11:22.097N 63:07.866W Los Testigos, Venezuela
It was too
rough to do anything, but not too rough to leave the boat to its own
devices. Bob also gave up on his ‘to do list’ and gave me a
lift to dominoes, for which I was very grateful. I won, again; nice for
my last game to go out a winner.
I was ready
to go and the wind was good for Tobago, well as good as it gets for the slog to
Tobago from Trinidad. I could not make up my mind and took that as a
‘don’t go’. Customs decided, with no notice, that the
fuel dock was not allowed to sell fuel to foreign flagged vessels. There
must be about a thousand yachts here in storage, so it will have to be sorted
quite quickly. They would not even sell petrol for the outboards.
There are always alternatives, jerry jug it from the petrol station if nothing
else. I am ok as I always fill up by can before I launch as my filler
caps are right on the transom and one pirogue flying past would mean water in
gradually re-sewing the sprayhood where I had ripped it when fitting the solar
I am leaving
gave me a tough time, everything I had done was wrong, their people would not
be wrong. Strange that they have on file the required letter when I left
by plane and it is the wrong copy and not signed. I have the original
signed copy, that was my fault too. I could have filled in another form,
but he changed his mind and said I had to pay 75TT departure tax, but they had
no change. I had to go to the shop and I bought some rolls for Jim.
This gave me 95TT change and the exact money for the Immigration. Customs
was not too bad, but I had to pay 50TT harbour fees. They counted the day
I came in as part of a month. All I did was go to the Customs dock and
reverse straight into the travel lift and haul out, but whatever. The
officials have the upper hand and they know it. It certainly removed any
doubts about leaving Trinidad.
before 1pm and it came over black and tipped it down as I was going through the
Boca, but the visibility was ok. The main stuck as soon as I tried to put
it up, the sail is not properly wound in the mast and I will have to climb up
and tuck it in, I had one go, but decided that could wait until I am
anchored. Hurricane Gustav has sucked all the wind north and there is
none here and I will have to motor.
I am bound
for Los Testigos, a small group of islands 40 miles north of the Venezuelan
route is nearly 100 miles, but the nicest way would be to bay hop along the N
Venezuelan coast. Unfortunately the coast is not advisable at the moment
and so I went out 20 miles to the Hibiscus oil platform and then when it got
dark I sloped off left and up, WNW. This probably added 4 hours to my
boat, Kathleen Love (KL) left about 3 hours after me and we were going to keep
in radio contact, but reception was bad. Also it makes our presence more
obvious and I was trying not to be noticed. I did not put lights on, but
kept a full lookout every 15 minutes, exhausting for a first trip in such a
long time. As soon as it got dark I was counting the hours until
I had been
going for 7 hours before I checked the engine, and there was 4 litres of sea
water in the engine bilge. A small leak from somewhere, but I cannot fix
it now unless it gets worse. I emptied 2 litres every couple of
hours. I did have strange wave sounds, but realized that it was dolphins.
KL behind me
was hailed by a guard boat to a seismic survey vessel towing 5 mile
cables and they had to change course to go round that.
equatorial current is generally westerly going, but the tidal current runs to
the moon, which means that every other six hour period, Nadir and Zenith, it
runs to the east and the boat speed over the ground drops from 5 to 3
knots. I am pleased that I actually understand this and can use it when
planning a trip. I just have to look up the meridian passage of the moon
time tables, which I have only got until the end of August.
arrived, it usually does, but it is not to be taken for granted. Soon I
could see the island about 30 miles off and KL is parallel to me, about 10
miles closer to the coast. At 7am I was able to radio them with good
reception. The island was lost in a rain squall and that was going to
come to me, but for half an hour I had some wind. Unfortunately it went
from one side to the other and ended up on the nose.
The last 20
miles are always going to take at least 4 hours, but it seems much longer than
anchored in beautiful jade clear water and went in to check in to the
Guardacosta. The island has a contingent of very young soldiers, who
spoke no English, but were very friendly and we got the forms completed.
That was the island with the main village, must have been 12 buildings, the
largest of which by far was the soldiers unit. Then we went over to the
larger island and anchored. Here there are another 12 buildings, but not
as substantial as those in the main village. There is nothing here, it is
so peaceful. No roads, no vehicles other than boats. They do have
electricity as there were a few lights at night, but there was no fan in what
was the office, just a table and chairs.
If you are
not a fisherman or an artist I cannot think what you could do here. They
are building a quite large fishing boat on the beach which presumably they tow
to the mainland to put the engine in and finish.
The water is
29C and I went in without my wetsuit and scraped the hydrovane rudder, which is
not antifouled. I had done this quickly in Chaguaramas, but it needed
more. I could also see the prop and had to go under and get the barnacles
off the collars either side of it. I had my noodle on a rope anyway and used
some of the extra length to take round the prop so that I could pull myself
down and keep me there while I scraped. This was probably my best
underwater session yet and I was pleased. There are not many times that I
would be happy to have a rope round the prop, but this was one.
I had a
couple of glasses of wine with Gillian and Graham and at 7pm came back and
dropped into bed totally exhausted.