Wednesday, December 30, 2009

On to Rodadaro

Up early in the morning and I called Chris Parker - needing a relay again! Frustrating. Sounded like good weather, as long as we made it in to Cartagena before Tuesday, the 29th. Underway before 10 in the morning and actually had a pleasant sail for part of the way to Rodadaro, and then motoring into the anchorage. Very, very busy resort town. Lewis on Coqui was already anchored, so we didn't have to worry about him. Anchored in about 20 feet of water, relaxed and started to get lunch ready.

The Columbian Coast Guard came to visit. Mark and Deb were outside of the anchorage area, doing circles, trying to calibrate their windvane/autopilot. Coast Guard called them three times to find out what they were doing, until they finally gave up and anchored. Then the Coast Guard came into the anchorage and decided we were all too close to shore, so pick up and anchor in 40 feet instead of 20! Ourselves and Sea Cycle have a manual windlass, and Equinox and Evening Star have both had their electric windlass' quit. Isn't this going to be challenging when we pick up!

Moira on Equinox called all of us - they've always had a Christmas brunch, and she wanted to continue that tradition on the boat. Sea Cycle thought they might head out Christmas Day, but the rest of us said we were staying and would love to get together. We watched Sea Cycle leave at 8 a.m. Christmas morning, but the rest of us headed over to Equinox for brunch. What a great time! Moira was really, really busy! She made a great fritata, apple crisp, a cranberry loaf, and a couple of other things I forget now, since there was so much food. There were deviled eggs, shrimp cocktail, rum cake and, oh yes, Moira's blueberry muffins. (I'm waiting for Moira to send me their Xmas photo)

Back to the boat to digest the food, and then we picked up Dick and Moira to head into the beach. We were able to pick up an intermittent internet signal in the anchorage, enough to pick up email and call the kids, so we were happy. Dennis built our long range wifi antenna, and so far it's worked great. Dick and Moira took their computer into shore and while they sat in the hotel doing their email, we walked the beach. Wow, Christmas Day in Rodadaro is packed! Checked out all the little back streets and shops, just enjoying wandering around.

A busy beach

Who knew there were
crabs involved in Xmas?

Tourist bus outside the hotel.

Back to the boat and everything packed away, ready to leave at 2 a.m. for the trip to Punta Hermossa. ~~_/)~~

Monday, December 28, 2009

Cabo de la Vela to 5 Bays

Left Cabo de la Vela around 10 in the morning for the 130 plus miles to 5 Bays. About a half an hour out of the anchorage we caught a 40" Wahoo. What a good start to the day. Nine meals out of that fish! Part of the day and night was sailing, but the majority was motorsailing. That's okay, we have diesel. We've heard the horror stories of 25-35 knot winds and 10-12' seas, so we'll take small seas and little wind again.

Our two Wahoo!

Later in the afternoon, while Coqui, Equinox and Evening Star were ahead of us, we heard a call from Mr. Sam, the escort vessel for the gss Atlantic, a siesmic survey vessel. He was giving his co-ordinates, calling the two sailboats that he could see. We looked around, couldn't see anything, so Dennis didn't pay attention. Luckily, Mark on Sea Cycle was and realized that he was calling the two of us. We did see him after a few minutes, and while he recognized that we were all under sail and had right-of-way, they were a survey vessel needing a 6 nautical mile clearance port, starboard and stern. We ended up having to start the motor to make sure we were out of their way.

We were so hoping to see the snow covered mountains of the Santa Marta Range, but it was too hazy. About an hour out of the 5 Bays anchorage we hooked another Wahoo, 39" this time. That was an eight meal fish. Yes, we shared with the other boats that were on the way with us - Sea Cycle, Equinox, Evening Star, Coqui and Quest.

Pulled into the anchorage in Bahia Guayraca (the third bay out of five) around 2 p.m. It was so hot, I didn't care what the water was like or how cold it was, I needed to get in. It was so cool and refreshing we decided to clean the waterline. Halfway around the boat we started getting stung by little jellyfish. Time to come out! Since we had the dinghy in the water, we brought fish packages around to the other boats, but we were too tired to haul the bbq out to cook ours, so it was hot dogs and veggies and bed by 7 p.m.

Pulling into Bahia Guayraca

Planned to go exploring the next day, but ended up doing boat chores. Dennis hauled out the sewing machine to fix the mast cover and trim the new shower curtain. I was giving the head (bathroom) a thorough cleaning and decided it was time to retire the old shower curtain. One minute it looks okay, the next minute, yuk, where did that mold come from? Then we did taxi service again to do happy hour on Evening Star. It's only a 15 mile trip around the corner to Rodadaro the next day, so that should be an easy day. ~~_/)~~

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Aruba to Cabo de la Vela

It's rare that things go according to plan! Dennis decided that I would take Mark on Sea Cycle and Dick on Equinox in our dinghy (we can plane with 3 people) the 2 mile trip up the canal to Customs and Immigration in Aruba to check out. We had to leave early enough before the winds picked up, which meant the choppy seas in the canal. Off we set at 8:30, where I scared Mark and Dick with my speed in the dinghy. We kept dry until we slowed down where it shallowed up near the dock. Tied to a tire, quite the climb out, on our way to Immigration first. Papers and passports taken and stamped. Oh, what do you mean you're leaving tomorrow morning? Oh no, can't do that. They open at 6 a.m., come back tomorrow. You must leave immediately upon checking out. Haven't had that happen since Trinidad. My passport needed to be stamped back in again! Oh, such fun. Barb on Evening Star arranged a taxi for 5 of us to head to check out on Friday morning. Much better than the 2 mile dinghy ride.

