Well - it has been awhile. I hadn't realized that the last post was Isla Margarita, and so much has happened since then. We spent a lot of time in Trinidad and Grenada, and then made our trek up the Caribbean chain to St. Maarten where we spent about a month or so.
Trinidad was a good place to get things done, but not such a good place for waterfun or even land fun. You have to be careful there because crime is rampant. Nearly every morning there was a report of a stolen dinghy, not to mention other thefts including someone's flip flops. The moral of this story is be diligent about locking things up and keep a watch on things. Even with all the problems Trinidad has we found it a refreshing visit after being in Venezuela. We made so many friends there at the cruiser's potlucks on Thursday nights. We also learned that cruiser's love to play Mexican Train, although their rules differ from the way we learned to play.
From Trinidad we went back and forth several times to Grenada.
Grenada is an amazing place. It is a beautiful, lush island with wonderful people who love Americans because we helped them fight communism in 1983. The way they express this makes you feel like you personally were responsible for saving their freedoms. It is truly humbling. Grenada is full of wonderful history. The forts, a several hundred year old rum factory where they still make rum the way they did hundreds of years ago, and of course my favorite an organic chocolate factory.
We left Grenada with our friends from England, Sue and Paul Pilsworth onboard to help us crew up to St. Maarten. What a pleasure it was to have them onboard, and as always they taught us things we didn't know. Sailing is an art that can never be perfected. Things can always be done differently and a little better. On our journey north we stopped in Bequia, St. Lucia and St. Kitts. Mostly we sailed up and were able to make 9 knots on the jib alone. It was a grand time and I'm so happy we had our friends with us.
We spent about a month in St. Maarten and had visitors. We made a trip to Anguilla which is a lovely island with soft, white sand beaches. If you want a laid back vacation with time to relax Anguilla is the place to do it.
We did a couple of day sails to St. Barths which were lovely sails and and the wind was perfect.
While in St. Maarten we became a charter boat, and decided to check out the chartering grounds in the BVI. My mom came to visit us in St. Maarten and made the trip to the BVI with us. She was a real trooper making a long day's crossing. We instantly fell in love with the BVI and spent some time island hopping to learn all the favorite spots. Once of the BVI's big attractions and party places is the Willie Thornton, (Willie T's) which is a ship that is moored and is now a restaurant and bar. It is known as the wildest place in the BVI and is known as one of the top 10 beach bars in the world. Willie T's painkillers are just that, until the next morning. LOL!
Willie T's is located at Normal Island. We loved this spot because there is so much snorkeling so close by. The Caves, The Indians, and right there in the bay at Norman's. We saw rays, turtles, octopus and all the other usuals. Mom was a champ at snorkeling and went nearly everyday with us. We also visited Marina Cay and spent an evening listening to Eric Stone and dancing the night away.
While in the BVI Ocean Jedi attended her first charter boat show. I have to say she was stunning. Although it rained (I mean poured) all weekend the event was a blast and we made many new friends. We have found that the charter boat community is like a family. They rely on each other, and although we are in competition for charters you would never know it by the way information is freely given. We love our new friends and can't wait to spend more time with them.
After the boat show we have been spending time bouncing back and forth between the BVI and USVI. Once treasure we have found is St. John. What a gorgeous place and so little visited in the grand scheme of things. US citizens who love the ocean and don't want to travel abroad should really try St. John. It is amazing. It iis a National Marine Park. The waters are pristine and teaming with life. Once of our favorite spots is Waterlemon Cay. Around the Cay is a beautiful reef. Unfortunately in the shallows people have broken the corals and destroyed it, but on the backside where the water is deeper the reef is very healthy. Sharks, octopus, corals, snails, starfish, turtles and a fish nursery make it so fun and interesting. I have never seen so many baby fish before.
I was snorkeling close to shore and felt/heard something and all the baby fish started jumping and hittine me in the head. I thought - uh oh - something is chasing them - wonder what it is. Just then a school of large fish swam under me and as I turned around I saw a pelican with his bill full of fish. I have to say it scared the cr*p out of me that it was not the reef shark right under me making his attack. LOL.
We are now in Red Hook on St. Thomas in the USVI. We are preparing to bring OJ north through the Bahamas to the states. We nervously excited about this trip and are anxious to have her in the states. We hope you will all consider a visit once we are there. We look forwad to seeing you soon. Fair Winds and Following Seas to you all.
12/16/2010, Isla Margarita, Venezuela
December 27, 2009 - August 4, 2010
Isla Margarita, Venezuela
Okay, so I haven't written anything in awhile, but part of that is because my mother told me if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. I've pondered what to write about our experiences in Isla Margarita, and have decided to focus on the positive and forget the negative, which means this blog will be relatively short.
Ocean Jedi was completed (sort of) in Margarita, which was not an easy task. Isla Margarita could be a beautiful tourist destination as well as a marvelous place for yachties to have work done if the government was not so screwed up and you could get the parts and services you need. There is a great marina there "Astivamar." Michael, the owner/manager is great for helping you to find the services and parts you need within the limitations that it is an island and it is in Venezuela. However, if something is available he will know where to get it. The other great thing about Astivamar is the cost for hauling out, which was about $70 and included the lift out, 5 days on the hard and being put back into the water. The marina is located in Chacachacare, which is about an hour or so from the main town of Porlamar so if you think you will need parts you'd better pick them up before heading out for the day.
One of the other nice things about Margarita was the beautiful penthouse, beach front apartment we stayed in. The view was spectacular and each morning the sunrise was incredible. We looked out over Isla Farallon Dillon and enjoyed watching the sea birds as they soared by the windows.
We made wonderful friends in Margarita including David and Hedy. I don't know what we would have done without them. They showed us the ropes and made it so much easier to spend the 7 ½ months there. We had a few boat days with them which were lovely and enjoyed countless dinners visiting with them.
The other person that made life much easier was our cab driver and now friend Pedro. He is definitely the "go to" guy for anything you need. He knows where to find anything from coffee to hard to find boat parts.
My sanity was saved by the discovery of kite boarding. (I didn't invent it - only discovered how much fun it is) I took many hours of lessons from Margarita Xtreme in El Yacque. Murray and his instructors are a lot of fun, and make learning a difficult sport fun. My instructor was Lev who must has the patience of Job because he stuck with me through all my training, and I know his frustration must equaled mine, but he never showed it. I can't even tell you how frustrated I would become and Murray would say, "you will get it, and once you've got it- you've got it." After 40 hours of lessons I was beginning to doubt that, but one day a miracle happened and I was up and riding. I have not had the opportunity to keep it up, but plan on doing much more during our travels. Now you might wonder why someone my age would consider taking up a sport that is mostly done by teenagers to 30 or so year olds, but maybe the picture answers that question for you. LOL!
Okay - back to Ocean Jedi. After many months and a more frustration and setbacks than I can explain, Ocean Jedi was put back into the water. Her first journey as a sailing catamaran was captained by the boat builder, Giorgio Ballotta. As OJ made her way out of Chacachacare and made the point at Punta Piedres the mainsail was raised and within the first 5 seconds the battens were gone. The crew watched in horror as they blew out of the sail. The sailmakers had forgotten to sew them in. It is amazing how fast a batten will sink. There was no way to retrieve them and made one more thing to have shipped into Margarita.
Shipping to Margarita is not easy. Customs is a difficult procedure at best. Pedro introduced us to a company called Rosemar owned by Charito, a very nice man that could not have been more helpful. We found we could have parts to his shipper in Miami on Tuesday at 2:00, it could be flown into Margarita by Wednesday and get through customs generally by Friday. The cost to ship to Margarita is incredibly expensive no matter the way you bring it in, and as with any government agency in Venezuela, the way to get things done is to throw money at it (or him or her).
The day we finally were able to leave Margarita was a happy one, although it was mixed with feelings of sadness in leaving our friends. On the way out we were escorted by dolphins along Farallon Dillon (a small island) and experienced probably the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. We were anxious about the journey along the Venezuelan mainland coast. The Gulf of Paria is known as the area for pirates in the Caribbean sea. We ran without lights until we went through the boca and entered into Trinidadian waters. As we turned the lights on we sighed with relief and were excited to see what Trinidad would look like in the morning. Seventeen hours after leaving Margarita we were safely docked at the CrewsInn in Chaguaramas, Trinidad and ready for a good night's sleep.
Here's the link to view our prior voyages.