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Anthem Adrift
Locating Wisdom
11/04/2009, En Route to Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela

Americano Bay, Blanquilla

November 4

Since asea again, have missed wifi for looking up Google Earth location on blog. "So that's where I am. Cool!" Of course, I'm pretty often, reasonably sure of general location and internet is, after all, useful for other stuff, too. It's sad when roughing it means no world wide web.

Still no sign of guardacostas. "Q" flag flying German boat of three days residence has not seen hide nor hair of them, either. Either they're waiting for a sufficiently large fleet to justify the effort in motoring around the corner or they just don't give a large stinky one. I'm going with that second thing.

-Later

After due (doodoo?) consideration and realizing that arrival in ABCs before end of month not imperative, have decided to visit Venezuela mainland. It's just over there a bit. Besides, might get to meet Presidente Chavez. We could talk, work out some kinks between our countries. I might say, "Ooogo, amigo (a little Spanish lingo to loosen him up), let's ease up on that saber rattling, satan stinking crap, OK? What's it getting you? I don't want to talk out of school, compadre, but your citizens hate you (well the smart ones, anyway) and the world thinks you're a buffoon. No offense, but you have an opportunity here. Read a little Adam Smith, Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand. Talk it, you don't have to do it. Come on comrade, meet us half way. I mean, we have a wise and tolerant president now who isn't prejudiced against pretentious commie dictators and holocaust denying terrorists like that other guy. We can be friends, buddies, uh-mee- goes." So, waddayathink? Yes!!!

Another beautiful night as two-days-past-full moon is still hiding behind a cloudy horizon. The Milky Way shimmers, a million stars flicker and Saturn points the way southwest toward South America.

Jack

Three Squares and a Cot
11/03/2009, Playa Yaque, Blanquilla, Venezuela

Playa Yaque, Blanquilla

November 3

Just after 1000, arrived abeam guardacostas installation on Blanquilla for check- in. After radio discussion with Night Hawk, who along with two other boats had not done so the previous day, decided to eschew that aggravation and continue around to Playa Yaque, west side anchorage. They left a few hours later for Los Roques after only one night, presumably not to avoid Venezuelan prisons which are probably quite nice.

Tacked downwind until 0400 when wind became too light without nudge from Westerbeke. Finally furled sails when flogging disallowed snooze had that been occurring. Except for encumbering racket during last six hours and short rain shower, passage was tolerably pleasant. With anchor securely planted, indulged in practice nap preparation for real thing later.

Supped on special salad recovered from marginal lettuce (limited supply at Chaguaramas Hi-LO) and special chicken/rice concoction. Special, in this instance, meaning different vice extraordinary. Good help is hard to find.

After ample rest, plan additional progress west, either tomorrow afternoon or early Thursday, reference destination. Tortuga is 67 NM with good angle for sail, Los Roques nearly twice that and most likely downwind. Foolishly expect weather weasel forecast to help with decision.

Jack

A Night at Sea
11/02/2009, Northeast of Isla de Margarita, Venezuela

Small Red Grouper

November 2

Awoke early for SSB weather, hope-to-make-it-a-habit exercise and breakfast (cereal to finish off rapidly ripening bananas). Scrubbed grunge from lifelines, recovered piles of sand and dust hippos from sole (not soul, Cal. It's the floor of the saloon (i.e. cabin, not a bar, except sometimes)) and spent balance of morning tediously picking out diminutive pebbles from razor cut soles (this one refers to boat sandal bottoms). Soles are clean; soul... well.

Besandwiched (not a real word) a little grouper caught for lunch, then continued various projects to improve (as if) below-decks arrangement. Also recommissioned watermaker and put additional markings on anchor chain. By departure time swell plus surface chop made retrieving motor and dinghy an adventure. Ten to twelve knot wind is, unfortunately, headed same direction as Anthem, so tacked north of rhumb for quieter, better ride. Speed over ground with following current, a tolerable 6 to 6.5.

Harvest moon is brilliant. Light sparkles off black water out to a sharply defined, encircling horizon. Milky Way and lesser stars are washed out, but one bright beacon (not red or close to western horizon, so probably Saturn) almost competes. Anthem's motion is busy, yet mostly gentle as swells roll under her transom and past, except occasionally when caught out of phase with the sea, she waggles like a duck shakes water from its tail before settling back into rhythm.

Jack

Drifting Along, No Tumbleweed
11/01/2009, N. Observation Bay, Testigo, Venezuela

Red Grouper

November 1

Late start to easy day of minor maintenance and moderate arranging (will engage in real organization after gaining that capability in next life) interrupted by blackened strawberry grouper lunch, freshly caught by Ray & Genna. They left shortly thereafter for Blanquilla as wind picked up. Expect, as last night, that it won't last, but forecast is for even less tomorrow. Initiation of long period, six foot, north swell, this evening, will not adversely effect sailing, but may make this anchorage a smidge rolly.

Magically, boat speed and depth have leaped to action following installation of transducers. Who knew it would be so easy? Interior of boat is now navigable after removing most flotsam, heretofore awash in saloon, to hiding places that will, of course, prevent rediscovery when needed at some future date.

Tomorrow will consist in much the same activity, plus, possibly, stalking the illusive grouper as was done by others so successfully today. Anticipate afternoon departure (guardacostas limit stay to two days without clearing customs on mainland or Margarita) to possibly catch up with Night Hawks in Blanquilla. After that, crystal ball only shows Santa with swirling snow (probably using wrong ball), but future landfall likely to be either Tortuga or Los Roques.

Speaking of Santa, if you think Wal-Mart jumps the gun, Trinidad was, by my observation, rife with Christmas music (and decoration) since at least 15 October. Oh sure, there's the Christian thing, but I really think, based on song choice, it's the snow angle that gets 'em.

Jack

Trick or Treat
11/01/2009, N. Observation Bay, Testigo, Venezuela

October 31

Arrived on anchor in N. Observation Bay, Testigo Grande at noon. Napped. Accompanied by Night Hawks checked in with guardacostas at 1400. Napped. Repaired to previously mentioned vessel for modest (quantity not quality) rum tasting. Asleep by 2100. Left pumpkin uncarved and light off so no costumed munchkins would ring doorbell.

Jack

Testigos, Spanish for Knackers?
10/31/2009, North of Peninsula De Paria, Venezuela

Ray, Genna, Trish, Sonny, Blake, Robert - Roti Hut

October 30

Anticipating noon at the Roti Hut to say goodbye to Bristol Rose and Slow Mocean, went with bowl of cereal for breakfast. Ordered Raisin Bran with cold milk (warm is an option). Got granola and a glass with rapidly melting ice bits in warm milk. Waitress is a pretty girl, but a couple heifers short of a herd.

Except for lunch (mediocre food day as duck buss-up shot could have been aardvark for all I knew due to mistake of requesting pepper) can't recall any indolence in preparations for putting to sea, but customs mandated departure time, 1800, left without me. Finally slipped (pun intended) out undetected at 1945 to begin an unexpectedly wonderful sail until midnight when the wind became poopy (archaic nautical term once used to mean 'light wind with sloppy following sea') as forecast.

Was aggrieved to discover that both boat speed and depth instruments were inoperative. This was very frustrating atop death of cockpit VHF mike. Electronics are evil. Of course, one possible fix might be to reinstall respective transducers which were removed for storage. May try that before engaging in more rigorous troubleshooting.

Have not been boarded and killed, yet, by marauding Venezuelan pirates. As it is now after midnight, trust that it's past their nappy time.

Jack

Dashing for Decadence
10/29/2009, Crew's Inn, Chaguaramas

Too Much Chaguaramas

October 29

Varnishing - close, but no cigar. Probably done tomorrow... honest. May still try to break the shackles of Trinidad by nightfall, which could allow arrival Los Testigos, Venezuela with a fair current and no wind around noon. Really should begin to research points west, but then where would lie the adventure?

Mostly accomplished necessities for the day, that is, found a DVD player that works and, uh, some other stuff - fuel, bending on headsail, buying bits and pieces and discovering that replacement, in a day, of freshly inoperative remote VHF mike not possible - new version not backward compatible (like Windows 7 for you Gatesian reprobates).

Moving about Port of Spain is like bumper cars without bumps. Horns honk, vehicles veer, pedestrians pedest. How they interact without gristle and viscera splattering pavement is a mystery. Speaking of which, had daily special (6" Black Forest ham) at downtown Subway (exactly the same except no honey mustard dressing and they charge extra for honey oat bread) as primary nourishment of the day.

How can cruising the Caribbean be so busy? Oh wait, that isn't happening, yet. Perhaps this twaddle will achieve more vigor with augmented leisure after leaving Chaguaramas.

Jack

Getting What You Want
10/28/2009, Crew's Inn, Chaguaramas

More Chaguaramas Bay

October 28

Rain again bedeviled varnisher, Fred Graham, who yet performs yeoman service making Anthem look presentable and persists in predicting a Thursday finish. C'est demain. C'est possible? Just on the edge of likelihood to blow this pop stand on Friday evening for overnight to, probably, Los Testigos or, possibly, Grenada. Forecast not favorable for westing next several days (a following sea and no wind). She sucks when the wind, she don't blow.

Incredibly cheap Coby DVD player resists all entreaties (tried good cop and bad cop) to operate or even make disk go around, so contemplate purchase of replacement before bidding a fond farewell to civilization until Bonaire or possibly Curacao. Los Testigos, Blanquilla and Los Roques likely have minimal facilities. Reading a guide might be instructive. May do that sometime.

Wine tasting at Apadoca liquor store 5 o'clock and dinner at Sail restaurant afterward with several friends rounded out a plausibly well-spent day. Tomorrow could be even better if stars align, creek don't rise and wandering mind can maintain focus. Friday, before departure if it happens, will consist in putting all the bits that make this thing a 'sail' boat in proper place, including, as it happens and you may not be astounded to hear, sails.

"The trick in life isn't getting what you want, my dear, it's wanting it after you get it." - Katherine Hepburn as grandmother Janou in Love Affair

Jack

Boring Recitation
10/27/2009, Crew's Inn, Chaguaramas

Chaguaramas Bay

October 27

Early day spent breaking fast, then finding new refrigerator thermostat (later installed), buying diesel and gas in jerry jugs at local place/prices (about $1.40 US/gal. vs. marinas which are closer to 4) and haunting a couple of chandleries (previously unconsidered, but now indispensable crap was bought) while awaiting late completion of work on port bow roller (also later installed).

Finally made it downtown by midafternoon to purchase, from Jimmy Aboud, premier local purveyor of all things fabric, 18 yards of Sunbrella for an awning. Paid a pretty good price of $14.71/yd for 60" tweed. Current bimini and sail cover color, 'Hemlock' (dark green), was unavailable, but 'Linen' matches well and much lighter hue should be cooler, or so the theory goes.

Lack of broad interest has doomed Asa Wright excursion, tomorrow, so will shop for groceries to place in newly operative frig. (admitting to breakage of same would be inappropriate and will not be done), launder indescribably grimy clothes, purchase additional diesel and, it is sincerely hoped, screw off for extended periods.

Jack

Foibles and Fantasies
10/26/2009, Crew's Inn, Chaguaramas

October 26

Breakfast is my favorite meal. Although possibly considered an affectation by cruising friends, any failure to ingest ovoid chicken ejecta (real word) due to circumstance, if one or more are available nearby, causes peckishness to ensue. Ensuement (not a real word) does not eventuate (huh?) without reasonable expectation (i.e. if I doesn't thinks to get it, I doesn't gets grumpy).

Blew most of day searching for propane to refill tanks and tap-dancing to induce reluctant manager to service old ones (liability). T & T enacted a law effective this May requiring hydrostatic testing of cylinders past five years from last and plant had, as yet, no such capability. Four of eight were out of range. Mine is dated 1985. Crap! After 30 or 40 minutes of tap-dancing we wore him down using every argument short of promising to die in any resultant explosion. Cost of gas was less than a quarter of transport to get there.

One interesting difference between Eastern Caribbean and Trinidad is more US boats (several from USVI) than Canadian here. Brits and Aussies also make up a much larger contingent. Cruiser net control this morning had the most beautiful Scottish accent. In event of conversion to Buddhism immediately prior to grisly and untimely demise (see some explanation of this reference from 6 Feb 2009 & 22 June 2009 and, with a more detailed exegesis for those with previous emails, 21 May 2008 & 29 April 2008), hope for next life with soft Highland burr. (Query. Is there a timely demise?)

Jack

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S/V Anthem
Who: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
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