Archive for January, 2008

Entry for January 30, 2008 – #2

January 30, 2008

Here is the beautiful beach on Los Testigos with Freedom in the background.

Advertisements

Entry for January 30, 2008

January 30, 2008

Welcome to Los Testigos!!  We left our mooring in Chaguaramas bay, Tinidad, at about 2 pm on Friday, Jan 25, motored to the Customs dock and spent 1 ½ hours to check out of Immigration and customs. It normally doesn’t take that long, but there were a crew of about 10 guys checking in  and then a family with a bunch of kids checking out ahead of us. Then it was off to the Duty free shop and we purchased a case of wine very cheap—about $5 US each.

By 3:30 pm we were motoring out of the harbor and called Jack to say our last farewells… Of course on our way out dark clouds and rain came over Trinidad, but since the sun was still shining to our west, we were able to enjoy two different rainbows. God’s promise! One of them seemed to be right in the water over us, and we kidded around about our boat being the “pot of gold.” (for us, it is!)

We headed almost straight north as quite a few folks, including the customs gents, mentioned that there had been some recent (even as of that morning) attempts of piracy and some boats being shot at along the coast, heading off the coast was the way to go. That shook us up a bit and we even had thoughts of continuing north to Grenada, heading back up the islands, instead of doing the “western” trip. Not long into the trip, Bill looked over at me and asked if I was ok? He said I looked a little green (although I didn’t feel bad) I actually was thinking and told him that these seas were probably nothing to him, eh?? He said “this is nothing” we had about 6 foot swells.  Since we had 15-18 knot winds to the beam and I think a current of some sort, we were zooming ahead at 7-8 knots and occasionally hitting the 9 knot mark!! (for SW that’s fast!) Bill trimmed the sails because if we continued at that rate, we’d be heading into Los Testigos in the dark, we had originally planned to get into the new anchorage around 8-9 am.. So with 2/3 main and a jib we were still pulling 7 knots, until finally Bill pulled in the main and we sailed on a ¾ jib, that still gave us 6 knots. At our faster speeds, we had three dolphins join along side of us, dipping in and out of the water, playing at the bow for about 20 minutes.. I love watching them and wish I could get a picture, but they are too quick and you never know where they are going to pop up next.

We dodged a few showers early in the evening and about 7:30 I tried to get some sleep, as my watch was midnight to 4 am. This was the first that Bill and I had tried the 4 hour watches and it seemed to work out pretty well. A three-quarter moon rose around 9 pm and lit our way for the rest of the night.  After my watch, I was able to sleep much better.. but we’d still prefer not doing these overnight trips.. It wipes us out for half of the next day. Around 3:30 am the wind died down to under 10 knots and moved a little more to behind us. Soon the jib was flogging as we rolled from side to side. Bill woke me up around 5 am to make some changes in the sail configuration as we tended to do some rolling and that wasn’t helping me sleep anyway. We rolled out the main with a preventer to keep it from jibbing, and rolled in the jib. This helped in the rolling dept and we gained about 1 ½ knots of boat speed.  When I woke for the morning (about 7 am) we were only about 5 miles from the anchorage. After checking with the Cruising guides, we anchored in a little harbor off of Los Tesitgos Grande. We never even started our engine, just enough wind to sail in, turn 180 degrees toward the wind, pull in the sail and then drop anchor.. cool! After dropping the dinghy we went to check in with the coast guard (Guardacosta). This is not an official Customs check in, but knowing that you can’t do that until you get to Margarita, the courtesy is to let them know you are here and they decide how long you can stay. This gent gave us 4 days, which is plenty for us to rest up, enjoy a nice beach, some snorkeling, maybe some fishing, and a cheap lobster meal.  After “customs” we pulled up anchor to find a more suitable, less rolling, spot along the coast of Los Testigos. We had heard that Bill and Debbie from the boat the “Dock Queen” was here also so we found them and anchored nearby so we could visit later, we had originally met them in Grenada months ago. After a little cleaning up and a quick lunch, it didn’t take long for Bill to sack out.. I did some reading, dozing on and off for a few hours.. Around 3:30 Bill woke up, showered, then we headed over to talk to Bill and Debbie for a bit. They gave us some really good information about Margarita and Venezuela, who to see about customs and who knows where to go for groceries and how to get there, what to see as far as touring is concerned, what restaurants are the best, they even gave us some maps of the area and we bought Bolivar (Venezuelan dollars) from them.  Back to the boat at about 7 pm, a light dinner and after a movie, we hit the sack around 9:30, both of us totally exhausted from the journey.

