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!! ~~~_/)~~~