Thursday, March 22, 2007

March 22, 2007 - Las Aves, Venezuela

This morning, as the first step in getting ready to leave for Bonaire tomorrow, we moved over to the anchorage near the mangroves. Sten wanted to try surf casting half way down the windward side of the island, and I was interested in exploring ashore. Lenore was just glad to improve her bird-stalking vantage point. It is like a scene from the Hitchcock movie around here - the sky is filled with birds and the trees are full of their nests. If only they would humor Lenore and actually land on the boat, then she would really be beside herself.
As we approached the break in the mangroves that was marked on our chart as a dinghy landing spot, we were surprised to find ourselves face to face with a small phallic monument comprised of a vertical stone flanked on either side by two round horizontal stones.

Had we stumbled across an archaeological site of some ancient phallus worshiping society? As we strolled to the windward side of the island, we came across more of their monuments, in what appeared to be a ceremonial site. We know that Las Aves has never been populated. Perhaps this was a sacred place to which these ancient phallus worshipers traveled.

All kidding aside, as we continued our explorations we were amazed to come across ground nesting birds that would allow us within a few feet of their nests before taking flight. There are no natural predators on the island, and they haven't learned to fear humans.

Sten caught a few more of the black and purple spotted grouper, which he decided were too pretty to keep. After lunch we did some snorkeling and saw giant parrotfish and queen angle fish. This is really is a very special place, and we both feel blessed to have had the opportunity to spend a few days here.

This morning, as we were anchoring in this new anchorage, the windlass acted up. It had been a bit wonky ever since the Grenada rebuild. A few days ago, Sten tightened up the motor, which seemed to fix things. When I gave him the news that it was misbehaving again, he was nonplused. My comment that "Bonaire was a great place to work on a windlass, since they make us take a mooring (Bonaire has strict regulations to protect the coral)," was greeted with a grunt, and a "no place is a good place to work on the windlass." Well, the windlass must have been listening, because this afternoon as he was putting the snubber on it quit completely. As Sten commented, it is much better that it happened tonight, rather than at 4am tomorrow morning as we are trying to leave. It turns out that a pin had sheered when we had been (unknowingly) operating it with the loose motor. Sten machined a new pin with the dremel, and reinstalled it. I make it sound easy, but I can assure you that nothing about working in the anchor locker is easy. The good news is that we have a functioning windlass again, which, when we're regularly laying out and picking up 100 feet of 3/8ths inch chain and a 65 lb anchor, is very important.

This afternoon, I ceded my position as resident mast monkey and hauled Sten up to the first spreader to tighten the upper intermediate side stays. While up there, he noticed that the running back stays had been rubbing against the spreaders, making them quite sharp. Before they had a chance to eat through our new main sail, he filed and sanded them down. We did a few other boat chores today. Sten shortened the reefing line that was almost chafed through. Every week or so, the shower drain stops working and we have to clean out the filter for the pump. Sometimes it is an easy fix, others, when the pump loses suction, not so easy. As Sten just muttered from a kneeling position on the galley floor with his head in the engine room, "This is not my day." Unfortunately, we're taking our typhoid vaccines this week, so I can't even offer him a sundowner to sooth his pain.

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