It’s Sunday morning and our plans are just to hang out, enjoy the sun, sea and sand..  hasta luego!!

Mid afternoon, we took the dinghy up on the beach and scouted out the place. A little shack on the end of the beach was used by the fishermen, selling what they caught to any one willing to buy. We never saw anyone there, so we didn’t get in on any fish at that time.  We did run into a few folks (there were only 2 other boats in that harbor with us) and we all spent some time watching the local fishermen, manning their huge nets and haul in an awesome catch!! Checkout the picture. After a dip in the beautiful refreshing waters, we headed back to the boat.  

 

Late Monday morning brought us a surprise by one of our “neighbors” from the boat Freedom. He had tried contacting the boat next to him (Sundance) but no-one answered. Later from one of the local fishermen, he found out that the Frenchman next to him had been shot some time during the night by someone trying to rob him. He had been taken by someone from the local village to a hospital in Margarita (45 miles away), we do not know how extensive his wounds were, but we decided there and then that we were “outa there”. That was the “straw that broke the camels back” as Bill said, already having some fears and doubts about heading to questionable areas. I’m sure there are a lot of people that say its not that dangerous, but that was at our “backdoor” and we aren’t taking the chance.  So we quickly prepped the boat for another overnight voyage of 95 miles ENE to Grenada. Gary and Nita from the boat Freedom were also on their way there, so we buddy boated with them. They are a Tri-maran and they certainly could go much faster than us, but hung close until late into the night, then they went on ahead to Prickly Bay, where we met up with them around noontime on Tuesday.  As we were leaving Los Testigos, Gary posed a fishing contest, the one that caught the largest fish, (or any fish) had to give it to the other couple to have them prepare and cook up a meal for the four of us. Bill threw out our line and by sundown we had nothing.

 The crossing was just wonderful, as the seas were just a bit rolling and not much wind (which was a good thing on this trip, as we were heading right into the wind- not good for sailing anyway). We knew we would be motoring the whole way. The billions of stars were just amazing and somewhere around 11:30 pm the half moon came up, lighting up the night sky and reflecting off the dark waters. Bill and I had decided to switch out shifts and he did the 10-2 and I did 2-6, after getting about 3 hours of sleep. After an early cup of coffee, I didn’t feel like trying to rest, anyway, we had a fish to catch- hehe. Bill really didn’t want to fish, so I decided to – he had to show me how his rod and reel worked,  I had only used a little pole with a worm on the hook in the pond, none of this fancy fishin’ stuff..  Lo and behold, about 30 minutes later, we hear the click-click of the reel, and Bill jumps out of the cockpit, grabs the pole and starts reeling in… hey, I thought this was my fishing trial.. J ..  Well, it wasn’t too big, but just a great size “tunny” for the four of us. They didn’t even put their line in the water, so after filleting the tuna we handed it over to Nita, who came up with this wonderful gourmet Oriental meal of marinated grilled tuna, seasoned rice, stir fry veggies, a terrific oriental dipping sauce and a fruit crumb dessert, and a few glasses of white wine. (by the way, they crew on this charter boat, and Nita’s the cook – lucky for us) By 9pm, we were all totally exhausted, so we said our good-nights and I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

Entry for January 24, 2008

January 24, 2008

It’s Thursday night and we haven’t left Trinidad yet.  We decided to wait another day for the seas to calm down after some high winds the past few days.  The boat is 100% ready and so are we.

This afternoon we brought the boat over to the fuel dock and filled up our (4) gasoline jugs, our diesel tank and our water tank.  We took 15 gallons of diesel, 18 gallons of gasoline and a little over 100 gallons of water.  The bill was a little over $US50.  Nice!