Again, I picked up Mark and Dick and we headed in, picking up our Starbucks coffee before meeting the taxi. What luxury! Checked out with Immigration and Customs, back to the dinghy (with only a minor crisis when Dick forgot his paperwork in the taxi), everything stowed and underway by 10 a.m. We left first because we know if there's any downwind sailing involved, we're slow.

Dennis napping underway

That was the busiest night crossing we've ever had in all of our years of sailing. I guess it's the Aruba/Panama route, and we couldn't believe the ship traffic. We both hate night sailing, and it's so hard to judge distances and decide on where the lights really are. We motored, we sailed, we motored, we sailed ... I guess low winds and small seas are worth it. Pulled into Cabo de la Vela around noon, got a good hook and cleaned up. Had to put the dinghy in the water because Lewis on Coqui has been having problems with his engine, now can't go in reverse, so needed someone to give him a push to set his anchor. I climbed aboard to take the helm (he's a single hander) while he dropped the anchor and Dennis set the anchor by pushing with the dinghy. Back to the boat for naps!

Dennis and I went exploring the next day and found a nice little beach where I picked up some neat stones and sea glass. Sea Cycle was busy trying to fine tune their wind vane, but we picked up Dick and Moira from Equinox and Lewis from Coqui for an early happy hour on Audrey Paige. We're off for 5 Bays the next day, another overnight sail.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Holidays

Happy holidays from Aruba. We've enjoyed our stay in the Vegas of the Caribbean, but there's a good weather window and we're on our way to Columbia on Friday morning. I'll post blogs while we travel, but these are the last of the photos for awhile.

We've enjoyed our time in Aruba, and were thrilled when Dick and Moira on Equinox arrived last week. They did it the quick way - Charleston, SC to Puerto Rico, then Puerto Rico to Bonaire, Curacao and now Aruba. We met back in 2006 on our way down to Trinidad, and then met Sea Cycle in Trinidad. We had happy hour -- or many hours -- on Equinox along with Sea Cycle. Lots of fun and stories.

Dennis and Mark went over to help Andy and Jeannie on Dragonfly over to the haulout yard to get a few things done. Turns out their boat was too heavy to haul out, but it gave Deb and I a morning by ourselves to walk around, pick up a few things and enjoy a latte at Starbucks! Went for our last provisioning yesterday, when Equinox had a car. Not quite sure how I spent over $300 when I really didn't need anything! After I stowed everything away, I think I still have room for another bottle or two of wine! Defrosted the fridge this morning so that I could organize -- really, I don't need any more food. We won't starve.

This is everything that I can fit in my fridge!

Dennis decided that I'm in charge of the dinghy to head down to Barcadera Customs and Immigration to check out, so Mark and Dick will go with me. I do love our 15 hp motor! Plus, the guys will block the waves! I'll take the camera and get some photos, since I didn't get any of the 6 of us the other night.
Wishing everyone a happy holiday season! ~~~_/)~~~

Monday, December 07, 2009

Missed That Window

We've been hanging out in Aruba and Dennis has been enjoying the fast food places. Baskin Robbins is still our favourite place to hang out and watch the cruise ship people. Looks like we'll be here a little longer than we thought originally. The weather, as it has been known to do, changes daily. There's quite a few of us hanging out in Curacao or Aruba waiting for that 'next window' to Columbia. Listened to other boats talking to Chris Parker, our weather guru, and there was a short window at the end of last week, and then possibly another one in another week or so. Well, I called Saturday, to see how things looked, and he said if we wanted to leave, we should leave Sunday because things were really going to pick up by the end of the week and the cold front that was supposed to knock down the Columbian low wasn't going to happen. Oops, not ready that soon. Guess we'll be here for awhile!!!

Amazed at how busy Aruba is, between the airport and the cruise ships. Has to be the busiest small island we've seen!

The cruise ships and planes pass really close.

We're enjoying our time with Mark and Deb on Sea Cycle, even though they're working way too hard! I even feel guilty sometimes - but not for long. Rented a car this weekend for provisioning (in case we could leave soon) and touring with Mark and Deb and Louis on Coqui. Louis has been here for 6 weeks, so he was our tour guide since he knew where everything was. We had been told the provisioning here was amazing, and were kind of surprised at that after visiting the local Chinese supermarkets. Turns out you have to walk a couple of miles out of town to find the IGA and other huge supermarkets (still all Chinese run). Then visited the Price Smart and plan on heading back there again before we leave. You might pay more for paper and canned goods, but the meat selection and prices here are unbelieveable. Fantastic cuts of meat for amazingly low prices.

We are provisioned!

We celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary on Saturday. Deb, Louis and I (along with Barb on Evening Star) shopped at Price Smart in the morning, and then Dennis and Mark took off on errands. Everyone back to the boat, a quick lunch, and then off with Mark and Deb on a short tour down to San Nicholas, with a stop at the famous Charlie's Restaurant for dinner. Back to the boat for champagne and a relaxing evening. Called our son Shaun to wish our little Emmy happy 2nd birthday!

Yes, she's ours, she loves her chocolate!

Up Sunday to tour with Mark, Deb and Louis. Dennis' driving is sometimes scary - what's with the One Way? He's only going one way! Anyway, we all survived and had a pretty good tour, seeing the lighthouse at the northern end of the island, the natural bridges, the Grotto with the Virgin, the church, and finding a really good spot for lunch! A fun day.
Anyway, it looks like we'll be here longer than we thought, but that's really not a horrible thing. There's beaches, and town, and walking, and shopping! ~~~_/)~~~
Here's Mark up the mast with the last of his SSB installation.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


We didn't check out last Monday because the winds and seas weren't looking that great, so headed to the grocery store for one last shopping trip. Caught the early bus on Tuesday morning, walked over to Curacao Marina to say goodbye to Murray and Nadine on Squiz (who plan on sticking around the ABC's this year), and dropping some stuff off with Mark and Deb on Sea Cycle (making sure they're following us west and not getting any silly ideas about heading to Jamaica!).

