1995 – Brazil-Venezuela

We wanted to leave Fortaleza on the 14th, but the engine wouldn’t start, as we left the fridge on for 2 days which drained the batteries. We borrowed some batteries as our Generator also wouldn’t start, but to no avail.  Dave looked at the pistons, and found salt water in the engine.  It took 2 days to dry and clean the engine.  By Friday the engine still wouldn’t start, we then borrowed a big battery charger from a French yacht.   Saturday morning the engine started and ran for 2 hours.  Dave drained the oil, which had some water in, and put new oil in and ran the engine for a couple of hours again. That night we went to the hotel for another buffet dinner, and had 3 different courses and 2 servings of the puddings, and asked the waiter for a doggy bag, which is very unusual here in Brazil.   The waiter had obviously seen Sheena, as our boat was right in front of the hotel, and he brought a large box full of left-overs,  fillet steaks, pork chops and chicken.  She really ate well at sea, while we had ‘canned food’.   We left on the 14th March in 15-20 knot winds, late afternoon squalls and plenty of rain, and lightning.   We had 20-30knots of wind crossing the equator doing 6-8knots.  We sailed most of the way with full Genoa and 2 reefs in the main.

Dorada - caught while crossing Equator

Dorada - caught while crossing Equator

Dave didn’t have a chart for the Iles du Salut area, so we used the map in the book “Papillon” and motored to Royale Island.  The local Gendarmes visited us, checked us in and then told us that  we would have to leave the next day by 3 p.m. and go to Kourou, which is on the mainland of French Guiana, as they were going to launch a satellite.

On the island all the trees were cut down so the prisoners couldn’t build boats to escape, and since then various fruit trees, guavas, bananas, papaws, mangos, limes, granadillas and coconut trees were planted, and we picked a lot of fruit.  There are monkeys, agoutis, iguanas and green and red parrots.

  The following  morning we took Sheena ashore and walked round the island.  We found a pool which the prisoners built, and together with Sheena had a swim.

By the time we got back to the yacht, the others had already left for Kourou, so we quickly got everything stowed and tried to lift the anchor.  When in a hurry something always goes wrong, our anchor had hooked onto a huge fisherman anchor, which we had to lift off our anchor with the windlass, and then try and untangle the two, it took quite a while.      It was 14 miles to the river entrance, and on entering the channel the engine cut out, dirty fuel filter which Dave replaced in record time.   The river mouth is really wild, big swells, and a 4 knot current.  We motored up the river for about a mile to the anchorage and invited Johan and Petra for a barbeque and we watched the satellite launch at 9:00 p.m., lot of noise and quite amazing.  Kourou is the home of Guiana Space Centre, for the telecommunications, weather research, direct T.V. broadcasting and space research.

We went ashore the next day, to buy groceries, we bought lamb from New Zealand.   After shopping  we  went alongside the fuel dock, took on fuel and water and sailed back to the islands.   We went to the Museum on the Island and read the information about Papillon and his escape from Devils Island.

  On the 5th we set sail for Tobago.  A lot of people have asked what its like at sea; well the yacht is in the centre of a perfect 360 deg.  circle day in and day out, as the yacht moves the circle stays, its quite incredible, ocean sailing is wonderful, relaxing and peaceful.

At last the long distance sailing is over, it will only be a day or 2 sailing, from island to island.  We have now sailed 8,500 miles.  1 day out of Tobago we got radio Barbados and Sheena started barking and looked at the radio, she probably thought we were back home.  So far we had Portuguese radio, French then Dutch off Surinam, and now English.

On the 9th April we dropped anchor in Scarborough, Tobago.    Sheena was not allowed on shore here, so we left the 14th and sailed round to Mt Irvine Bay.  The next bay to Mt Irvine was completely deserted so we took Sheena there a couple of times.

Mt Irvine Bay -

 We spent 10 days here, hired a car for a day tour of the island, then sailed back to Scarborough to check-out; it took 4 hours to Mt. Irvine & 12 hours back to Scarborough, against current and wind.   On route we caught a huge Dorado and dropped it in the dinghy which was on the stern.

Arrived in Scarborough anchorage at 10 pm, and Dave still had to clean the Dorado.   We set sail the following afternoon for Trinidad.

Well our planned stay of 2 weeks in Trinidad turned into 48 days.   Went to Peake Marine to haul the boat and do a bottom job.  The first 5 days on the hard were free.  We ate out a lot in Trinidad, good food and rather cheap.  On the 5th May we hauled the yacht where we met a local named Kennedy and he offered to re-spray our yacht at a very good price.  The hull was dark blue and teak decks, which made the boat very hot down below, so Dave asked Ken to respray the hull white.

It took him 11 days, sanding down to gell coat, doing undercoat, and spraying 2 coats of off-white paint.   Dave had a few repairs to do, replace the stuffing box, clean the head sea cocks, re-tune the rigging, go up the mast and check everything.   I repainted the cockpit and re-varnished the wood work. 

Wonderful to be back in the water.

We hired a car with friends we met in Trinidad & drove to the North side to Maracas beach, the mountains were lush and beautiful.

Mango trees growing alongside the road, we stopped and picked some.  Drove to the Assa Wright Nature Centre, also stopped at a view site where 2 West Indians played guitars and sang, making up versus referring to us, and they were excellent.

 An elderly lady who was living on board her 60’’Trimaran, on the hard, mentioned she was looking for a skipper to take the boat to Venezuela.  On the 2nd June, the 60’ Trimaran “Charley Horse” went back in the water, and Dave had to test everything, and then went out to anchor.  The following day, they left for Venezuela, and after delivering the boat to Venezuela,  Dave flew back to Trinidad.

On Wednesday 14th June, we left for Venezuela with quite a farewell from the yachties.      We sailed 14 miles to San Francisco Bay, a very beautiful anchorage.

San Francisco Bay

We left early Thursday morning in good wind, doing 6-8 knots headed for Puerto la Cruz,Venezuela which is 190 miles from Trinidad, so sailed over night, had light wind to zero and arrived off Puerto La Cruz in the late afternoon.  On Saturday morning we motored to the canal entrance, where all the marinas are.  A  man made canal and on both sides are hundreds of houses, 5 marinas, hotels etc.  We were headed for the last Marina, Mare Mares where “Charley Horse’ was.  Dave was doing 5 knots along the canal when we hit a rock, the yacht came to a sudden halt, mast shaking, we checked below and continued to the marina.  Once we were all tied up in the marina Dave dove in the water and checked the damage, luckily just a few scratches on the keel.  The rock was at 6 foot and we draw 6′.6.

Mare Mares Marina is  luxurious, an enormous swimming pool with a swing bridge over, tennis courts, gym, restaurants and a bus service to Puerto La Cruz.  Beautiful gardens surrounded the hotel and a golf course where I walked Sheena.

On Monday 3rd July we left for Americo Vespucio Marina, where we hauled to check the damage and do repairs.  Dave had to grind the area, and some water dripped out, so left it for a few days to dry and then filled it.  We bought an   Avon  inflatable  dinghy and an  8 hp. Outboard and Sheena just loved going in the dinghy!!

In Venezuela water was more expensive than diesel.   We left the anchorage on the 16th July for  ‘Mochima National Park’ our first stop was ‘El Oculto’ (Hidden Bay), a beautiful anchorage, no wind and very quiet and peaceful.  Following morning we motored to ‘Mochima’ a long and deep bay which extends 4 miles into the surrounding hills.

There are frequent thundershowers here, so the hills are lush, ‘El Oculto’ only about 10 miles away was like a desert, small bushes, red soil and cactus plants.  We anchored near the fishing village, and in the evenings we saw and heard hundreds of small green parrots.

The water temperature was about 28 deg., no wind and the heat, one never cools down.  The following morning we got a lift in a local bus, to the top of the hill to admire the beautiful views, and walked back down.

 We then motored to Bahia Manare, a big bay and a few fishermen live there, a lovely beach with a spectacular reddish cliff on the northern shore.

Bahia Manare

We planned to relax here for a few days, unfortunately Dave said the windlass was making a strange noise, so he striped it and found the magnets had broken due to fatigue, then the engine wouldn’t start, we had water in the diesel again, so Dave changed the filters and the engine was O.K.   He took a couple of hours to try and glue the magnets together again, (not easy as they kept moving), after 2 days Dave repaired the windlass, then he checked the fuel gauge, which showed ¾ when we left Puerto La Cruz, now it showed nearly empty, so we went to Cumana, about 15 miles, which is the capital of the State of Sucre. A  Commercial and industrial town, and went to the Marina and filled up.  We then went back to ‘El Oculto’ and spent a week there, good snorkeling, and most of the time we were the only yacht there.

 We then went to ‘Golfo de Sante Fe’ , 5 miles long and 1-2 miles wide, plenty of dolphins in this area and Sheena goes crazy when she sees them. We stayed overnight then went to “Chimana Segunda’.  The restaurant owner had a pet Boa Constrictor and a few Iguanas.

 Stayed 2 days and then went back to Puerto La Cruz, bought groceries and left the following morning for Tortuga islands.

046  Leaving Puerto La Cruz

Leaving Puerto La Cruz

No wind and had to motor-sail all day, and 5 miles from Tortuga, the wind got up, gusting to 30 knots, it was already 6pm and we were hoping to anchor in daylight, so headed for ‘Las Tortuguillas’ (the little Turtle Islands’ and anchored at about 7pm.  It was windy all night and the next day it poured with rain.  We stayed another day but found the anchorage too rolly and too many insects, so we moved to “Cayo Herradura’ (Horseshoe Cay) which  is a well protected anchorage.

Spent the days swimming, snorkeling on the reefs and reading, a bit boring, but we weren’t complaining,  had to sit out the hurricane season.   Sheena got a lot of excercise, swimming and running on the beach.

Sheena - After Action - Satisfaction!!!

We went to Los Palanquinos for a day, then to ‘Playa Caldera’, on the main Tortuga Island.  This island is about 15 miles long and 10 miles at the widest part, and has a rough airstrip, and a lovely lagoon.  We stayed 2 days, too many insects, and went back to ‘Herradura’.  On the 19th we left with friends for Puerto La Cruz, 60 miles, they motor-sailed and we beat our way back, stocked up again, fuel & water and on the 30th Aug, we checked out of Puerto La Cruz and went to “Chimana Segunda’.  We were just over 2 months in Venezuela and decided not to pay for an extra month, but take a month and island hop, back to Trinidad.  The next day we returned to ‘El Oculto’, and anchored behind ‘Fliver’ who had just returned from diving and invited us over for a fish barbeque, bread and wine, really delicious and well timed.

Dave sometimes caught only a couple of small fish and we boiled them for Sheena.  We stayed for 1 week in this beautiful and peaceful anchorage.

          A Norwegian yacht ’La Boheme’ anchored near us, Erik and Ellen and a beautiful black cat called ‘Puccini’.  We left for Mochima, “La Boheme” ahead of us, and went ashore to the restaurant, made of bamboo and palm leaves, and had the best meal in Venezuela, Calamari, chips and salad for $3.  We sailed to “Cubagua Island’, about 30 miles, La Boheme motor-sailed, and we beat and tacked.  Cubagua is pretty, sandy beaches and dry hills.  There were large areas of pearls here, but after heavy exploitation the supply is now nil, a tidal wave and earthquake destroyed part of the island and is now uninhabited save for a small fishing village.  Stayed overnight, and then to Coche island where the wind always blows about 25 knots down this channel and after 3 hours of beating we went into Coche and anchored behind ‘La Boheme’.  Coche also has dry red hills, covered in  scrub and cactus plants.

 The following day we motor sailed to Margarita Island, and enjoyed 6 days anchored off Porlamar.  There are two large cities here, Pampatar and Porlamar.  This is a duty free island, Porlamar is the ‘new’ city, very modern, and smart fashionable shops.  There were about 60 yachts anchored here.  Hurricane Marilyn was on its way, and they warned us that 45k winds could be expected.    Ellen & I went shopping and we went to ‘Cheers’ restaurant for an Italian salad and beer, whilst there, the wind arrived and blew 40k for about an hour and heavy rains.

Ellen - Beach Bar- Porlamar

We left ‘Cheers’ in the pouring rain,  and got a taxi and then had to walk a short distance to the beach restaurant as the roads were flooded.  We each had a gin and tonic,  and when the rain stopped we got a lift back to the yachts with a local on a Jet Ski.  Dave said a few yachts had dragged anchor.

Margarita Island - Philip & Rida

Leaving Porlamar - Margarita Island

Leaving Porlamar - Margarita Island

On the 16th we left for San Francisco Bay, 170 miles, started with good wind, a reach, but the wind swung, then no wind, and motor sailed to San Francisco Bay, and arrived the following afternoon,

We stayed 1 week, absolute paradise, it is an untouched jungle – rain forest and a few fisherman came here and anchored over night. The rain poured nearly everyday for a few hours.  There are 2 waterfalls and we filled our water-tanks and showered.  I climbed a short distance up the gorge, and found orange trees, guavas, giant anthirinums, and saw many butterflies.    We motor sailed to Chaguaramas and anchored, many boats at anchor, the Peake storage area was full, the hard was full and there was a waiting list.  We booked to haul the boat again, but had to wait  for 2 weeks.

Dave wanted to check the Keel, we also used S.A. antifouling which was for cold water, so we had quite a lot of barnacles after only 3 months in the water.    It was very hot on the hard, 40 deg. below deck.  They had opened a Mini Mart at Peaks, so we gave them our grocery list and they bought everything and shrink wrapped, and delivered to the yacht.

On the 1st Nov. we went back in the water and a group of us went over by ferry to the nearby Fantasy Island, for an East Indian curry.

Ferry To Fantacy Island


Rida, Philip, Gary & Murial

The first month anchored here was quite nice, but going on 2 months, we were fed up.  It is just convenient, showers, and mini mart and ice, every other day, so we moved to Scotland Bay, a nice sheltered bay, no houses, just rain forest and a path through the forest, where we walked one day.  Dave went up the roller furler and fitted screws which we were able to get here in Trinidad and used lock-tite.  We spent 9 days in Scotland Bay.

Scotland Bay - Trinidad

Scotland Bay - Trinidad

Back in Chaguaramas Bay we filled our water & fuel tanks and left on the 14th  for Grenada, 90 miles and went to anchor in Prickly Bay, a very pretty bay.   To get a bus to St. George’s, the capital, we had to walk 3 km. St. George’s is a very old town, with Pointsettias and bougainvillea in flower.    After many wars, Grenada became British in 1783 and independent in 1974, and in 1979, an attempt to make it a communist state, the Americans intervened and the then Prime Minister Bishop and his cabinet were executed.  We walked to the Fort where this took place, it was half in ruin.  Lovely view over St George and harbour from the Fort.

Fort St George - Grenada

Fort St George - Grenada

Grenada’s highest mountain is 2756 ft., rain forest; it is the only island that produces spices, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, mace, cocoa, and bananas. We went to the Concorde Falls, and Jimmy, a local guide,  named all the trees, and fruit growing along the path, he picked 2 Cocoa pods for us, the inside is white and sweet.  The pips are removed and dried in the sun to different stages for light or dark chocolate, the red around the Nutmeg is mace, Sorrel is used for beer, and he showed us many varieties of Bananas, there were 8, the plantain can only be cooked, sweet and delicious, I also tried the Custard Apple.  Dasheen, a root plant, the Rose Plum looks like a big turnip, also sweet.  He showed us the clove bush, he was very informative.  We got another bus to Gouyane, a small town, then to Sauteurs, the Northern tip where the Carib Indians chose to commit suicide by jumping off the vertical 100 ft. Cliff into the sea, rather than surrender to the French in 1651.   Then another bus to Grand Etang Lake in the central mountain range, 2000 ft., it is an old Volcano crater, and National Park.  These mini bus rides are inexpensive, but it’s like a roller coaster ride, loud music and fast.


Every Friday the restaurant had a steelband. We stayed in Prickly Bay for 13 days and on the 28th, we left for Carriacou Island, the sister island to Grenada and the start of the Grenadines, and anchored in Hillsborough.  The bay was unprotected and rolly.  We went to a restaurant for a roti and the young barman came and sat with us, and played 2 songs on his guitar which he wrote and sang.


1 Response to “1995 – Brazil-Venezuela”

  1. 13/01/2012 at 4:04 pm

    Throughly enjoyed your photo log..especially your woderful photo of San Francisco Bay..one of my all time favorite anchorages

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