Monday, April 23, 2007

Thursday 12th April

Playa Caldera

10 57.343 N
65 13.662 W

The coast guard had ignored us and left us alone last night and we had a half way reasonable sleep after the wind died down. We were up at 05.30 hrs, getting ready for a day sail to our next port of call – the island of Tortuga. We had discussed our next stop with Dale and Lorie, our original plan was to head to Los Roques from La Blanquilla, a distance of 116 miles; but as the trip would mean we would be square on to the wind making it extremely uncomfortable we had decided to take an alternative route to get there. Our new route was going to be 2 short hops, first to Tortuga, 66 miles and then on to Los Roques, 85 miles. Whilst the extra miles were something we didn’t need we would at least have a chance of sailing it and we wouldn’t be bashing into the seas. At 06.00hrs we hoisted the anchor, watching the sun rise and began motoring out of the anchorage. We raised our main sail with the reef in place and then unfurled the jib fully. The wind was quite light but we were getting along at about 5 knots so we cut the engine and began to sail. It wasn’t too long before we decided that if we were going to Tortuga in daylight we needed to shake the reef out of the main sail and see if we could get along a bit faster. It worked for a while then the wind came further back aft of the beam and the jib began to flap about. We tried tightening it right down, loosening it off and goose winging it all to no avail – it just wasn’t dong us any good so we ended up furling it away and sailing with just the main. For quite some time we managed a respectable 6 + knots and we even dragged the fishing line behind us in the hope of catching something edible. Unfortunately we did get a bite, in fact it was a huge bite and took our lure right off at the line, we put another lure on the line but that was it – no more fish were interested. As the afternoon wore on the wind gradually dropped until we were only managing 3.8 knots, at this rate we were going to get to Tortuga at night, something we wanted to avoid as there are reefs surrounding the anchorage. We finally decided that with 16 miles left to go we were going to motor sail the rest of the way and turned the noisy engine on. We reached the anchorage at 16.30hrs – it had taken us 10.5 hrs to do the trip – far longer than we had expected. We wound our way around the outside of the reef and into the large horseshoe shaped lagoon anchorage. The water here was a really pretty light aqua but it was a little cloudy. We anchored in sand and began clearing our stuff up in the cockpit. Gerry discovered 3 flying fish on the deck as he did some of the clearing away, maybe we should give up with the lures and just eat what lands on the boat! Lorie called us on the radio and said she was cooking dinner that night and to bring over potato salad and dessert. Whilst Gerry continued with the clearing away stuff I prepared the things we needed to take over to Gypsy Palace for dinner. Dale had volunteered to pick us up in their dink as it was on the arch of their boat and quicker to get in the water than ours which was secured to the foredeck. So just after 18.00hrs he came across to collect us. The wind had increased a bit and we had a choppy short ride across to their boat. We watched several other boats pull into the lagoon and anchor after us, most of them had been at the anchorage in La Blanquilla with us. Dinner was good as always but we were all a bit tired after the long day trip and decided to call it an early night. Dale had to ferry us back to our boat and it was then that we realized just how much the wind had kicked in; it was now blowing 20 knots! The ride back top our boat was a little rough but we made it safely and climbed aboard, waved Dale off and then watched as the weather got even worse. One boat left the lagoon soon after, we weren’t sure where he went but we thought he was mad considering the reef surrounding the lagoon and the lack of moonlight; despite everything he must have made it to some place without problems as there were no distress calls and we have found no wrecks on the way out. It wasn’t a very peaceful night, the wind howled all night and we had strange noises inside the boat that I had never heard before, not that we could find the cause of any of them – guess it was just the creaking timbers (well fiberglass anyway!). Despite all this we agreed that the decision to go this way was a good one as the trip we had originally planned would have been far worse – we would have been bashing into the sea all the way.



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