Finally found all the shortcuts to town, on our last day there, avoiding the rain squalls and checking out with Customs and Immigration. Had to file a float plan with the Coast Guard (that's new), so made sure to write down that we planned on staying 2 days at Santa Cruz. Who wants to travel on Thanksgiving Day? I have a turkey to cook! We had lunch downtown and went to the Venezuelan stands to pick up fresh fruit and veg. What is with Dennis' face? Three different guys asked him if he wanted to buy ganja!

Up early Wednesday morning to lift the anchor with all that disgusting growth from Spaanse Waters. Had to motor around for a bit while Dennis took the old anchor chain off and attached the anchor to our new chain, then calling Marianeto to come over in their dinghy and pick up our old chain to use for their secondary anchor. Amazingly, all of this only took half an hour, and then we headed out through the channel on the way to Santa Cruz. I don't know why, but I just hate the passage in and out of Spaanse Waters. Let's see, reef on one side, beach on the other, very narrow. Dennis knows how much I hate this, and is wise enough to go on the bow in case I need help. Had a pretty good sail down to Santa Cruz and got a good hook the first time. We saw Dorothy Ellen there! We haven't seen Pam and Don in 2 years, when they were in the process of selling the old Dorothy Ellen and moving everything over to the now 55' Tayana. What a beautiful looking boat! Sitting in the cockpit that night, we watched a boat arrive around 8:30, in complete darkness, and decide to anchor at the front of the bay. Why do they do that? If you arrive at night, anchor in the back!!! The next day, when they were off the boat, we watched them drag through the anchorage. We didn't have the dinghy down, so Dennis blew the air horn and Pam and Don came over, picked him up, and they headed over to Talagoa to see if they could put more anchor chain out before he headed out to sea. The thing with Santa Cruz is, you go from 10', to 12', to 20', to 30', to 500'. Luckily the owner arrived back to re-anchor the boat. No wonder he dragged - he had a huge boulder stuck in his anchor. Later that afternoon Nighthawk, Going South and Dragonfly arrived.

Our Thanksgiving was good. We stayed on the boat for most of the day, then went snorkelling for an hour and a half and saw a pretty big octopus. Of course I didn't have the camera with me! Then came back and got turkey, dressing, potatoes, gravy, cranberries and salad ready. So, so good!!

Up at 3 a.m. Friday morning and underway by 3:30 on our way to Aruba. Coast Guard does seem to love us. On the way to Santa Cruz they trailed us in their cutter; in Santa Cruz the helicopter buzzed us; almost to Aruba and the plane buzzed us. Dennis tells me they're just doing their job!

Miserable day, motor sailed the whole way. Downwind with big, sloppy, confused seas. Pulled up to the Customs dock where one of the Venezuelan fishermen was good enough to help us with our lines. Very, very confusing buoys coming in. I guess they flash red and green at night, or yellow to mark the reef, but that really doesn't help during the day! For a change I was taking us off the dock (I prefer to handle the lines and let Dennis do that), and did great until our stern dock line got completely tangled on the cleat. How did that happen? Yet again, that wonderful Venezuelan fisherman untangled it and threw it to us. Out the cut and into the next one to anchor by the airport. One big open area - now we know why - it's like a parking lot and couldn't get a hook. Finally headed off closer to shore and we've been here for 5 days. Sea Cycle pulled in on Saturday, and we were so excited to see them!

We've been exploring the downtown area - amazing. Jewelry stores galore. All these other women are getting diamonds and gold, but I've got new anchor chain!! Merry Xmas! Found pizza, ice cream, fast food heaven. Dennis is happy! Then took the dinghy and headed back towards the Customs dock to get our propane tank filled. It was an hour walk, roundtrip, and cost a whopping $4 US to fill our 6 gallon tank. Mark and Deb came over for dinner and we had a wonderful evening. I think they left around midnight. Who can believe we all stayed up that late?

Looks like the wind and seas will be up for a week at least, but this is a pretty good place to 'be stuck'. Hope to rent a car this weekend to sightsee and visit the Price Smart Warehouse store.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Spaanse Waters, Curacao

Four, yes, count them, four times to anchor. The last time I wasn't sure if we really had a hook or Dennis was just tired from lifting the anchor chain back up! The first two times it was amazing the amount of seaweed we brought up. (You have to keep in mind that we usually get it right the first time since we have a manual windlass - which means Dennis does a lot of work!) Left the anchor alarm on overnight and, a week later, we're still in the same place. I do not like this anchorage at all. It's hard to get a hook and you can't swim off the boat. Well, some people do, but we aren't.

Took the 9 a.m. bus into Punda to check in to Customs and Immigration and then walked over to Curacao Marina to say hi to Mark and Deb on Sea Cycle and Murray and Nadine on Squiz. Haven't seen either couple since the summer of 2008 in Venezuela. We all walked over to the Chicken Shack for lunch and, for what reason we're not sure, except being friendly, one of the local workers bought us a round of drinks! Got lucky when we walked back into town and caught the bus before we had to walk all the way downtown.

