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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

CURACAO CRUISERS CONVOY ..........



While waiting for Customs and Immigration in Grenada we saw the majestic schooner "CORAL" again, this time on its way to Venezuela for more upgrades ...... And ARITA together with several other yachts moved back to St. Georges Harbour, as a staging point for our departure for CURACAO ....



A group of us had met in various places to discuss 'strategy and defensive tactics' for avoiding "Pirates of the Caribbean" ........ We are talking about the genuine article here, the ones that operate out of the Paria Peninsula and all the way to Isla Margarita along the coast of Venezuela ....... They are not cut-throats, just merely gun-toting plunderers, intent on stripping your yacht of all its valuables after first tying you up, so that you can watch .... Anyway, these meetings assisted with a few drinks, were spirited get-togethers, culminating in an 'action plan' that called for us to 'stay together, sail together and survive together' ....... It worked...... Mostly .....We more or less lost each other in the nightly rainshowers, but by morning we usually re-assembled ....... We sailed at least fifty miles away from the island of BLANQUILLA, only to meet other cruisers afterwards who spent a considerable time there, without the slightest hassle, and declaring it to be the nicest island ever ...... Oh well, you win some, you lose some .....



Grey days and even greyer nights with a boisterous sea, caused by numerous currents and eddies adding at least two knots to our speed but making us pay for it in the rolling and turmoil and slamming of the sails ...... And nothing is worse than having a sail filled and setting nicely, and then some absurd wave comes along out of nowhere and throws it all in a mess ...... Don't you just hate when that happens ..... Well, it happens every few minutes ...... hour after hour .....



We more or less stayed together ........ Like balls on a snooker table, we would take opposing tacks whenever we reached the edge of the imaginary table .....



Porpoises came along to make peace with us, and to apologise for the 'state of the seas' ...... This was accepted .....



In the end, and after two days and nights of sailing, the only other vessel seen by our convoy of four yachts, was this slow moving tanker along the Venezuelan coastline, just before closing with the atolls of "LOS ROQUES" ....... And what a shock was in store for us when we moved from twelve thousand feet deep to twenty feet deep, and the colours changed from grey delft blue to that aqua magic ......



A wonderful shower in the cockpit took away the weariness of two sleepless nights and gave us the the chance to look at our newly found 'paradise' ........



The smooth seas inside the reefs and the strong winds bring some of the world's best kite boarders to this area, like this guy from Brazil, who we saw was completely clothed to protect himself from the sun and spray, while doing high-flying arobics in 20 or more knots of wind ..... We would call this little exercise, 'Physical' ......



Gone were the grey skies and the bouncy seas, but the winds have doubled to make up for that ...... No one is complaining, for this dry windy climate beats the high humidity of Trinidad and Grenada ...... And all around us are immense powerboats and yachts flying the Venezuelan flag ..... Which we do also, after all we are in VENEZUELA, even if we haven't exactly gone looking for anyone in braid ......



What can we say ...... You do what you have to do, considering the circumstances, and you get on with it without complaining ..... Not so? ...



And it doesn't take very long before I'm bosom pals with some Venezuelans and Argentinians on a hot sandy beach ...... After all, we are all men of the sea, so to speak ......... And my long-haired mermaid goes to wash her hair in the 'aqua velvet' sea with that great salt-water shampoo ...... The sand drops off so quickly that one step forward and you are in over your head, while one step backwards and you're ankle deep .....



And the mangroves that have reached incredible heights are useful for keeping the fishing boats of the locals, who supply the beach bars with conch and lobsters ....... This area is outside the hurricane belt and does not sustain the annual destruction of the island chain to the east ....... One of the many reasons we are here ....... We celebrate our successful passage with the rest of the convoy in ARITA's cockpit with our new Venzuelan buddy Amilca who lives in Isla Margarita and who convinces us that the pirate problem is "overrated" ....... Easy for him to say .... He speaks fluent Spanish ....

Oh, and we should tell you that Venezuelan mosquitoes are not the same as other mosquitoes ....... These little gorillas are like guerillas waiting in the mangroves ..... They rush out at you, then hang on and will not let go, no matter how much you want to brush them off ......... They stay right there to the very end, before you wack them stone dead, and then wipe your own blood away ........ I'd swear that no-one could survive inside those mangroves unless they're dressed like a bee-keeper ..... And if you came out of the mangroves dressed like a bee-keeper someone would probably shoot you ...... so the ending would be pretty much the same ......

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