d 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490
1st Report 2005: Grenadines, Venezuela and the ABC - Islands
When we sent out our last
report around New Year, we were near the end of sailing down the Grenadines with
Ulf and Pam who were to leave us in
before we could sail down to
Still on the same day we
moved on into the big
For our sail down to the
south side of
To our great surprise we
find BOAVENTURA, Harald's father's last boat there and in very good shape. She
is a Rival 41 which was built for my father in 1975 and had been in our family
for 15 years. Beate and I sailed together for the first time on her maiden
The rainy weather continued and Ulrike and Thomas arrived in pouring rain, they had to change to foul weather gear at the bar near the dinghy dock, before they could risk the ride out to TANIWANI. But they arrived fine and so we were seven on board for a nice evening and one night. The next morning Ulf left, the rain squalls become fewer and we moved on to the lagoon of St. Georges. We really like that place and the friendly yacht club, where you can have a sun downer or a simple meal while enjoying the great view over the lagoon and our boat.
The next morning it was
Pamela's turn to leave for the airport and Thomas went along to fetch the usual
lost baggage. Then all except for Harald went on a wet island tour. Still they
returned happy and with many interesting impressions. With just two weeks of
time, we needed to move on the next day, so that our visitors could get the most
out of their limited time. And so we sailed north, back to
we stop at
We have never been in
The plan for the next day
was to sail up to Bequia and so we prepared everything for that in the morning.
We knew it was blowing at least 25 knots out there and we would be close hauled
for the whole 30 miles. Seemed that most of us wanted to go anyway and so we
prepared the boat for a rough ride. But then, just as we were about to weigh
anchor, Felix observed that there was no need for an unpleasant ride and now
everybody agreed and we stayed in this nice bay for another day.
day the weather hadn't changed a lot, but we had given up on the idea to sail to
Bequia rather thought we go out and sail north as long as we like and then get
into a nice anchorage. We thought Canouan might be it, but then the wind was
quite northerly and a swell was likely to set into the long an open bay. So,
after a short tack up north we fell off to head into the windward
The famous Tobago Cays
are not far from Mayreau, and if we could go straight through all reefs, just a
mile and a half away. The Tobago Cays are three or four little islands, with
palm trees and vegetation, which are almost completely surrounded by several big
coral reefs. This allows one to anchor just behind the inner reef, to the
windward of the little islands and then have in front of one nothing but the
full stretch of the
We chose the somewhat
narrower south entrance and so our direct one and a half mile only grew to some
4 miles including sailing through all anchorages and around the cays. We finally
chose an anchorage in the passage between two of the cays, just off an idyllic
beach lined with palm trees. With only another three boats around us, we almost
felt lonely. Tom and Felix wanted to spend the night ashore under palm trees,
landed there in the evening, mounted their hammocks between the palm trees and
started to relax, when a solid tropical rain caught them and drove them back on
As nice as it was in the
Tobago Cays, we thought our guests wanted to see as much as possible during
their short stay, and so we moved on again to check out Canouan. It was a nice
sailing day, tacking north between the reefs and shoals. We inspected the bays
on the southern
The weather was also
getting worse again and we had many rain squalls while we moved on via Mayreau
Next day is a red tape
day again: Sail to
Ulrike and Toms time with
us was now nearing its end and we had to now sail all the way down to
Per plan we went into
Now there was lots of room again on TANIWANI and we went back to relaxing and maintenance work. Our washing machine was running almost continuously, leaking windows got sealed in, an additional halyard threaded into the mast and so on.
After three days at
So we spent a few more days there, doing further maintenance work, like oil changes or splicing lines to our sun cover, and off course stocking up the food supply.
In the mean time we had
decided to slip TANIWANI and apply fresh anti-fouling paint. The yard at
So, on January 30th
we said good bye to
We still had a day before
hauling out and so we remained anchored at
Next morning we start early and by 7:30 we are already docked at the haul out place and by 10:00 TANIWANI is pressure cleaned and blocked up between palm trees. I hadn't believed the travel-lift would clear all the stuff on our sternposts - it is seven meters from the ground to the top of our wind-generator! So I started getting the forestays off, when Roy, the man in charge, showed up and said it would clear. So we had the easier task, of just getting the backstay and the long shortwave antenna off. And indeed it all cleared, but it was tight.
TANIWANI's keel, at its lower part is exposed lead and the previous anti fouling had peeled off in many spots. So for that part it seemed to make sense to strip it all down to the blank lead and then cover it with two layers of epoxy paint and then a primer that helps the antifouling to stick. We also had decided to have the topsides polished and waxed and then off course the regular job of grinding down the old antifouling and applying at least two coats of the new one. All that was done extremely professional by Roy and his team and exactly as promised TANIWANI was launched again three days later.
