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.