Monday, December 15, 2008

Antigua

Well, it turned out the problem with the transmission wasn't too horrible. The lock nut had backed off, so the wonderful folks at MPS fixed that and replaced the seals. Almost wish they had found something bigger, just to put us more at ease. But, at only $350 US for the repairs, we're not complaining. It took a couple of weeks to get the parts in, but we used that time to explore English and Falmouth Harbours and take the bus into St. John's a couple of times. After more than two weeks, the transmission was back and installed on the boat. We had ordered new motor mounts at the same time, since we're pretty sure these are the originals. The chief mechanic came out with the motor mounts, had us start up, looked at the engine and told us we were fine. Talk about honest! That was about $600 in parts alone, not to mention labor. Vaughn was wonderful helping to put the transmission back in but, unfortunately, he lost his cell phone in our bilge. We retrieved it, but I don't think it will work again.

So, with our transmission now in and working we decided to pick up anchor and test the systems. We had met with Chris and Marsha on Endorphins and they told us that Indian Creek was a nice little anchorage, only a couple of miles away. Off we went to test everything and when all seemed to be working, we went and anchored in Indian Creek. Had to pass by Eric Clapton's little spread - not too shabby! Not a bad anchorage, but kind of buggy and with not real clear water. Spent a couple of days there and headed back to English Harbour to look at all the beautiful boats that were coming in for the charter boat show. Not for the likes of us to tour the insides, but even looking at them up close from the outside was amazing. Some people out there have a LOT more money than we do!

We finally left English Harbour and were planning on anchoring in Carlisle Bay and going out to the reef to snorkel. Kind of windy and choppy waves, so we passed on there and headed over to Jolly Harbour, home of Budget Marine. Once we pulled in and anchored we noticed that Metalia was there as well. We had met John and Marie in the work yard at Aquavit and they had given us all kinds of helpful tips on Antigua. It turned out Marie was back in Canada for the week, so we had John over for dinner and he pointed out the anchorages and problem areas - problem areas as far as the reef system goes! We tried to head north and made it to Deep Bay where the weather was not looking promising for heading farther north and cutting through the reef. So, back we went to Jolly Harbour where at least we could take the bus into town and visit three different beaches and had a wonderful dinner on Metalia. We went in and filled up with water this morning and pulled around to a little anchorage where we can steal internet, then we're off again tomorrow to attempt Boon's Pass and head into Jumby Bay.

I've posted another album, Venezuela to Antigua, on the Picasa Web Albums. That's sometimes easier than trying to download photos to the blog site.

Wishing everyone a happy holiday season!! ~~~_/)~~~

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Venezuela to Antigua - 7 VERY Long Days

The last week before we left the marina we were busy shopping and stowing everything away, doing inventory lists, getting last minute chores done. You know, it's always better to leave some things until the last minute for that extra bit of stress. We had another gourmet meal aboard Nereia, cooked by Jaime, and made promises to keep in touch and meet up with he and Dan again. Told them they could always follow us to Antigua instead of heading west.

Up the next morning, Saturday, November 1st, topping off the water tanks, putting away all the loose knickknacks, hitting the bi-monthly swap meet for the last time, and off we went (even though Jaime tried to hold on to the boat and hold us back!)

Had a great motor all the way to our favorite little anchorage in Mochima Park, tucked in and secluded in 15 feet of water. Relaxed, swam and had an early night. Up and on the way to Coche before 7 a.m. Had not a bad day of motoring and some good sailing. Unfortunately, one of the small fishing boats decided that he couldn't make it past our bow, so cut real close to the stern, as we were screaming at him that we had fishing lines out. Yep, all 3 lures gone. To say DW was a little upset would be putting it mildly. Needless to say, he didn't realize at the time that this was the least of his problems.

Anchored in Coche where we were the last time and Dennis did his normal check of all fluid levels and the bilge. Red in the bilge, but no diesel smell. So not a good thing. Transmission fluid. Not quite understanding that since I had no problems at the helm with forward and reverse. Poured the last of our fluid in, only to have it run right back out. So, so not a good thing! Dennis crawled down into the small spot that he has to work in and couldn't find any problems. Now, a decision had to be made. We could sail on the outside of the islands back to Bahia Redonda and get a tow in - but the availability of parts and service people to work on Yanmar motors isn't really there. Made the decision to stick with our original plan and sail to Antigua, where parts and services would be readily available and at least we speak the same language. We had checked the weather before we left the marina and the winds were supposed to be light and the wave height down for the week. If we left Tuesday, we should miss the squalls that were going to hit the northern Windwards and Leewards. I spent Monday baking, making potato salad, pasta salad and cooking chicken so that I didn't have too much to do below underway.

