Thursday, January 24, 2008

Margarita, Coche, Cubagua to PLC

Pulled into Porlamar, close to shore, to get a good wifi connection. What slaves we have become to that! Took the bus into the store for the grocery run on Wednesday. Didn't need much, so went shopping in the home stores and mall area surrounding Sigo. Amazing prices. New headphones for skype cost a whopping $3 US.
Happy hour on Vindomar with Roy and Sue on Thursday night as they're heading out to Tortuga and beyond and we won't see them again by boat. For every hello there's a sad goodbye!
We ended up checking out of Margarita on Friday, leaving around 8 a.m. Saturday for Coche, an island about 15 miles off of Margarita. Dropped anchor just as Frank and Gretchen on Infinity and Alex and Marie on Friendly Rival arrived in a power boat to do their kite surfing. Beautiful beaches! Watched the kite surfers and ended up meeting a wonderful gentleman, Herbert, from Germany. Walked the beach on Sunday, just exploring and enjoying ourselves, and we met up with him again. He was staying at one of the all inclusive resorts, and when we said we had to go into town to get drinking water (last water we picked up was the first in 5 years we haven't been able to drink) he told us to meet him on the beach later and he would give us water from his hotel. Lunched in town where the local kids used our dinghy as their new play toy and then wanted money for watching it (that didn't happen) and then headed to the beach again. Met up with Herbert and we were introduced to his wife Krista, who spoke very little English. We ended up having a very enjoyable visit, and not only did he give us two bottles of water, but brought us beach drinks as well. The highlight of our Coche visit.
Got back to the boat and cleaned out the quarter berth to dig out the cruising spinnaker. Had a wonderful downwind sail from Coche to Cubagua. Wandering Albatross was the only boat in the anchorage, and they rowed over to say hello. We'd heard of each other through Infinity and Squiz, and so it was good to finally meet up.
We explored Cubagua, crossing across the salt flats and observing the village from the 1400's that the archeologists are rebuilding, then walking the water to the lighthouse and along the shore. Met a local family who insisted we take fish and then asked if we had medicine for stomach problems. Our Spanish isn't that great, so we took Mary Liz from Wandering Albatross back with us to see whether they needed Rolaids or Immodium. Rolaids it was!
Odyssey pulled in in the early afternoon, and we found out we were both planning to leave the next morning. They took the southern route to Chimina Grande and we took the northern route - neither one of us catching fish! Must say, this was the first anchorage we've pulled into that we were glad there was another cruising boat.
We finally talked to Nereia on the radio, kind of scratchy, but we were 15 miles out. Jaime and Dan on Nereia were wonderful! They arranged everything for us and we were so spoiled with not having to check spaces in the marina, who to call, where the slip was, etc. As we were motoring from Chimina Grande to Puerto La Cruz Jaime got on the radio and said, "I see you girl!", from the security tower, and it was so good to hear him! They grabbed our lines when we arrived and Jaime took me to check in with the marina and Immigration. Like I said, totally spoiled since he speaks the language!
We're now checked in and staying in the marina for 2 weeks - nope, it's now extended to 3! Old home week with the Trini boats from 2006. So good to seee everyone again! ~~_/)~~

Monday, January 14, 2008

January, 2008

Welcome to 2008! We spent a great night on the beach celebrating New Year's Eve in Germany, Denmark, South Africa, England and the U.S. around a bonfire in Blanquilla. Great fun, great company, and absolutely wonderful cruising kids!!!
Hiked around the island and got stuck by many, many cactus thorns. OUCH! Thoroughly enjoyed Blanquilla. Ran out of wine so headed out at 4 a.m. on Friday, the 4th.
Let's see. supposed to be NE winds at around 15 and no rain????? Had a pretty good sail for 2 hours and then the wind kept changing. It was a day of putting out the jib, pulling it in, running out the stay, put the jib out, pull it in, take all sails down, turn the motor on, put everything out again .... keep repeating!! Oh, and constant grey skys and rain and squalls. Actually spent all day in our raincoats with long sleeved shirts underneath and chilled. We ended up being one of those idiots that pulled into an anchorage in the dark after trying to race the sun all day. The decks were awash all day and my clothes ended up getting wet when things started leaking after 8 hours that way. Then as we were heading into Juangriego we had some fishermen waving us down. We were making really good time, but we couldn't leave them out there if they were in trouble, could we? Heaved to and took all three sails down and motored over to them -- they wanted to make sure we knew they had a fish float out about 2 miles away!!!!!!!!! Followed our track back into Juangriego and dropped the anchor in 12 feet, took a hot shower, made soup and were in bed by 9 p.m.
Saturday morning dawned bright and calm and we took the dinghy into shore, locked up to a palm tree and wandered around. A delightful little beachside town.
Saturday night Rhythm, Odyssey and Daphne anchored, and then we all pulled up anchor around 7 the next morning to head back to Polarmar. We got lucky and hooked up a 4 foot mackeral. Into the anchorage in Polarmar and Infinity and Vindomar were there ahead of us. Good to meet up with old cruising friends. ~~_/)~~

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Margarita to Blanquilla

Left Polamar on Monday, the 24th, for Juangriego, on the northern coast of Margarita. Motored all the way, but that worked out because the batteries needed a good charge. Anchored early in the afternoon, barbequed dinner and off to bed early. Up at 4 a.m., Xmas Day, underway by 4:30. Motored for the first 2 hours, missing a really heavy rain squall. That passed, the wind picked up, and we were able to sail, with all 3 sails, for most of the day. Ended up to be a sail, motor, sail, motor, sail kind of day. Made good time and pulled into Blanquilla at 2:30 in the afternoon. Had planned on having a quiet Xmas Day, but with 8 boats already anchored, and Richard from Slow Dancing dinghying up to us and insisting we throw something together and join them on shore for Xmas potluck, there we were on shore with Slow Dancing, Odyssey, Rythm, Daphne, Wonderland and Lizzy - and 5 kids, ages 5 to 15 - having a wonderful Xmas Day!
Blanquilla reminds us very much of Conception Island in the Bahamas. We've been hiking, seeing the wild donkeys (Brigitte- remember those horses we never could get close to?), fishing and swimming.
Life is good - enjoy your holidays!!!!!!!!!!! ~~_/)~~

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Los Testigos to Margarita

Alarm set for 4 a.m. on Monday, the 17th, hoping to haul anchor and be underway by 4:30. Woke up to rain and wind gusts of 35 knots. Snuggled back in bed for another hour and then left around 6 a.m. in a light drizzle. A very, very long day. It was a downwind sail (which we don't sail very well in) with 4 to 6 foot seas, and an occasional 10 footer thrown in. Who wishes anyone following seas???
Dropped anchor around 4:30 in the afternoon, after turning the motor on for the last two hours just to get there. Richard from Slow Dancing stopped by to say hi and bye. They were checking out and heading out the next day, but he gave us a few helpful pointers. The main one being here - lift it, lock it, or you will defiinitely lose your dinghy, no exceptions.
Had a bit of a rolly night and then headed into Marina Juan the next morning to drop our paperwork off with Juan, who is a charming man and so very helpful. Had to go back at 3:30 so that the captain could sign in and give a fingerprint (the US makes everyone else do it, so Venezuela does it now too), and then wait to pick the rest of the paperwork up at 5:30. Decided to have an early dinner at the Sunset Bar. Fish and chips dinner, two beers and a tip, all for $12 US!
Decided we would take the Friday shuttle in to the grocery/mall. What a mistake - the Friday before Xmas, what were we thinking? Did provision with beer, wine and produce - what amazingly low prices for everything! Wine, $2 a bottle, beer, 45 cents a can. They box everything up for you at the grocery store and it's sent back in a separate truck where either Alvis or Pedro helps you load it into your dinghy. Not a lot of places that are safe to walk around here, but we have walked around a bit. Leaving Monday, December 24th for Juangriego on the north shore of Margarita, spend a day or two, and then head up to Blanquilla for some hiking, swimming, snorkelling and beaches! ~~/_)~~