July 2009

July 3, 2009 Porlamar to Juan Griego, Margarita Island - 33 nm

We left Porlamar at 0615 with Paramour III. We saw around 15 fishing boats heading out, it was quite a sight. We also saw very dark clouds ahead. We listened to the cruisers net on the VHF radio for the last time. There was an unfortunate incident in the harbour last night. Somebody's boat was boarded by a swimmer who asked if the captain could help him get to shore, so they both got into the dingy but when they got to shore, a fight ensued and the dingy was stolen.

It looks like we are headed right for this storm, there is thunder and lightening in the distance. We did check the weather before we left but it didn't say anything about a storm. We checked the radar to see where the storm is and it seems like it is ahead of us, we tried to slow down hoping that we would miss it but we didn't. We turned off all our instruments. The rain came pouring down as we sailed through it, there was lightening and thunder, the winds picked up to 39 knots through a squall. We only had the genoa out so we quickly reefed it in. It only lasted about 20 minutes and thankfully we didn't get hit by the lightening which was our primary concern.

We anchored in Juan Greigo and we are the only boat here so we are glad that we are sailing with a companion boat. Paramour III decided to sail further offshore than us so they will be here in about an hour. The water here is rather scary looking, it is a dark brown and smells funny, I think we will skip the swimming today. About a half an hour after we anchored, the Guarda Costa came over and asked if they could board. There were three young guys wearing official uniforms. One guy stayed in their boat and two guys came aboard. They went through everything, looked under every floorboard, and in every cupboard. I gave them water and cookies. They did not speak English, but they were very nice, they wanted to know how many life jackets we had on board, the number on our EPIRB, and a bunch of other questions which we managed to answer in our almost non-existent Spanish.

Later on in the afternoon, we found a spot to beach the dingy in front of one of the restaurants. There are lots of fishing boats here and again more shopping, and lots of outdoor beachfront restaurants. All in all we had a good time in Margarita Island and we are glad that we went.

Menacing clouds in the distance

Reading while underway

July 4, 2009 - Juan Griego, Margarita Island to Playa Falucho, Blanquilla, Venezuela 58.09 nm

We left Juan Griego at first light, about an hour later, we sailed through 20 fishing boats. About an hour after that we caught a 2.5 pound, 12 inch mahi mahi with our new pink horse hair lure. Then 45 minutes later we caught an 8 pound, 25 inch tuna with the wooden green plug. We really had to keep a sharp eye here as there was fishing nets everywhere. The fishermen have a little float in the water with a red flag on top so you can see it but it was a few miles long with flags every 200 metres.

The Guarda Costa called us on the radio and was asking us some questions but they do not speak English so it was difficult to understand and respond. We are again the only boat here in the anchorage. Paramour III should be here within the hour. It is very beautiful here, the water is crystal clear and there is beaches all along the coast. We decided to stay here outside the coast guard station. We anchored a little too close to shore and the bottom was hitting the coral so we pulled up 25 feet of chain. We hit again so we decided to move into deeper water. There was excellent snorkelling and Cari used her fins and no life jacket and dove to look at things for the first time. The three coast guards guys came over to us on the beach and tried to talk to us, (if only we could speak better Spanish). They are all very nice people.



Playa Falucho

July 6, 2009 - Playa Fulcho, Blanquilla to Playa Yaque, Blanquilla 5.78nm

Chris showed Andrea how to pull up the anchor and I helmed. They each have a turn pulling up and putting down the anchor if the weather is good and there are not too many boats around. We motored over to the anchorage and anchored in 23 feet of water. It was very beautiful and peaceful. There was only one fishing boat anchored but no other sailboats. As we were motoring into the anchorage the wind gusted up to 27 knots but it did calm down. We walked down the beach and collected sea shells of all colours and shapes.

Paramour III came and joined us for the afternoon, then we decided it was time to leave and head for Los Roques so we pulled anchor and left together at 1530.

