By Wally, Motor Vessel Sandial
We had a little change of plans at the very last minute. As we were preparing to leave for Curasoa, we got an email from Maremares marina saying that they had room for us in the marina now. We originally wanted to go to Puerta la Cruz before going to Curasoa, but decided that there was only one marina we would stay at and that was Maremares, but they told us they were full. Now that they had room we changed our plans and headed for Venezuela. It seems our plans are always getting changed or maybe we just have a hard time making up our minds.
Our trip from Chaugaramas, Trinidad to Los Tostigos Islands, Venezuela was pretty tense. This stretch of sea is about a hundred miles and is known for pirates. These pirates pose as fisherman or other working boats and come along side asking for water or bandaides and the like. Once you slow down to try to communicate with them and help them they pull their weapons and hold you at gun point while they board your boat and steal everything they can get their hands on. One boat captain that had been boarded just two weeks before we left said they even took the clothes out of their drawers and food in their cupboards.
We left while it was still dark in hopes of getting off shore before day light came. We were more than a little nervous and very cautious. Even Elvis who normally is laid back and sleeps through most of the voyage actually, well, was laid back and slept through most of the voyage. We watched closely every fishing boat in the area and were well aware of any that were in our proximity. As it turned out though we did not have a problem. It was a wonderful day for cruising and although there were many fishing boats out there none gave us more than a friendly wave. We even caught a nice tuna and had grilled tuna steaks for dinner that night.
Lost Tostigos is a small group of islands north and west of Trinidad. There are only a few hundred people that live there and the ones we met were all very friendly. The beaches are clean with white sand and the water is crystal clear. It was a very relaxing few days away from all of the hustle and bustle of Trinidad.
We then left for a six hour tour to Isla Margarita which is another Venezuelan island, but much more cosmopolitan and busy. The island is a duty free island so a lot of Venezuelan citizens go there to shop. The money exchanged was 2.14 Bolivar's to $1 US at the banks, but you can get as much of 4 B's to $1 US on the black market. Fuel, delivered to your boat in the anchorage is 17 cents US per US gallon. Beer is about 50 cents a bottle.
After about a week we headed for Coche. Another small resort island between Margarita and mainland Venezuela. It too is a very pretty island and we spent a couple of days just exploring and enjoying the peace and quiet.
We arrived at Maremares marina in Puerta la Cruz, Venezuela yesterday and will probably stay here throughout the hurricane season. We have been here before and like the area very much. It takes a little getting used to because of the language barrier and their other customs, but its fun to try to catch up. The time change here is a half hour behind EST. The locals claim its just Chavez's way of showing his power. One custom guy told us that this time zone gives the natives the maximum amount of sunshine and you need a lot of sunshine on your pituitary gland or you will become very crabby.
Wally, Pam, Mariah and ElvisFrom the Bridge - m/v SANDIAL reports from the Caribbean.