It's nice knowing where to go and the routine, so we've been to Vreugenhill on the shopping shuttle; over to Jan Thiel Beach for a lazy Sunday afternoon and to see Sully, the baby whale; swimming at the new dock put in by the Santa Barbara Resort at the entrance to Spaanse Waters; and shopping downtown. Picked up our new anchor chain and bottom paint from Marine Warehouse, but can't put the new anchor chain on till we're ready to go, because I am not doing the anchoring dance again!! We thought about hauling out here to do the bottom, but after visiting the office at Curacao Marina, they told us it would be much better if we just emailed, and still haven't heard back from them. Oh well, at least we have the paint when we're ready.

When we were over to visit Sea Cycle and Squiz on Wednesday, we forgot to bring the flares from Bonaire for Sea Cycle, so that meant another trip. Walked over again Monday and left poor Murray working hard while Mark, Deb and Nadine drove us downtown and we had lunch. That was the good part of the day, since the rest was so frustrating. We had a package we wanted to send home and DHL and UPS were supposed to be downtown. I wish the people here would just admit they don't know where things are instead of trying to be helpful and sending us on a wild goose chase. Hmmm, that happened to us last time when we were looking for Curacao Marina! After walking in the heat of the day for over an hour we discovered that UPS had moved and DHL was now Western Union, sending money only , so decided to go to the post office and send it express. Oh, their computer system is down, come back tomorrow. Just missed the bus back and had to wait another hour. Yep, that kind of day!!!

Lucky day Tuesday when heading back to send our package. Took one of the mini buses at 8:40 (since the regular bus gets to the stop anywhere between 8:50 and 9:20), and he took a more direct route down to Punda, driving right by the UPS! Finally!! Had him drop us off, and then it was only a 20 minute walk downtown and caught the return bus - back to the boat by 10:10. Did laundry by hand, took inventory so we can shop tomorrow, had lunch, and off to the beach to swim. Hoping to check out Thursday, head up to Santa Cruz for a day or two and then head to Aruba.

Stay tuned. ~~~_/)~~~

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Family photos

Brooklyn, Parker, Emmy, Ryenn and Avory
at the Bounce House

Avory, Ryenn and Emmy at Halloween (is that Avy showing an attitude?)

Kelly and Shaun have been great and sent us photos. I'm posting them on the blog because I'm really missing family after 4 months and this is my way to keep in touch and keep them close.

Ryenn's 3rd birthday, Brooklyn at Halloween and Charlie, Kelly, Parker and Brooklyn at Halloween

Avory's first day at kindergarden and Shaun with Emmy

love my kids and grandkids and miss them tons

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fun times in Bonaire

So, on our walk around Bonaire, of course we had to stop into Budget. We talked to Karen and Cheryl on Interlude who were looking for flares for their friends in Curacao, who couldn't, for some reason, get flares. We said that yes, we knew what that was like, because we had friends bring in flares from Grenada to Venezuela when we couldn't get them in Curacao, Bonaire or Venezuela. Small world - they were looking for flares for Mark and Deb on Sea Cycle, who brought us our flares from Grenada! Interlude dinghied over and dropped off the flares since we were travelling this way and they weren't sure they were. Having friends in common, we had lots to talk about!

Listened to the Coconut Telegraph (love this SSB) and heard both Sea Otter and Dignity in the anchorage in Bonaire. Had heard of Dignity, but never met them. Met Britt on Sea Otter way, way back in the Bahamas, and then introduced to Terry in Grenada. Had happy hour with Sea Otter on Dignity, a beautiful 42 Lagoon Hybrid catamaran. Wow, what a beautiful boat, and so much room!!! Steve and Helen were wonderful hosts and it took me a day to recover from happy hour, getting home close to midnight! Terry from Sea Otter is an artist, painting beautiful watercolors. She gave a gift of a painting to Helen and I, and we both appreciated it so much. A fantastic watercolor of where they were anchored in front of Yellow Submarine. Such talent!!

Dennis wanted to take Audrey Paige over to Klein Bonaire to snorkel the next day, but I so wasn't up to it. Way too much fun the night before. Interlude had said they'd like to picnic at Klein Bonaire and snorkel, so we went over and asked if they'd like to join us the next day. Arranged to pick them up, chained the dinghy to the mooring ball, and off we went. We let Dennis troll his fishing lines for an hour before we headed into one of the mooring lines to snorkel at the north end of the island. (Not a bite!!) It was okay, kind of rolly. Back to the boat to head down to the south end. So nice to have people who sail on board! I was down below getting lunch put together (with great stuff from Interlude), so Dennis took the helm while Karen and Cheryl cast us off. Tied up to a mooring down at the south end of Klein Bonaire, had lunch, then went snorkelling again. Out of all of the snorkelling we have done in Bonaire, we still say the prettiest and best snorkelling is at the south end of Klein Bonaire. Off the mooring line and into the mooring field fully charged, at last. That is the frustrating part - all of a sudden, there's no wind. After 3 weeks with continuous wind and never having to start up, running the stereo, computer, anything we can use ... we have no wind and little sun so have to start up every day for at least an hour. This was our chance to blow out the exhaust.

Boats coming and going in Bonaire, but we choose to stay here, waiting for our stuff to arrive in Curacao before we head out. Interlude wanted Sea Cycle to fly in and visit while they were waiting for their shipment (which was our shipment as well). They would fly in, stay with Interlude and sail back with us. Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you're trying to get work done) the shipment arrived Friday, so they stayed in Curacao and continued to work, and we got things together to head to Curacao and pick up our chain and bottom paint. Okay, shipment in, time to go! Karen and Cheryl had rented a truck and invited us to snorkel while they went diving. We went with them to the Salt Pier area and saw some pretty neat stuff. Then went out for Chinese food after, much to Dennis' delight. The owner was wonderful and extremely talkative, so it took Cheryl to say, 'So, okay, can we have the bill? Time to go."