Thankfully, the boat beside us left first thing Tuesday morning, so that I didn't have to worry about running into him as we pulled the anchor under sail alone. I didn't sleep all night I was so stressed about that part. We had taken up the anchor once or twice under sail, but had the motor running 'just in case'. But, that was also 4 years ago, when we were travelling with Frank and Gretchen on Infinity, and we were trying to show them that we could be real sailors too. Well, really, I wasn't sure about us! Dennis is only allowed 3 screwups a day, and he used all 3 up in the first half hour. The plan was for him to raise the main, hoist the anchor, and he'd be back to help pull out the jib. I was down below closing ports and making sure everything was ready to go and I heard the anchor coming up. Okay, he's done this before. He's taking up the snubber, right? I go up, the main isn't up. I ask him what he's doing. As usual, he ignores me (or he just doesn't hear is more like it). I give him another minute and walk up on deck and ask him what he thinks he's doing. He tells me to get back to the cockpit that the anchor is almost up. I inform him that he'd better drop it again - SINCE THE MAIN ISN'T UP! See, that's the difference between the two of us. Under stress, I get bitchy, he gets stupid! Then he didn't put a reef in, which is not a god thing as far as I'm concerned. I don't like being able to trail my hand in the water as we're sailing along. It also meant that I had to go below and put all of my clothes into garbage bags on the bed since there's a deck leak somewhere that drips down the starboard side, right into my clothes lockers. Oh, and if anyone tells you it's okay to cut the marker off Coche - DON'T! We did see 5'5" on the depth meter, I guess we were just over too much to hit the bottom!

It took us all day to get to the tip of Margarita. The first night is definitely the worst. We were both so stressed all day, neither one of us slept, so we were only doing a one to one and a half hour shift, and even that seemed long. We were also worried about power, not sure if we could run the diesel, so we ran no lights, no radio and hand steered all the way to Antigua. Let me tell you, that's a lot of work. The second day was better and we took turns napping all day and I was able to take most of the night shift. We've discovered that Dennis does well up until about midnight. After that, he just can't stay awake, even if he's just gotten up. I can handle the midnight to 5 a.m. shift as long as I have the MP3 player or IPOD going. (Found out that rechargeable batteries do not last in the MP3 player, you need regular batteries) Day 3 really is the turning point and you start to feel better. It also helped that Dennis would rig up the solar shower in the cockpit every morning so that at least we felt human at one point during the day. There was nothing out there. Usually, when I'm on night watch, there's always a freighter crossing my bow. I think days 4 and 5 we finally saw some traffic. Day 6, around 4 a.m., I could see Monserrat and Nevis. Unfortunately, it took us until 7 p.m. that night to make it past Monserrat and Redonda Rock. Light winds and strong currents. We were becalmed, doing 0.5 knots, for a couple of hours a day for 3 days. Very frustrating. Sunday night we made the crossing between Monserrat and Antigua. The waves got choppy and came over the bow and sides, getting me soaked. Dennis had to take over his shift early and put his rain gear on. Of course, not one wave came over the bow after that, and I woke to him trying to get out of his rain gear, with little success. It's cooler up here and I had on fleece!

Day 7, I think we're almost there. After the morning weather on Channel 06, everyone switches back to Channel 68. I called, stating that we were a couple of hours out of English Harbour, and if there was anyone that could help us come in to anchor, since we were without a motor, we'd really appreciate it. Sun Sail Charters responded and told us to give them a call when we were 10 to 15 minutes out. We did, finally at 11 a.m., and Sylvan and Clive came out to meet us out by the reef. Dennis said he wasn't worried. He obviously has much more confidence in my abilities than I do! They were great. They towed us in, we dropped the anchor, and they backed us up to set. We said we'd buy them a beer, but they didn't want anything. I brought in cookies and wrote a thank you to them in the Compass (January's Reader's Forum).

Got everything straightened out, had lunch, then went in to check into Customs, Immigration and the Port Authority. We'd heard not good things about the authorities in Antigua, and were a little worried since our Zarpe from Venezuela said we were checking into Guadaloupe. Fortunately for us, we ran into great people. Everyone was amazingly friendly and helpful and welcomed us to their island. The Immigration officer thumbed through our passport and commented that we hadn't been here before . We said not in 20 years, so we'd like to stay as long as possible. He laughed and said, "Welcome to our island - enjoy!"






So, here we are, the transmission having been taken out, dead in the water, waiting for our parts to arrive, two weeks later. English Harbour is a wonderful place to 'be stuck', and we've done a lot of walking, hiking and bus trips over the island.
Stay tuned! ~~~_/)~~~

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Trip to Los Altos

We were in the restaurant at Bahia Redonda one night (I needed a break from cooking!) and Richard from Preferred Stock asked us if we'd like to join a group of people on a trip to Los Altos with Carlos, known on the radio as Charlie Alpha. We'd heard from our friends on Nereia it was a wonderful trip, so off we went. We stopped at Mermaid Falls first - how beautiful! I'll post the rest of the photos on our Picassa Web Albums.

