12/07/2008, Los Roques VZ
tried to post this one as well, back on 11/22/08, but here it is -
God has been doing a very good job of making it seem as if we are still in the Pacific Northwest. It has been raining in paradise and is raining and is forecasted to continue to rain. Mind you it is still 80-85 degrees out. This keeps the humidity nice and high, ensuring that between thundershowers we have no illusions of drying out. It should be pointed out that this ain't no Seattle drizzle. Since this weather pattern arrived 4 days ago we've had somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-15 inches of rain. Cabin fever hasn't been too bad yet, and we think we can hang on until Monday when it clears out. At least the boat is clean and we can easily top our water tanks!
The other benefit of the vast quantities of rain is we have been able to see a great deal of the Venezuelan National Bird which thrives in warm moist conditions. We have also been able to feed the birds as they aren't shy around humans. In fact we are their favorite food supply, Liam and I in particular. Don't let anyone tell you that the Venezuelan Bird is some sort of lovely creature with beautiful plumage. Nope, it's the mosquito, and they are everywhere right now. Not your typical mosquito that hovers around a while looking for the finest spot to sample the menu. No, these guys are on you and digging into the main course quicker than you can say 'Chavez is a ...'.
Oh well, we're surrounded with great people and a beautiful area. At least we recall it being beautiful before the dark clouds and wind and rain and swarms of bugs came around! Yeah Yeah, I know, cry me a river.
12/07/2008, Tortuga, VZ
tried to post this 11/10/08, but it didn't work -
Venezuela - what to say about a beautiful country most people say not to visit. We have loved it so far!
We left Grenada on a Saturday night hoping to have a great sail arriving in the Testigos in the morning. There was less than 5 knots of wind however Denny was quite excited when a squall came near and gave us 15 knots of wind for 30 minutes! No engine for 30 minutes what a concept! After motor sailing the majority of the way, we caught two black fin tuna on our boat and Alegria caught one on theirs, we arrived in the Testigos. What a sight as we passed by two high islands surrounded by more birds than we have ever seen - the brown booby and the magnificent frigate soaring above. About 50 birds came and checked out our boat as we all took cover for fear of a messy splatter. What a surprise and blessing as they flew away we noticed only a couple splotches.
We entered the quiet anchorage with a long sand beach and set our anchor watching it descend onto the sand bottom. Great holding! The guys, Denny and Dan (from Alegria), dinghy over to the Guarda Costa and checked us in. They said we could stay for at least 3 days, perfect! We snorkeled on the reef right by our boat and saw an amazing assortment of fish and coral. We saw the largest brain coral we have ever seen, lobster, eels, and a wide variety of fishes, all alive and healthy. Too bad lobster season didn't start until Nov. 1st, only a few more days away!
After our 3 awesome nights we left for Margarita to meet up with Fruko and Independence. It was suppose to be a day sail with 15 knots of wind. We were ready!! We went out there and only had 5 at the most again! We just aren't meant to sail, we think we are waiting for wind and then nodda! We had a hot motor to Margarita however the upside was we caught a Mahi Mahi! We were sooooo excited! It was great to pull into the anchorage, Porlamar, and see our friends Fruko and Independence! We only planned to be there for a short quick trip to go shopping but we ended staying a week. The kids celebrated Halloween and trick or treated from boat to boat. The other boats were so accommodating and generous. The kids received a variety of treats including a new pair of flip flops, cards, coloring books, crayons, cookies, chips, and of course a large amount of candy! They were all very satisfied!
Our favorite part about Porlamar was the beach seafood bar. We would go in each evening and have shrimp, octopus, conch and oyster cocktails as well as oyster on the half shell for less than $3 per plate. Of course we washed it all down with .50 cent beers and .75 cent pops. As the adults ate and conversed the kids splashed in the water and played in the sand. One would think it would be easy to stay here longer however Porlamar has a nickname, Roll-amar. When they say rolly, it is an understatement. We rocked and rolled from one rail to the other so once we had all accomplished we headed out ASAP! However we did enjoy all the people we met and the places we visited. It was definitely a worthy stop.