Up Monday morning, listened to Chris Parker on weather, did laundry (they need a better system - we met up with other people ...Margaret and Hans on the Formossa we met in Venezuela... and were so busy talking, forgot to pay for laundry and had to walk all the way back later!), I walked to Bonaire Warehouse to pick up stuff they didn't have at Cultimara, picked up more at Cultimara, checked out at Customs and Immigration and turned our key in to Hank at the dinghy dock. Swam off the boat, and then Karen and Cheryl picked us up for dinner at Casablanca. Wow, what a deal. For $40 US you get 2 steaks, 2 pork chops, 2 sausages, pork ribs, beef ribs and a whole chicken. Then, you each get a baked potato and veg to go with that. How can you go wrong. I haven't cooked in 3 days with the leftovers we had!

Up at 6 on Tuesday morning, and off the mooring by 6:50 on the way to Curacao. Motored at first because there was no wind and we needed to charge the batteries. Really nasty looking storm system out there, and we were lucky enough to only get a few drops out of what could have been something really bad. Sailed for a few hours and they back to motoring.

Into Spaanse Waters - anchoring tales to follow! ~~_/)~~

Thursday, November 05, 2009

In the Aves

Well, we talked with Chris on the SSB and he told us that if we wanted brisk winds of 20-25 and 8 ft seas on our downwind sail, then Saturday would be a good day to leave. Hmmm, I think we did that the last time and we passed. Ended up leaving the main island after a couple of days and anchoring over by Isla Oueste. I think we found the only sand spot to anchor in! Snorkelling was okay, but because the wind was a continuous 20, with gusts 22-25, there was a constant chop behind the reef, which made swimming off the boat a little challenging. How to drown beside the boat! Walked around Isla Oueste ... now we're ready to leave.

Left Monday for Sotovento. Jibed back and forth and not a bad sail, pulling in early afternoon. Had planned on staying a day or two, then changed our mind. We've been out 3 weeks, we're ready for civilization and company!

The seas were still 4-6 ft., with an occasional 8-10 thrown in. It was, 'Wow, where did that come from?' We did get a double hit on the fishing lines - one on the handline and one on the pole. Both mahis!!! Got the larger mahi from the pole on deck first and then had the handline right next to the boat when the hook actually snapped off the lure. Frustrating, but it was the smaller fish. The one we brought aboard was about a 3 ft. mahi that we divided up into 5 meals, so we were happy. Dennis realized it wasn't really fun to be fishing with the poles, so we brought those in and just left the handline out for the rest of the trip. Tried to heave to to get the fish on board and just couldn't with the current. There's just times you don't put the poles out!

We were buzzed by the Coast Guard plane 15 miles out of Bonaire, and that was interesting. Attached to the mooring ball around 5 p.m. (after dodging 2 cruise ships leaving the harbour), and decided to wait until Wednesday morning to check in. Note to others - don't lie about your check-in time to Customs, especially after you've been buzzed by Coast Guard and reported as arriving by them. They were diplomatic about it, but knew that we hadn't arrived at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, but had been there since Tuesday night.

Dennis decided we needed to do all of our walking in one day, since we'd been on the boat so long. I wish he'd let me know ahead of time which shoes I should be wearing! Checked in with Customs, Immigration, picked up our snorkelling tags, walked down to the marina to pay for the mooring ball, and then over to Bonaire Superstore to look for some spray bottles. Why do they all die at once?

We do love Bonaire, especially now that we have a 15 hp dinghy motor instead of the 5. We can go farther and faster! The mooring ball that we took is closer to town than the last time, and that can be challenging at times with the bands playing well into the night. It's funny what I can shut out and what Dennis can. I have no problem not hearing the really bad karaoke, which Dennis hears and can't get out of his head. Tonight we have a drum contest, and that's interesting!

More Bonaire to follow. ~~_/)~~

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Los Aves

Well, didn't make it into Cayo de Aqua - 6 boats there and we didn't want to crowd in. Instead, anchored over by Becqueve and it turned out to be a good choice. Once again, 2 other boats here and they left by mid-afternoon. Was it something we said?? Love the solitude though and the beach here is beautiful. Took our burnable trash in, dug a hole in the sand, lit a fire, and away it went, reduced to ashes. We always separate trash when we're out for long periods of time. Glass is put aside, filled with sea water and thrown overboard when we're offshore. Cans and plastic are rinsed out and put aside to be thrown away once we get to land. Paper and cardboard are put in the trash to burn, and food stuffs just get thrown overboard to feed the fish.

Up early and off to Aves de Barlavento. Just a long slow day. The winds were light, seas down, but even tacking back and forth, it was just slow. Finally, at 2p.m. we turned the motor on and motored into the anchorage by 3:15. There's a couple of fishing boats here and 3 other sailboats. One way out on the reef, one in the southernmost anchorage, and then ourselves and a boat from Denmark in the second anchorage. A quiet night, with pizza for dinner, since there was only one hit on the fishing line and it was a small mackeral that got off.

The weather has changed a bit, stronger winds, bigger seas and squalls, so we might be here longer than we originally planned. We were here for weather last time for 7 days - hopefully that won't happen again! Now, with the SSB, we can actually ask Chris Parker, our weather guru, for the weather for our area and his opinion based on all of his satellite information and internet (which we don't have access to out here).

Next stop, Aves de Sotovento, then on to Bonaire. ~~~_/)~~~

posted via Ocens ~~_/)~~

Sunday, October 18, 2009

On to Los Roques

After making pasta for dinner (decided that is the meal for an overnight passage!), we actually sailed off the anchor around 6 p.m. from Cayo Herradura. This is only the second time we've sailed off the anchor - the first time was last year, leaving Coche, with no motor!! At least this time I knew I had a backup. Did well, except Dennis told me I really shouldn't put the jib up when he's on the bow, unless I wanted him swept overboard. Gee, and I thought I was doing so well by myself. And, hmmmm, have to think about that one!

