Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Greetings 2010 from Our Home to Yours….

May you experience the True meaning of Christmas found in the Joy of being surrounded by good friends and family and an abundance of unconditional love accompanied by good food, much laughter and a sense of sharing all that is nearest and dearest to your heart.   

We send along our best wishes for a New Year filled with happiness, abundant good health and a measure of prosperity beyond your wildest dreams.

Your friends from KaijaSong

Gary, Kaija & Doc

Curacao - Lat 12.04 – W 068.51 Dec 15 –

We are anchored in Spanish Waters a large safe water bay housing 4 designated anchorage areas.  These are close to bus facilities that provide easy access to Willemstad (the capital) for check-in –out procedures, albeit you need to have good walking shoes as they have somehow managed to spread out the distance between customs and immigration about as far as possible without changing towns.

The colours here are brilliant and the hustle and bustle reminds you that you are in a busy trading center.  The local population is made up of Dutch, Venezuelan and native islanders and it is unfortunate that our experience with them showed they are not always as gentle or friendly as one might expect.  On more than one occasion we found ourselves being jostled about, whether just standing and waiting for a bus or dealing with unpleasant /impatient and often rude vendors.  This was not what we expected and would not recommend a return visit.  

We are waiting a weather window for our next leg to Aruba.

Bonaire - N12.09 – W 068.17 Nov 24 – Dec 15

We made a dash for Bonaire missing the outer islands of the ABC’s, Los Roches and the Aves due to a family emergency requiring our immediate return to Canada.  This is unfortunate as it was these outer islands that we wanted to visit.  We arrived in Bonaire and put KS in the Harbour Village Marina and Kaija and Gary boarded a plane for Toronto.  Doc was left in the loving care of our good friends John and Jeri on Mv Peking.  The following is an excerpt of the daily updates we received from them regarding Doc’s care.

Dear G&K,

Doc and I were out in the mud flats behind us and we were stalking flamingos, Doc is a pretty good hunting dog, but I hate it when he gets feathers caught in his teeth so we let the birds off tonight. 

While we were waiting for the birds to come closer I reviewed your most recent e-mail with Doc.  His first question was "who are Kaija and Gary? Are they the two hard hearted pack members who denied me treats and made me wait 30 hours before I could pee"?
"Yes", I replied.
"I have heard that immigrant routine before, and I do not buy it" said Doc. "I am a Rottweiler, an immigrant from Africa.  My ancestors, when they came to North America, learned that hard work diligently served provides each foreigner with the promise of success based on their own merits and not tied to some fictitious ancestry.  Gary and Kaija play that "poor immigrant” line when they look for a break or sympathy.  They never gave me goggles when I was swimming.  Gary would sit in the dinghy and make me pull all 250 lbs of him and never once give me a snorkel tube to make the job easier. From one immigrant to another tell them to forget it."

 Doc continued, “Let’s be candid.  Since they took the soft gloves of formality off, I want to address the issue of "slop".  Yeah, they are pretty good at giving gruel to the working staff while they regal themselves with foods from France and other exotic places.  Do they come on deck at 3:00 am with even the smallest morsel for the perpetual watch I maintain?  Did they even say "thanks" when I protected the boat in that den of thieves in Trinidad?  Did they ever treat me in any special way when I guarded them in Isla Margarita?  Never!   Ungrateful aliens, they should be cast from gracious Canada, my adopted home, returned to the cold regions of Finland.  There they can feast on rancid reindeer meat and rue the day they demeaned their faithful companion.  I hope Kaija gets antlers to gnaw upon." 

"And, while I am on the subject of respect, I do not like being called "meat head"; I did not fall in the water when we got tangled in the nets.  I did not have a mast that shrunk; I did not put on the flea medicine early in the morning then tell me I can not swim.  I believe there are more candidates then me for the title of "meat head" and if the crown fits, I suggest someone else wear it.  After all, I am a dog and in that context am a stellar performer, if I do say so myself.  What does the rest of the crew have to boast about?

 The birds have gotten close now and we are about to depart.  Doc looked at me and said, "You know, on the whole they were pretty good.  I was very sorry they abandoned me; I am a very sentimental Rottweiler.  If you run into whats their names, tell them, I can forgive a lot of their foibles if they would just put chicken pate in my dog food.  However, before I assume the role of indentured servant, I want an employment contract, signing bonus and two NHL draft choices".

I told him the signing bonus would be the hard part.

Needless to say, Doc was well taken care of, spoiled rotten and treated like family during his stay aboard Peking.  We are grateful to John and Jeri for their loving kindness during our absence.  Once again, we have found truth in the oft expressed sentiment that there is no better friend than a fellow sailor…strangers at first, but truly a friend in need becoming a friend indeed.

On our return to Bonaire we enjoyed clear water snorkeling of ‘the wall’ which is within a few feet of the shoreline.  Our last day we enjoyed a fun morning in the water at Eden beach which is also one of the best beach glass finds we have located anywhere in the Caribbean.

One of the surprises of Bonaire is the flocks of Flamingos that we found located just across the road from the marina.  It was fun to see them feeding in the shallows with their brilliant pink hues lit up by the evening sun.

All in all, Bonaire is a small quaint island with easy check-in and check-out procedures, friendly people and good restaurants.

Cayo Herradura N10.59 W 065.22 Nov 20 – Nov 23

This small cay is located on the western end of Isla La Tortuga and is predominantly a sand bar with a small gathering of fish camps, a lighthouse and is a favorite weekend retreat for mainlanders of Venezuela.  There is little here other than a safe anchorage in bad weather.  The waves can roll virtually right over the island in bad weather.  We enjoyed a brief stop here resting up after our adventuresome departure from Cayo Cubagua and our first episode in 6 yrs of cruising being snagged in a local fisherman’s net.  The highlights of this story include Gary being pulled off the boat by the net as he attempted to cut it loose only to have it snag him and allow his safe return to the boat.  Our friends on Peking were as unlucky and also got tangled in the fisherman’s net and after a couple of tedious hours of cutting away finally found freedom.  We would like to think this was an accidental ‘snagging’ however with the number of pirate incidents one is never quite sure.  However, as the saying goes, ‘all’s well that ends well’.

Cayo Cubagua N10.49 W064.09 Nov 17 - Nov 19

Cayo Cubagua was the first European settlement in America in 1492, known as Nueva Cadiz and was known for its pearls.  At the height of the pearling industry they exported 820 pounds of pearls.  On Christmas day 1541 an earthquake and a tidal wave destroyed Nueva Cadiz.  Today it is uninhabited safe for a small research station and a few fishing camps.   In ideal weather there is good diving on a wreck of a car ferry that sunk in the late seventies.  Unfortunately, this anchorage tends to be rolly as the swell comes around the western tip of Margarita and into the bay.  After two days of this it was time to move on.