Monday, April 23, 2007

Wednesday 18th April

Isla Sur
Aves de Barlavento

11 56.755 N
67 25.940 W

08.00hrs arrived much too soon and we were hauling in our anchor and motoring out of the narrow entrance. The day was a little overcast to begin with the wind was very light and the sea almost flat calm. Once we had cleared the entrance we turned into wind to hoist our main sail, all of it as the wind was so light, then we turned back on to our course and cut the engine to see how we would go. It was painfully slow so Gerry decided to try and fly the jib as well, knowing that it would be a battle to do so. The wind was coming from almost directly astern so he decided to play a bit and put the jib out on the opposite side to the main – goose winging it. As the sails flapped and collapsed in when they back winded he then thought he would deploy another toy – the whisker pole. This pole attaches to the bottom corner of the jib and to the mast at the other end, holding the jib out. The whisker pole we have is a locking telescoping one and on the first attempt to use it Gerry didn’t telescope it out far enough. As the main was the driving force of the boat Gerry decided that the jib and the main needed to change sides, down came the pole, the jib was dragged across to the other side and then the main was forced out to its opposite side. Re attaching the whisker pole, Gerry lengthened it this time and it held the jib out a bit better, still not perfect as we were still getting some back wind from the main. We were getting along a little better but it was frustrating sailing. Dale had deployed his asymmetrical spinnaker and had found he couldn’t fly both the main and the spinnaker together in this wind so he had put his main away and was just sailing with his spinnaker; they were getting along quite nicely with just the one sail. Our spinnaker is stowed beneath the forward bunk, under the hatch which is covered by the dinghy on the deck – to get it out would have been difficult so we are saving it for even lighter weather. We again dragged the fishing line behind us all the way; we were managing 6 knots of speed so we thought we might have a chance of fish for dinner – yeah right! Now we have the fishing completely sussed, any fool can do it, it’s the catching bit that we have to work on! Needless to say the fish had the last laugh again, we caught nothing. As we got closer to the Aves the wind became even lighter and changed direction slightly, we furled away the jib and then the main, choosing to motor to make sure we arrived in daylight so that negotiating the reef wouldn’t be a horror story. We were suddenly surrounded by a pod of dolphins, there had to have been at least 20 of them, leaping around our boat, playing in the bow wave and chasing each other. I grabbed the camera and managed to shoot a couple of shots but they were so fast in the water that it was hard to catch them at just the right moment; I did manage a couple of half way reasonable shots though. We flew the jib again for a short while just before we arrived but not without the motor. The Aves are 2 separate little island archipelagos separated by about 10 miles of water, they are surrounded by an extensive reef which provides some protection to the islands. The other claim to fame for these islands is that they provide a habitat for a large number of birds, mostly species of booby but also herons, frigates and other sea birds. We were going into Isla Sur rather than Isla Oeste, it had 4 anchorages and we were going to anchor in the second one. We wove our way through the reef and coral heads which were easy to pick out in the sunlight. We made our way into the second anchorage and joined the 4 other boats already there, dropping our anchor in 15 feet of water. Once we were happy with our anchoring we put the dink in the water and did a tour of the surrounding mangroves, snapping pictures of the birds resting in the branches. They must be very used to tourists as they seemed to have no fear of us, even the fluffy looking baby boobys just stared back at us. They have a distinctive feature – red webbed feet, I’m not sure that any other species of bird has this, it was quite odd to see and very distinctive. Dale and Lorie knew a couple of people on another boat here and we were all invited to join 3 other couples at the “trash burn site” for drinks and a burn session at 16.30hrs. After returning to our boat we gathered drinks and nibbles’ and then dinked to the location where we were introduced to the couples from Excalibur, Island Dreamin and Moon Goddess. The others had all brought along paints and markers to leave their “autographs” on flat beach stones. The trash burn site had a wall of these stones where various visiting boats had left their boat names and dates. Lorie searched for a stone to draw on and tried to talk me into doing the same. I have “a thing” about leaving such memorials behind and refused to make one, much to Lorie’s surprise. After making one for their boat Lorie then made one for ours and left it on the pile with all the others, she then wondered if it had upset me! After a couple of hours we all returned to our own boats and we had a quickly assembled dinner before falling in to bed for the night.



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