A fantastic sail with 10-15 knots of wind and 2 foot seas, doing anywhere between 5 and 6 knots ... until about 3 a.m. when the wind totally died and the seas got a little bigger and just tossed us around. I kept trying to head off and head off, and then we started getting into the restricted area around the naval island, so gave up, lowered the jib and motorsailed downwind. Yuck! And why is it the bizarre sightings are always on my watch? Kept watching these lights that I couldn't figure out, even with the binoculars. Turned out to be a cruise ship, just sitting there. Maybe waiting to go into Caracas in the morning???

Motorsailed through the entrance at Boca de Sebastopol just after 9 a.m., weaving our way in and out of the reefs and anchoring at Soyoqui around 10:30 a.m. The big difference for us this time is that we now have a 15 hp dinghy motor instead of the 5 hp we had the last time. This means we can go much farther distances and exploring has been great. Went out near the wreck and did some snorkelling. We love it here. The reefs are alive and there's tons of fish! No lobster, unfortunately, but the views are great. I miss my underwater camera (yes, it's toast!). Spent 2 days here at Soyoqui, in solitude, and loved it. Dennis did some fishing and caught more Rock Hinds and snapper. The new rule is, he's allowed to fish, but can't keep anything that can't be put on the bbq. No more small fish to be panfried. I'm holding out for tuna and wahoo or a large snapper.

Left Soyoqui on Friday and sailed over to Crasqui. What a beautiful island. The beach is amazing. It's the weekend and all the big power boats came over from the mainland, set up their tents and partied away. I love swimming off the beach here, but off the boat is another story. There's a million fish and birds, and it seems every time we get in the water the birds are circling the fish that are feeding ... and heading our way! I got pretty good at climbing the anchor chain! Taylour would be so proud of me!!

Pulled up anchor early Sunday morning to head over to Sarqui. There were three other boats here, so we anchored out by the reef. By the time I made pancakes for breakfast and cleaned up, they'd all left and we could have been much closer to the beach. Not worth re-anchoring though. Did our exploring again (been here before) and walked around Sarqui and Espenqui. Decided we'd head out to Cayo do Agua tomorrow because the snorkelling there is amazing, and with the 15 hp we can dinghy over to Elbert Cay and Becqeve instead of taking the big boat there.

Might be in Bonaire earlier than we thought originally! ~~_/)~~

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blanquilla to Tortuga

Listened to Eric from Trinidad for weather on Sunday morning and decided to leave that night for Tortuga. Dennis went fishing and caught enough Rock Hinds for 2 meals, while I cleaned and made sure everything really was put away safe and sound! Had fish and rice for lunch, then went snorkelling. We love Blanquilla. The reefs are alive and tons of fish. Unfortunately, no lobster! The sand is so white, when the sun is out and you're snorkelling, it's blinding. Back on board for a little nap and then swimming again before we leave.

Lifted the anchor around 5:30 and killed the motor after we raised the sails. None of that diesel smell this time. Had the yankee up (the big jib) till the wind picked up around midnight in gusts, and then sailed with the reefed main and the staysail. A north swell, so kind of wallowing seas, but no one was seasick! Tuned into the Coconut Telegraph at 4060 SSB at 8 a.m. and were able to talk to Mystic Journey in Grenada and did a relay for Fine Line in Bonaire. I'm lovin' this SSB! Then talked to Pat on Mobetah in Tampa on Monday night. Very pleased and impressed with Dennis' installation!

We finally saw Tortuga and couldn't figure out what we were seeing down at Cayo Herradura. Brought out the binoculars and what looked like a city was actually tons of boats. It was a Venezuelan holiday and there were at least 50-70 power boats (at the price of gas and diesel they can travel long distances!), 10 sailboats and a Coast Guard cutter. That was Monday around 10 a.m. This morning, Tuesday, there were only 3 sailboats left. Cayo Herradura is another beautiful spot to be anchored. White, white sand and turquoise blue water. The Venezuelan out islands are very similar to the Bahamas.

Found another water leak in the cold water hose for the sink in the head. That blood pressure monitor (that we haven't used in 6 years) is garbage. Threw it in there 6 years ago and forgot about it. Oops, left the batteries in! So another fixing project for Dennis and cleaning for me. Made carrot cake for our breakfast tomorrow morning, and leaving tonight for Los Roques. And, just in case we get a visit from Coast Guard again, I like to have something sweet on board. Dennis is napping now. We've found it's better for us if I get to sleep first and take a 5 hour shift at night. Dennis just doesn't do well with sailing in the middle of the night, where I don't have a problem with it. My IPOD and a book and I'm all set. If only my thermos actually worked and I could drink hot coffee instead of lukewarm!

Hoping for a good sail and I'll blog again when we get to Los Roques.

sent via Ocens ~~_/)~~

Friday, October 09, 2009

Back in Blanquilla

So ... what an interesting trip. Left Prickly Bay just before 1 a.m. on Tuesday morning after a rain squall went through. Motorsailed for about 4 hours and did 50 miles by 9 a.m. Unfortunately, motorsailing downwind gives us diesel fumes in the cockpit, so by the time we shut the motor off, neither one of us were feeling very well. I went down to listen to Eric's weather and go to the bathroom ... bad idea! Turned the SSB up to listen in the cockpit while taking deep breaths. Dennis went down later and that was the end of him. He was seasick the rest of the time. He was able to do watch for about an hour to an hour and a half. If he went too long, he was over the side. At least he was able to sleep off watch, I wasn't. Then we had a squall go through Tuesday afternoon. Luckily we had put up all the rain curtains, but still got wet. The seas were just sloppy, tossing us all over the place downwind. In fact, a couple of waves hit, tossed us, knocked the cushion off the back of the setee and beer and pop dropped onto the sette and then onto the floor. Yes, you know one can had to break, and it was the diet coke. Then my nice clean cushion fell on top of it! What a mess to clean up underway.