July 6, 2009 Blanquilla to Francisquis, Los Roques, Venezuela 120.7 nm

This turned out to be the best overnight passage we have ever had, yet. There was a full bright moon, so it was never pitch black, the wind was up and down between 8 to 22 knots, we kept the spinnaker up and had a very smooth ride. We were sailing downwind with hardly any waves, it couldn't have been easier or better. Then to top it off in the morning around 7:00 we caught 2 tuna's! One was 6 pounds, the second one was 7 pounds. We arrived the next morning at around 1000, the anchorage was full of large motorboats and quite busy, we had to anchor a few times but now we are set.

The water was very low when we went to the beach so we brought the skin board with us and everybody tried it out for a few hours, it's the first time we had it out since we bought it in the Spanish Virgins.

Paramour III, our sailing buddy

Beautiful spinnaker sailing

Best seats in the house!

Skinboarding at low tide

Anchorage in Los Roques

How we spend most time at anchor

Sushi is ready!

July 9, 2009 Francisquis to Grand Roque --2 nm

We motored over to Grand Roque. The anchorage was very unprotected and bumpy. We went to shore and walked around town, there is a very small airport, all the roads are sand and there are no cars, it was a very cute little village. We walked up to see the lighthouse, spectacular views. We asked around about where to get gas for the dingy and were told to head over to a certain boat. We dinghied over and there was a huge line with fisherman waiting to fill huge hundreds of gallons containers. We dingyied over to the front of the line and showed them our measly 2 gallon and 1 gallon containers and they just laughed. The boats in the front of the line grabbed them out of my hand and passed them to the large gas boat and before we knew it they were filled and passed back to us. We tried to pay them and they would not accept any money.

We decided not to stay in Grand Roque overnight so pulled up anchor and headed over to anchor behind the reef, this should be interesting.

Airport in Grande Roques

July 9, 2009 - Le Grand Roque to Baha de la Cabedeca - 10nm

Because it was starting to get late we motored the whole way. It was fairly easy, as long as the sun is behind you, the reefs are easy to spot. I stayed on the bow and Chris helmed.

We were the only boat there, once it got dark, we could see one little anchor light way in the distance which was Paramour III. It was really neat to be anchored behind a reef with nothing but blue water and crashing waves to see. The next day we went snorkelling but it was not very good, mostly sand and bleached coral. The weather was suppose to worsen so we decided we better not spend another night in this location.

Watching for reefs

Safely anchored behind the reef

July 10, 2009 Baha de la Cabedeca to Sarqui, Los Roques --15.53nm

We left the reef in the morning around 1100 so the sun would be behind us, we took a straighter route out. The reefs were very easy to see and we sailed with just the genoa. On our way to Sarqui, the clouds were actually green from the reflection of the water. We pulled into the anchorage for another stunning view of white beach and blue water. Paramour III is suppose to be meeting us here later today.

We went for a walk along the beach, the birds were not too happy to see us and tried to scare us away by swooping and squawking at us. We also went snorkelling before we decided that we really didn't have time to stay here and should keep pushing on westward to make it to Aruba in time for our flight.

Lots of sea birds to watch

Easy to spot reef when sun is behind you

Paramour III

July 11, 2009 Sarqui to West Cay, Los Roques, Venezuela -- 12.87 nm

We had a spectacular dolphin experience today. We were just about in Caya de Agua, West Cay and preparing to pull the genoa in, when I saw 2 large fish, I stared at them and realized that they were actually dolphins swimming towards our boat, before I could yell "dolphin on port quarter" they were joined by another 20 - 25 dolphins, they were swimming on both sides of the boat and playing between the two hulls, jumping and frolicking. It was the first time that we had seen dolphins swimming with the boat, we kept hearing of it happening to other boats and were hoping to get a glimpse of some. We got a huge dose today, it was fabulous.

We tried to find the anchorage that was mentioned in the Doyle Guide at Caya de Agua, we tried 2 times threading our way through the reef strewn waters, then gave us, we just couldn't find it. We motored back over to West Cay and anchored. At around 1730 as I was making dinner, Chris thought we really weren't in a very good place as the wind was picking up and we were on a lee shore. We decided to move around to the other anchorage on the windward side of the island, just as we were going by one of the reefs both engines conked out. We were getting the genoa ready to pull out when they both started again. We anchored safe and sound beside Paramour III.