All that happened in a very nice ambience, under palm trees, the friendly Carriacou Yacht Club next door, the best pizza in a long while a little further down the beach. We also made a bus trip to main town Hillsborough for shopping and after a while found Carriacou a very nice place, maybe one that reveals its great sides only slowly.
We stayed on board, and
with holding tanks, full water tanks and 'shore power' it was quite ok. Felix
had it even better and went off diving with SHOW to
It turned out
Three days after hauling
out, on a Friday morning, a shining TANIWANI went back into the water, and we
first anchored in
Another half hour went by, the fishing boat filling loose barrels on deck and us watching nervously, worried whether we would be able to handle the waves at the dock. But it all worked out – with plenty of fenders and spring lines we could keep TANIWANI under control while taking over 600 liters of fuel. At about €0.37 per liter, this was also the best price TANIWANI had ever found in 5 years.
So on we went to the
anchorage at PSV to meet up with our friends. WETNOSE we had not seen since we
Also at the anchorage was
SPIRIT OF OYSTERHAVEN, who we already met several times, and somewhat later also
SHOW came in from
We remained anchored at PSV another full day, and Harald was able to fix SPIRIT OF OYSTERHAVEN's alternator, so that they didn't have to run their petrol generator on deck, and TANIWANI received a bottle of fine Irish Whiskey in return.
Unfortunately we will not
see either SPIRIT OF OYSTERHAVEN or SHOW again, as we will have to move on
westwards, SPIRIT will be based in the Caribbean and spend the summer in
Trinidad and SHOW plans to continue cruising up the island chain and return to
Europe via the northern Atlantic. WETNOSE though we should see again at the
So, we all wanted to
spend the evening at a nice little restaurant in Petit Martinique, they would
even come to the anchorage and collect us with their barge. Unfortunately we
learned from a local boat that this anchorage, between the territories of St.
For a long time we had
been quite unsure about our cruising plans relative to
Some 250 miles further
But we also had another
source of input: Some time in October we received an e-mail from a gentleman in
So all was set, Isaac had rescheduled a few operations and we set of from PSV on Sunday Feb. 6th at 10:20. We had timed it so that we would pass the dreaded Testigos in the dark and arrive at Isla Margarita the next morning. Winds were rather light and so we had to assist with the engine from time to time. The first part of the night, southwest of Grenada, we had lots of steamer traffic, cruising ships and tankers, and at some time we were together with two cruise ships and three freighters in just about a five mile circle. But later it got lonelier and nearing the Testigos we shut down our navigation light as well as the radar target enhancer – now we were almost invisible. We kept scanning the horizon with the night vision glass, so that we would so any unlit little boat. –Nothing to be seen- We passed the Testigos at 4am and at sunrise we were some 15 miles from Isla Margarita.
We called Isaac on his boat on VHF, got instant response and when we arrived at the marina entrance he was already there with the folks from the marina awaiting us. At 10:20 we were tied up stern to the dock with our bow anchor out. This marina, somewhere between Pampatar and Porlamar, is relatively new and well protected. Locally it is referred to as the Hilton Marina since it is close to the well run Hilton hotel which seems to tolerate visiting sailors using their pool and shower facilities. The marina was never completed because much like with many other projects in Venezuela, foreign investors withdrew when Chaves came to rule, and now things go a lot slower. They claim though that work will commence shortly. Right now only part of the berths, those occupied by local yachts, have power. Water or fuel is brought in truck. Fuel though is VERY cheap at about 6 cents a liter at the gas station and maybe 10 cents including the delivery. Our tanks were pretty full at the time, so we didn't take advantage of these good deals.
Isaac explained that the marina is perfectly safe and that we could even leave your boat unlocked. The anchorage at Porlamar however has problems with theft and the folks anchoring there organize watch keeping shifts across the boats for 24 hours a day. Strangely the marina seems safe despite the fact that it is open to access. There must be some unwritten rules of where it is ok to steal and where not.
Another small problem was that we arrived during Carnival and there was no way to clear us in until Wednesday. The guide book says this should all be done through an agent and other yachts using the named agent reported no problems other than waiting for their papers for a day or two. The agent listed in Doyle's cruising guide checked in a neighboring yacht for $60 plus the official fees. After our experience, this is the recommended way of doing it.
Isaac had called an agent
who wanted $300 to check us in during Carnival, and so we decided to clear
immigration at the airport and do all the remaining clearing in two days, when
they were back in business again. Isaac knew a local man who would drive us
around for all this. And so our first tour was a one hour drive to the airport
and we enjoyed all the new impressions. Us clearing at the airport seemed a bit
unusual for the officer, but with a copy of our clearance from Carriacou, (the
original we needed for the harbor office), and some $10 extra into his pocket we
were stamped into
Felix found a new friend,
about his age and mind set, from an Australian boat and went for dinner with
them and then spent the night in what seemed to become his favorite place on
Margarita: The night club "Senior Frog". Beate and Harald were taken
out for dinner by our nice new friend Isaac. This was really a nice coincidence
as we learnt so much about
For the next day Isaac had arranged a rental car and drove us all around the eastern part of the island, showing us nice beaches, picturesque fishing villages and a boat tour in a huge maze of mangroves. It was a really delightful day which was unexpectedly topped by getting trapped in a long Carnival parade.
The next day, Wednesday, was planned for clearing in and out, as well as shopping. On Thursday we wanted to leave for the Los Roques. The clearing then turned out incredibly complicated and it would have been virtually impossible to do without our driver and interpreter. It is one of those things that are fun doing once, as it is so crazy, but we would not do this again. We had to drive back and force between Pampatar (Harbor office, Coast Guard,) and Porlamar (Customs and National Guard). We also had to buy stamps (a form of paying the various fees), and go to a bank and wire money to the account of the Coast Guard. It stopped short from sending us back to the airport, as we had not started in the right order. All in all it took about three hours and we were cleared in AND out and were ready to move on. The cost was roughly like that: Driver $35, official fees $40 and $25 'unofficial' fees.
By our standard, most
Thursday morning, when we were about ready to go, Isaac came over and told us that the weather was really bad, with rain squalls in the Los Roques and serious problems in Caracas, where land slides had been killing people. His family seemed very concerned, though here in Margarita only a 150 miles further east we did not notice much. After Isaac phoned a fisherman in the Los Roques and heard about rain and swell and other unpleasant things, we agreed to defer our trip by a day.
Friday did indeed look
better, though at first it looked like we might have no wind at all. We had to
motor out of the marina and around the corner, but then a light wind set in from
behind and gave us an opportunity to demonstrate the spinnaker to Isaac. We had
a few nice hours, gliding along the south coast of
At 09:45 we were at the
Cruising up north behind
the fringing reef wasn't difficult, as we had mostly sun and the shoals were
easy to spot. Only at one time a squall came through and we slowed down before
going through another narrow pass. Quite at the end and close to the main
We turned into beautiful
Francisqui, a wonderful bay surrounded by little islands and reefs, perfectly
sheltered. It is close enough to Roque Grande to make it there by dinghy and it
also has water taxi connection. Roque Grande is indeed a large rock that adds a
nice appearance to the otherwise shallow sand islands. It also has a low lying
part with a little airport. It is a favorite vacation place for folks from
In the mean time Felix had discovered a Kit Surfing school right at the entrance to Francisqui and so it was clear that we will have to hang out at that place for a few days. But that is not so bad, as this is one of the most beautiful anchorages we have been. Per dinghy Isaac showed us into the neighboring bay and across a reef where we found some of the finest snorkeling in rather shallow water. This place was full of all sorts of fish, and because of the relatively shallow depth brilliantly illuminated by the sun.
It was really great to have Isaac around and show us the best places, also his company was nice and entertaining and we are now all experts on brain operations. It was a pity we couldn't meet the whole family. Isaac left us as planed per plane on Sunday evening.
While Beate and Harald had some relaxing days at anchor, Felix was working hard at the kite surf school. Unfortunately these kites need a lot of wind and for one whole day Felix couldn't do much and had to wait. Still after three days he managed to zoom back and force across the bay with the kite and was very happy. And so we moved on to the next nice anchorage at the Noronsquis. Again it was a lot of eye-ball navigation, but then a deep pool to anchor in.
For the next day we had planed to go to the westernmost cays, called Cayo de Aqua, so that we would have the shortest passage to the Las Aves Islands. But on the way there, we looked into an anchorage called Carenero and found it so nice that we stood there instead, adding about 5 miles to our route tomorrow.
Next morning we weighed anchor before sunrise and slowly slid out of our shelter. Still in the shallow waters of the Los Roques we caught two smaller Kingfish and a small Tuna. Out in the deep we didn't catch any more, but the sailing was nice and fast so that we were hopeful to arrive in the difficult waters of the Las Aves still with lots of good light. The Las Aves are actually two separated groups of reef fringed small islands. Our destination was the more western group called Aves de Sotavento. At 13:00 we are at the southeastern end of the group and started to establish chart corrections via radar. Like the Los Roques these were also off, but even more. In north-south direction we found over half a mile difference.
Later when we swung up, to sail north in the lee of the group we caught a nice Barracuda, but we were too nervous about Ciguatera poisoning that we sent him back to the water. Shortly afterwards we get the next one, about same size. This one we do not throw back, but we sail up to a small fishing boat to ask the locals. When we show them our catch, they wave a similar one from their boat and indicate that they are good to take. So we keep it and move on to find a place to anchor.
It is a strange place and
you have the feeling that you are out in the middle of the ocean, and not near
land. Most of the reefs are just under water and there is one somewhat larger
island at the southern edge, which also has the coast guard station. To the east
and north three are just reefs and the west side has a few very small islands.
We went to try to anchor in the lee of the middle cay called
You can also go inside
and behind some of the cays, but it is strictly eye-ball navigation and the
charts are not even close to reality in many places. We found even the relative
position of the cays to be inconsistent. But exploring by dinghy is just fine
and we make a few trips to check out
Next day Felix and Harald went by dinghy to look for good dive sites, but the area is simply overwhelming and wherever we looked it seemed that it got interesting when you came to the edge of a reef, where it falls off to some 20 or 30 meters. So in the afternoon they went to such a place with SCUBA gear, had a real nice dive and came back with two big lobsters.
Last day's sushi dinner was already a treat, but now we had lobster as a starter and nice Kingfish filets for the main course. We could also keep enough of both to make a nice sea food salad to receive our friends with.
Sunday evening, our
At the police station
Harald met again Bernd from NIS RANDERS, who we had last seen in
Quite on time Wendy and
Joel show up. Like with all our guests, not all the baggage did make it. But in
their case it is less surprising, as Joel brought his hi-tech windsurfer along
for Felix to keep. While this is a small one, just 2.7m long and 120 liters,
with its spars and two sails it is quite a bit of baggage. But they had seen it
arrive in Aruba, so chances for it to arrive in
We off course had a nice first evening chatting with our old friends about the good old days and what everybody is doing. And Felix took off after dinner to check out the town together with Daniel from NIS RANDERS.
The whole night we get tortured by these tiny mosquitoes, but then in the morning we decide to stay another night. Main reason is that the marina provides WIFI wireless hi-speed internet access and we hadn't had so much speed and bandwidth since leaving home. In the middle of our cabin we have a crystal clear internet phone connection with Markus at home. So, especially Felix wants to make more use of this. Also we thought it would be nice for our batteries to get a real soft long charge for a change. They had been cycled a 150 times without a full recharge since we don't want to run our generator endlessly trickle charging.
In the mean time the
windsurfer had arrived and Wendy, Joel and Harald took a taxi to the airport to
fetch it. Felix was now certainly overwhelmed with all the good things: A real
fine windsurfer, an i-pod that he had been saving money for and Joel got for him
and broadband internet access. Just too much for one day!
So we spent a last night
on a mooring, with a lot fewer mosquitoes and then left in the morning for
Twice we had dinner at a little seafront restaurant called Sarifundies, half of the place floats on empty barrels, the other half sits on piles over the water. It seems a favorite gathering place for cruisers, has a fine dinghy dock and every day a shuttle bus service to a major supermarket.
Now, in Spaanse Water with lots of wind and a smooth sea, this was the opportunity to try the new windsurfer. Joel gave a demonstration both on fitting it together and then on properly sailing it. That was off course not so easy and Felix had many, many tries. One direction seems to work fine for him, but he's still struggling with the other. So for the next days Felix would try for a while until he had drifted way to the leeward, then Joel would get into the dinghy, drive up to him and trade. Joel then sails the surfer upwind back our boat and the whole cycle starts over again.
The morning after arrival
we had to go to the main town
Had we had more time we
would have explored more of Curacao and its anchorages, but Wendy and Joel just
had a week and we needed to go on to Aruba from where they would fly on. This
was almost 80 miles to go and we wanted to have at least a day together on
at the main town of
So that was our
introduction to Aruba and we started to wonder what the immigration man would
want, given that he comes from the airport just to clear us in. But he was a
real nice guy, blue-tooth headset in his ear and in steady communication with
his office over the cell phone. Lots of paperwork as everybody needs to fill out
a form like the
Now we called harbor control again and told them we were cleared in and asked to proceed to an anchorage and were told it's all yours, go where you like. So we went out close to the runway end for the night. Flight traffic is not so bad that it would really disturb one, but the wind was blowing strongly so that we couldn't mount our large sun cover. Next morning some last swimming around the boat and then into the marina for a last dinner invitation by Wendy and Joel.
The marina belongs to the
huge Renaissance hotel and resort and the marina price includes the use of all
these facilities including the shuttle service to the little private island a
mile from the harbor.
On Wendy and Joel's invitation we have dinner in a fancy steakhouse and Felix is really delighted with a 22 oz steak that is even enough for him.
Very early on Monday morning Wendy and Joel leave us for the airport; they have a long trip home.
We found that food
shopping is really good here at the big supermarkets, just a bit out of town.
The selection is bigger than even in the
We plan to relax here for
a few days and then sail on to the south end of
Link to next report: