If you have watched the news at all lately, you will note that Venezuela is in full melt down mode, a legacy of Hugo Chavez and his government. Tremendously sad for the residents, but what it means for us is we have to be a little more vigilant when we are cruising anywhere near Venezuelan waters. Piracy has not historically been a problem down here, but in the last decade the fishermen have grown increasingly desperate as the economy in their homeland declines and some have turned to the easy pickings of comparable wealthy boat owners. It is hard not to sympathize a little with their plight, but not enough to want to be a victim. Cruisers have avoided the north coast of the country for years, but early in this year there were two boardings of boats between Grenada and Trinidad, an area that has never had trouble before. The “pirates” took everything down to the toilet paper, but importantly left the cruisers unharmed. The Trinidadian Coast Guard is trying to beef up security, Trinidad depends on tourism and yachting tourism is a huge money maker. There are only a few places that are safe from hurricanes in the summer months in the Caribbean and many cruisers escape to Trinidad to get work done on their boats and/or store their boats for the hurricane season. We talked to many cruisers that were avoiding Trinidad this year and those that did decide to sail south were taking some evasive measures. Considering there have only been two accounts of piracy, ever it seems, and nothing in the last 6 months, we didn’t feel like we were taking any serious risks, but it was wise to take the recommended measures as a precaution. We got together with four other boats and planned a late afternoon departure. The previous boardings occurred during the day so everyone suspects the pirates don’t have radar. We sailed at night, passing the most vulnerable area without any moon in the dead of night. We ran without any lights on and maintained complete radio silence with our AIS not transmitting. The most intimidating part was knowing the big ships couldn’t see us and we had to keep very aware of who else was out there with us.
Anyway, to make a long story short, we were fine, the other three boats were fine and we sailed to Trinidad with a nice east wind, flat seas and a current in our favor.
Now that we are in Trinidad we are getting estimates to have some work done on the boat. We are re-upholstering and updating our 30 year old fabrics, we are having our outboard worked on, and having our main engine serviced. We will also leave the boat hauled out while we travel home for a month. With the boat hauled out, when we return we will paint the bottom of the boat with new antifouling paint. There is always a list of preventative things we need to do living on the boat and we are hoping our decision to have it all done in Trinidad will be a smart one.
A few dated photos from Grenada, more to come when we return there in August
|some trees just scream stay away|
|Mount Gramby Village, hike destination|
|I ditched my family and joined a few other hikers to hike to the top of Mt. Granby. Mountain top village refreshments after a long, hot hike.|