Checked battery water level - OK. Checked port engine fluid levels - engine at lower limit, saildrive at 40% of range. Checked starboard engine fluid levels - engine at top of range, saildrive at 60% of range. Checked engine hours and decided that it is time to change oil.
Barometer 8am = 1008, 9:30 = 1010
Left Chacachacare at about 9am. Around 1:30 Jo had a fish hit. What ever it was it was more than our puny tackle could handle. It took about 15 or 20 seconds to take all the line and then snap it near the lure. Oh well, it was exciting for a few seconds. Arrived at Cabo San Francisco around 2:30. This is a very dramatic anchorage, with towering jungly mountains dropping straight into the sea. La Boutique is also here. When we get done setting our anchors we notice that the Starboard engine had stalled. We will look at it tomorrow since we have to change the oil anyhow.
Jo and Matti swam to shore. The water here is cooler than at Chacachacare. It is Matti's first time on South America. -DWH
Stacy went kayaking with Sue (La Boutique has two inflatable kayaks) and Jo, Matti, and I worked on the engines. The starboard engine would still not start. We worked on checking the fuel supply. Jo changed the secondary fuel filter, but we did not have a spare primary. He talked to Peter who is a diesel mechanic. Pete has lots of spare parts for his engine as well as parts for many other engines including ours. After installing the fuel filter from him we were off and running again. All I can say is that it's good to have friends.
After getting the starboard engine to run we changed the oil in both engines. Hours are 1206.
Stacy and I did a brief swim into shore. Our first time on South American soil! This is six continents for me, but the last will be tougher.
Left Cabo San Francisco at 5pm and headed for Los Testigos. The wind was very light to start with but picked up a little during the night. -DWH
Barometer at 7am = 1011
Caught a small bonito (type of tuna) at sunrise. Arrived in Los Testigos around 8am. For those who don't speak Spanish and think you know the translation for "Los Testigos", you're wrong. It translates as "The Witnesses". There is no customs and immigration here, so the cruising guide says that we are supposed to check in with the small Coast Guard Office at Isla Iguana, which we did. Then we went to Testigo Grande which has some better anchorages. I cooked up my small bonito for breakfast and then took a nap.
Los Testigos are a small group of islands with around 150 inhabitants who live by fishing. There are houses, a church and a school, but that's about it for human development. There is no ferry or airport, so yachties are just about the only visitors. The islands themselves offer nice beaches, sand dunes, lots of fish and good snorkeling.
After our naps and a visit from Pete and Sue we went snorkeling. I saw a number of new things. The first was the head of a shark. It had obviously been caught by the fisherman and butchered. I would estimate that the head was about 14" wide. After that I hit the reef. It is hard to describe the incredible amount of variety and activity that exists on a coral reef. The things that I noticed that I had never seen before were a white sea urchin (there are always lots of black ones), something like a millipede crawling on a rock, a crab (we see them on the rock by the water all the time but never completely underwater on the reef), and what we believe are sting rays (one way to find out, you go first). There was also a large variety of trumpet fish. -DWH
Barometer at 7am = 1010
What a wonderful day. Stacy and I went ashore to climb up to the lighthouse. The first interesting thing was the sand. It squeaks when you walk on it. I guess that is due to it being very fine and dry. We walked past the small fishing village and found the trail. These islands are more like Jost Van Dyke in the BVI than like any place we have been lately. It is very dry with cacti everywhere. There also seems to be a healthy population of wild goats. It took us about an hour of hard climbing to reach the top, but it was worth it. The view was wonderful, and we took a couple photos.
While we were climbing, Jo and Matti took a big swim and hike to the sand dune on the other side of the island. They saw a number of interesting things including what they believe was a sea snake. On the way back they stopped at the shark head that I found yesterday, and Matti ripped a couple teeth out with his bare hands. -DWH
Barometer at 6am = 1010
Woke up early and were sailing by 6:20. We have about 45 miles to Margarita and want to make sure to get an early start to ensure that we arrive during the day. Stacy had coffee cake in the oven by 6:25. Jo had a fish hit at 6:30, but it was not hooked well and got off. So far it has been a pretty good morning.
At 7 we saw dolphins. These are different than the ones we saw before. These are spotted. Jo looked it up and identified them as Atlantic Spotted Dolphins. They played in out bow wave for about 5 minutes and than went back to feeding. There must be fish around! And at 7:20 Jo caught the smallest Bonito we have seen. It was only about 6 inches long.
It's 7:40, and we have more dolphins. in out bow wave. This time they are the
Common Dolphin that we are used to seeing. Later we saw more
of the Spotted Dolphins. This is the most we have seen the entire trip.
We got a call on the VHF from La Boutique. They left Los Testigos just after we did and are also heading to Margarita. They caught a 35 pound Dorado. It sounds like we will all be eating well tonight.
We arrived at Margarita Island at 3:20. After getting everything shipshape we headed over to La Boutique for a great dinner of mahi mahi. -DWH
Jo and Matti went over to La Boutique to try to rescue a piece of the grill that had fallen overboard yesterday. Matti was the one who retrieved it winning a bet of 1B (about 1/6 of a US cent). I spent a little time playing on the SSB. I was able to hear boats in the BVI, Trinidad, and Aruba, but I'm still having some trouble with transmitting.
Once Jo and Matti got back I went in to clear into customs and immigration The laws here are a little strange. On one hand they are more tolerant of boats stopping at places, like Cabo San Francisco and Los Testigos, without checking in. On the other hand you are supposed to check in and out of each major port that you stop in, and it is a long and fairly expensive process unless you use an agent. The marine supply store here acts as an agent, so I took my paperwork there. It is going to cost us about $50US to check in and about $15US to check out in a couple days. That's a little expensive and apparently many people just never check in at all. Despite the expense, Margarita is duty free, and we will more than make up for the $65 dollars in savings when we load up on alcohol and fuel (good rum - $3 a bottle; red wind - $2 a bottle; diesel fuel - 30 cents if we go get it, 60cents if it's delivered). In Los Testigos the fisherman liked to trade rum or cigarettes for fish, so we will stock up on goods to trade, though the whole tobacco thing does not sit well with us.
Later we all went into shore with Pete and Sue. We got cash, checked out the stores, drank some beers, and did a little shopping. It seems like a pretty nice place. We are now wishing we could spend a lot more time in Venezuela, but we need to keep moving west. Stacy and I want to be in Curacao a week from Friday. We fly back for Ryan (her brother) and Lindas' wedding!
One other note on Venezuela. This is apparently the place to have corrective eye surgery. It is very cheap, and they are very good. I believe it is about $600 to do both eyes, and I've heard of at least one American eye doctor who had it done down here, not because it was cheap, but because they are so good. -DWH
Barometer at 7am = 1010
I worked on the SSB in the morning. Otherwise the day was pretty much spent shopping.
We had lunch at "El Pescador". It is a little bar/restaurant on the beach that appears to be run by local fisherman. The food is great and cheap. Stacy especially likes the mixed fruit smoothies, raw oysters, and calamari. -DWH
Another day of shopping. Jo and Matti went for a mega food run. Stacy and I focused on gifts and wine. Santa Rita Cab. is about $3.50US/ bottle. Later Pete and Sue came over. Stacy helped modify their dodger so they can collect rain water. Pete also lucked at out diesels and suggested spare parts that we should carry. We will have to see how much we can afford. -DWH
Started the checking out process in the morning. Then more shopping. This is no life for a pirate. Later we had Sue over for pizza. Pete was going to come but had a water maker failure. -DWH
Barometer at 9am = 1009, 2pm =1005, 5pm=1004.
Lifted anchor about 10 am. We will head towards Bonaire. We will make a stop or two depending on our progress.
Motorsailed until 2pm. Then wind started to kick in and before we knew it we were doing 7-8 knots. The wind dropped a little later, but we continued to make good progress through the night. We took two hour shifts at the helm, with a second person "on call" (usually sleeping in the saloon). This kind of schedule seems to give us plenty of sleep.