We stopped by the pottery place, watched a lovely, elderly gentleman make paper from recycled paper and leaves, visited Carlos' house for the beautiful view and had a fantastic lunch. We had a great day with Preferred Stock (Richard and Shellee), Jus' Now (Mike and Sue), Child's Play (Mike and Kim) and Vamoose (Greg).
Sometimes it's a small world. We met Shellee from Preferred Stock back in Indiantown, Florida. Her parents owned a 32' Bayfield, Rainbow Connection. They travelled back and forth to the Bahamas with her son, their grandson, Jamal, who was a charming young lad and now the owner of Rainbow Connection.
Some of the unique work done by Maria Esther Galban at the pottery shop.

~~~_/)~~~







In the Boat Yard

Well, here we are, being hauled out of the water at Aquavi - something we really hadn't planned on - but the cutlass bearing just kept getting a little more 'play' to it all the time. What a lot of
work. We didn't want to have the bottom power washed and get rid of all that nice, expensive ablative paint we put on last year, so guess whose job it was to scrub the bottom? And then I made the mistake of complaining about the way the paint was put on last year, so there was another job I had. Someone remind me to keep my mouth shut!! While it was a lot of work, I'd rather suffer from heat exhaustion (it was 95 degrees and I had coveralls on) than
climb down into the bilge like Dennis had to. One of the yard guys came over to the boat and said he'd dig a hole to drop the rudder for 100 B's. At the exchange rate right now,that's about $25 US. No problem, have at it! We did that back in Michigan, ourselves, and it took us 6 hours to dig through stone and crushed concrete. Pinto brought a friend, they did it in 2 hours and I doubled their money. Well worth it, since we were doing all of the other work ourselves.Terry on Teka Nova had said on the Net one morning that Patrick was a fantastic general contractor, so we contacted him. He was amazing (plus really good looking). We discovered that there was corrosion on the shaft when we pulled it and he had a new shaft made for us in a day! Arrived when he said he would, the mechanics showed up on time, did a great job, and Aquavi was a great yard to haul at. They couldn't get us back into the water on the day that we wanted, so they only charged us for one extra day in the yard, not the three extra that we were there. While we hate being on the hard, Aquavi is a beautiful place to be, with a fantastic pool to relax by in the afternoon. And, since it's a hotel as well, there's actually waiters that stop by to see if you'd like a drink. Okay, so life on the hard wasn't that bad!!


They put us back in the water on Tuesday, we went out in the bay to check that everything worked okay, and tied back up in our slip at Bahia Redonda at noon, with help from Freddie. Potter, who speaks English, has left for Panama, so I've really got to brush up on my Spanish to communicate with Freddie! Got out the hose and all the cleaning stuff and gave the boat a good scrubbing. Spent two hours doing that, and no sooner did I finish than one heck of a storm blew in. It was the outer bands from Omar (I think it was just a tropical storm at that point). So, wasn't that a waste of two hours. We had whitecaps in the marina and tons of wind and rain. Glad we got in and tied up when we did. Our friends on Infinity said they had 60 knots of wind in Spaanese Waters in Curacao. We didn't have that, but it was pretty windy.


So, here we are, back at Bahia Redonda, getting serious about provisioning. November 1st is our day to pull away from the dock! ~~~_/)~~~








Tuesday, September 23, 2008

In the marina and doing chores!

Well, we're back in the marina, aboard our home, Audrey Paige, and 'lovin' it'!! Andreas dropped us off at the boat, after 2 hours of going through airport stuff, and we decided to see how much we could put away that night instead of chillin'!


The next few days were spent doing all those boat chores and installing all the great stuff we brought from the States. Replaced the water pump - the most important thing. Then, before we left and were cleaning like crazy, Dennis was trying to clean the brass saltwater hand pump in the galley. Oops, it just broke into pieces. Happiest day of my life. No more pink and green spewing all over the galley and setees. He's now installed a stainless steel foot pump (so, so much easier than a hand pump) and put a soap dispenser into the hole where the hand pump was. Life is so much easier.






This is our best purchase - an Engel cooler/freezer, that we choose to use as a freezer. We should be able to store about six weeks' worth of food, have ice and keep most of the fish we catch. While it's nice to make new friends in an anchorage by giving away fish, it really hurts to give the majority away!

Dennis has been busy with his sewing projects and I'm just trying to stay out of the way. My turn is coming in the next couple of weeks -- WOODWORK!!






A great new toy is our new IPOD with the car adapter. We plug it into our 12 volt plug, tune in a non-working radio station, and all of our music is on this tiny little IPOD. Don't tell Mom Coon that our two CD albums are hidden in our closet at her place as well as three of our photo albums. We need all the storage on the boat that we can get!


