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From The Bridge:  Reports from the Motor Yacht Sandial

SANDIAL Reports From Venezuela.

Wally & Pam, m/v SandialBy Wally, Motor Vessel Sandial

April 22, 2009

We had a great cruise from Puerto La Cruz to Cayo Hurradura.  Cayo Herradura is a tiny island about 60 nautical miles from Puerto La Cruz.  The island is about a mile long and as narrow as 20 yards.  The sand beaches are pure white sand and the water is crystal clear.  It's a paradise for anyone that wants to 'get away from it all' and simply relax.  And that is exactly what we wanted to do.  The only inhabitants are local fishermen who have set up a few fish camps here and they will come and fish for about three months, then go home for a spell and come back and fish some more.

They treated us very nice and we began to barter for various items with them.  We would trade them fresh water, rum, and cigarettes for fresh fish, crabs and lobster.  At one point we even traded two AA batteries for a lobster and another time we traded a roll of toilet paper for a lobster.  What a country!

Our daily routine consisted of quiet coffee in the morning, if Mariah slept in, or a constant run of chatter if she didn't.  Then we'd take her and Elvis to the beach where he would patrol the beach in search of fish.  He never caught one, but he wouldn't give up.  Mariah would look for critters and feed for her already captured critters and there would be a big fight when it was time to go back to the boat because that started the school day.

Once the school day was over and a few chores accomplished we'd go back to the beach and Mariah would search and Elvis would fish.  Pam and I would walk the beach and share a few beers.  Then we'd go back to the boat have a few cocktails, make dinner, watch a little TV on our DVD's and go to bed.

One day we traded some rum for some lobsters and we met Fillipe.  Fillipe is the self proclaimed boss of the island or maybe Mayor, I'm not sure.  He has been fishing off this island for 43 years and now his sons are fishing with him.  I only wish my Spanish was better because I'm certain Fillipe could tell us a lot of interesting stories.  This particular day Fillipe opened the bottle of rum and had more than a few sips during our broken Spanish/English session.  I noticed, however, that the more beer I drank the better my Spanish seemed to get and the better his English got.  When we got ready to go Fillipe asked if he could have another bottle of rum and I told him that I didn't have any with me.  He really would have liked to have another bottle to take back to the boys in the fish camp and I think he said if I went back to the boat and got him another bottle of rum that he would tell me where Jimmy Hoffa was buried, but I'm not sure that's what he said so we just went back home.

After two and a half weeks in paradise it looks like we have a great weather window to make the trip to Los Roques so we made plans to leave at 2 AM Wednesday, March 24th.  Hauled anchor on time and headed north and west.  We came to  a little island just inside the cut on the south end of the Roques and dropped the hook.  We got in just in time as you could see the seas building over the reef in front of us.

We had to take Elvis ashore and it was quite a distance.  What made it even more difficult was it was very shoal, even for the dinghy.  Once about half way to shore Mariah would jump out at hip deep water and throw the lead painter over her shoulder and trudge her way the rest of distance to the beach hauling the dinghy, Elvis and whoever was the captain of the dinghy on that voyage.  I'm going to teach her the words to "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen".

After a few more days we hauled anchor again and headed for another beautiful white sand beach with clear water.  There was a little more activity here as it was close to Grand Roques where there is a small tourist industry and an even smaller airport.  We were here for a couple of weeks before the Coast Guard came out and asked if we had checked in with the Coast Guard, Park Ranger, Security and Buffalo Bob and we hadn't.  Now we knew we were suppose to check in with all of these officials the day we arrived in Los Roques and they would give us a 15 day permit to explore the area.  Since we had already been here over three weeks and wanted to stay longer we though it best not to check in.  Guardia Costa had a different view and said we had to go to Grand Roques and check in.  Now keep in mind the punishment for not checking in with the proper officials when you are suppose to is that you have to check in with them when you are forced to.  It's not a difficult system to get used to.

The anchorage at Grand Roques was so rolly and full of small boats buzzing around we left the next day fully armed with our official piece of paper that say we had their permission to do what we've been doing and if we want we can get more permission to do more of it.

We went south to Dos Mosquiese.  Another small island with nice beaches and this one had an added attraction in that it had a small turtle research study facility on it.  Mariah was beside herself.  They let her and a few other kids that were there help them with cleaning and feeding the turtles and cleaning the tanks.  The students took a lot of time explaining things and Mariah's turtle fantasy has been rejuvenated, if that's possible.

Off to the Los Aves.  Again, when you arrive at the Los Aves you are supposed to check in with the local Coast Guard, but since rumor has it they don't have boats or if they do have boats they are not working or if they do have boats that are working they definitely do not have fuel.  So we weren't to concerned with them.  After about a week there our suspicions proved out as while we were changing locations to a different island where we wanted to stage out of to head to Curacao we went right passed their station.  They called on the radio and Mary told them we would call them back in an hour and we continued north for about ten miles and spent a peaceful night thinking about the great two months we just spent in paradise.  I think about Fillipe often too.

Tranquilo Viente,

Wally, Pam, Mariah and Elvis

Tranquilo Viente,

Wally, Pam, Mariah and Elvis

From the Bridge - m/v SANDIAL reports from the Caribbean.

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