Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Margarita, Venezuala N10.57 W 063.50 Nov 10 - 2010

This was our first real passage of the season and we were a little apprehensive, feeling somewhat rusty in our sailing skills and only slightly ‘aware’ of the sounds of KS as she moved thru the water. Checking periodically for any indication of thru hull leaks or rig tensions that were out of the norm all the while keeping an eye out for Pirates that are making a nasty habit out of ruining passages for so many cruisers in these Venezualan waters. Happy to report, nothing leaked, the rig was fine, and despite seeing many small boats in the dark, none approached us and the passage was made all the sweeter with a big pushing current, sometimes as much as 4 kts, but consistently 1.5 kts and a tail wind we covered the miles between Trinidad and Margarita in short order arriving just as the sun was coming up.

We had the fun of buddy boating with our new friends John and Jeri on the beautiful Mv Peking. They are from Alabama/Connecticut and great to travel with. They had their Motor Vessel ‘Peking’ made for them in China. The craftsmanship is excellent and provides a stable safe platform outfitted ‘Cadillac style’ with all the creature comforts, including an ice maker…If’n ya gotta buddy boat…select wisely… We do recommend buddy boating thru these waters for safety sake.

Thanks to Kaija’s sewing skills Doc has new chin rests strategically located for him to keep his eye on the water should his dancing dolphin buddies appear. It was not long after our departure that we were joined by a large pod of dolphins. They frolicked in our bow wave as Doc did his best impersonation of Dolphin speak and only by restraining him did we keep him from diving off the bow to join his swimming buddies.

Check in- Checkout here in Margarita is handled by Senor Juan. He has a designated dinghy dock and takes care of your procedural needs. This is not inexpensive (1600 B) and in fact is the second most expensive Check in-out next to the Bahamas. Senor Juan arranges a variety of services to meet the cruisers needs and ifn' Senor Juan can't find it...it probly can't be found.
He is also quite dog friendly and he and Doc soon became acquinted altho the 'cute' factor had to go to a local pup name Little Mermaid who arrived here by swimming to shore and just delivered a little of the cutest little puppies anywhere.  There were quite adament in being fed on demand and as you can see it wasn't always momma's choice.

We were anchored in Porlamar which is the home of the local sardine fishing fleet and it is common to see many different size boats coming and going thru the anchorage plying their trade.

Juan introduced us to Pedro who is a highly intelligent and most engaging man who provided his knowledge and time to show us around the island. Our first stop in the tour was the city of Pampatar. This is where the Spanish built their major defensive fort and it remains in remarkable good condition as it is constantly being restored and maintained.

Then we traveled to La Asuncion, set in the fertile valley in the Island’s interior is the capital of Nueva Esparta state and is home to the second oldest cathedral in Central America. The architecture was typically Spanish influence built in the 2nd half of the 16th century. It is the oldest surviving colonial church in the country. It has an unusual bell tower in the back corner, a delicate renaissance portal on the fa├žade and two more doorways on the side walls.

Next we visited Castillo de Santa Rosa, one of seven forts built on the island to protect it from Pirate attacks. It is located inland in a defensive position with 360 degree views just outside of La Asuncion and is most remembered for housing the young 16 year old heroine Luisa Caceres de Arismendi whose bravery helped influence the overthrow of the Spanish conquistadors in support of her lover Simon Bolivar the Liberator. Her image is now portrayed on the 20 Bolivar currency note.

Pedro then drove westward to the intricate mangrove channels in Laguna Grande and the beach at Playa la Restinga. To get there included a 30 minute tour onboard what could be described “lagoondolas’ (from gondola’s get it?). During the trip over we passed thru a labyrinth of mangroves…little channels with intriguing names Canal De Los Enamorados (Lovers Canal) and inspired John now known as Don Juan de Los Besos (kissing lane) to do a little ‘sparking’ with Geri and grab a kiss at every turn while Kaija was busy taking pictures of “oh look at that cute Pelican”??’ wha’s up with that?...

We had a nice lunch of local fare, fresh fish and papas frittas, on the beach and enjoyed the ocean breeze and view. We spent the rest of the afternoon touring thru a wonderful maritime museum that had an incredible shell collection as well as marine mammal life including dolphin and whale and primordial fish fossilized into stone. As well there was a terrific exhibit of the pearl diving and marine industry history of this island. Very unique and informational exhibits in a cool open setting wonderfully displayed.

All in all a full day filled with good food, great scenery, a little knowledge and worth every penny. If you get the chance, hook up with Pedro, he will insure you have a great day.

The trade winds have started again, and hurricane season is just about done.

We are preparing now to leave Margarita continuing to head west toward the ABC’s but with a few stops along the way including Tortuga, Isla De Aves, Isla Los Roches and some quiet distant shores before arriving in Bonaire.

We will update from there.

Till then,

...Enjoy the Journey.

Chacachacare Trinidad N10.40 W 061.45 Oct 27 – Nov 9 2010

Chacachacare Island is located only 6 miles from the main port of Chagauramas Anchorage but a lifetime away in spirit.

You leave the hustle and bustle of the busy anchorage for the isolation and beauty of this horseshoe shaped island in between Trinidad and Venezuela that for 60 years between 1924 & 1984 was as a leper colony served by a nunnery and onsite Doctor’s residence. Spread throughout the large bay, is the main house of the Mother Superior, the nunnery and Chancellery located strategically on the south side of the bay where the breeze was constant, the men’s and women’s facilities were separated and on the north side of the bay along with the Dr’s residence. It is completely vacated now and great fun in a spooky sort of way to explore this large facility where so much history lay.

There is also a lighthouse on this island that makes for a great 3 ½ mile hike up a well maintained road rewarded by a welcoming lighthouse keeper, a shady spot to relax and terrific scenic views of the north coast of Trinidad and the north and east shoreline of Venezuela just across the ‘Dragon’s Mouth’ cut.

The bay offers a variety of anchorages and the shore gunk holing is a rewarding experience for those that enjoy searching for that elusive beach glass. All in all we found this spot a great place to unwind after 4 months on the hard and all the stress of being in the yard. A wonderful respite with calm clear water for swimming and a friendly turtle swimming by. We were fortunate to spend time with new friends John and Geri and their lovely Motor Yacht Peking.  So much of this journey is about the people we meet and once again we are enjoying the company of strangers who are fast becoming great friends.