The cruising adventures of Sid and Manuela

Monday, December 22, 2008



We are still in Puerto La Cruz. One week ago Sid came back from his Panama to Honduras trip. It was a long flight to get from here to Panama City as he had a 10 hour layover in Bogota, Colombia, and that at night time when everything is closed at the airport. He’s plane left at 8 am in the morning. Dale had arrived the prior day and picked Sid up, went for lunch and in the late afternoon caught the flight to Bocas del Toro, where Snow White was berthed. They immediately got the boat ready for departure, but the weather wasn’t on their side and they lost 4 days. Bocas had been inundated with 3 weeks of heavy rainfall and the one and only road from and to David was destroyed. During the four days Sid had a chance to get to know Bocas del Toro, as we eventually we’ll he ad there as well. Wouldn’t you believe it, Sid ran into Sharky, we know her from Catalina Island, she’s running the marina restaurant and Chuck and Ann on Mirage, also from Catalina are running the marina, once more a small world.

Sid and Dale finally departed and headed to the Colombian island of San Andres. The trip started out fine but the closer they came to San Andres the rougher the sea got. Again in San Andres they had to wait out a front with high winds and high seas. They used this opportunity to do a scooter run around the island. Next leg was a short hop to Isla Providencia, also Colombia. Sid said it was a really pretty island. Sid had a flight out of Roatan on the 17th and they had only about 5 days left, they finally found a good window to do the last leg of the trip.

Sid had some fun stories. They caught two nice size Dorado, the boat was rocking back and fourth and while Sid brought the second Dorado in the first one at that time laying on the floor with the lure still attached and was sliding back and fourth. Then Sid heard some flap noise, looked down to where the Dorado just was and there was none. He had slid back and fourth and finally slid through the scupper back into the sea. They had an escapee! (Dale mentioned that this one was not the first!) Sid told me that while Dale was on the helm he was keeping an eye on the fishing rods. I couldn’t belive when I saw the photos, he was hanging in a hammock reading a book. Knowing Sid it couldn’t have gone any different then him falling asleep, Dale took photos for proof. One time Sid had to go to the bathroom bad and was gone maybe 3 minutes max. When he came back out he heard a thump, even Dale heard it on the bridge and they both noticed that one rod had no more line and the lure was gone with it too. They also encountered whales and even managed to get up close to one of them. Also hundreds of dolphins showed off their acrobatic stunts, Sid filmed them and the whale:

They finally arrived safe in Roatan at 5 pm the day before Sid’s departure, so he didn’t get to see a lot. Poor Sid had a long trip back. He had about 6 hours layover in Miami and arrived in Caracas before midnight and his plane back to Barcelona was not until 6 in the morning.

While he was gone I kept myself busy with all kind of projects. As I mentioned in my last Blogg entry I tackled the bimini. Amazingly it was easier to make then I had thought. The only problem I really had was the wind blowing like snot and I had to use anything heavy to keep the canvas from flying off the dock while I was making the pattern for it. The sewing part was much easier and I finished the bimini within 1 ½ days. Of course there was some other canvas work to fix and since Sid always criticized the ugly blue bucket on the bow not matching the boat, I found a white bucket and made a cover for it as well. I think everything on Paradise now is covered, except for the cat, she will not sit still long enough.

Isabelle’s daughter got married in the marina and since they couldn’t afford a photographer I took photos as a wedding gift:

There were several more projects (including dueling computer stuff) to do which took all my time, so I barley left the marina. I think I went shopping only twice in the whole three weeks and managed to clean the hull and deck just a day before Sid came back.

It was good to have Sid back especially to fix a slight problem we’re having which is keeping us here for a bit longer.

The weekend before Sid came back I was invited to join Isabelle’s family for the yearly tradition of hallaca making. It was an incredible experience, but I don’t wan to bore you with it. If you’re interested in finding out what hallacas are and the history including recipe click here. I added it to my Boatbumms Gourmet site.

Christmas is just around the corner and we have been invited to a Venezuelan Christmas party on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day we will be at Darren and Rocio’s for his annual Christmas BBQ. Not sure yet when we’ll leave, but plan is to spend New Years in Medregal where Jean Marc will have a New Years Eve Buffet including fireworks show. Unless Darren talks us into a motorcycle trip to Merida for the big Harley meeting January 4th, he wants us to drive one of his Harleys. It’s a very tempting thought.

With this we wish you all a Merry Christmas and may the Happy New Year bring you joy and happiness and most of all good health.

Hugs and kisses to you all

Sid, Manuela and Tika

PS: These wild Macaws (4 of them) visited our marina the other day, just awesome!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Back in Puerto La Cruz

We’ve been enjoying the clean pool at Medregal, the wonderful dinners Jean Marc prepared, the colorful sunsets and Heidi turning a normal color again without any bruisers, although she did manage to fall into the water while trying to get in to the dinghy, poor girl.

Saturday was the trip again to the local market in Cariaco and since I was out of salads and I wanted for Heidi to see a typical Venezuelan village we took the opportunity and joined the other cruisers for the trip into Cariaco. We had a good time at the market, bought lots of salad, fruits and veggies and some wonderful bread at the bakery, the only glitch was the liquor stores were closed as they had elections the next day, Sunday. Here it is against the law to sell or drink liquor the weekend of the election. So the guide took us to a supermarket, I didn’t even know existed. It’s by far the best store in this area but still only has the essentials. The boss managed to sneak two cases of beer out the door and into our van for the doubled price of course, but we all were happy to have a cold beer on our way back to Medregal. (The election was held on Sunday and El Presidente lost a few important seats to his opponents but still has the majority. What we found out too is that El Presidente promised to pay 400 Bolivares per person who voted in all the poor states so that they would vote for him. He is slowly loosing his image as more and more people realize that he really is not there for them. They had lots of protest before the election and the roads were still a chaos two days after the elections, schools in this area were closed as well. In the mean time he told his new elected people to take over any land and divide it with the poor, no mentioning to pay the owners any money. He is trying again to get the new constitution in to keep him in office for the rest of his life. I just listened to his three hour talks he has daily, he told his people that Jesus was a socialist, imagine that. Since about three months we cannot find Pepsi then when Pepsi is available again, although in limited amounts, Coke is off the shelf. 7Up and other beverages have been taken off the shelf completely and diet Coke or Pepsi you’re lucky if you find it once in two months. What I don’t understand is that these sodas are made in this country. There are still no toilette paper or paper towels available and if you see them on the shelf ones every months you’re lucky. For several months I couldn’t find decaf coffee, now all you see is decaf but no regular coffee. Rice comes and goes too. El Presidente is starting to ration foods again, just doesn’t make sense. His people are very angry at him that he is spending all the millions on his new satellite and not using it for his people. I think in the near future we’ll see some serious problems here. I think it’s time to leave).

Anyway, on the drive back we saw a wild cat, I’m still not sure if it was a Leopard or an Ocelot but I tell you when he ran across the street and the fur caught the sunlight the markings were just incredible, what a beautiful cat. We stopped immediately and tried to follow the cat into the jungle but the cat was long gone.

On Tuesday we took Heidi to the Laguna de Cariaco for the scarlet Ibis. After arrival we did a dinghy ride up the river into the mangroves and saw quite a few of them. We also found some scarlet feathers for Heidi to take home as a souvenir. As we came back to the boat a piñero (fishing boat) with two fishermen drove really close by Paradise, one standing on the bow, stretching his neck as far as he could and checked out the whole boat. Then later as we were sitting in our cockpit another piñero with 5 fishermen approached. One offered fish, we declined, but then they just sat there starring at us and eyeballing the entire boat. Finally, after what seemed minutes they took off. 10 minutes later another one came by, they just looked at us and didn’t say a word. After two more of them we felt pretty exposed and not to take chances we decided to pull anchor and headed back to Medregal.

Back in Medregal I decided to take a swim to cool off and stood on the last step of the ladder looking dark green water with not much visibility thinking, I really don’t like to go into the water by myself not being able to see what’s below me. That moment something came out of the deep and came straight towards my feet. I shrieked “Shark” and stepped right back onto the deck. Sid and Heidi came running over and to proof them that I really saw a shark I climbed down the ladder again and as soon as my feet hit the water the shark came back, wow. The shark was about one foot long and brown and other fish were swimming under the boat, so I think he was rather curious then hungry but I decided to take a deck shower instead.

Sandial caught up with us and as Thanksgiving approached, they invited us over for Turkey Dinner. What a feast it was, there was so much food and we ate so much that we almost sank the dinghy on our way home.