July 12, 2009 West Cay, Los Roques to Isla Sur, Aves de Barlevento -- 34.29nm

During our sail I gave the kids a few bottle of bubbles thinking it would keep them amused for a while, well it also attracted the birds, first it was just one or two then ten to fifteen then before we knew it, there were hundreds of birds, I believe they were boobies, squawking and diving and trying to catch the bubbles. They were becoming quite agitated so I made the kids put the bubbles away.

We took the dingy around to the mangroves to see the birds up close, there are thousands of boobies sleeping, swimming, catching fish, flying around, feeding their young in the nests. They were very curious about us, they kept flying over to see us whether we were in the dingy, snorkelling or whatever. It was great to see them up close and just be around them.

The island was gorgeous, there were three anchorages. There were two boats in the last anchorage so we anchored in the second anchorage. We had it all to ourselves until three other boats showed up and anchored next to us. Turns out we knew two of them from Grenada. We did some snorkelling which was pretty good and we toured around in the dingy. We thought there was a beach in the third anchorage but when we got there instead of sand it was all crushed shells and we didn't bring shoes. The funniest thing happened last night, we opened our emergency hatch in our bedroom to help the air flow and we must have kicked our sheet off in the middle of the night and it fell right out the window because we haven't seen it since! Chris took the kids tubing and we did lots of swimming, the birds kept watch on us during all of our activities.

So many birds!

Blowing bubbles attracted them

Beautiful Island

Bird of Isla Sur, Aves de Barlovento

Bird of Isla Sur, Aves de Barlovento

Bird of Isla Sur, Aves de Barlovento




Bird of Isla Sur, Aves de Barlovento

July 14, 2009 Isla Sure, Aves de Barlevento to Isla Larga, Aves de Solovento, Venezuela -- 18.80nm

We spent the morning swimming and playing (kids) and cleaning mold off the white headliner and studying for a radio exam (parents). We left at around 1100. We thought we were out of the reef area and heading into deep water so Chris put out two fishing lines. All of a sudden chaos broke out and everything happened at once. Two birds hooked our fishing lines, we found ourselves surrounded by shallows and the dingy started drooping downwards towards the water. Hundreds of their fellow birdmates came to let us know they were not happy, they were squawking and diving and making a ton of noise. Chris fixed the dingy, I took the helm and veered around the shallow water, Chris got his gloves on and pulled the fishing lines in and unhooked one bird from the foot and another bird from it's neck! By the time he released the birds, we were in deep water and on our way to Aves de Solovento. Order had been restored.

It was very windy coming into the anchorage (24 knots) the Guarda Costa called us on the radio and wanted us to anchor beside their station but it was very shallow and too windy so we just kept going and talked to them on the radio once we were anchored in the very peaceful anchorage. One of the boats in the previous anchorage called us on the radio and joined us for the night.

We explored by dingy, there is nobody or nothing around, not even birds on this island, we stopped by this one very small beach but we got attacked by mosquitos so ran back into the dingy. Andrea is teaching Cari how to dive and this is keeping them occupied for hours at a time.

Happy boat kid

Unhappy birds

The captain getting us out of a sticky situation

July 16, 2009 Aves de Solovento, Venezuela to Kralendijk, Bonaire -- 47.63nm

We left the anchorage at 0615 so it was very difficult to see the reefs but we were ready to go. We followed our track out which is always less stressful them coming in. At 0830 we decided to change our sail arrangement and we took down the main and the genoa and hoisted the spinnaker. This increased our speed from going 4-5 knots to 7-8 knots in 14 knots of wind. It also calms the whole boat down, there is no slamming and banging from the mainsail. At 0835 the fishing line caught something but we couldnt' pull it in because we were going to fast! go figure, so back we go take the spinnaker down, roll the fish in which turned out to be a 56 inch, 33 pound Mahi Mahi, then put the spinnaker back up. Chris spent another hour cleaning and cutting the fish. I think that is enough work for one day.

We spotted three boats in the anchorage that we know from Bonaire, including our friends Pickles. We didn't have a reservation and the harbour was full, but we managed to get a mooring ball and tied up. Because of their concern for the enviroment, there is a no anchoring policy in Bonaire, the whole island is a Marine Park and you need to pay to tie up to a mooring ball. We went to Pickles for dinner and brought some fresh Mahi Mahi with us. At dinner we met another Canadian boat with two boys aboard - Tyee III so the kids will have lots of friends to play with for the next week or so.

An island event called "The Taste of Bonaire" took place while we were here. We all went to check it out, all local restaurants were in booths selling their food, Chris and the girls tried iguana stew! I opted for a shawarma. There was live music and videos of windsurfing as the 2009 Youth and Masters World Championships was currently being held in Bonaire.

At the end of the night there was a huge fireworks display. It was really magnificent as we were right on the waterfront to watch.

We decided to go through the 2 hour procedure of getting the bikes out. Bonaire is really flat and not very busy so we thought it might be a good opportunity to use them. It turned out really well because we were able to leave them locked up at Club Nautico and therefore used them over 3 days. One day we biked over to Sorbon Beach to see the Windsurfing Championships which was a 10km bike ride one way. Boy it was hot, nothing like biking through a desert in the middle of the day.

Bike ride

Bike ride

Windsurfing competition in Bonaire


We found a really great park for the kids. It was one of the nicest and well kept parks we have seen, it also had a skateboard park. We celebrated our 1 year anniversary of living on the boat in Bonaire, Andrea made the cake all by herself. It was delicious.

July 21, 2009

There is a donkey sanctuary in Bonaire. It was initally established to take care of sick, wounded and orphaned donkeys. There are over 400 donkeys living on the sactuary. We decided we had to go and see this so we biked over. The donkeys are very kind, gentle and curious. They just take some getting used to. It was very funny because usually people drive through the donkey sanctuary but we biked, the lady at the ticket booth told us not to worry, they are very used to bikes. They come right up to us and sniff and stare then they keep wandering on. They took an exceptional interest in our bike carrier.

The snorkelling in Bonaire was very good and the diving is suppose to be excellent. The water is perfectly clear. We didn't see alot of the island itself because the kids wanted to play with their friends every waking moment of the day. We spent the rest of our time in Bonaire snorkeling, tubing, knee boarding and having happy hour on either our boat, Pickles or Tyee III.


Donkey Sanctuary, Bonaire

Donkey Sanctuary, Bonaire

Donkey Sanctuary, Bonaire

July 22, 2009 - Kralendijk, Bonaire to Oranjestad, Aruba -- 109.8nm

We left Bonaire around noon. We decided to not go to Curacao and do an overnight sail straight for Aruba because of time constraints. A freighter came up to us from behind very close, he finally changed course to starboard but it was a little too close for comfort for me.

We hoisted our now usual sail configuration of the spinnaker (we are finally sailing downwind, yipee!) At 2015 the wind increased to 20 knots so we took down the spinnaker with the aid of the deck lights. We had to dodge several frieghters off the cost of Curacoa there were lots of boats out tonight. There are between 7-9 freighters within a 10 mile radius of SK right now.

At 0710 the next morning we were tied to the customs dock at Bacadera Harbour, by 0800 we were on our way again to the Marina where Stray Kitty will live for the next month. The marina was not ready for us, so we went back out and anchored by the airport for the night. The next day we motored over to the Marina and took our slip. We saw the mega yachet "Double Haven" docked across from us. Sure feel small when you see a boat like that, it is 167 feet long. Here are a few pictures from our slip in Aruba.

We signed the waiver but we are very nervous about leaving the boat in this marina as it is not very protected. The marina manager doesn’t even leave his boat here. So we have spent a few anxious hours thinking and lamenting because it is hurricane season after all.

Too close!


mv Double Haven


Harbour in Aruba

Packed and ready to go

Stray Kitty tied securely in her slip for the next little while

July 26, 2009 to August 16, 2009 – visit to Ottawa

Happy Birthday Julia!

Brittania Yacht Club

Sports Camp at Carleton University