The cruising adventures of Sid and Manuela

Thursday, July 26, 2007

07/26/07 Isla Margarita

Early in the morning we went for a walk along the beautiful beach all the way to the sand spit, how peaceful. We then headed around to the other side but it was littered with sargassa grass and lots and lots of trash, what a pity. We headed back and explored the hotel on the beach, of course we had to as the name was "Paradise", really nice place with two incredible inviting pools (for BS 25 000 a day we could have used the hotel facility, maybe next time). On the hotel grounds we saw several macaws
wandering around, one kept attacking me and tried to bite my toes. In one of the trees was a beautiful Cockatoo, incredible. After we indulged in he beautiful scenery at the hotel we had lunch in a small beach restaurant, pargo pan fried crispy with home made fries and a cabbage and carrot slaw with two beer and it came to 12 bucks, not bad. Today was a holiday Simon Bolivar's BD and so the beach and anchorage was packed, so we headed back to the lonely boat and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon,
other than dinghy into San Pedro to get ice for our cocktails and found our usual rum for just 1.45 a bottle, coke or water costs more then the rum.
The wind never died down, not even during the night but at least by morning it wasn't howling anymore, so we pulled the main up, the anchor up and headed out of Coche and motor sailed to Porlamar in Isla Margarita. The wind again was right on the nose and very light so we motor sailed into it. The last 5 miles into the anchorage was finally sailable with 2.9 knots, but then the sea picked up as a tropical waves was underway, so we turned the iron jib back on and motored the last mile into the anchorage.
We're pretty much anchored at the same spot as we did almost a year ago. The anchorage is a bit on the rolly side so we hooked up the flopper stoppers and we were nice and calm compared to all the other boast in the anchorage rolling from side to side.
Porlamar is the largest and busiest town in Margarita. It is very modern with lots of high rise buildings and incredible shopping. This is a shoppers paradise and I got my shopping fix today, well one of many to come. Sid and I took a taxi to the Sumbill Mall which is an incredible big mal with pretty much anything in it. First store we went to we spent almost all the money in our pockets but are set again with some cool Colombia shorts. Sigo the grocery store is still as incredible as I remember
it, it has anything gourmet you can imagine. We're back on the boat enjoying the nice breeze and crystal clear water. In a few minutes we'll go ashore to get some water for out sun shower, ice for our cuba libre and around 4.30 we should be noodeling in the cool water. Beno on Diesel Duck is coming over for dinner, his wife Marlene is in Germany for two weeks so we'll keep him some company.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Isla Coche 07/23/07

If we had wings our trip would have taken 18 miles as the crow flies, but with our sails it took us 48 miles as we had to head out of the Golfo de Cariaco and around the Araya Peninsula. We got up before the birds started singing ending the most quite night in any anchorage. It was so quite all you could hear was your own breath. The sun was just coming up as we left and since there was not a breath of air, everything reflected in the water like a mirror image it was just beautiful. As soon as we
headed into the Golfo the water was a bit churned up, but we figured out pretty soon that a current was running as the wind wasn't blowing yet. We motored all the way out the Golfo where we bypassed some dozen small fishing boats, all having spent the night out fishing. It was very calm as we headed north along the western side of the Araya Peninsula, but as soon as we turned the corner due East the wind started picking up. As usual it was right on the nose, so Sid pulled the staysail out and into
the wind we plowed. It was pretty comfortable for most of it until the last 14 miles (4 hours), the wind now was blowing with 20 plus knots. It still wasn't bad but now and then a wave would slow us down.
We're tucked in in the north western anchorage of Isla Coche called Saphire Bay in 10 feet of water and are facing a beach that is filled with outdoor restaurants, the beach covered with sunshades, a tourist trap, but the beach after the restaurants end goes for a couple of miles and ends in a small sand spit surrounded by just water, just breathtaking. Isla Coche is an unusual island for dry hills with pastel hues of red, yellow and brown, the only greenery are the palm trees by the restaurants.
I'm sure there are cactus and dry scrub to be found on the island. This island was originally inhabited by Indians and the name in their language meant deer. Coche was colonized in the 16th century by Europeans when the pearls were found in abundance. They also produced salt here which is still produced today. It inhabits 4500 people and the capital San Pedro is a town of mainly fisher folk which is to compare with Mexico in the 40s. We were just going to spend the night here but did not expect such
a cute place so I guess we'll just have to spend extra day or two.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Scarlet Ibis 07/22/07