Early at 3 am we pulled anchor and sailed 58 miles back to Puerto La Cruz. The night sky was incredible and I saw one shooting star after another while dolphins were playing on the

bow. The dolphins were lit up with either red or green by the running lights depending on which side they surfaced, it was just beautiful:


………Sitting on deck sipping a cup of hot tea,

as we gently rock on thegentle sea

and dolphins play in the wake of the bow,

their spray lit up with a red and green glow.

Above the twinkling stars reflect in the sea.

I think I will have another cup of tea.

By daylight the dolphins turned around and started their daily routine of herding fish for their next feast. Heidi finally got up just as we left the Golfo de Cariaco, by now the wind was blowing with about 10 knots, not enough to sail so we kept motor sailing towards Puerto La Cruz. Coming into the Puerto La Cruz Bay the wind stopped co

mpletely and of course just as we turned the corner towards Maremares the wind started to blow like snot and made it a challenge to get into our slip.

Here we are again sitting safely at Maremares while Sid and Heidi started packing for their trip on Sunday.

Heidi is back in Switzerland and Sid is in Bocas del Toro, Panama to help Dale to bring his boat Snow White to Roatan in Honduras. Sid will be back on the 17th of ecember.

In the mean time I found some more projects for the boat. I am going to tackle the bimini and try to sew a new one, wish me luck, it’s not going to be easy. I’m sure I

will find other odds and ends to sew so I will not be bored here alone.

You can follow our stories again after the 17th when we start heading tow

ards Trinidad and up to some Caribbean islands for the next 6 months

Here are a few more Fotos of Heidi's vacation (click on photos to enlarge):