Finally pulled into Blanquilla on Wednesday, just after noon. After water, ginger cookies and Ritz crackers, finally made scrambled eggs and toast to soothe our stomachs, and then mac and cheese for dinner. A new way to diet!

Went to bed at 7 and woke up at 7 the next morning. Started out to be a good day. Listened to weather, took another nap and then dinghied around to Americano Bay to swim and snorkel. So, on the way there, Dennis decided to run the handline out and troll. A fish hooked on and took the handline and all. Then, over to Americano Bay, taking photos with the underwater camera. Into the water we go, go to take a photo of Dennis underwater, and the camera freezes halfway open. When we get out, find out the seals had failed and we had salt water in the camera. Washed everything out with fresh water, but no luck, it's toast!. Have an extended warranty, but it doesn't do me much good right now!!! Then, on the way back to the boat my favorite hat blew off. Dennis caught it, but in trying to grab it myself, I knocked my sunglasses into the water. Can you say, blub, blub, blub? Yes, I will now put sunglass keepers (which I hate and drive me nuts) on my glasses. Thank goodness I bought some new glasses in Grenada before we left. Went below to get alcohol to clean out the camera and the cabinet door beneath the sink came off in my hands. Could anything else go wrong??????

Friday was a much better day! First off, we've been able to talk to Gypsy Blues in Grenada and Daniel Storey in Union Island from Blanquilla on the SSB. That makes us very, very happy!! I was even able to relay for boats in Medregal Village and Los Roques on Wednesday. We've been waiting for Coast Guard to visit, and they arrived today. Any time we've had Venezuelan Coast Guard on the boat they have been professional, courteous and just so nice. Plus, they bring friends and family along with them for the trip. I passed out brownies and lemonade and they were really appreciative. Our clearance is to Bonaire, and when we said we were going to Tortuga, Los Roques, Aves and then Bonaire, the one young man filling out the forms seemed to not like that. The other one, who spoke English, after brownies and lemonade, told him it was okay. I explained that Dennis had been really seasick, so we had to do short trips, and that seemed to be okay.

Had a change of plans after our going west sail. Instead of heading directly west to Los Roques, we'll head southwest to Tortuga (an overnight sail), and then northwest to Los Roques (an overnight sail). Twenty hours is so much easier than 35 to 40. Hoping to leave Saturday night, depending on what the weather says.

Stay tuned! ~~_/)~~

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Now on our way!

So, we've said we're going, but now we're serious! Had a great dinner on Paradise with Sid and Manuela, and then Mike and Cynthia from Minx were there as well. Sid and Dennis - an LA retired cop and Detroit retired cop - the 2 nights we've been together have been midnight nights!!! They could go on and on and on and on ..... but a lot of fun.

Then there was a potluck on Calabash Beach Sunday, and that was fun. Had some great stories from Almost There from South Africa. A family of 4-5, depending what time of year it is. They took our starting battery and we really hope it works for them a long time. The hotel was closed so we took over the bar area to put our dishes out. The owner happened to look at his web cam and saw all these people on his property and promptly made his way down. A little panicky, until we explained that we were from the boats at the anchorage and, yes, we would clean up after ourselves. He was much relieved since the hotel is opening up again next weekend.

Last entry with photos. We're off at midnight tonight!!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Fun in Grenada

Yes, we've had a busy summer and lots and lots of boat things to get done, but we have had fun as well. There's been a few hamburger nights at Clarke's Court Bay, and now after the potluck on Saturday night, karaoke has been added. The guys just sit back and chat away, while we women get up and have fun! Sam, on Encatada, was great as Frank Sinatra.

Some Saturdays, while Dennis goes fishing or to the flea market at Whisper Cove Marina, I go in to help tutor at the Mt. Airy Community Center. Jan Pascal and her husband set this program up a few years ago and volunteers not only her time, but makes goodies and homemade juice for the kids when we're done for the morning. We meet from 10 a.m. till 12:30 to help children from the ages of 5 to mid-teens with additional help in reading, writing and math. The kids are all there voluntarily and there are usually between 25-30. Cruiser participation has been pretty good, and many Saturdays there's been a full bus load. Mary on Reverie has been a going concern behind this, arranging for transportation, donations, and there's an auction set up for mid-October. It's nice to give something back to an island that welcomes us so graciously.

Then, a few weeks ago, Jane on Cheetah II put together a ladies day at La Saguesse Nature Center. There were 26 women all together and it was a great day. A hike around the Nature Center, the gardens, then up through the hills and down to the beach where lunch was waiting. After lunch some ladies went snorkelling or swimming, and some of us just relaxed with a glass of wine and chatted the afternoon away. Yes, everyone knows which group I was in! But we had fun, with Manuela from Paradise giving lessons on how to tie your pareo, and then modelling with Sunny from Slow Mocean and Cynthia from Minx. Lots of laughs!!