We’ve been working on odd jobs and mostly enjoying some “downtime” here in Trinidad.  Jack and I worked on the wind direction indicator which has been giving intermittent readings for the past few months.  Jack did the hard work at the top of the mast.  He found the connector on the sensor was pretty bad so he cut it out and hard-spliced the wires.  This will make it more difficult if we ever need to replace the sensor but it will be a much better electrical connection up there.  The indicator is working better but I don’t think it is quite working right.  We’ll find out for sure tomorrow.

After leaving the fuel dock we decided to go for a “shake-down” cruise out in the bay.  We motored out of Chagauramas harbor and had a nice 2 hour sail.  No surprises with the boat and I feel more comfortable leaving tomorrow now that we’ve checked out everything.

Our cruise for the next several weeks will take us along the coast of Venezuela for several hundred miles to Bonaire.  We will be sailing from Trinidad to Los Testigos which is a small group of islands about 95 miles away.  We can only stay there a couple days because they don’t have customs and immigration for check-in.  From there we will sail to Margarita for several days.  Then we’ll head to the mainland for a visit to Puerto La Cruz.  After a visit there we’ll go back off-shore to Tortuga, Los Roques, Islas de Aves then Bonaire.  Sometime around the end of February we’ll sail from Bonaire to Puerto Rico – about 400 miles across the Caribbean Sea – then start working our way back to the U.S.

We’ve been having fun with our friend Jack.  His boat Dionysus went back in the water this week and he is enjoying the dock at Peake.  He’s going to take our mooring after we leave tomorrow and stay through Carnival which ends February 4th.  We’re hoping to meet up down the coast of Venezuela – maybe in Puerto la Cruz – and sail to Puerto Rico together.

The picture is from a couple nights ago when we had dinner together at Joe’s Restaurant.

Entry for January 23, 2008

January 23, 2008

Yesterday (Friday) I finally started feeling better as my cold started winding down.  Laura knew something was different when I almost immediately started working on boat projects – something I hadn’t done in several days.  I had only been working on the “have to be done” projects and leaving everything else until I felt better.

There were only a few items left on our before-we-leave-here checklist and I completed all of them but 1 in the morning.  I purchased some additional spare parts for the main engine at the Perkins dealer and dropped off the BBQ propane tank for filling.  Then I picked up Jack for some work up the mast that he volunteered for.  Our wind direction indicator had been erratic for the past few months of sailing so I hauled Jack up the mast to look at the connections on top.  He worked awhile on the connector and it seemed to be working better when he was done.  Unfortunately, it didn’t last and later in the day it was erratic again.  We have a few ideas for cleaning the connector better that we will try in the next couple days.

A project that was down in priorities was relocating the VHF antenna on our mizzen mast.  The previous owner had mounted the antenna down from the top to prevent problems with the wind generator.  With the wind generator no longer there, I wanted to move the antenna mount to the top of the mast for better signal strength.  Jack made quick work of mounting a new bracket by drilling and tapping the holes before securing the bracket with stainless screws – all while working about 40 feet off the water.  The new antenna seems to work great.

After cleaning up and putting away the tools, we celebrated with a couple cold beers before a nice shrimp stir-fry over rice dinner. 

We decided to head to a local marina pub to listen to local music so everyone cleaned up and we took the dinghy to the Power Boats restaurant.  They had music playing but it was all over the scale from 50’s and 60’s rock-n-roll to Latin salsa.  It was fun and we met a cruiser from Norway called Eric.  Eric is alone on his boat right now.  He and Jack will be having a good time over the next couple weeks because they both want to see some of the pre-Carnival events and they are already making plans.

 

We had Jack and Eric on the boat on Sunday for a dinner of bar-b-q chicken and potato salad, along with some other “picnic” type sides. I had made an apple spice cake and since I didn’t have any raisins, I tried craisins (dried cranberries) in it and it was just marvelous..  We had an early evening as Jack and Eric had partied the night before and were pretty beat.  Monday was a fairly slow day, Jack’s boat was put in the water at about 2 pm and Bill helped him get settled on the dock at the same Marina. He’s going to hang there a few days until we leave then grab our mooring. 

