The cruising adventures of Sid and Manuela

Sunday, April 22, 2007

More bees

(Click on photos to enlarge) I think we need to rename the boat to Honey Comb, Bee Hive, Bee Keeper, Bee Farm or even Winnie the Poo! One week after we had Paradise overtaken by bees, we were admiring Sid’s finished paint job when we noticed a whole bunch of bees buzzing the deck around the open hatches. Not good!!! Sid then went down below but nothing so he took the insect spray and sprayed the bees. About an hour later as he was working inside the boat, he kept hearing this buzzing sound, but couldn’t see any bees. After a while hearing this he finally placed his ear onto the mast and he did not like what he heard. We had another swarm of bees in the mast. Out came the fogger and through a screw hole in the mast he blasted the deadly poison into it. Since the fog didn’t want to rise up the mast he mounted a fan down below the floor boards which then blew the smoke out the top. It was a bizarre scene to see smoke coming out of a mast, it looked like a chimney. Ok bees gone, right?!! Oh while he was fumigating the inside a rat jumped ship, an empty ship with not even a crumb of food on the floor.

Four days later while waiting for Ernesto to pick us up by boat to go to Isla Borracho we noticed bees again buzzing around the top of the mast. This can’t be. As Sid went down below some two dozen bees flew around his ears, he placed his ear on the mast and heard the same buzzing sound. He fumigated them again several times. Ernesto showed up and we had to leave, but when we got back, bees were still buzzing the mast. Sid fumigated some more and even got up at 2 AM to blast them one more time at night as they all are sleeping that should do the trick. But as he checked at 6 AM there were already bees buzzing the top of the mast again. Now he took the air-compressor out, hooked it up so that it would blast a steady blow up the mast and as of now we’re not sure yet if it worked. What makes them so attracted to Paradise.


Sid did an incredible job on painting the foredeck a better job
than the professional painter
in the yard did, amazing hey? He already re-placed the port holes too. After 30 years they were pretty cracked and needed to be re-placed. He was not sure how
well it would go to get them out without breaking the teak O-ring around the glass but fortunately he figures out a way to get them
out in one piece. Now comes the varnish and sewing of the new interior and we’re pretty much done. While Sid has been busy with the boat I’ve been sewing up a storm. I made new covers for the dinghy jerry jugs with pocket for oil, new bag under boom vang and foredeck for lines and also with pockets for winch handles. All the bags in cockpit are replaced with upgraded bags. The one behind the steering wheel used to hold 6 bottles of water, now it’s just 4 and in the middle a pocket to hold the binoculars with a little flashlight pocket on top. Since all the marinas here are med tie we have to climb on the boat on the bow and doing so we hold on to the jib and staysail for balance, result a very dirty sail, so I made dirt covers for that. Sid mounted the new sun awning I built which is now one foot wider on both sides, so naturally I had to make the storage bag bigger as well. I still have to make the shade covers for the sides. Made new covers for dinghy wheels. Covers for the cockpit cushions, until now I always made just slip covers, this is the first time we have full covers and they look great. Seat and backrest on steering box are new too. New shade cover for the hull where the refrigerator is, it keeps the fridge cool for an extra 4 hours before it has to pump down again. New seat cover on top of life raft case. Unfortunately I ran out of sunbrella and haven’t been able to find our color yet as I like to re-place all the lee cloths in the cockpit as well. For the cockpit cushions and all the covers I’ve made so far I used a Texaline. Get this I bought a roll of 34 meters and paid a whole $ 27.29, just amazing, so no sweat if I cut out a piece to small. So everything on the boat is covered, just good the cat is not sitting still for any length of time or she’d be covered too.

Paradise sure is looking great we now hope that we can finish everything by end of May so that we can go sailing for a couple of months. Plan is to sail to Trinidad to buy some teak for our next project, new floor boards. From there to Grenada and hopefully the Grenadines and finally back to Puerto La Cruz (we have two months) where we’ll rent the house again until the end of the year. Perfect to re-place the floor boards and we are also planning on re-placing the galley and head counters.

Ever since we arrive in Puerto La Cruz we had to say “NO” over and over had to adopt a feral cat that needed a home. There are a lot of feral cats, of course not spayed and cruisers find the abandoned or injured kittens all the time. We declined so many times. Once Tika is gone we don’t’ want any more pets, especially since we’re planning to travel to countries where they have quarantine laws. So by now everybody knows how serious we are about that. Well, I think everybody including us is in shock as we ended up with a new kitten. She is 4 maybe 5 weeks old and was crying in the bushes. Sid managed to get her out. She was so hungry, poor little thing. Everybody that was playing Mississippi Marbles that night had a turn holding her; we gave her milk and spoiled her with our love, she didn’t even know how to lick milk out of the bowl yet, so we fed her with a syringe. Nobody of course wanted to take her home. Out of the two of us Sid’s the one with the strongest “NO we don’t need another cat”. Don’t’ know what happened to him, my guess is the rum. We’re still trying to justify why we took her home. How can you not take a cute abandoned 4 week old kitten. So we took her home, plan is to pep her up, get her spayed and then look for a good home for her. But seriously I don’t think that will happen, I think she found herself a loving home, by the time we can spay her we’ll be attached to her. Tika is not sure about it yet, although she lets the kitten attack her tail and play with it, but she still hisses at her. I catch her all the time watching the little hyper kitten. She does not have a name yet, but we figured it should be a Spanish name. I came up with several names, two that I really like, Gitana for Gypsy and my favorite Paloma for (white) Dove. Are we suckers or what? Amazing the minute we took her into the house she domesticated instantly, used the litter box immediately and second morning ate up a lot of Tika’s food. She slept cuttled up with but played for most of the time. She follows me all around already and since she is so tiny and I’m afraid to step on her I made her a pouch out of my sheep skin house shoes, never wear those again anyway in tropical weather, that I can hang around my neck and carry her along. She loves it. I made another bag out of the texaline which we can take her along; she’ll be able to see through it but we cannot see inside. Does that sound we’ll be looking for a home for her in a few months. Look how tiny she is! Did you notice the white tip on her tail and the freckles on her nose?

So Ernesto my English student took us on a boat trip to the near by Isla Borracho. What a beautiful place, we swam, snorkeled, cooled off and had lunch on the beach. We had the cove to ourselves for about 30 minutes then one boat after another came in, all around 25 to 30 feet, all anchored close to shore or right by the beach and next to each other, some rafted. Ernesto said that this was the least boats he’s ever seen usually it’s packed. It was really funny to watch how they anchor. Some brought the

bow right to the surf line while the wife jumps off with the anchor in her hands, she walks a few steps up the beach and drops it in the sand, while he just drops it off the back. We laughed so hard watching all this, just amazing.

Not much on politics this week except El Presidente is ruining his

country. Our grocery store was closed already again for tax reasons and two days later it closed again for 120 hours, so today is the first day open again, I bet it’s going to be a mob.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

April 1.

The good news is Manuela’s nose is still attached and hasn’t fallen off yet, but it’s still as crooked as ever. Steve and Marsha are long home again and so are Shanna and Roman. We had so much fun with all of them and for us it was a welcome break from all the boat work. We kept our guests really busy, Steve and Marsha mainly testing all the Rums Venezuela has to offer, I think they are now on a liver cure. They all came for just a week, which really isn’t enough time but we did the best. We took them all to the El Morro Hotel where they have the best pizza ever and had a lot of fun with Karaoke, with Steve and Marsh we left early because the place was too smoky and too crowded. When Shanna and Roman were here I was ill that day and Sid took them. (Sid was sick for three days when Steve and Marsha were here). They had so much fun and sang Karaoke till 3 am. Even Sid sang some songs, poor crowd.

Each Thursday Jim drove us to Los Altos, which is up in the mountains about one hour east of Puerto La Cruz with the most spectacular view over all the islands and on a very clear day you can even see Isla Margarita. Each time we enjoyed a wonderful fish lunch on the beach, toes digging in the sand. The second trip we were lucky to find banana flowers, Tamarind and even a Cashew tree.

Both Fridays we took our guests on a fun boat ride to the Mochima National Forrest Islands filled with Cuba Libres, swimming, snorkeling and fun. Both times we had the same boat captain and mate and the second time they treated us to a special tour on the El Farro Island to see the fossil cemetery. One of the sights is a cave which the boat actually drives into, it’s pretty neat, the wall is very steep and flat and swallows nest in it. It was high tide and the driver was able to get way back into the cave and I happen to see light shining through the top of the cave in two small wholes. When I told our guide about it, he got goose bumps when he saw it and he told me he had been going here for 15 years and never saw that. He named them Las Velas de Manuela (The candles of Manuela) as they look like two burning candles.

Our guests also had to learn to play Mississippi Marbles and are hooked on that game now. It’s really a fun dice game we play every Thursday evening under the Tree of Knowledge. Sunday nights of course they enjoyed our fun BBQ potluck.

One afternoon relaxing on the balcony Marsha and Steve watched a cloud fly towards the house. Marsha though it was a swarm of moths and didn’t think anything about it. About five minutes later Gerry came running upstairs saying: “Manuela you have a serious problem with Paradise”, since we just replaced the shaft I was sure the boat was sinking and ran downstairs when I noticed a swarm of bees circling the companion way. There was no way to get on the boat so I observed the intruders from Gymnopedies. I couldn’t believe what I saw the whole companion way was covered with bees. They were not settled yet so there was nothing we could do at the moment other than get the camera to get a prime shot. By the time I returned with the camera most of the bees were inside already and some of the companion way was uncovered. Poor Sid was sick in bed and of course got up when I told him the bad news. We both put our black fly suits on and Sid got the fogger ready to kill the intruders. Of course when you really need it, it doesn’t work. Terry gave us some good stuff and Sid braved his way onto the boat to terminate the bees, while I watched form the balcony ready to jump into action if needed, from the second floor of course. He started spraying them and they now were flying wildly around him, glad I was watching from a distance. He finally found a huge bee he thought was the queen and tossed it in the water, that should get read of them right. Nope, the next day the whole inside was still covered. Sid fixed the fogger and went inside. He couldn’t believe what he saw when he stepped below; the whole middle hatch was covered with bees with yet the real queen. In all it took him four days to get read of the bees. You should have seen the inside, bees everywhere there was not one inch not covered with a dead bee. Now imagine being in an anchorage by yourself just coming back from a fun snorkeling or fishing and you find your boat taken over by bees, what do you do??? We were pretty lucky too; they were just honey bees and not the ferocious killer bees.

In the mean time Gerry and Terry have moved back onto their boat and are cruising again and currently in Trinidad. The day our last guests left we went right back to work, Sid on the boat and me inside the house sewing up a storm. It’s nice to have the house to ourselves, it was fun having roommates but nothing beats being by ourselves. Life goes on in Venezuela and we enjoy it as much as on our first day here and actually hope to be so lucky to have more friends for a visit while we still have the house.

Now politics, I finally saw one store with a whole wall full of sugar and a line out the door. Can’t find any chicken or tender beef other than meat for stews or ground beef, El Presidente put such a cap on the price that nobody wants to sell it under cost. I guess you can bribe the butcher to sell it if you know him well enough.

A couple of weeks ago the taxi driver who drove me to school was nearly in tears when he told me that El Presidente closed all the Casinos down because Fidel does not like gambling. He then said that he voted for El Presidente but that he hates him now and does not want him to be his president anymore he is not giving them what he promised. I couldn’t believe how upset this poor man was.

This weekend starts Semana Santa and lasts 10 days a huge holiday here in Venezuela. Most businesses will be closed for the holiday and yet another blow from El Presidente, yesterday, Friday, he announced that there is a ban on selling and drinking liquor on all the Semana Santa days from 5 PM till 6 AM. Poor restaurants, what are they going to do. Guess we’re not going to Karaoke either next Wednesday, the bar can’t just sell water and sodas.

I wathed TV the other day and found House, of course in Spanish and wathed it when the series was interrupted by a El Presidente biography whih lasted for 25 minutes. Every single TV channel had his biography on. With Radio the same, several times a day all channels get interrupted with a El Presidente speech.