10:35.571N 64:01.518W Golfo de Cariaco

If Knot Y Knot
Patricia Day
Thu 9 Oct 2008 11:19

Wednesday 1 October 2008

It is October, nearly 3 months since I left work, so it goes to prove that if you get enough good therapy you can get over just about anything. 

I had taken the windvane rudder off before leaving Blanquilla on the basis of that if I left it on there would be no wind and I would have to motor and if I left it off then I would be able to sail.  It is not paranoia, I know the weather has it in for me some days.  I had intended to sail and this would let me try out the autopilot on wind mode, which after all the fuss it took to get it working it seemed only sensible to give it a good try.  It worked beautifully, on compass and wind mode, but with that and the lights and navigation, including occasional radar, it took the batteries down to 80% and I am still trying to get them back up.

Yesterday I swam over to Bluewater Cat, without swim noodle; it was not far, but it was progress in the water for me.  Donna wanted to borrow my sewing machine, but with the demise of the inverter I had to say no.  My boat is 220, theirs is 110v, but I could try the generator.  I have a short extension to the shorepower lead with a plug on specially for the generator all I have to do is find it.

Passat, BWC and I went by dinghy to the shore.  The sea rages on the other side of literally a few feet of land, we get the wind, but not the swell.  The fishermen have a base here, calling them shacks would be overstating most of them consisting of only a roof and sometimes a back wall to the prevailing wind.  There are several shrines and these are tended with flowers (maybe artificial) and candles which are lit at night.  We walked to the lighthouse, which is not lit at night, perhaps someone has stolen the battery.  There are four concrete bases, one has the remains of a metal tower, the next two don’t seem to have been used and the fourth one has the new lighthouse on.  The lighthouse is 8 fibreglass circles, each about 4’ high.  The door is on the second layer and was not locked, so Jimmy went in, nobody else would go and I was waiting to see if he could get out at the top.  Jimmy appeared at the top so it had to be done.  There was a very unstable pile of stones to reach the door, then I had to get across to the first ladder, but I could not step that far and so had to climb round the narrow ledge where the sections are bolted together.  The ladders looked straight out of a hardware store, extension ladders that have been separated.  Further up there was a decomposing bird at the bottom of one of the ladders.  I was approaching the top when Jimmy thought it would be fun to shake the structure, easy with this construction, I expressed my displeasure and he stopped – boys have a distorted sense of fun.  30’ later I was up and out at the top.  I could have done with thick cables for my new inverter if they are not going to make the light work.  The view was good and the form of the old tower could clearly be seen from above where it had toppled straight out from the base.  I do not like heights and getting up had not been easy, getting down is usually worse, but I made it.  I won’t be doing that again, not even so that Debi can take a photo.

There is a fishermans’ graveyard all covered in conch shells, greyed with sun and age.  The shore is made up of dead pieces of coral broken off the reef, again greyed.  We all opted not to snorkel and so went back to the boats. 

I am having another determined tidy up.  I sorted and listed the contents of the cockpit locker and found that my new bucket that I had struggled to get from the UK to the Caribbean has a crack in it.  Nothing equals the quality of the Spanish builders’ buckets.


Thursday 2 October

We moved to Playa Caldera, an anchorage on the corner of Tortuga a few miles down the coast.  I followed BWC because I had no depth at the binnacle, my combi instrument has still not come back to life; it gets as far as Welcome, Please wait – I am still waiting.  I thought Jimmy would make it in one tack, but the wind died and I beat him in by over an hour.  This made the idea of him being my depth guide rather hopeless.  Passat and Puddle Jumper set of in the afternoon and got in just before dark.

Jimmy is going to Puerto la Cruz on the mainland, he needs water and food and laundry and internet, but the water is the overall decider, they are the only boat among us without a watermaker.


Friday, 3 October

Bluewater Cat set off at first light and the rest of us went for a walk on the shore.  It is a beautiful white sandy beach with clear water, probably equaling the Bahamas, without the cost.  There are very big mosquitos here, but most of them do not bite me.  There is a fishing encampment and a small group of shacks one of which is the Guardacostas.  We did not see any officials or a boat, but we did not go in.  The beachfront outside this area was really tidy, we think it had been raked.   This is where the well off come for the weekend in fast motor boats or small planes.  We walked to the small airstrip, which had slime on the sand and we had to walk carefully.  We inspected a small plane that was upside down just off the runway, it looked a recent crash.  We only saw one plane land, another one circled a few times, made some low attempts, but flew off.  Presumably the pilot saw the wreck and changed his mind.

The others came over for afternoon tea, with news from  Verna Breeze of another armed boarding, this time in Coche. 

We checked out my alternator problem, it was just a wire that had dropped off the shunt for the meter, which is in a very awkward place to get to, the alternator had been working all along.

We are heading for the Golfo tomorrow and should join up with Jimmy on Sunday night.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

I put the hydrovane rudder on and was leaving at noon, but all the weather forecasts said there would be no wind and so I took the anchor up at 9 hoping to sail as much as possible.  The others left after lunch and the wind was favourable and we all had to do everything we could to slow down as we must not arrive at land before daybreak.

I put a line out and for the first time I caught a fish.  I took a photo, but I cannot upload from this camera.  It was 2’ long and I filleted it and kept the head and tail for identification purposes, later confirmed to be a dorado, mahi-mahi, the best fish I could have caught.  I had half for tea and have put the other half in the fridge, hopefully it will keep for breakfast, the fridge keeps going off.  It is probably more off than on now, but I don’t know why it cuts out.

The wind kept being helpful and I had reefed down to only a small section of genoa, but before midnight then there was a squall.  The radar showed the squall to be 10 x 5 miles and the wind direction was taking me all the way down, so I turned the engine on and motored out the side.  I kept the motor on and continued at 2 knots for the rest of the night.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

I was wet and cold, but dried out eventually.  It is hard to fight the desire to curl up somewhere warm and go to sleep, but that is not very sensible.  Eventually the morning arrives and it is light at 5.30.  I spoke to Puddle Jumper, who were ahead of me, and Passat, who were coming down the coast from the other side of the triangle. 

I made water as the engine was on and the batteries full, but the inlet is not adequate when going along, so I filled the tanks and did the washing and turned it off.  I tidied up and am a few miles from the mouth of the Golfo.

I finished the second fillet of fish for a late breakfast and it was delicious.  I never understood trophy hunters, but although they killed for sport and I did it for food I can now see why they wanted their stuffed animals.  I am so pleased that the first fish I have caught is a reasonable one, I was thinking of stringing the tails – assuming I am going to catch some more.

The others each had a pod of over 100 dolphins, I got 4.  They obviously got the Labour and Conservatives, I got the Independents.

There was never any hope of getting to the anchorage much before noon because none of us wanted to be near the coast in the dark and you have to turn in through the opening to the Golfo, so it made a very long 24 hours, 27 hours. 

We are in Laguna Grande and it is stunning, I am tired and will not do it justice today, so I will include details on the next installment.  I spent the afternoon in my hanging chair, which was very relaxing.  I did fall asleep and turned into the sun, so I shall probably resemble a panda tomorrow.