Golfo W/E 12 October 2008

If Knot Y Knot
Patricia Day
Mon 3 Nov 2008 18:46
Monday, 6 October 2008
The Golfo is 35 miles long, a cut in the mountains at the top of mainland
Venezuela, 8 miles at its widest with 1 or 2 miles on the North spit. The
mountains vary from desert brown with a few goats to lush green.
Laguna Grande was barren and a dinosaur would not have looked out of
place, but it was very peaceful.
We set off for Ensenada Yacht Club, a few miles along, but Bluewater Cat
got there first and found only a deserted shack, so we continued another
10 miles to Medregal Village. There was no wind so Puddle Jumper put out
their new spinnaker, it was very colourful and huge, but it did the job.
The village was really a boat haulout with a restaurant, bar and pool. We
could not resist the pool and the mosquitos could not resist us; those
bites took a long time to heal. We just got back to the boats when the
storm arrived. All those lightning displays that we had seen on the
mainland from the outer islands seemed cool, but now we were in the middle
of one it was not the same story. It was not something to relax through
and so I inverted the awning and bottled 70 litres of water. The
raincatcher would have caught more, but the tank was full and the windage
would not have been a good idea in that weather.
Tuesday, 7 October
Yesterday the road was closed due to a protest, today the road was closed
because of mudslides from the storm. We wanted to go to the caves and the
only way to get there was to find a road from the end of the Golfo.
Wednesday, 8 October
It was not too far to go and when we arrived we took the dinghies into the
dock. The dock was a wreck, only the pilings remaining, so we tied up to
those and waded ashore. We walked into the small town and it did not feel
friendly, we were met with cries of 'Gringos', but hoped that was more
slang than insult. We got to the one pump petrol station and found
ourselves a por puesto to take us to the caves, 500Bs for 7 of us for the
day. The vehicle was a pick up with seats and a roof in the truck
part, the others only had bench seats and some did not have a roof. The
walk back seemed friendlier, I slipped over in the vast quantities of mud
on the road from the storm and that seemed to amuse the locals.
Thursday, 9 October
6am we left the dinghies and set off for the walk to our driver, but he
had worked out where we had to be coming from and came to meet us. He
spoke no English, but was very enthusiastic; Lloyd is the biggest and had
to sit in the cab, but spoke no Spanish. We drove for hours on mountain
roads, it all seemed to be uphill. About 11 we arrived at the Guacharo
Caves. The cave is 8 miles long, but visitors only go in the first mile.
The Guacharo birds live in total darkness, only coming out to feed at
night. The light makes their eyes bleed and even the dim oil light
carried by our guide made them scream. Our guide did not speak quite
enough english and we had a great time of charades guessing the missing
words. Apart from the birds there were stalagtites and stalagmites and
lots of rats, which were actually quite cute.
After the cave we went into the town for lunch and then spent the
afternoon on the drive back. We waved at everybody we passed and they
were quite friendly; most of the area was very sparsely populated. If you
had to climb those mountainous roads you would not bother to visit your
not so near neighbours very much.
We got back to find our dinghies still intact, although the man on the
German boat said that he had to keep an eye on them as two boys tried to
start one. Evidently we should have given the fishermen some beer and
left the dinghy on their dock.
Friday, 10 October
It did not feel that safe there and Passat and I went back to Laguna
Grande, BWC and PJ stopped at Medregal Village. So many things have
packed up on me recently (computer, inverter, fridge, instruments) so when
my autopilot started driving backwards I just accepted it was broken. My
course over the ground was forwards, but my heading was nearly 180 degrees
behind. Bob is an electrician and said there should be a logical
explanation and was there anything near the compass. The compass is under
the saloon table specifically away from anything that might affect it and
I looked twice and there was nothing different there to normal. I had
been making a roll for my tools, but could not continue until I could get
the boat under control. It dawned on me that 20 spanners in a roll
separated from the compass by ½ inch of table top would probably have an
effect. I removed the roll and my autopilot immediately corrected. The
situation was caused by total lack of faith in anything with wires, but
still felt like an embarrassingly 'blonde' moment.
Saturday, 11 October
Rested in Laguna Grande, it was a different anchorage to before.
Sunday, 12 October
Passat and I were going to Margarita in the morning, but BWC and PJ joined
us and plans changed.