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We left Puerto La Cruz on September 5, 2000, and traveled about six miles to Isla La Boracha.  Boracha means drunk woman.  Just to the south is the island of El Borracho (Drunk Man) and southwest of him is a group of smaller islands called Les Borrachitos (The Little Drunks).  We anchored in thirty feet of water in an area so small that Drogheda and we took up all the swinging space.  We spent the night there and headed out at first light for a fifty-mile trip to Isla La Tortuga where we spent nineteen days in three different anchorages around this large uninhabited island barely above sea level.

Our first stop was
Playa Caldera.  The depth of the large bay was no more than fifteen feet so the color of the water was beautiful turquoise and the half-moon beach was brilliant white sand. There were no trees, only scruffy green vegetation, but nonetheless  paradise.  In the bright mid-day sun, you could see the heat waves shimmering off the beach and fishermen's shacks, some occupied, some not, as the fishermen travel to different islands plying their trade.

The northeastern tip of Tortuga was shaped like a whale's tale so that at the narrow part, you could see across the land to the ocean waves crashing and rolling in on the other side.  Planes landed on a sandy airstrip during the weekend.  A monster old Russian biplane seating twelve people dwarfed a nearby sleek Italian twin engine.  Other planes, single and twin engine, were parked along the strip.  Some of the pilots hot-dogged it on take-off and banked sharply after lift-off, seeming to barely clear our sailboat masts.  When the biplane lumbered down the runway for take-off, it was so slow that a twin waiting to land zipped around the island twice before the biplane got airborne and cleared the way.  The private planes brought people in from the mainland to enjoy the beach for the day although one group pitched tents and spent the night.  We walked over and looked at the planes and talked to some of the pilots.

Exquisite water of Playa Caldera

Whenever we're in nice water, cruisers dinghy to the beach in the afternoon and chat while soaking in the warm salt water, like old fashioned gossiping over the backyard fence.  One afternoon, everybody brought drinks and snacks to share while chatting, using a dinghy as a cocktail table.  We had Americans, South Africans, and Brits.  One of the South Africans had crossed from South Africa to South America alons, 55,000 miles in 59 days.

Since there are no services here, we had a garbage burn on the beach.  Boats took trash to shore and burned it at the designated spot.  Bob and Mel monitored the fire with pails of water so the fire wouldn't get out of control.  A good Boy Scout, Bob covered the remains with sand to be sure it was out.

Viking Rose at anchor in Tortuga

Fisherman's shack at  Tortuga

Our second anchorage was Los Palanquinos, tucked in behind some reefs.  It was supposed to be a good area for fishing but Bob had no luck  He didn't find anything but lobsters too small to take.  I didn't even get off the boat for several days since the beach was limited.  We moved on to the third anchorage, Cayo Herradura.  This anchorage was behind a small island northwest of the main island of Tortuga, an outstanding anchorage like Caldera with gorgeous water and brilliant white sand beaches. It had no airstrip, but on weekends, many locals came from the mainland in their powerboats and rafted up.  On weekdays, it was much quieter with only cruisers and fishermen. 

One of the local fishermen had his children with him at his camp.  Five of them paddled out to see us in a small boat.  They spoke no English but could sing current American songs, pronouncing very well the English words.  They also communicated that they would like some candy which Bob gave them.  He spoke no Spanish but  let them know when he wasn't going to give them any more. 

During the course of our island stay, the electric head died.  Bob replaced it with the new one we had bought in Ft. Lauderdale in anticipation of this event.  He rebuilt the old one to keep as a spare.  The magnet in the motor had broken into several pieces which he Super Glued together.  He used Marine Tex to rebuild a flat metal plate with holes in it.  After he cleaned all the other parts, he put the motor back together and tested it.  It actually worked!  What a genius the man is!!

Bob also took the watermaker apart to find a leak.  He discovered a leaking fitting and, miracle of miracles, we had a spare on board.  He put the thing back together and it worked better than ever, producing much more water than before.  Making water is wonderfully convenient.  When we ran into Dave and Judy on Fia at Herradura, they were almost out of water since it had not rained for more than a week.  We gave them some water and the next day gave them more.  Fortunately, it poured later that day and they were able to fill their tanks.

Another project Bob tackled was rebuilding the anchor windlass, switching the splines.  The windless brings up the anchor and 140 feet of 3/8" chain so it's indispensable to Bob's back.  He also worked on the electrical system, replacing the fuse holders to prevent the electrical system from going crazy from time to time.  There's always something to do on a boat.

I read a lot, worked on the computer drafting updates, plotted courses for navigation, sewed, reorganized supplies, cooked and occasionally cleaned.  It really got dusty with the hatches and companionway open to the breeze.  We also tracked in a lot of sand.  Away from civilization, we run out of bread quickly so I baked English muffins for breakfast as well as sandwiches.  I'm trying out other bread recipes, the easier, the better.  A good bit of time is spent researching ingredient substitutions since I can't run out to the grocery to pick up an item or two for a baking project.  Eggs last a good while if they have never been refrigerated and you turn them over every day. 

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