The river trip was fun and we saw a lot of herons, king fisher and even bats. I guess not all bats fly at night, but then where we saw them the mangroves grew like a tunnel over the now narrow river and it was a bit dark. We die read though that there is a fish eating bat in these mangroves. We drove as far as we could go, turned around and pulled of by a clearing and went for a walk. This area used to be a shrimp farm, but an earthquake put it out of business and now it's overgrown with all kind
of desert looking plants. We found a cactus that had bright pink fruits, they looked like 1 1/4 inch jalapeno peppers. Diane said that they taste good in salads, well I tasted one right there and it tasted more like some sort of berry, the inside is whitish with little black seeds like a kiwi has. The second day Diane and Doug went for a hike by themselves and she returned with a bag full of them, so we had a salad with the little pink fruits in them, it was tasty and is now on our menu whenever
we find them again. We had a great time with Salacia exploring the river but the most memorable thing was around sunset scarlet ibis returned from their day long feeding trip and landed on top of the near by tall mangrove trees. The second evening Sid and I snuck ashore and hid in the mangroves, but non showed up in the tree they were the previous night, so we rowed closer to where they were and rowed into the mangroves. They now were almost above us, but something scared them and they all took off
and all we could hear was the sound of their wings and the sky through the mangrove leaves turned scarlet read. They settled down again and something again scared them and they did that circle above us once more. It was incredible and we returned with yet another wonderful adventure on our minds.
A very good weather window opened up and we took the opportunity and headed back to Laguna Grande where we'll spend tonight and get an early start to head around the Araya Penisula for Isla Coche. We had a great sail and flew the spinnaker for most of it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Laguna de Cariaco 07/19/07

Doug and Diane on Salacia know the inns and outs of Guacarapo and made friends with one of the home owners who lives in Caracas, she gave them the key to her vacation house and they take care of it whenever they are in this anchorage, so we sat with them many hours in the shade of the patio chatting away and learning more about this little place. Guacarapo is a quite little village and it seems at first there are no stores until you walk through town you realize that every other house has something
to sell, although it's mainly just the basics. For fruits, vegetables and meats you have to take a porpuesto (truck with bench around the truck bed and room to load as many people in the back as possible) into Cariaco which I enjoyed more so than the trip from Medregal as we traveled with the locals. Two houses down from theirs is a Bodega (liquor store and also used as the local bar), there are always several guys hanging out for hours and drink 37 cent beer, some all day long. Miscellaneous like
soda crackers, pasta and sodas are also available and ice but every time we try to buy some we're told "manana" (tomorrow). Yes, we're definitely in the land of manana. Manana means definitely not today but not necessarily tomorrow either. So he referred me to the next store, from there to the next and next, this is how I found out that they actually do have stores in the village. In one she would either come out with frozen ice in coke bottles, the other in plastic bags and the only one that usually
sells cubes said "manana, so Sid for now is drinking his rum and coke at room temperature. Apropos temperature we're still amazed how cool it is, only around noon till two it's hot and siesta comes in handy, the rest is pleasant and between four or five it can even get cool. The water temperature is a refreshing 77. We especially enjoy sitting on deck in our beach chairs when the cool gentle night breeze is blowing and watch just as the sun sets how every local in town comes out the doors and mingle
in the streets, well most of them in front of the Bodega. A chit chatter starts everywhere as the town comes to live. When you see and hear this it doesn't seem that there is any political problems in this country, all you hear is happy laughter, kids play and dogs bark, a very cozy atmosphere. This lasts for about one and a half to two hours and then it's quite for the night. It's so quite you could hear a mouse fart. There is no haze lingering either, every day the view is crystal clear and you
can see for miles and miles, very picturesque.
We finally had the water leak under control, the pump from the water maker broke and Sid fixed it. After an hour of running the water maker today we pumped many gallons of water out of the bilge again, even more so than before and when Sid checked the pump the water came out of the pump like out of a hose. He replaced it with a new pump and bilge is dry again. After that little episode we pulled anchor and followed Salacia up the bay passed Muelle de Cariaco up to the Laguna de Cariaco where the
river flows into the Golf. The river is on the eastern end of the Golfo de Cariaco and an incredible place to explore by dinghy for this is the home of plenty of herons, cormorants, pelicans, parrots, ibis and we even heard pink flamingos and storks. The Laguna has an open view into the Golfo de Cariaco with lush mountains in the background but the rest ist surrounded by tall mangroves and brackish water. Tomorrow first thing in the morning we'll explore the river and even reach a point where the
water is fresh and not brackish.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Guacarapo 07/16/07

