Monday, September 25, 2006

On to Isla Margarita

September 25, 2006   Monday
Los Testigos to Isla Margarita 49.4NM
Arrived at 10.56.985N; 63.49.759W

Sailed out of Los Testigos at 6:00 a.m.  We had nice winds on a beam reach and then the winds clocked around to a broad reach.  It was our nicest sail since we moved aboard and began cruising.  But about 15 miles before our destination, the wind died down.  Even with only 5 knots wind speed, we were able to maintain 4 knots boat speed (probably thanks to current); but at that slow speed it would have been after dark before we arrived.  The guide book says not to arrive in Porlamar in darkness because the local fishermen set nets around the harbor entrance.  So we started the engine and motor sailed the rest of the way and arrived here about 3:00 p.m.

We talked to several of our friends on the VHF radio.  They had all just left the anchorage at Porlamar, Isla Margarita; and were enroute to Isla Coche.  A couple of them asked us to join them in the sail over to Isla Coche; we could continue all together from there to Puerto La Cruz.  But we had to stop in Porlamar because we were delivering a boat part to someone.  Shhhhh……don’t tell anyone, because that means we are smugglers.   Chuck offered to return to Porlamar if we wanted him to accompany us on the passage to Puerto La Cruz, but we told him to go on.  We will be fine on our own.

After seeing this anchorage, we are doubly annoyed with ourselves for staying in Trinidad all summer.  And ESPECIALLY ANNOYED with our insurance company for insisting that we be there instead of here.  Porlamar is a large, very cosmopolitan city with a very large shallow harbor with clear waters.  We contacted Juan Baro, who will act as our agent to clear in and out of here.  We will meet him tomorrow morning and surrender our passports and boat paperwork to him, and he will handle everything for us.  This involves visiting several official offices.  By the time we hired taxis and paid all the fees, it will only cost a bit more to use Juan to handle it all for us; and will be infinitely easier on us.

Taffy and Shirley on S/V The Road came over and picked up their water pump which we had brought from Trinidad.  The hull of The Road is painted black with white stripes all around both sides, like a highway.  It is extremely distinctive.  The Road stands for The Royal Order of Ancient Druids.  Obviously from a name like that, Taffy is from Ireland.  Shirley is from South Africa, and they sailed out of South Africa years ago.  They have an African Gray parrot named Rubbish. 

Rubbish does all kinds of voice antics.  He can mimic almost any sound and talks quite well.  For example, he will make a sound just like a fog horn.  Then he will say “Stop that.  That’s ugly.”  Only he can’t say it quite clearly and it sounds like “that’s uggie.”  Rubbish can also mimic Shirley’s voice perfectly.  Sometimes when Taffy is working on something on the boat and calls for Shirley to come help him, Rubbish will answer as if he is Shirley. 

Taffy:  “Shirley, I need your help straight away.”
Rubbish:  “Coming.  Be right there.”

Several moments later:
Taffy:  “Shirley, I really need your help right this minute; I can’t hold this much longer.”
Rubbish:  “Coming.  Be right there.”

About the third time this occurs, then Taffy realizes that Shirley isn’t nearby and the bird is talking in her voice.  Gotta love this parrot.

The Road was severely damaged 4 years ago when a Venezuelan fishing boat ran over them near Trinidad.  Taffy and Shirley are fortunate that they were not killed in this incident.  They were rescued from the sea by another boat and The Road partially sank.  The Road was then hauled into Trinidad and put on the hard.  Taffy and Shirley had to return to the UK and get jobs to earn enough to repair the boat.  They returned to Trinidad and began working earnestly on the boat in July 2005.  They finally got The Road seaworthy and left Trinidad about 3 weeks ago.  And we thought we were sick of being in Trinidad!

Taffy told us something interesting about Amel boats.  When the EU was setting standards for the CE certifications that all products in Europe are required to meet, they devised a drop test for yachts.  They raise the yacht 2 meters up in a travel lift sling, then they drop it onto a concrete slab.  Of all the boat manufacturers in Europe, only one manufacturer was willing to allow their boats to be tested in this manner.  Of course, it was Amel.  They dropped an Amel like ours from 2 meters height directly onto concrete and the boat passed the test with no structural damage, just mars in the gel coat.  Now, that is impressive.

We have decided that we will stick around Isla Margarita until Sunday.  Certainly no reason to rush off to sit in another marina in Puerto La Cruz.  It is quite pleasant here on anchor in this harbor, even though it does roll a bit at night.  We are sending our laundry ashore to be done.  That is a first for us; we always do that chore ourselves.  But laundry service is so inexpensive here that it doesn’t seem worth the effort to do it ourselves.

It will take us awhile to get accustomed to the exchange rate of 2300 Bolivars to one US dollar.  This means that everything sounds quite expensive but really isn’t.  For example, the broadband WiFi service that we are using cost 40,000 Bs for one week – that sounds like a lot of money but is really only $17.39.  Still a lot for internet service for one week by US standards, but certainly not expensive for this remote place. 

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