Friday, November 21, 2008

Medregal Village

As always, we are just taken back by the tranquil atmosphere of Laguna Grande. The nights are so quite that only occasionally we can here the chirping of cicada or the flapping of jumping fish. Early morning just before sunrise birds are starting to chant a lovely good morning serenade. On the near by shore a fox is yelping. Then the sun starts lighting up the high hill tops unfolding all the colors Laguna Grande has to offer, from red to orange, white, gray and right now the lush green bushes and cacti. As the shadow rolls down the hills and disappears in the flat calm water the most incredible mirror image on the water's surface takes our breath away. No matter how many pictures I have taken of this, photos just don't do justice. Around noon the winds starts picking up and depending on the trades can blow quite a bit. Around 3 o'clock puffy thunder clouds are starting to built and occasionally roll over us around 4 o'clock. For sunset it's nice a calm again and the mirror image matches the scenery and slowly disappears with the last ray of the sun showing off the most vibrant colors a sunset can offer. Yet at night as the calm starts all over again the water now reflects the stars that twinkle in the clear sky and now and then the water churns up with a luminescent light where a fish just swam by. This is by far one of the most beautiful anchorages anywhere.
       Although that night the hatches had to be closed for the night as the ITCZ brought the clouds north and covered all of Trinidad up to St. Lucia to the North eastern part of Venezuela where we are and showered us with lots of rain in the late afternoon with an occasional drizzle after sunset. We heard on Eric's net that Trinidad was hit hard with rain and had flooding throughout the country. Downtown Port of Spain was under water. The police announced on the radio for everybody to stay at work and don't leave the house and result was a panic, everybody left to go home and created a huge gridlock. The ITCZ is still present in our area so we should get some more rain. For us the rain is welcomed as it cleans our rigging for us, also it cools down the hot day so that we almost have to get jackets out. ITCZ is the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone which lies mainly along the Ecuador in which weather systems from the southern and the northern hemispheres converge. These areas are basically over the ocean. Normally in this zone there is a lot of cloud activity with rain and little wind. The zone can travel north or south by as much as 10 to 15 degrees of latitude which enhances weather systems.
 Freddie, the young son of a local fisherman showed up again asking for a diving mask, which I thought we didn't have. Sid told me later that we do have one so Heidi and I took off in the dingy across the other side where Freddie lives. I also brought along some milk, black beans, veggies and sugar for his family. In the many times we've anchored in Laguna Grande we never went to see the fishermen. Upon arrival I asked one fisherman where Freddie's house was, he invited me to tie my dinghy to his shack and pointed into the direction where Freddie lives. We followed the path and passed more little shacks and asked again for directions. We finally found Freddie's house and with a huge smile he greeted us. You should have seen his eyes when he saw the dive mask and snorkel and couldn't believe that he finally got one. He then invited us to see his village and took as along a pebbled path which was entirely shaded by lush bushes. I never thought to find such a Paradise in this dried out desert landscape. We passed more houses that were built under the greenest of mango trees. Papaya trees were loaded with the biggest fruits I've ever seen. In front of every house pigs and chicken were roaming around and the laughter of little kids filled the air. Freddie told us that this is all one family living here. At least 20 homes are nestled under this green oasis. On the other side of town on a slight upward hill the greenery ends as the dry desert takes over again. From here we had a magnificent view over the area and to the local school which beyond lays another green oasis with yet another village, the village of another family. On the way he asked me if I liked goat, oh do I like goat. He then told us to wait, ran up to his uncles house, came back and told me that we'll get a goat later this afternoon. Before we headed back to the dinghy he told me to wait, minutes later he came back with his uncle and we had to tow them all the way across to were our boat was. They went and gathered oysters and after a while disappeared from our view. In the mean time I was worried about that goat, what was I going to do with a whole goat. After a few hours they came back and apologized that they didn't get a goat for us as they escaped running up the hill. He then said that they will try the next day. I told them both that it was OK and that we'll be back at Christmas time will have the goat then. Sigh….., got out of that one easy, by Christmas I'll be better prepared for a goat, including some presents for the kids and food items for the families. I gave them a tow back into town and as I had returned he sky was filled with dark clouds. I took a swim to cool off and to wash my hair and pretty much after I was back onboard, the sky let loose. It must have rained for over an hour with heavy rain and the cracks in the dried hills turned into rivers bringing clay colored waters into the bay changing the color from green to pink. It was really neat to watch. The pelicans in the near mangroves had a blast taking a bath in either the trees or in the water. What amazed me the most was them stretching their necks straight up into the air, opening their huge bills and let the rain water fill the bill up with fresh rain water. We had happy hour together with the pelicans, us sipping a Cuba Libre or Margarita, them shots of rainwater out of the sky, cheers.
       The following night it was nice and clear again with the brightest starry sky and a wonderful morning awaited us. Around 10 am we brought the anchor up and headed out into the Golfo direction Medregal. We encountered many areas with working birds, but only occasionally saw a few dolphins. The mountains on the South side of the Golfo were covered with heavy, black clouds and it rained at places. Our side was fairly clear until we approached the anchorage, a huge cloud came over the hill and a vale of rain started heading our way. We guessed we had max 15 minutes before it hit us. We had just about enough time to anchor, get the sun awing up, button everything down before it hit us. It must have rained heavy for about 1 ½ hours. In no time did we fill a 5 gallon bucket of water. After the heavy rain stopped it drizzled way into the night.
       Swen and Ilva (Ex Bloody Mary) now living ashore open their home on Monday and Thursday nights for Pizza. They now go by the name Coco Bongo. Moi the cook needed a night off so we enjoyed all the other cruisers at Coco Bongo. Swen built a huge pizza oven in his yard and the pizzas he made are just us thin and good as I remember them in Italy. We had a wonderful time. We we'll stay here for a few days and enjoy Jean Mark's pool and cooking and mingle with other cruisers. Pam, Wally and Mariah had just left Maremares and are now in Laguna Grande and will catch up with us soon.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

El Oculto

Poor Heidi had a very long and tiring trip but the champagne I brought along for the ride home from the airport gave her some new energy as we talked way into the night. The following day I took her shopping in the dinghy, which was definitely a new thing for her and in the afternoon we relaxed in the pool. It's really great to have her here, we went to school together about 30 years ago, long time and it's amazing, she hasn't changed, she's still the same I knew from school. I had a chance to show
her around the local market as we provisioned for our sail. Yesterday we had a nice sail for about 2 hours as we left the harbor. As soon as we got in the lee of the islands the engine needed to help again and as always passed the islands we got to see dolphins, although not as many as we usually see. We arrived just on time to anchor and put the sun awning up before it started to rain. It was a heavy down poor due to a wave passing. We are the only boat in El Oculto and I don't think many will anchor
around this area anymore. One week ago Chill and I'Lean headed out for Isla Tortuga with a stop at Isla Boracha, 6 miles out of Puerto La Cruz. Lots of cruisers stop first at one of the islands and leave in the middle of the night to reach Isla Tortuga at day time. This is a very sad thing that happened, they were sitting on one of the boats planning their night escape when a local fishing boat approached and asked for water. They handed them some water, one guy took it set it down in the boat took
a gun out and shot Ken twice in the heart. Steve managed to get his shotgun out and saved the rest of the crew. The whole cruising community here is in mourning as we all know that this could happen to any of us. So here we are sitting alone in El Oculto but we feel that this incident will keep this area quite for a while.
Heidi is having a great time and is learning that boating is not just getting a tan, it's getting boat bites as we call them, she has bruises everywhere, poor thing. Today we'll take her snorkeling, the water right now is crystal clear we can even see the bottom under the boat (25 feet) which usually is not possible here. Another tropical weather system is headed this way, hope fully the last one this season as hurricane season ends end of this month. So this is a good place to be for bad weather,
besides we will not be bored, there is plenty here to do, bottom cleaning for one.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Yeah, we’re back!!! Sorry for the long break but I took the opportunity to upgrade the Blogg. At the end of each travel story you’ll find now photo stories and films.