As every morning we enjoyed watching the skimmers while sipping on fresh coffee while a gentle breeze is blowing. We decided it was time to venture to other nice anchorages went ashore and paid our bill at the resort. I couldn't believe the price, we had two wonderful dinners, one included appetizers and dessert had several rum, beer, glasses of wine plus a bottle and he charge a little for the trip into town and the total came to 57 dollars, wow. We had a great time and will return.
We pulled anchor and motored, yes it was a noserly again, along a 5 mile stretch of lonely beach with only a few occasional houses built right on the beach, a very peaceful area. The beach ends at a point where the small village of Guacarapo is. Around the point is a very protected anchorage and we dropped in eight feet of water. The village is very simple and the people in this area leave by fishing and cattle ranching. What amazes us too is the difference of the mountain range from the entrance
of the golf to here. It starts as a dried out colorful mountain range and slowly turns green and then more lush and when you get here the vegetation is really thick. The way the mountain range looks it reminds us of the mountains in Hawaii.
Salacia is in this anchorage and has been here for a while. They've been cruising Golfo de Cariaco for the last eight years and call it home. We're having them over for dinner, can't wait to hear all the stories they have.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Radio works

What a relieve the radio works after all, the Trinidad and St. Thomas station had some problems, so you can follow us again on our Blogg.
We're still in Medregal and are enjoying the long deserved relaxing in a beautiful anchorage. The resort owner Jean Marc is spoiling us rotten and he is a first class chef and cooks gourmet meals. The resort has a haul out facility with a travel lift Jean Marc had built that can pick up a boat right from the beach as the lift can drive into the water, it's an easy haul out and just incredible.
What amazes us most here is the cool temperature and low humidity (66%), we have an average of 82 degrees and at night around 72 and a blanket ist most welcome. The mornings are crystal clear, the water as flat as a mirror, along the shore you hear roosters crow and skimmers are soaring across the water. We've been having so much fun watching them skimming alongside the boat. A skimmer is a bird that eats plankton as he soars across the water top and with his huge bill scoops the plankton up and
an occasional fish, quite an interesting bird to watch.
Yesterday Saturday, Jean Marc drove us cruisers (10 of us) into the town of Cariaco to the fresh market, a bakery and the liquor store. It was a great trip and we loaded up on all kind of fresh veggies and fruits, not to mention the wonderful French bread. I think we'll relax one more day here and then venture into other peaceful anchorages.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Out to sea again we are at last
and we're not going very fast,
as a gentle breeze is sweeping the bay,
once more we are on our way.
On our way to find new exciting places
and to meet new friendly faces.
Through the rigging the wind is softly whispering a song,
lightly heeling Paradise as we sail along.

