Saturday, 5 December 2009

Grenada to Los Testigos,Venezuela

November 29 Grenada to Los Testigos
For Gary and Janine the day started very early at 0030h . We weighed anchor and hoisted the mainsail and headed southwest at 270 degrees. Solange had headed out an hour ahead of us as their boat tends to be a bit slower than ours. We could see their stern light on the horizon. The moon was 80% full so there was lots of light to see by. The first 2 hours of the trip were spent crossing the Reindeer Shoals. This is a shallow bank extending out from Grenada. When the water is shallow the waves tend to be steeper and closer together. Also the wind was almost directly behind us and too light to really fill the sail, this allows the boom to flop back and forth with the roll of the boat. It was noisy and rolly for the first few hours which was Janine's watch, the moon was huge and bright shining on the water and even with the brightness there were still lots of shooting stars visible. As we approached the edge of the bank the lights of several fishing boats could be seen. The moon went down as a gorgeous orange ball at 3:20am which is when we cleared the Reindeer shoal and coincidently was when Gary started his shift.
Janine came back up at 6:20 to find the sun and Tavish were both up. Gary and Tavish had set the fishing lines and we were sailing along without the aid of the engine.
We started to see some flying fish, which are so cool. For those of you who haven't seen one they are like a cross between a dragon fly and a fish, that rocket out of the water usually at the bow of the boat and fly across the surface sometimes for several hundred feet. Janine crying out about the flying fish brought Richard up from below. This was a good thing as Richard is more interested in the fishing lines than Tavish or Janine. As we sailed along at great speeds (we hit 11.5knots) Richard noticed a fish leap out of the water by the fishing lines. It was a Mahi and it bit our hand line! We were over the moon excited! We have been trying to catch a Mahi since Florida and had decided they were fictitious. We were able to land a beautiful 18 inch Mahi mahi! We let Solange know dinner would be on our boat tonight.
Things went quietly along for quite a while. It got a bit more exciting when our course and a freighters' crossed but we took some evasive action and watched it go by. As we approached the islands of Los Testigos a skip jack tuna hit our hand land. While we were pulling it in our fishing rod took off with something big on it. We were able to land the skip Jack but lost the fish on the rod.Then WAM! A big fish hit our other hand line! The excitement was incredible, we had a huge Wahoo on the hand line. Meanwhile the Skipjack was thrashing around the cockpit splattering blood everywhere. We were able to to land the Wahoo.
Our technique for killing fish is to pour strong cheap alcohol into their gills. On this occasion we had 151 proof rum for the fish. It killed the Mahi instantly but for some reason it did not work on the tuna and Wahoo. They would seem dead but a few minutes later would start thrashing about causing blood to fly all over the cockpit and the crew of High Five to yell and jump around trying to avoid the blood and flopping fish. You have to remember we are still sailing towards the islands of Los Testigos and being set to leeward (towards the shore with the waves crashing on it) by the current. Gary cut off the tuna's head so it was now dead. He then stuck a knife through the wahoo's head which killed it as well. There was already so much blood coverint the cockpit this massacre didn't really matter. The next hour was spent cutting (using a machete and 2 fillet knives) up approximately 40lbs of fish while sailing into a new group of islands. We didn't see a lot of the scenery. We did notice that there were a lot of Frigate birds, so many that on the side of the mountain they looked like a swarm of bees. We managed to get all of the fish butchered and sealed in ziplocks just before we entered the anchorage. Thank goodness we bought the 12 volt Engel deep freezer or we wouldn't have anywhere to put all the fish.
We set our anchor just behind Solange at the island named Testigos Grande. There were about 6 other boats in the anchorage, most of them were French. We spent some time scrubbing the blood out of the cockpit and had a quick bite to eat. It was now about 2pm, we headed off to Isla Iguana, where the Costa Guarda had their office, so we could check in to Venezuela. This went very smoothly, thanks to Gary's ability to speak some Spanish.
We met the crew from Solange on the beach of Testigo Grande. We were walking down the beach saying "Ola" to the few local people we met. Truth be known we were searching for cold beer. We were approached by a man who was clearly not a local as he had light skin and red hair and spoke with a French accent. He very kindly gave us a quick tour of the local village, introducing us to the local villagers who are mostly all one extended family consisting of about 25 to 30 people. He tried to track down some beer for us but it seemed the island had run out of beer. We did see the Lagoon which is currently dry, 2 monkeys (one bites so you have to be careful), the trail that leads up the mountain and the trail that leads to a beach on the other side of the island. Our tour guide's name was Mano, he has a lovely wife named Gabby who is Venezuelan, and a beautiful 3 month old daughter. Their daughter was born on Isla Margarita. They live on a 28 foot wooden boat called DUNE.
After our tour and introductions we returned to our boat and cooked the Mahi, our skipjack tuna and a skipjack tuna Solange had caught for a delicious potluck dinner. It was a beautiful sunset, in a gorgeous place with great company and fresh fish.

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