began to strip off all the wire, saying that the boat needed repairing anyway, and his uncles were rolling in money. We arrived back at the Club in the early hours with three large rolls of electrical wire.
The following week, work began on raising the posts and connecting to the main network which took three days. Then we installed water pipes. Roof tiles were purchased and put in place. Chairs, tables and other objects essential to the office were also needed. We also remembered to build a dock and install three doors that the house was missing. As doorman for the club, “Fucho” and “Quiquemán” (Enrique Luis Román, Fucho’s brother) had in mind a diver from Montería who lived nearby in Chagüi quay. They hired him for a monthly wage of forty pesos.
“Later on, the cafeteria and dining room were organized for the big fishing festivals which are celebrated on June 24th each year with sailing and rowing regattas, swimming and fishing competitions during the day, and ballroom dancing at night. The steering committee were told not to take a drink, so they would be able to act as hosts to the invited members, and were instead given a special party of their own a few days later. Then came the great chocolate evenings organized by chocolate enthusiast Tulita Martínez Martelo, (“Tulipán”). These happened every Wednesday and the club would fill up with people wanting to try the delicious cinnamon-scented drinking chocolate of the Lequerica Brothers Factory. On Sundays, a giant shad stew was cooked, at only fifty cents a bowl.
“As the club became better organized, it began to be frequented by more people of the city who started making it into an important business, which today is one of the best restaurants in Cartagena.”. 4
Club members have always been very involved in tasks related to the club’s main purpose. When it first began, the club owned a motorboat that had been built on the property, the famous Sebastiana referred to above. Luis Mogollón de Zubiría, a veteran sporting sailor and Club member, recalls that it had a round hull and looked rather similar to a North Sea fishing vessel from Bremerhaven, Germany. He seems to remember that a naval engineer attached to the Colombian navy, Reynaldo Pashke, assisted in its design. He adds that the spear fishermen belonging to the so-called “Los Caguamos” Club used to use it to get to the Rosario Islands during the 1950s and ‘60s. Members of “Los Caguamos”, according to Mogollón, were Rodrigo Puente, Alfredo de la Espriella, “Peque” Lemaitre, Hernando Espinosa París, Daniel Lemaitre Diazgranados, Alonso Restrepo, Máximo Caldas, Alfredo Mogollón de Zubiría and Luis himself. He also remembers the boat being very slow, taking three hours to reach the island and that the noise from the motor was deafening. It had a tent to set a mast and add a stabilizing sail as it wobbled so much.5
José Vicente Mogollón Vélez, nephew of Luis, adds that La Sebastiana “must have been launched in 1948, at the same time as the Elenita. As Gustavito (Gustavo Lemaitre D.), says, she was built in the Club itself at the Punta de Caracolejo where the first dock started that appears so many paintings by the watercolorist Hernando Lemaitre.
La Sebastiana – named after the Fortress of course – was very roughly put together, with “ships carpenter” detailing. She was slow, had a round hull, a single motor and was always making people seasick. I remember seeing her on the Club’s dock next to la Jurel, la Marta and la Elenita. At that time (the end of the 1940s), the Club only had about five or six boats. The pilot was “Mono” Flórez, who also served as doorman and odd job man but “Jimeneco” was her driving force and spiritual master. Members used to take her on outings to Bocachica and for bottom fishing. They used to come back from the Salmedina or No-komis shallows with catches made there, on Macabí island. Her warden was Roberto Cesar, “King of the Sharks”. I think I stopped seeing her in the 1970s.”6
Joaquín Franco Burgos has his own version of how the Fishing Club was founded, which appears in the online version of the Cartagena daily, El Universal, 20th April 2012.We share it below.
“The true pioneer of sport fishing in Cartagena was Manuel Jiménez Molinares, “Jimeneco”, who even owned a store in the Calle del Candilejo devoted entirely to articles for line fishing, as was the custom in those days. It was José Vicente Jr., “Pepino” who later introduced the rod and the first vessel built for rod fishing, “La Sebastiana”. In around 1939, in a house on Calle del Tablón, a group of enthusiasts, led by “Jimeneco”, with Alberto H. Lemaitre, “Mr. Toyo”, as secretary agreed to create a Fishing Club. They chose San Sebastián de Pastelillo, as their ideal headquarters and spoke to the Cartagenian parliamentarian Efraín S. Del Valle, who initially submitted the project that later became Law 30 of 1943. It was endorsed by Alfonso López Pumarejo, not Eduardo Santos, who governed from 1938 to 1942. Vicente Martínez Martelo, due to his friendship with López, handled the endorsement.”7
1. Information provided by José Vicente Mogollón Vélez, son of “Pepino” Mogollón.
2. J. V. Mogollón V. Ob. Cit.
3. J. V. Mogollón V. Ob. Cit.
4. Ibid. Pág. 90
5. Information provided by Luis Mogollón de Zubiría
6. Information provided by José V. Mogollón V.
7. www.eluniversal.com.co/ 20th April 2012.