Isla la Coche

Sun 1 Jun 2008 15:06
10:48.508N 63:49.903W
Isla la Coche since Wed 28 May.
Anchored in a wide sandy shallow bay with a few other yachts including Trevor and Jo on 'Malarky' and Troy and Winnie on 'Lucky Dog' who we met in Porlamar - great to meet some young British people again !  Alex and Maria from Venezuela are also here on their british boat, 'Friendly Rival'. This bay is very popular with kite surfers and Alex and Maria used to run a guest house here; now they just do kite surf instruction; Troy and Winnie are the pupils this weekend!  We might have a go later in the summer, but haven't decided on this or diving; both need quite a bit of instruction and hiring or buying kit every time you do it.
One night we had the crowd over for sundowner drinks, which turned into an all night party; we had a bad hangover the next day, but the others all popped over to say they'd had a great time and the after effects hadn't spoiled their kite surfing.  Oh, for those non-beach types amongst you, kite surfing is a bit like wind surfing but standing on a smaller board and harnessed on to a huge kite up in the air to pull you along - the good guys go really fast and do lots of jumps too.
We had an interesting trip into the little town a mile or so across the bay by dinghy - bought 3 litres of petrol for about 50p, had a wander round through the town with people sat out on the pavement, lots of big truck-style vehicles, mostly old, battered and smelly, a few shops, bars and restuarants, sometimes difficult to tell what was a house and what a bar as all the same single-storey small buildings with walled in courtyards and grilles instead of windows. Wandering out towards the sea again we came across a large pig wandering along, obviously knew exactly where it was going, like a dog !  Of course that was the day we had no camera!
Yesterday we got the bikes out to cycle round the island without a map but Alex said it was safe and there were many tracks in the hills.  We started off down a long straight road against the wind(which is a steady 14kts here, stronger in the afternoons), salt flats on both sides, all completely dry, low red/orange hills in the near distance.  The road ended in a village and we carried on on a track leading over to the other side of the island.  Sometimes the track was firm, sometimes we were wallowing in soft sand and had to walk a bit.  But at least the sand would have swallowed the thorns from the cacti which were the only vegetation.  Saw a few goats near the village, but otherwise no signs of life in this arid landscape.  The low hills are a real bright red/orange colour.  We met one car coming the other way and eventually found our way down onto a sandy beach with eroded cliffs and many frigate birds and short-necked vultures wheeling above.  We ate our sandwiches under the much-needed shade of a deserted fisherman's hut, until Syd got cold(?!?) and off again on the sandy track along the coast.  Then back inland again up through the dry red hills, past a large salt production/sewage/oyster farm with barking dogs which we gave a wide berth so couldn't decide what it was.  Then across a large oil pipe being laid, so the track, which had been definite, disappeared a bit, but we eventually found it again and made our way back over the hills, down past a glass bottle dump, so worried about all the broken glass on the track as well as the cactus thorns !  Onto another flat, empty road, through a couple of villages with people sitting out - Syd got the most wolf whistles as usual.  Annabel called for a rest before what looked like the final uphill on the road, and we decided to follow the track we were on rather than continue on the road and after cycling past the big rubbish dump(we always seem to find at least on our bike rides, don't we?!?) where the plastic bags had blown into the scrubby trees.  We were pleased to come out on the hills above where the boat is anchored but still had to cycle back up the straight, flat, empty road against the wind again.  Syd's now got a big job cleaning the sand off the bikes, and we've found 2 punctures this morning.
The two hotels on the beach here do buffet meals so we paid our 60Bolivars each (about £12) and had lots of salad, great roast beef for Syd and fish for Annabel and strange sweets, plus several glasses of wine and rum to finish - definitely the best value meal out we've had. We've heard from other sailors that eating out is cheap here, so we'll definitely try it more often !
We'll probably be here for another night or so, then sail on via another island anchorage or two, down towards Puerto de la Cruz, on the mainland at about 10.13 north and 64.40 west.  According to our recently-published guidebooks there are several safe marinas and workshop yards there.  One was even recommended by our boat insurer !  When we found the leaflet he'd given us, we also found it was the one recommended by the Americans we were talking to in Antingua, because they have come down here for the last few summers.  Trevor and Jo who we met in Porlamar and here, also said they were good and recommended which yard to go to as well. Annabel's flying back to the UK for a few weeks on 11 June and Syd will stay to get the boat hauled out for a much needed bottom scrub and re-anti-foul as well as several other jobs.  We're sure he'll find several other yachties to socialise with, including those we already know, as it seems to be where everybody goes.