Tuesday, Jack was back up on our mast trying to figure out what the problem is with the wind direction indicator, we’re still having problems with it,,, they finally decided that the connectors are the problems. They decided that’s a project for a new day as the sun was beginning to fall low in the sky. We enjoyed a cocktail on Jack’s boat around 6 pm while listening to a gent play the pans on a nearby 120 ft  sailing yacht(what a boat!) — after a bit we headed for Joe’s Italian Restaurant.. dinner was on Jack.. nice!.  Now today (Wednesday- Jan 23) Jack came over for breakfast and is now back on the mast as I write this, and Bill is working on one of the connectors..as Jack is trying to unhook the other one… hopefully this will do the trick!

I know it sounds like we eat and drink all the time, but that’s not the case.. When cruisers help each other out, it’s a good thing to do to show our appreciation!  And I really enjoy cooking for people.

We’re still planning on leaving here tomorrow afternoon (if there’s no more problems with the wind indicator)  I’m looking forward to some clearer waters and being able to jump in when we get hot.  Later….

  

Entry for January 20, 2008

January 20, 2008

This is a picture of our group getting a lesson on how to make Pan Drums last Thursday.  The guy with the big red had was our instructor and had been making these drums for over 50 years.

My photo

Entry for January 20, 2008

January 20, 2008

Here is the picture from our launching on Tuesday. 

 

My photo

Entry for January 19, 2008

January 19, 2008

After taking a day off and enjoying some of Trinidad’s “history”, we have work to do today. There are two more sails to put up and around 11 am, Jack is coming over to help Bill check out the wiring on the top of the mast. We seemed to have had some functioning issues with the wind indicator.

But let’s back up to yesterdays tour. We caught our “taxi” around 9 am and met up with another group. About 20 minutes down the road we pull off the road next to this little shack and the other driver wants us to sample a typical Trini breakfast.. the Shack serves “doubles”. Bill got one that Jack and I shared with him.. it consisted of two chewy tortilla-like bread topped with chick peas and a sauce of some kind, and of course, hot sauce.. the taste was rather good, but I’m not too sure how much nutrition would have been in them.. lots of carbs though…

We headed to the hills a few minutes later, went over a one lane bridge and then down into what looked like a junk-yard with a shack on one end. This was the shop of a man named Tony who has been making pan drums for more than 50 years. He gave us an interesting talk on how they are formed (beaten with mallets and old cannon balls), a brief history of the pan(it was the only instrument new to the 20th century)how they are tuned, burned and finally sent to a factory for the final enamel to be put on, then they come back to him and he does a finally tweek on the tuning, usually about a three week process. At the end he played a brief tune for us. One thing he said was that the steel barrels are getting harder to find with everyone going to plastic barrels, which is making the price of the pans go up. Nowadays it’s the club or carnival sponsors or schools that buy them as they are too much to be privately owned by the locals.

We drove on to the Angostura Distillery, a huge modern rum brewery development. After being served lunch in their cafeteria, we toured everything from where they get the molasses delivered and stored to the bottling and boxing barn. There were areas where we couldn’t take pictures as the “secret” ingredients are only known to 5 people in the Business. They allowed us to see the ingredients and how it then is mixed with the proper amounts of liquids and yeast, then stored and aged for 3 months, to make the Angostura bitters (used for everything from seasoning foods and drinks, to getting rid of hick-ups.) They also make different grades of rum (using the bitters) along with cooking sauces. An included trip to the museum told us the history of how the Angostura processing was started by a German named Seiger (originally Zeiger) in the mid 1800’s…and how it ended up in Trinidad from Venezuela up to the current processing, expansion and ownership. The tour ended at the bar with a taste-test of a few of the different products.. mmmm A great day off, but with Bill still feeling a bit under the weather, we headed to the boat exhausted and ready for a quiet night.