The night was beautiful. There was no moon and the stars really shined. It reminded me on a cold, clear winter night in northern Wisconsin(except for it being 80 degrees out) . It is amazing how well you can see by starlight. -DWH
The moon came up around 1 AM. I first saw it on the horizon and thought there was a large ship chasing us. As I watched it became brighter and brighter. Soon I saw a perfect crescent shape rising from the horizon. As the moon moved above the horizon, it became crystal clear. The stern of the boat really became lit up from the moon, I could even see my shadow on the instrument panel. Great sailing, mostly around 3.5 to 4.5 knots. The water was smooth and we made good progress. -SLC
Barometer at 8am = 1008. 4pm=1006
We struggled with light winds in the morning and finally turned on the diesels. Throughout the afternoon the sea was very smooth with just a slight swell from the north. Occasionally the wind would pick up and we would sail for a while. -DWH
At 12:30am we got a little rain which caused a most interesting affect. We were barely moving, and I had not noticed any bioluminescence in our wake, but when the rain started to fall the drops caused little sparkles of light on the surface of the water.
We have been motoring all morning. Other than a couple dolphin sightings earlier, we did not have much excitement until 8:45. Matti thought he saw a different kind of dolphin, but we believe that it was probably a swordfish. It had a dorsal fin similar to a dolphin or shark, but a tail and and a nose were like a sword fish. It was cruising on the surface in a general direction of the fishing lures that we were trolling. There was a lot of anticipation for a few minutes, but in the end there was no strike.
We approached Las Aves around 12:30. This is a good time to enter the anchorage because this is an area with lots of coral and shoals. Good visibility is a must. Just as we were reaching the shallow water at the tip of the island, Jo hooked into a fish. After about a 5 minute fight he landed a 45" barracuda.
We dropped anchor off Isla Sur. For more details see Las Aves, Venezuela -DWH
I played National Geographic photographer and got up close and personal with the local bird population and then wrote up the "Las Aves, Venezuela" story (link above) . Stacy is a knitting fool and is knitting about 8 hours a day to try to finish the sweater that she plans on wearing to her brother Ryan's wedding. Jo and Matti did a little exploring on land. We also spent a little time exploring the reef near the boat.
In general this is a most excellent place to hang out.
To end the day I have a few thoughts on cruising this part of the world:
Trinidad - Chagauramas is the place to get work done on the boat. Parts are readily available and good labor is cheap. People in Trinidad are extremely friendly, and it is easy to make local friends. There is also a large semi-permanent cruiser population with a lot going on. We have not personally experienced it, but know that Carnival is the party to beat all parties. Unfortunately all this often adds up to spending money on boat parts, working on the boat every day, and never leaving Chagauramas to do any sailing.
Tobago - You will not find any boat parts here and the people are just as friendly as Trinidad and more laid back. It is extremely safe. There are some really good places to sail and anchor. Very few cruisers come here from Trinidad because it's up wind and up current, but the people who do seem to love it and actually "cruise". We loved Tobago, but to be perfectly honest we did almost no cruising here. We met some local fisherman right after we arrived, became friends, and partied with them almost every day.
Venezuela - Because we spent so much time in Chagauramas working on the boat, we left almost no time to cruise Venezuela. Big Mistake! Venezuela is fantastic for cruising. There are lots of beautiful places to sail and anchor. In many places the only neighbors are local fisherman. And if you get tired of small islands, beautiful beaches, coral, etc., then go to Margarita Island to party and stock the bilges with good, $2/bottle rum. -DWH
In the morning we did a little work around the boat, and Stacy worked on her sweater. In the early afternoon a guy sailed into the anchorage. He came along side and said that he had lost his main halyard. Since he was singlehanding he needed help to get up the mast. His name was Bob, and he sails out of St. Thomas. We all went over and gave him a hand. He said he really appreciated the help and gave us a large bottle of rum. We told him that he didn't owe us anything, but he insisted.
After helping Bob, Stacy and I went to the beach on the other side of the island for a picnic, and Jo and Matti went snorkeling. Then we headed back to Ladybug. Our plan was to head to Curacao this afternoon, and it was getting late. We wanted to make sure to get through the reefs while we still had good light. The entire crew jumped into action. Everyone knew what needed to be done, and we worked very well as a group. Within about 20 minutes we were off and sailing. Our departure time was about 4:30. -DWH