Right now, just hanging out, doing shopping trips and trying to keep busy. The really, really bad thing is that the pool is now very, very green. Not spending time at the pool is killing us. We usually spent a couple of hours a day reading and swimming. Hope they figure that out real soon. At least we have air conditioning.

The next big project is hauling out to put a new cutlass bearing in. We have to drop the rudder and hope everything goes well. We'll let you know how that goes! Picked up one gallon of Sea Hawk bottom paint just to do the waterline and touchups. At $250 a gallon, we're hoping that's all we need. Took us 4 gallons last year to do the whole bottom. Ouch!

Insurance tells us we can't leave this area until the beginning of November, and we're really ready to get out on the hook again.

Hope you enjoy the photos and keep in touch! ~~~/_)~~~

Monday, September 15, 2008

Back to the States

Parker and Avory
at the waterpark


Back in Bahia Redonda, cleaning like crazy, trying to get ready for our 6 1/2 weeks back in the States. It's Mom Coon's 90th birthday, so we have to get back for that. Not to mention, we really need to visit with our 9 grandkids!


Andreas picked us up at 6 a.m. to take us to the airport at Barcelona, along with Una from Dragonfly. We were supposed to travel with Jeff and Una but, unfortunately, Jeff's dad died, he left early and Una was running to make connecting flights. Rented a car from Miami to Tampa and, once again, Larry and Melody, our good friends, came and picked us up at Tampa Airport at the last minute. Well, we gave them 24 hours notice. Don't know what we'd do without them. Obviously, never make it to see Mom Coon! Spent 10 days in Florida and then headed up to Michigan to see our wonderful grandkids. A relatively painless journey, compared to last year. Just a whole different story.


Taylour, Zach and Cody


Tried not to be too much of a bother, alternating our time between Kelly and Charlie's place and Shaun's, with a short visit over to Windsor to visit with Sue and Dan. Visited the waterpark with all the grandkids and just lots of quality kid time. Did chores at Kelly's and Shaun's, trying to be helfpful.



Sold the our car on our last day at Shaun's, and Dennis' good friend Jerry came all the way to Algonac from Royal Oak to pick us up. About an 80 mile round trip. We bought dinner and caught up and did pay for gas, since it's $4 a gallon! Big difference from Venezuela!!



The only sad note was that a friend died while we were back home and so our usual visit with the old Detroit Dive Team was at the funeral. Geoff Coon, no relation, same last name, replaced Dennis on the tow truck and dive team when he retired. Just sad, too young to die at 55 in a motorcycle accident.



Flew back to Orlando, rented a car for a week, visited with Mom Coon again, before driving down to Miami and back to Venezuela. Had a great flight and everything went as scheduled.




Did have a wonderful trip home visiting with our beautiful grandkids. We have Taylour (13), Zach (11), Cody (10), Parker (6), Avory (4), Madison (4), Ryenn (23 months), Brooklyn (14 months) and Emerson (9) months. If you click on our Picasa Web Albums to the left, you'll see our Summer, 2008 photos with all our family.



SO, SO good to be home on Audrey Paige! ~~~~_/)~~~~

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Video of our trip down the Manamo and Pedernales

videoA video of our trip down the Pedernales and Manamo Rivers in the Orinoco Delta, Venezuela, during the month of November, 2007. Hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it! ~~~_/)~~~

Monday, June 30, 2008

Picasa Web Albums - Allayne - Bonaire and C...

Picasa Web Albums - Allayne - Bonaire and C...

Click on the link above to enjoy some of our photos from Bonaire and Curacao, since we're in the marina for awhile and there's not too much new and exciting! And then enjoy our video below. ~~~_/)~~~
video

Monday, June 23, 2008

Picasa Web Albums - Allayne - Venezuela, 2008

Picasa Web Albums - Allayne - Venezuela, 2008

Click on the link above to enjoy our photos of Venezuela from December of 2007 until we arrived back at the marina in June of 2008. ~~~_/)~~~

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Back to PLC and then on to the Golfo

Well, after a wonderful, calm night in Cienaguita, we left a half hour after Nereia to head back to PLC. Needed them to get in and tie up first so that we had help with lines. What a difference. No wind, no waves, dead calm. Put the boat on auto pilot and just headed back to the waypoint before heading into the marina.
Spent the two weeks in the marina cleaning, washing clothes, and putting everything back where it belongs. Oh, and back to walking -- at 4:30 a.m.??!!!
Headed out to El Oculto on Friday, May 23rd, by ourselves. Nereia still had a few things to take care of, so were going to meet up with us the next day. What a beautiful trip. There's so many
things to love about Venezuela.
Audrey Paige and Nereia anchored in Mochima
(We're going to ignore the fact that Audrey Paige is upside down in this photo)

Found a shallow spot in 18 feet of water in El Oculto, explored with the dinghy and went for a swim. COLD water!! Nereia pulled in the next day. We hung out for another day, then headed to Mochima National Park, on Sunday. Found a nice secluded anchorage and relaxed for another few days, doing a dinghy tour with Dan and Jaime.

After that, on to Laguna Grande, hoping to meet up with Mark and Deb on Sea Cycle. We had to stop in Cumana first to get fuel. As we circled out in the bay, watching all the fishing boats come and go, we decided to finally head in and see what was going on. Ended up tying up to a Venezuelan fishing boat, since they were going to take 2 hours to fuel up. Luckily, the Captain spoke English. They helped us tie up to them and I handed out homemade brownies to the crew for helping us out. When we were finished fueling up, the Captain wouldn't take either beer or money for beer for their help. He said they did it 'from the heart'. We love this country and the people! Oh, and the 35 gallons of diesel and 5 gallons of gas cost us a whopping $9 US.
Love those dolphins

Motored over to the first anchorage in Laguna Grande, with pods of dolphins swimming around the boat from everywhere, and it turned out we had just missed Sea Cycle. They had left that morning to head down to Medregal Village to check out the haulout facilities. As you can see from the photos, it is absolutely gorgeous here in Laguna Grande. We spent our time there swimming, dinghy exploring and hiking, and then had some great happy hours when Sea Cycle returned.
Laguna GrandeAllayne, Jaime and Dan
Allayne waits while Dennis hikes againWhat a view
With Mark, Deb and Dan
The flies were really bad the last couple of days (only on the water, none to be seen on land). Sea Cycle left to head back to Medregal on Sunday, and we departed on Monday. Nereia has had to motor because of a rigging issue, but we hoisted the sails and headed over to Sera Larga, hoping to spend a couple of days there before joining Nereia and Sea Cycle at Medregal Village. Well, the anchorage didn't appeal to us at all. Fishing boats, the road was right there, and not what I considered a beach. So, we turned around, hoisted the sails again and had another good sail down to Medregal Village. Anchoring was challenging since the wind switched and blew out of the west, giving us waves in the anchorage. We all stayed on the boat that night to make sure we didn't drag, then headed in to visit the marina for the next few days. Pretty nice - hanging out in the self-serve bar, with good prices, not a bad book exchange and Jean Marc and everyone there are helpful and friendly. There was one calm morning and, fortunately, it was the morning Sea Cycle was hauling out. Dan and Jaime in one dinghy, and us in ours, just in case they needed some help.
Jaime, Dan, Paul and Sandra from Quarterdeck, Mark and Dennis
A storm rolling in
Sea Cycle hauls out

They were pros and everything went smooth. On Thursday we all hired what we thought was a van to take us to the market. Turned out to be an open truck. It was quite the 45 minute trip - bumpy and dusty. But, the market was wonderful, we picked up lots of great fresh produce and stopped to replenish liquor. Well, that means wine for us!!
Mark and Deb had a flight back to Toronto, but it was going to be a hassle to get to Caracas. Nereia offered first, and we seconded, that they were welcome to travel with either one of us back to PLC and fly out of Barcelona. They took Dan and Jaime up on their offer (they travelled together for almost a year and then didn't see each other for the same amount of time) and everyone had a wonderful time.

Audrey Page with spinnaker flying!

We checked the weather and it looked like spinnaker time! Hauled everything out and headed out first thing Saturday morning. We appreciate the great photos that Jaime took of us flying the spinnaker! Cruised for 3 hours until the wind completely died, then turned on the motor and headed over to Caracas Este. A bit of a challenge since Dennis likes to anchor in less than 15 feet, and that sometimes means we almost beach the boat. Then, back to Chimana Grande, anchoring at Cienaguita again, before heading back to the marina. It was motoring all the way. A power boat came in and anchored, dragged down on Nereia, then managed to stick themselves into the mud at the far end of the anchorage. We lowered the dinghy, put the motor on, and Dennis went over to help. He actually managed, with his little Spanish and their little English, to pull the boat off and anchor them well away from all of us until they could get their motors running properly.
A calm, peaceful night at anchor, our last one for awhile. Back to the marina where it's nice to know we already have the slip next to Nereia.

Marina life to follow. ~~~_/)~~~

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tortuga

Through the reef at Los Roques at 2:30 in the afternoon for our overnight sail to Tortuga. Nereia should already be there. We're going to try to anchor on the west side of the island where we were told the fishing was good. What we need with more fish is beyond me, but someone on this boat lives to fish. A very boisterous sail! Started off going fast with waves not too bad. Nighttime came, with my watch, and the wind had picked up and we kept getting slapped with a large wave out of nowhere. Plus, we were heeled over way too much for my comfort. I don't enjoy sitting in the helm seat, but I'm standing up. Oops, over the edge?

I announced that if anyone on this boat cared, I was not having a good time. My point was made and the staysail was brought in. Oh, and did I mention we found out that the porthole on the starboard side leaks if too much water runs down the deck? Wet setee cushions! Really not having a good time. Not a bad sail, until the rain came. Not my watch, I went below to sleep. I had packed the rainpants away ages ago, since we hadn't used them in forever and ever. Poor Dennis was cold and wet, so I dug them out for him. At least he had a rain jacket. Then the wind died totally and we motored the last two hours. Called Nereia on the radio and they informed us that the anchorage on the west side was not a good one, very rolly, so we agreed to meet in Cayo Herradura. We were there before and I loved it.


Dropped the anchor at 10:15 a.m. Not too bad, 20 hours. Then, who motors around the corner but Dan and Jaime on Nereia. So glad to see them again. They had us over for dinner (so nice not to cook), and we traded all the boat supplies we picked up for them in Curacao for the beer, wine and Diet Coke they brought for us. Woo hoo!!! Had them over for dinner the following night to share all that fish we'd caught.
Kim and Scott on Anthelide, another Michigan boat we had met in the marina at PLC, pulled in shortly after and stopped by for a short visit. They're on their way west and we got this great shot of them setting out for Los Roques. Paul, Kim and their 3 year old twins, Alastair and McKenna, arrived on Brio from Los Roques. We had met them in Bonaire. They just bought the boat and are starting to cruise. Tried to give them a few helpful hints on places to see in the Eastern Caribbean and places to anchor in Grenada.

I was starting to get a bit anxious about getting back to the marina and checking into Venezuela, so we looked at the weather and decided that we should leave Cayo Herradura on Tuesday to sail down to Playa Caldera, and then leave Wednesday morning for Chimina Grande. Both Nereia and ourselves checked the weather and it looked like Wednesday was the best day to leave or we'd be there until the middle of the following week. Just as we were getting ready to leave Cayo Herradura, Kim from Brio called and asked if Dennis would help Paul with one of their engines. It just decided to quit. No problem, it was a short trip down the coast. Besides, two brains always work better than one. Dennis said the kids were adorable, watching their every move and asking questions. Motorsailed down the coast and hooked a HUGE barracuda. Way too big to eat and way too many teeth to put into the cockpit. I swear, Dennis is going to hurt himself one time trying to get his precious lure back! Like last time, really rolly in Playa Caldera, so we rigged a bridle, and Dennis talked Dan through how to do it. They were thrilled at the difference it makes.
Up the next morning and finally left the anchorage just after 5. The winds and waves weren't quite as forcasted and we had an unbelievable current against us. All in all, quite a miserable day. I once again announced that I was not having a good time but, unfortunately, nothing could be done about it. I was dreaming of Winnebagos! Everything on the starboard side was wet from leaks, and then I hadn't shut the seacock off for the sink and the water sloshed up and over the counter and into where I keep my pots and pans, tupperware, etc. Really not a happy camper.

Finally, the day was almost over, and we motorsailed the last couple of miles accompanied by lots of dolphins. The high point of the day! Dropped the anchor in Cieneguita on Chimana Grande just after 4 p.m. and Nereia and Audrey Paige agreed that this had not been a good day! Off to the marina tomorrow to really clean up the mess! ~~~_/)~~~

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Los Aves to Los Roques

Well, it was another early morning leaving Barlovento for the sail to Los Roques. We definitely wanted to get in with good daylight and not end up like the ship on the reef!

It was a pretty good sail, just a very, very long day. The wind, of course, was on the nose, so we did quite a bit of tacking, and that 35 miles was closer to 60. Dropped the anchor by the beach off West Cay where we'd been before. It was a bit rolly, but it was too late in the day to make our way through the reef to the protected anchorage off Cayo de Agua. Up early the next morning, with Dennis on the bow to guide us through the reef to the nice calm anchorage where we were the only ones there. Heavenly! Did some beach walking and snorkelling, and saw some of the largest fish ever. Time for a change after a couple of days, through the reef again and some nice shallow water (I hate that part) over to the anchorage off Becqeve, where we anchored in 9 feet of water. I feel like I'm back in the Bahamas. When we went snorkelling we saw what I say was at least a 6 foot nurse shark. Okay, I know they sleep during the day and normally don't eat swimmers, but I still freaked out. Made sure Dennis was on the shark side, and when he thought he was going through the cut in the reef first, I let him know that he wasn't.
Time to sail again, so we picked up the anchor and had a great sail from Becqeve over to Carenero, where they actually had mooring balls. Good thing since it was deep right in close to shore. We did drop the anchor the next day when we went for a walk, just to make sure the boat was still in the same place when we returned. We actually had bait fish jumping in the dinghy as we were driving along. Don't know if something larger was chasing them or it was the sound of the motor, but they were all over the place. Willy and Mary on Twilight (a huge old shrimp boat) and Chuck and Monica on Cherry Bowl (a very large trawler) were now in the anchorage. Chuck caught the largest barracuda we've ever seen and we all had dinner aboard Twilight that night. Mary served us wine, which was such a treat, since we ran out a week ago. They also gave us 25 gallons of water from their watermaker, which makes 50 gallons an hour. An even bigger treat!

Off again, motoring the 2 miles to Sarqui where the beaches, again, were beautiful and the snorkelling fantastic. And when you put a piece of chicken fat on a line at night, you might get lucky enough to catch this fellow, an 18 pound Snapper. I guess we won't starve with all this fish! Then off to Crasqui where the anchorage was starting to fill up with boats there for the holiday weekend. Gran Roque is close, and there's a rumor they have beer and wine, so we decide that we'll zip in and see what we can find.
Had the best sail on the way to Gran Roque, pulling in to see Jim and Norma on Mi Lady. Someone to share the snapper with! Rainbow Rider and Caribbean Soul pulled in shortly after. Lowered the dinghy, said a quick hello, picked up some beer, wine, bread and veggies, and off we went again. The main island is very, very busy with water taxis running back and forth between all the secluded little islands.
Found a beautiful anchorage at Soyoqui - a little reef in the middle of nowhere - with no one else around. Pure heaven. We were supposed to meet up with Dan and Jaime on Nereia, who had wine and beer for us, but they had engine problems and had to head back to the marina. The latest word is that everything is fixed and we'll meet them in Tortuga at the beginning of May. A couple of days snorkelling and relaxing, then through the reef and on the way to Tortuga. Los Roques is an absolutely beautiful place and we look forward to coming back here in the future, a little more well stocked. Also, we're not checked into Venezuela yet, so we do need to do that since we've been gone from Bonaire almost a month.
Next time, longer! ~~~_/)~~~




Sunday, May 11, 2008

Bonaire to the Aves

All I have to say is, heading east is not fun. Left Bonaire at first light, just before 6 a.m., towards Los Aves de Sotovento. Let's just say, it was not a fun day. The seas were higher than forecast and even trying to tack and motor sail wasn't really working with the current against us. Then, the engine started revving up and down again. Oh no, we need to change the fuel filter way too early! Put the boat on auto pilot (love that) and hauled everything out of the lazarette - snorkelling and dive gear, boat hooks, fenders, etc...... - just to be prepared. Dennis, my hero, went down, into the lazarette, into the bilge, in eight to ten foot seas that I was trying real hard not to surf up and down. Mission accomplished, and we continued on our way, finally pulling into the anchorage by the lighthouse, totally exhausted, at 6:30 at night, about twenty minutes before the sun was going to set. Real fun in a coral anchorage! I don't even remember what I prepared for dinner, all I know is, it was something easy!! Then, when we got ready to collapse, we saw a fishing boat hanging off the coast, so that was something we paid attention to. Watched it for awhile, and they were fishing!
Collapsed and woke up the next morning around 7. Underway by 8:30 to Aves de Barlovento. Cut the motor just after the anchor was hauled, figuring we had all day to sail the 15 miles. Going a whole three knots we landed a 5' wahoo. Hove to, brought the fish in and Dennis did his magic. Ended up with a 2 1/2 gallon ziploc full of wahoo and so not enough room in the fridge and freezer to put it in. Where are our friends when we need them?
Pulled into Barlovento midafternoon, followed by two playful dolphins for about half an hour, all the way into the anchorage. We were negotiating our way through the reef (where I was at the helm and Dennis was busy playing with the dolphins), when they kept jumping beside me. I looked over and told them to stop now, I was trying to go through the reef -- and they did!! There were four boats in the anchorage and we made new friends when we took them fresh wahoo. A couple dinghied by and I called them over to give them some fish. They visited a couple of days later, when we gave them more fish, and we got our baby fix with their 5 month old little boy. They were heading on to Curacao and west. Visited with Viv and Keith on Victoria, and English boat, and got all kinds of helpful hints on the area from them. They've been cruising between Curacao and the Aves for a couple of years. Know where to go next year!
Ended up spending over a week in Barlovento because of wind and waves. Did some walking and found the spot where cruisers leave their mark, and lots of birds. Didn't do as much snorkelling as we would have liked to because the water was so choppy. By the time it calmed down we were ready to leave.Leaving another anchorage at 6 a.m. to head to the Roques ..... ~~~_/)~~~~

Monday, April 07, 2008

Curacao to Bonaire

After a wonderful week in Curacao with Brigitte and John, we spent the following week and a half doing boat chores and provisioning the boat. Love those free bus trips to the grocery stores! Curacao is great -- we've been walking, snorkelling and exploring -- but it's time to move on.
We waited for the wind and seas to die down and headed out to Klein Curacao. Well, the seas hadn't calmed as much as we thought they would, so it was a slow, salty motorsail to Klein Curacao. We're now heading back east, so we have that lovely current against us. Took almost seven hours to do 15 miles. It was a rolly anchorage but we enjoyed the walk around the island and the swimming. The lighthouse and wrecks are always something to see.
Up the next morning on our way to Bonaire. The ride wasn't quite so bad, but still slow and salty. You get that wave every once in awhile that washes over the boat and bimini, turning everything and us into giant salt licks!
Pulled into Bonaire around 4 p.m. and moored next to Jeff and Una from Dragonfly. After we got everything sorted out they came by and gave us all the local info. That's always good to know! The snorkelling here is amazing, even off the boat. We've been snorkelling almost every day, and thank goodness for the shorty wetsuits since the water is 'brisk'! Took some great underwater shots. The coral here is healthy and beautiful, which is why you have to take a mooring and there's no anchoring allowed at all in Bonaire. Even with the dinghy!

Frank and Gretchen on Infinity pulled in on Saturday and we celebrated yet another one of Dennis' birthdays with them. This was the big 6-0!!! We've travelled off and on with Infinity since leaving the Bahamas and always have so much fun with them. They keep us young! Rented a car with them and toured the island. Not a big island, but it did take all day. Again, got lots of exploring and snorkelling in, and a nice, relaxing lunch, finally, at 3 p.m.!

Walked to the Bonaire Warehouse grocery store today to finish provisioning and, thankfully, they had a delivery driver able to take us back to the dinghy. Our plan originally had been to do a nice beam reach to Chichiriviche, then check in at Puerto Cabello and a nice beam reach back to the Roques. Well, after speaking to many people, your check-in at Puerto Cabello doesn't count for Puerto La Cruz, where we'll be spending the majority of the summer. I don't want to pay check-in, check-out and agent fees more than I have to, so we'll wait for the wind and seas to die down and beat to windward to head back to Los Roques. At least we're not in a hurry and really can wait for weather!

Then, went to check out today and splurged on lunch out, since it would be our last meal out for awhile. There was a huge cruise ship in and we enjoyed the people watching and making fun of some of the outfits. Looked up, and who did we see walking by but my kids' grandmother and her husband, Vivienne and Frank. Haven't seen them in about three years, since our granddaughter Madison's 1st birthday party. Had a drink and spent an enjoyable hour catching up with them. Sometimes it is a small world! ~~_/)~~

Friday, March 14, 2008

John and Brigitte finally visit

Well, after making our way to Curacao,
cleaning and provisioning the boat, John and Brigitte finally arrived! So good to see them!!! The first photo is on the way to Jan Thiel Beach, with flowers everywhere.
Here we are at Jan Thiel Beach, enjoying the cool, beautiful water. John and Brigitte, then DW, then John and I on the swim platform.
Went up to Santa Cruz for the weekend and had a great time, as you can see.
Then there were those rain showers. Not everyone has to get wet!!

Hooked a marlin underway. We think it was 90 to 110 pounds. Sure makes a difference with more than 2 people on board with sails, getting the fish in, a successful catch and release and, most importantly, photos!

Then we toured Willemstead. What a great town.






So, those were the photos, and now the journal. We were so excited about John and Brigitte visiting. Hadn't seen them since we left them in the Bahamas in January, 2006. We had spent the season of 2004/2005 with them down the ICW and the Bahamas, and they helped us out so much when we were hit by Wilma in 2005 in Indiantown.
They were as much fun on the boat as they were to travel with. Way too much alcohol consumed and laughs and laughs. No one tells a joke like Brigitte. Get her to do a bat imitation! Amazingly, those seven days went by real fast. Think we have them talked into two weeks in Venezuela in November!!
The only frustrating part of the whole week was trying to rent a car. Had everything planned to pick the car up at 9 a.m. Wednesday till Friday morning. Tour the island Wednesday, drop them off at the airport Thursday at noon, do heavy provisioning and then be ready to go. Took all of our stuff into Sarifundy's to pick up the car at 9 a.m. Brigitte and I went back to the boat at 9:30 to call. Oops, sorry, no car available, see you at noon with a jeep. Finally showed up at 12:15 with a totally unacceptable vehicle. Many phone calls and ready to blow a gasket later, we booked at car with Budget at Jan Thiel Beach. Wonderful! Clean, safe, comfortable car. Toured the neighborhood that night, up early the next morning, packed luggage in the trunk and did a '3 hour tour'! Considering the short time we had, we did a pretty good tour of the island, dropped John and Brigitte off at the airport at noon, did our provisioning, dropped the car off and back to the boat and collapsed. Considering there were four people on board for a week, there was amazingly little to clean!
Starting to do laundry and provision and ready to leave for Venezuela on the next weather window. ~~~_/)~~~