Entry for January 17, 2008

January 17, 2008

We’re still experiencing difficulties with posting pictures.. Sorry

Entry for January 17, 2008

January 17, 2008

I can’t believe how fast this week has gone by. Monday Bill got the dinghy all pumped up and made sure the generator was working, he also picked up some fuel for the dinghy to make sure we’d be able to get from the boat to the necessary docks. He also primed the spots where the jack stands had been on the bottom of the boat, I did some laundry and had to scrub the “moldy” top of the bimini. Tuesday morning Bill also painted the primed spots with the two coats of bottom paint. We also did a thorough(two hours) deck cleaning, filled the boats water tank and our two 6 gallon jugs of drinking water, after emptying the tank to make sure we had fresh water in there. At 12:30 he went to the office, paid up all our bills and we were ready and waiting to be hauled in the water. Keep in mind, neither one of us has been feeling very well, plus a lot of this work is being done in very hot, humid weather. Just shortly after 1:30 the hauling vehicle backed up to us, at the last minutes, we unhooked shore power and untied the ladder, this time I remembered the camera. At the moment we have terrible internet access so we’ll have to download some pics at a later date.. By 2:30 pm we had hooked up to a mooring, got the refrigeration working dropped the dinghy, and after a short break, dinghy’d to the HILO and bought some groceries and a partial restock of some staples.. its like setting up housekeeping all over again. Back at the boat and we were both ready to collapse.. but I still had groceries to put away and supper to make. Neither of us had been very hungry, so after groceries stocked away, it was tuna sandwiches and Bill had his pasta.

The first night out on the water again and I slept most of the night peacefully, Bill woke up very early, his chest and head hurting, the cold had moved around on him and he just couldn’t get comfortable. I ended up with a wicked fever during the night, but it must have knocked it out of me, as I woke up feeling much better and was able to swallow without wincing. Bill felt worse.

Since Jack was due in late on Tuesday night, we planned at some point to visit with him on Wednesday. So this am, we put up the two biggest sails, the jib and the main, relaxed a few minutes then went into Peakes marina to see what Jack was up to. We walked to a few stores and picked up a few more parts for the boats(of course), then made plans for Jack to come to the boat for supper. Most of the afternoon, I made “from scratch” meat balls and sauce, and even made Gingersnaps for dessert. It got mighty hot in here, but it was sure worth a good home cooked meal.. we’ve been eating out so much I forgot how much I like cooking.. especially baking!!! Dinner was great, but by 8 pm Bill was whipped and we have a big day planned for tomorrow. We’re taking a day to have some fun, a tour of how they make the steel pans and also of a rum distillery. Jack is going with us.. so we’ll let you know how tomorrow “pans” out.. heehee..

The picture is SW getting ready to be put back into the water. The blue “trucklike” vehicle transported her from where she was on the jacks to the lift by using hydraulic arms, then backing it into the lift. Pretty amazing. Check out the bottom paint job too!!

Entry for January 13, 2008

January 13, 2008

It’s Sunday night and the last few days have been busy ones for us. Friday, after the sanding was done, we primed the boat bottom. Since we had to have that “cure” overnight we planned to get up early to start the black bottom paint – two and a half coats, which would take us a good 5-6 hours. I bet you’re wondering how we could do two and a half coats?? Let me clarify, two full coats and a third coat only about 3 feet down from the red water line, since that area seems to get more “wear and tear” . I did the cutting out around the through-holes, depth sounders, and other sundry things on the bottom, along with the very bottom, which makes me look like I was just laying down on the job. After enough hours in the heat, I let Bill finish up on the half coat. After cooling off in the AC of the boat, we went to a restaurant for dinner. Bill had the catch of the day(snapper) and I had seafood lasagna- it was awesome, but I didn’t eat that much since I had a wicked headache from the paint fumes. And both Bill and I ended up with sore throats. So today we just chilled out, watched movies and slept. With not going to the grocery store since the first day we were back, and the fact that we don’t have refrigeration, things to eat were on the “low” side. We went through our canned goods and today’s meals were chicken noodle soup for lunch, canned fruit for dessert, beans and tuna for dinner. Hopefully tomorrow the local grocery will be open and we’ll pick up a few things. On another note.. I did lay out in the sun for a bit, but only lasted about 15 minutes. Not to rub in it.. but its really nice and hot here…