07/08/07 Manuela Olshefski

We left Puerto La Cruz around eleven and motor sailed pretty much all the way to Arapo Island. Plan was to anchor in front of Emir's house, but the beach was so steep too it was impossible to anchor, so we pulled the sails up again and motor sailed 15 miles to El Culto in the Mochima National Park. We could turn the engine off for about 5 minutes and as we closed in on the park the wind started blowing a steady 20 knots with some 25 gusts of course right on the nose, but no big deal as we were protected
from the islands the water stayed relatively calm.
By Sunset I brought the cold bottle of Moet Chandon out and we celebrated the hard work we did on Paradise to make her look so pretty again and also to be out here again doing what we're doing best "cruising".
The night was so peacefully and quite, the only sound we could hear was the high pitched chirp of bats and an occasional fish jump out of the water and along the shore fire flies were glowing, it could not have been any more romantic. (Google Earth 10.22'109N / 64.22.751W)

For some reason we cannot send email out via our Ham radio, we can talk but not send email, we tried and tried and tried so unfortunately you don't get to our entries until we find an Internet. We left El Culto the following morning and motored the whole 24 miles to Laguna Grande in Golfo de Cariacu as there was no breath of air. Three miles out the wind started to kick up and finally blew a steady 20 knots and of course right on the nose.
Sid detected a leak and tightened up the stuffing box. The leak persisted and first thing in the anchorage he checked the engine. The seal on the raw water pump was leaking and when he took it off he found that the bearing had self-distructed. He found some water in the oil, not good. After further investigation he was happy to see that he caught the water on time, non had gone into the engine yet. But we still have a leak somewhere so he's still trying to find it.
The Golfo de Cariaco Bay is very long so when the wind blows hard it can build a 3 foot chop and that's what we had. It wasn't too bad but in any case we reefed the main. Laguna Grande is a huge bay and breathtakingly beautiful with an endless variety of contrasting hills in whites, beiges and glowing reds. Small island are surrounded of dense green mangroves so is the bay and above in the hills are cactus in all shapes and sizes. It's a total desert landscape with the most incredible colors. The
wind kept howling all day long, we think it's a local condition. Right at sunset a dark cloud closed in and dumped rain on us for a couple of hours. For as dry as it looks here rain must not happen all too often. The Sunrise was spectacular as it was so calm and you could see everything reflected in the water like a mirror image.
The second day we took a dinghy tour around the whole bay, not is ist just huge it has the most incredible colors. We also hiked up a hill above our anchorage and what awaited us was just the most spectacular view. We also saw the wild goats that roam the area and an occasional gun shut tell you that somebody is having goat stew for dinner. We are amazed about the temperature as the wind was blowing a cool breeze, we had 82 degrees during the day and the nights were pleasantly cool if not almost
chilly. The sky was covered with millions of twinkling stars which reflected in the now calm water. The phosphorescent in the water was so thick that when you spit into it or moved a line it was glowing. Yes, we had a little spitting contest. The pelicans even feed at night as they can see the fish surrounded by phosphorescent. Tika is so happy, she does not have to be locked in at night but can freely roam the deck all night long, she walks around with a constant purr. We can see a huge difference
in her, she's a happy kitty again and stays up all night chasing bats. There are plenty of them and we think that they are vampire bats as they dive for her. Her favorite mew thing is to lick puddles of water off the deck. (10.35'553N / 64.01'954)

The radio is still not working, very frustrating as we cannot send our reports into the Blogg for you to follow us. We left Laguna Grande early in the morning to avoid the daily strong winds and are now in Medregal, which is a little resort between Cachicotas and Guacarapo. It is owned by Jean Marc from Belgium and his Venezuelan wife. He lets cruisers use the facility which includes a nice pool, email, showers, game room, TV and best an honor bar, help yourself and just write it on a piece of paper.
We had a wonderful steak dinner and that also went on the bill. The view from the anchorage is stunning. It's a peaceful area with a thin strip of beach miles long, behind them flat lands overgrown with lush bushes and end on the foot of lush tropical mountains. This area gives you the feeling to be on a big lake, Sid said kind of reminds him of the Chesapeake Bay. At night you can see the twinkling lights of the villages across the bay. Sid will try to fix the email problem today so keep your fingers
crossed. We decided to enjoy this little Paradise for a few days.