We left Roll-amar for Cubagua on a short day sail to shorten our sail to the Tortugas. It was a beautiful sail and we anchored and swam in a clean solitary anchorage. The visibility was low due to the run off from the Orinoco river so snorkeling at the wrecked ferry was not good. It was even a bit eerie with the depth, lack of visibility, and the thought of large fish swimming in and out of the wreck. Definitely watched too many scary shark movies!! Very early the next morning, 4 am, we headed to Tortuga. Again we were told we would have about 15 knots of breeze but we didn't see over 4 knots of true wind. Another hot motor, seems to be our modus operandi lately!
We made it to Tortuga in the early afternoon, Alegria caught another Mahi Mahi and we caught a small Barracuda. As we set our anchors into another crystal clear sand bottom we all jumped into beautiful cerulean water. We swam at the stern of Alegria for over an hour and a half. After being fully pruned we returned to our boat, had a nice dinner and a sound sleep! We explored the shore of Playa Caldera and then returned to our boats to move over to Cayo Herradura where we were to meet up with Fruko, who is there, and Independence who was suppose to come in that afternoon. What a spectacular anchorage Herradura is! We set our hook in 9 feet of crystal clear water on sand bottom and no swell. It can't get in here unless it comes from the west. We arrived on a Thursday afternoon and it was a peaceful, only Fruko and another sailboat. Of course there were a few local fishing boats which is always a boon as they want to trade lobster for beer! What a deal - 4 warm beer for 2 lobster! On Friday afternoon a few power boats started to show up and by Saturday morning there was at least 30 boats in the harbor. Gone was our quiet anchorage but it was fun to see Venezuelans enjoying the beauty of their country. To top everything off, on Saturday, a personal helicopter landed and unloaded a family for a fun day at the beach. They stayed the day and then flew off in the evening! Wow, what a sight! By Sunday evening everything had quieted down again and the anchorage is ours.
Tonight, Monday, we are off to Los Roques with Alegria, Fruko, and Independence. Pray for WIND!
We all await another fun place to explore in beautiful Venezuela!
11/01/2008, Isla Margarita VZ
The initial light sunburns are fading into the dark tan we've all come to know and love. Diving off the back of the boat into the 86 degree water to 'cool off' and shower. Crammed into the bus/minivan with all the locals (and the next Mario Andretti at the wheel with the reggae cranked), while we go off in search of random boat parts and food stuffs is again a no-brainer. Yep, we must be cruising again!
We are settling into the rhythms of life on a boat in the tropics again, and it is a good thing. Our plan is to leave Grenada this weekend and sail through the out-Islands of Venezuela, specifically Los Testigos, Blanquilla, and Roques before we make our way to Bonaire and on. We have heard rave reviews of very sparsely populated islands, lots of white sand beaches and Bahama clear water. And we are told to expect great fishing along the way (read Mahi Mahi). However ready we all are to move onto new cultures and lands leaving Grenada will be hard to do. Not enough can be said about how kind and open the people of this great country are. They are rightfully proud of their Island and love to make sure you're enjoying it. The friendships we've made with cruisers as well as locals during our stay here will long be remembered. But onward we press!
School is in session again. 'Nuff said on that subject as the kids aren't too keen on it yet. Have I ever told every single person that reads this blog just how incredible my wife is? Watching her (and not helping her enough - must work on that) during our visit home while she worked her bum off putting together a curriculum for a high schooler, a sixth grader, and a first grader was humbling. Many of the courses have aspects that pertain to our adventure, and it all had to be carted half way around the world! I know I am truly blessed to married to such a dynamo, but once we settled back onto the boat her feats continued to amaze. Her patience and God's peace prevailed in getting the school year under way with 3 none too enthused students. Anyway, she'll be ticked at me if I toot her horn too much but what the heck! The Good Lord sure blessed this family with such an amazing Mom!
Next stop Venezuela!