We'll be sad to leave, but it's getting to be that time of year. We've been busy provisioning. Left Calvigny Cut on Wednesday (because we needed to stay for Tuesday night happy hour at Le Phare Bleu) and sailed to St. George's. Well, motorsailed. Unfortunately, no fish! There was a swell coming into the beach area, so we dropped our anchor in the Lagoon, went into the gas station to jerry can gas and diesel, then to Island Water World, the wine store and groceries last. Then, picked up anchor and returned to our favorite spot in Prickly Bay. Went into the wholesale beer place to pick up that important provision! Not running out of beer and wine on this trip through the Roques and Aves!!! We'll head into St. George's Saturday to get our fresh fruit and veg, laundry and water Monday, and then off around midnight to Blanquilla, one of the Venezuelan islands due directly west. Yuck, easterly winds predicted, with a little bit of north, then south. We can always hope for that little bit of north or south so we don't wallow our way for the 34-37 hours we think it will take us! Seas are down, so we will have the spinnaker on deck for daytime sailing.

I'll post a blog when we get to Blanquilla, but there won't be any photos until we get internet again in Bonaire. We've met old friends and made new friends here, and are anxious to catch up with others in Curacao, Columbia and the San Blas.

You've had fair warning!! ~~~_/)~~~

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Boat stuff!!

Blogs have been a little behind, but here's some updates on what we've done this summer in Grenada. Dennis spent over 2 weeks installing the SSB (for you non-boaters, that's a single sideband radio), and we've been able to talk to Chris Parker, our weather guru, in southern Florida, and then our friends, Bill and Pat on Mobetah, up in Pensacola. That was a MAJOR project. Running copper, an antenna ... just too much stuff for me to remember ... just remember Dennis spending a lot of time in the bilge and lazerette and handing tools! Better he than me!

The new head was installed while Taylour was visiting and she got to see all those challenges. She promises us when she's rich and famous she'll buy us a bigger boat with a flush toilet. None of this 20 pump stuff.

Before we left to go home Dennis was busy building shelves. The lumber down here is amazing! Not seen anything like it. I put a coat of Cetol gloss on everything and we have tons more room. No photos, but I took all the finish off the cockpit and did teak sealer instead of Cetol. Just got tired of lines wearing the gloss off right after I'd put it on. Did sand down the bow sprit and trailboards, putting 3 coats of Cetol light and 3 of gloss. Hope it lasts at least 6 months. Finally found some calm seas and Dennis helped hang on to the boat while I did the woodwork. Made a big difference.

This is our family wall, and the top sculpture is by our nephew, Dean Coon. He does amazing welding work. We loved this piece as soon as we saw it. When we get his site, we'll add it as a link.
In the meantime, cheers and enjoy life!! ~~~_/)~~~~

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Now ... down to work!!

We still can't believe how fast the time went with Taylour on board. Her last morning she got up early (7 a.m.) for eggs and toast; a swim in the pool with Jenny from Opus; back to the boat for some jewelry making; then, tears, time to go. As I said, she was wonderful, we loved having her with us and miss her very much.

Taylour and Jenny making jewelry

There she goes, she's leaving us~

Unfortunately, it's now time to get some serious boat chores done. Well, first off, the most important thing was taking the dinghy into the Carenage to The Best Little Liquor Store to stock up on wine. Yeah, who can believe that? Getting out of this slip at Pt. Louis Marina scares me to death, since we're tied sideways between 2 boats that aren't. Junior, the Dockmaster, was wonderful. With some help from shore with the lines, and Junior towing us midships, we were off and running. Well, then we had to avoid the large tanker coming into the lagoon. Pulled over by the beach, raised the dinghy and off, back to Prickly Bay where we can swim off the boat and, most importantly, do laundry!

The costume Carnival was held on Saturday, after it was cancelled on Tuesday due to rain. We took the bus downtown, walked around, took photos, then back to the boat to swim. It's been so, so hot.

I'll post photos soon on the Picasa Web Albums.

Well, we've spent the 3 weeks since Taylour has been gone between Clarke's Court Bay and Prickly Bay. In that time Dennis has had MAJOR projects. I think it took over 2 weeks to install the SSB radio (that's single sideband) since there were so many components to install. First the radio itself - take out a drawer, install by the chart table, put the drawer face back in and put the trim around the radio. Then, running the copper was real fun, and after that, the tuner. Let's just say, the poor man has bruises everywhere, and spent 2 weeks either in the lazerette or with his head down in the bilge. It's working now though. Although, the first day we went to test it, we tuned into the Coconut Telegraph on SSB 4060 to see if anyone could hear us. Since it's summer and everyone is pretty well in place, the only boats checking in were from Clarke's Court Bay, 3 bays away!
All of the installations are a challenge, and then stuff just breaks! A couple of major water leaks. The hot water hose for the shower sprung a leak. Luckily, I caught that right away and we only lost about 15 gallons of water. Then it was time to fill up, so Dennis carted water, 25 gallons at a time, back and forth to the boat, humping cans up onto the deck to fill up - did that 4 times! We are so careful at conserving water, and then the cold water hose broke and emptied everything but 10 gallons before I caught it. You know, we have a bilge pump alarm and I kept wondering why he didn't have it turned on! It's back on again now. Turn around 2 days later and repeat the process. And we wonder why our backs are sore! I've spent the last 4 days stripping all the Cetol (varnish) off the cockpit area, sanding, cleaning, and decided I'm going with teak sealer this time. So far, so good. Another coat of Cetol on the bowsprit and trailboards, then 4 coats of gloss, and that's done. Just need no waves to do that. Next project is stripping the jerry can boards, and then cleaning the floors below. I don't think this ever ends!
I'm hoping to leave here at the beginning of October, at the latest, to head to Blanquilla, the Roques, Bonaire and Curacao. I'd really like to be in Columbia by the beginning of November. We'll see. ~~~_/)~~~