I also added:





Resent upgrade:



In the mean time Sid returned from his 6 week trip to the States where he visited with some family and friends. He had a great time but main reason was to sell his Mom’s car which he did the very last day before he went to the airport in Miami.

He had a great time with his cousin Nancy in NC and had a chance to make home made Molasses with his cousin O’Neal, I tell you that stuff is liquid gold, now I HAVE to make pancakes for breakfast.

He visited Ron and Leslie in New Bern who were just in the process to move into their beautiful new house. Of course he spent some time with his West Marine buddies.

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Greg and Megan Bilson inWilmington took him on a fishing trip and Sid caught a 53 pound Wahoo (Megan have you found the Domino yet?).

Joe and Mary Mondello were surprised when Sid popped up at their door near Knoxville TN, Joe just had surgery.

Sid barley got a rest when he was at Bob and Kari’s in Knoxville, they kept him busy, plus he did all the shopping for my stuff.

Before he flew home he stayed with Dale and Sandy (Snow White) in Key Largo and when Dale took him out fishing he caught a 35 to 40 pound female dorado/mahi-mahi.

Thanks you all so much for taking such good care of my hubby, he had a wonderful time and said that it was really great to see you all. You fed him well too I can tell LOL!

While he was gone I was dealing with some health issues. Daily I kept breaking out in hives, still do and learned that I'm allergic to all kind of foods and things. What we think the real problem is, is the cement factory that is polluting the air around here. I'll find out once we leave.Actually it was a good thing Sid wasn't here as my diet was pretty awful, he got fed much better in the States. I’m glad he’s back home though, six weeks was a long time, especially taking care of two boats. Our friends on Three Keys were in the States and we took care of their boat and their two furry critters, so when Sid was gone I moved onto Three Keys and went through everything on Paradise, cleaned her in and out and sanded the new teak floor, so when Sid came back all he had to do was varnish, well there was some more sanding in-between coats.

He got done just on time to move back onto Paradise before our friends came home.

Of course while stateside he hit every West Marine store he saw and brought lots of boat parts home, which kept him busy for a while fixing things and exchanging others.

The sails needed some re-stitching so did the dodger and I had to make a new radar cover, gas jug covers and sewed other odds and end. All the work is done now Paradise sparkles in and out and the new carpet pieces look awesome on the beautiful teak floor. She’s ready to head out for new adventures. (note the dog and cat had to help with the sewing)

Of course we did not just work we had some fun too, every Sunday night we have a potluck. Everybody brings something to throw on the BBQ a dish to share, something to drink and lots of fun stories.

Just before Sid left we celebrated Pam’s 50th birthday with a roasted pig and turkey, that was a hit.

For Sid’s Birthday I made a wonderful Fondue Dinner for him and our neighbors on the dock.

When Jim and Jenny came back we had a Birthday party for Jim, Sid and Harry with a whole lamb roast, wow was that yummy.

Not to mention Halloween!

Unfortunately the Maremares family is dying out, there are currently only 5 cruising boats left at Maremares. Whenever one leaves they fill the slip with permanent Venezuelan boat. We heard that they don’t want any cruising boats in this marina anymore. Just glad we had the chance to be here while it still was good.

November 10th my friend Heidi from Switzerland is arriving for 3 weeks so a couple of days after she gets here we’ll cut the lines and head to the islands for a new adventure. You can keep track again on our


POSITION REPORT: where you can see our anchorage via Satellite.

Hope this finds you all well and welcome back aboard Paradise for more adventures!

Hugs and kisses

Sid, Manuela and Tika