Dear family and friends,
unfortunatley we´re having problems with our ham radio and cannot send or receive email. Not sure what the problem is as we can talk via SSB and Ham radio. We´re having a great time and visited some incredible anchorages.
El Culto in the Mochima National Park, if you go on Google Earth it´s at
10. 22´109N and 64.22´751W
Laguna Grande in the Golf of Cariaco, this you need to see, it´s incredible
10.35'553N and 64.01'954
and now we're in Medregal which is a small resort and lets us use Internet but can´t hook my computer up on their system. As soon as we get to Isla Margarita, our guess is in one week we should have access again and hopefully can fix the problem.
Hope this finds you all well.
Hugs and kisses
Sid and Manuela, very frustrated LOL

The fish are biting.
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Sunday, July 01, 2007

As happy as popcorn farts in a windstorm

We are as happy as popcorn farts in a windstorm being back in and on Paradise, there is no better place than home. Everything is stored away and every morning when we get up or every time we enter the boat it’s an ahhhh look at our beautiful boat.

June second we left the house and headed to Bahia Redonda. On our way there the prop started vibrating like crazy and shook the whole boat as soon as Sid raised the RPMs. We were worried that the electrolyses ate the prop up, that would have been a very expensive problem. Since we painted the prop we did ruled out that it could be overgrown with stuff. I think Sid was reluctant to get under the boat and find out the worst. He finally did and found a giant flower, the prop was so overgrown. The engine purrs like a kitten again and no vibration is felt, sigh.

We still had the outside varnish to do, in we I mean Sid and he did such an incredible job as usual.

Bahia Redonda is a very friendly marina and within two days we were invited to potlucks, dinners and turned into social butterflies. Some of the ladies here collect beach glass and one of them gave us a glass in how to make jewelry, so now I have two new hobbies collecting beach glass and making jewelry, it’s a lot of fun and a little competition to my bead work.

Oh the other day Sid got a “little” drunk at the potluck over at Maremares, so I drove us home. I hopped out of the dinghy and pulled the dinghy tight to the dock to make it more stable for unstable Sid as he was swaggering just sitting. He did get out of the dinghy without ever lifting his little butt, he’s upper body was like a tall tree swaying in the wind backwards except it swayed a little to much and in very slow motion Sid slithered into the wet water, there wasn’t even a splash. It was too funny. We laughed so hard it was tough to get him back into the dinghy. Then he realized that he lost one of his crocks and reassured that it was no loss as they were very old anyway. The next day as he took off with the dinghy, he happened to look back and what popped out of under the dinghy, yes his crock, too funny.

We heard that we could find Teak in Isla Margarita, in Jim’s car we took the Ferry across and went shopping for teak. We couldn’t’ find any teak but found out we can get it right here in PLC. The ferry ride over was really nice as it was a very calm and clear day and we had a great time shopping and learned that Isla Margarita has NO food shortage of anything, which strikes us odd and make us wonder what really goes on. We shopped till we dropped and even Jim had a good time as we took him to stores he didn’t even know existed. We scored big time and found Clamata juice for our Bloddy Maries.

Can you see the face on the rocks of the island:

Our friends on Snow White finally
arrived in Cartagena and called us on Skype. Of course I had to give her instructions were everything was and her husband yelled in the background for us to fly here and show them.

Not a bad idea! Four days later we took of on our flight to Cartagena for five days. We had a blast and ate the best of the best food, but then we’ve never had a bad meal in

Cartagena. The nightly smell of BBQs lingering in every street brought many memories back and it seemed like nothing had changed in the last five years. The old town is still as it was but Boca Grande’s high rise buildings are now towered by even taller buildings. Being there made us realize how much we liked this place and we are looking forward to early next year when we sail into this beautiful harbor again. The heat although was unbearable as the humidity must have been over 90%. The humidity was so thick it felt like a ton on our shoulders.

We’re back in Bahia Redonda again and Sid is done with all the varnish and is finishing up with little odds and ends. Plan is to head out of here next week to find some nice anchorages to relax from our six months working ordeal on Paradise. We’re not sure yet where the wind will blow us, at this point we don’t care as long as we can sit in a nice anchorage with clear water to snorkel and relax.

This sunset photo was taken the first night from our slip in Bahia Redonda: