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Tuesday & Wednesday, October 29-30, 2002
Passage from Scotland Bay Trinidad to Los Testigos, Venezuela

We left Trinidad at 17:00 on the dot. We were actually ready to go by about 15:00, but we knew if we left too early, there was a chance we might make it to our next landfall before daylight. It was kind of nice though, since it gave Curt and I a chance to go over everything and really make sure we were all set. While I suppose our sail from Grenada to Tobago was longer, this one seemed just a bit more adventurous since the tiny little group of islands we were headed for are way out in the middle of nowhere as well as being part of Venezuela, where we've heard many rumblings of both boat boardings, and political unrest. On the flip side, we were happy to be making this passage with our friends on Viva. Veteran cruisers (and moreover- Adventurers with a capital "A") they've sailed all over the world, including Mexico, Columbia, the San Blas Islands, Panama, Europe, the Western Caribbean- and more.

Our timing was perfect. The sun was setting just as we pulled away from the Boca: a narrow passage between islands on the west coast of Trinidad (Boca means dragon's mouth). We had waited until we were clear of land before raising our sails. It seemed like it had been ages since we last actually sailed. The winds were strong and consistent, and the seas were just a tad turbulent as we left the coast. Force Five heeled over as the winds pushed her along from her the starboard side just aft of the beam. When we cut the engine, I was surprised at how loud it still seemed- with the rush of the wind past our ears and the seas splashing against our hull we still had to raise our voices to hear one another speak. Viva was straight ahead sailing with just her main sail and making way at eight knots. We couldn't have been underway more than half an hour before dolphins joined us, racing along with Force Five, surfing down the swells as the setting sun glimmered on the water. Curt and I decided surely this was a good omen.

Our passage took us fifteen hours. We sailed under skies so dark for most of the night, we could barely see anything more than our hand in front of us and Viva's mast light up ahead. At one point while I was on watch, I could hear another boat's engine from somewhere off our port side, but I couldn't see a thing. It was a bit unsettling to say the least, but whoever it was kept their distance and I never caught sight of them. The moon finally rose at 02:00am, and offered us at least enough light to make out the seas around us and a bit of the horizon.

Curt was at the helm when we first saw land again after daybreak. I was crashed out below and he tried to rouse me to come see, but all he got in return was a grumble. Perhaps half an hour later I came out to the cockpit to a crystal sparkling sea, and the vision of a cluster of islands up ahead. Boobys (a notoriously friendly but dumb sea bird in the Caribbean) were circling the boat looking for fish as I tried to shake the sleepy haze out of my head.

Pulling through the island cluster at 07:30 was beautiful. We dodged lobster traps and fishing boats as we slid past a little village on Isla Iguana to port, and a patch of sand dunes on Isla Langoleta to starboard. The landscape here reminds us both of Baja California and it felt like home. It's quite arid and there are cactuses lining the beaches and sand dunes. We rounded the point to our final destination, Playa Real (Royal Beach), and saw Viva rocking gently in the turquoise blue anchorage. We found a nice little spot in front of them and settled in for the next few days. The beach around us was sprinkled with goats and one lone white horse grazing along the hill behind an abandoned cement house. The trade winds blow consistently here and the palm trees seem to've grown leaning to one side to accommodate its force.

Los Testigos ("The Witnesses") are a group of islands with about 150 inhabitants who live by fishing. They live here full time and have one school and a church. To do any shopping, or perhaps have a little holiday, they hop in their pirogues (handmade open wooden boats) and trek over to Carupano, a town on mainland Venezuela, forty miles south. There is no ferry and certainly no airport, so the only visitors here are yachties like us. We were pleased to find that the islanders seem happy enough to have us as they wave with a smile while racing past in their pirogues.

After getting a little sleep, Curt and I tried to get back into the groove of living at anchor. We were welcomed back with an aggressive squall to keep us on our toes. When the clouds and rain cleared, Pam and Steve came over for sundowners and we enjoyed a beautiful sunset while we toasted to our return of an adventurous life on the hook.

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