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Venezuela tracks

Here is our track through the Venezuelan offshore islands.  Again – first part was reconstructed due to loss.  Enjoy.


View 2009 Venezuela in a larger map

Margarita -> Tortuga

Early to bed and early to rise and we were off to Tortuga just after 3am. We motored out of the immediate anchorage but soon put up main and head sail and started sailing in the dark. The wind was right on our tail so we had to sail off the wind jibing from time to time. I think we waited too long after daybreak to try the Code Zero because again it came up trumps. It allowed us to sail dead downwind which put us back on schedule. We’ve had to jibe that a couple of times too due to wind changes.

No dolphins today. We should arrive at Tortuga shortly after 5pm. Due to the lateness in the day we’re not going to our preferred anchorage but a more simple one a little further round. We may shift the boat again tomorrow.

Interesting factoid. Sunset at Parlomar would have been 5:58pm. At Tortuga it will be 6:03pm. We’ve gained 5 minutes on the day.

Shopping

Fuel guys came round last night and gave us 340 liters of fuel. I think they may have overstated the amount but the price was pretty good. We went back to the place where we earlier had beers for dinner only to find it closed. We went elsewhere and enjoyed a few cocktails and a great fish dinner.

Main event of today was shopping. At 9:30 we took the free bus from the marina to Sigo’s, a large supermarket out of town. We were able to buy using US$ cash and get Bolivars in return at a pretty good rate. We bought plenty more food and lots and lots of beer. Much of this purchase will still be aboard for Xmas for when the boys arrive in Panama.

Also, today, I’ve installed the new VHF with helm remote. It was relatively straight forward until it came to running the cable from the helm to the nav table. In the past I have laid pieces of string so we can pull cables back and forth. The plug on the end of the remote cable was just a bit too big for something out of sight. It took a couple of hours of cursing and sweating to get the cable through. I am very pleased with this project as we now have a decent VHF at the helm using the antenna at the top of the mast. Previously we’ve used the handhelds at the helm and they didn’t have the range.

Just now we shifted the boat a short way to the outside of the pack. We learned today it’s not a good idea to stop off at the west end of the island so we’re going straight to Tortuga. That’s 85nm so we’re doing another 3am start on this one. We’ve moved so we don’t have to negotiate our way through the fleet in the dark.

Right now we have a very poor internet connection. I’m trying to upload photos but so far I’ve managed one additional cricket photo. If I get any further I’ll publish links to the albums in prior blogs even if the albums are incomplete. The last pic is always the collage so if you don’t see it, there are more to come.

Margarita

It was an interesting trip here to Margarita. The winds were pretty lousy all the way. Friends of ours who came this way a few weeks ago seemed to race over. That being said we learned a lot about our Code Zero in low wind conditions. In winds ranging from 5 to 10 knots coming across our beam we were consistently doing about 55% wind speed. We thought we may be dead in the water at 5 knots but we seemed to be able to eek almost 3 knots through the water. Not bad at all for our floating condo.

As we approached Margarita we were greeted by our second pod of dolphins of the day. No acrobatics this time but pleasant to be greeted by our aquatic cousins all the same. Having spent nearly a year traveling down the eastern Caribbean seeing no dolphins at all we seem to be catching up.

Before we reached Porlamor I managed to sneak an internet connection off of someone along the coast long enough to download a message regarding our next years insurance and, I hope, respond to it. All other regular emails were not read nor responded to. Anyone trying to reach us should use our winlink address for a while. Perhaps a long while as we’re venturing into more and more out of the way places.

That being said, Margarita is a bit of a holiday destination. The coast is lined by high rises, some derelict. It’s a mashup between Fort Lauderdale and Beirut.

In the afternoon we went ashore and took a taxi to the town where we could exchange some US$ for bolivars. The official rate is just above 2 but between 5 & 6 can be had from various sources if you know where to go. We had been well informed prior to our arrival.

We wondered around the town for a while. Even at our street exchange rates prices for many goods weren’t the bargain we hoped. A trip to a supermarket revealed bargains on beef which we’d heard of before. We also finished our shore trip at a bar where we had a couple of beers each for the equivalent of a dollar each. Not bad for a public establishment. On the way back to the boat we picked up a crate of 24 beers for sampling. The price was pretty good but again nowhere close to what we had been told. They’ve been sampled and we may be filling the bilges for the long term with the local stuff.

Back on the boat we moved a little within the anchorage to see if we could get an internet connection. I want to be sure our insurance is sorted before we leave. No luck. There is a cheap pay for service but it’s down at the moment. We’ll see.

This evening we plan to go back to the bar where we had our beers earlier for food. In the meantime we’re awaiting the diesel boat who recently popped by. I can get 4.5 liters of diesel for 1 dollar. We had to guess how much we needed so they’ll come back with our request. Once that is done we’ll be off.

We can only stay here 2 days as we haven’t formally checked in. On Saturday we’ll move down to the west end of the island and on Sunday move on to Tortuga. We both think that getting up early for a long passage and arriving in the afternoon is better than leaving in the evening. When it makes sense to do so, we’ll do this more.

Enroute from Los Testigos to Margarita

We woke at 3am this morning in the pitch dark. The moon had not yet risen and was only due to be a sliver. Off on the Venezuelan coast thunderstorms flashed every few seconds. Where we were the winds were below 10 knots. Code Zero weather for sure but we didn’t want to raise it in the dark.

We therefore motored for a couple of hours until it started getting light. We then hoisted the Code Zero, sorting out a problem with the wrapping on the way. The sail works a treat giving us more than half wind speed in 8-10 knots of wind. This is very good news for our downwind sail around the world.

Right now we are again surrounded by dolphins. Not so many today but bigger than yesterday and more acrobatic. One, off our port bow, is doing back flips as I type.