Sunday, 4 December 2011

The Curse of Santa Marta - Part 2

"No problem, No problem", Dino replied when we asked about getting our clearance ready for two days time.

"Are you sure? Can we get the boat cleared by midday?"

"Yes of course my friends." We handed over all of our documents for a final time and looked forward to finally setting off.

So it's two days later, the boat is re-prepped and today's the day. It's gone 10, our allotted time with our agent, but hey we're on Colombian time right.. so we were patient. By 6pm and after 2 enquiring phone calls it was less ok.
By 8pm and now with our weather window getting smaller and smaller to leave, Dino arrives and has a worried look in his eyes as he nears us, rubbing his hands together and avoiding eye contact.

"Ahhh my friends - I have good news (insert fake smile). Your passports are stamped and ready. But the thing is you can't have them... so i take them back now."After a quick flourish to wave our passports tantalisingly close he pockets them ... it was like a kid with sweets who shows them off and then goes and eats the last one.


It ensues that the Customs authorities want to ensure that our engine is in full working order before they let us leave and in turn give us our passports and documents. It would be awfully kind of them if they weren't looking to charge $120 for taking a look and didn't have the following Monday (it was currently Thursday) as their chosen date to have a peek.

Ok, we expected some hindrance. Deep breath, breath easy.

We spent the weekend painting the cockpit a brilliant white and starting to fill in some rogue fireglass nicks and holes and of course lazing in the park with a selection of Ice Creams watching the world go by. Nom nom nom.
The world going by... in very bright colours!

Come Monday the head Customs Officer comes to our boat.  He was an elderly gentleman who must not be used to little yachts like ours, we gave him a helping hand on board and were on our best behaviour.

He settled himself into the cabin, got our an overstuffed notebook and once on a crisp new page asked us two questions. Question 1 and 2 from the Officer go as follows.

"You have had a problem with the engine?"  "Oh yes, we now know it was a loose belt that was making a whinning sound and it's all sorted - we have also had an engineer have a quick overall look just to make sure"

The Officer gets up and, whilst standing on bulk the engine, stares at it and asks "where?" 

We assume he means the location of the very obvious belt and so point and show him.  He notes something down and that's it. Our $120 was for some guy to stand on our engine.

He jovially shook our hands heartily as he excitedly tried to remember if Australia was near England and then told us to not worry, the form would be completed the next day. That could work.. there was a clear week and a half of good wind to get up to Jamaica and we could still just make meeting my friend Mim.

Alas it was another week later before it had left his desk and Dino could give it back. We have found that this is what happens when anything goes up higher than the agent. There were a couple of other boats who had been spotted by the Customs and like us teetered on the verge of being able to leave. Whilst other came and when in mere hours.

It was a Tuesday when Dino came back and just after a horrendous downpour. But bless him he came half running up to the boat with the completed paperwork waving at us. We quickly shook hands, thanked him for everything, slipped the lines and headed out into the night.

The downpour followed us for the first night and watched were spent avoiding the dozens of lightning storms that littered the sky. When we passed the halfway mark and got to further than we had on our previous two sails we had a coke each as a celebration to show our relief. I think we drank too soon.

That night the winds picked up to a point i have not seen since crossing the Bay of Biscay. The wind went off the scale of the wind monitor which reads up to 50 knots. We had seen it coming so our sails were well set and reefed but then as we were both away from the helm tightening our Genoa (it's a lot easier to do it with two people as we do not have furling winches), the yacht reeled and swung hard to port. I gripped the line while Jarvis went back to the helm to find that the auto-pilot had malfunctioned and would no longer switch on. I fixed the line and we then spent a few minutes trying to re-set the navigational equipment whilst Jarvis steered  a course under the weight of those heavy wind. It was no good and there was nothing more we could do until the weather calmed down which was when I noticed the Outboard swinging loose on the back of the boat. We could leave it as it would slip off and Jarvis's strength was needed to hold course so it was down to me.

I clipped on my safety line through my life jacket and started to climb over the back of the boat keeping as low as possible and switched the line closer to the outboard when ever there was a break in the waves.  Once there I realised it needed two hands to lock the engine back down and an awful lot of leaning over the edge so that i could see the clip that i needed to free.

Next to the few moments during the crossing of the Bay of Biscay, that was the only other time where i have truly feared for my life. As i lent over the boat healed the same way, and if it hadn't have been for a well clipped on safety line, i would have been in the sea. I think my face was a few inches away from the water before the line snapped me back.

I secured the engine and the weather passed but still no luck with the Auto-pilot and we had to take turns manually steering for 8 hours. We were still about 80 miles away from land and would have another night to go through before we arrived. It was hot and cloudless now and to occupy myself from trying to focus on the endless blue, i kept poking the auto-pilot buttons.
Because of course if you poke them enough they will eventually work right?!!?!


Do not ask me how, or Jarvis because it doesn't make sense to either of us. When we pulled the unit apart after the weather calmed down we could clearly see the wires connecting had be sulphated to the point of not making a connection anymore. It SHOULDN'T have worked. But i am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth.. and i definately didn't poke it anymore.

The last 80 miles went by smoothly with a lot of awe-filled staring at our magic device until, in the early hours of Friday, we sailed up the coast of Jamaica, into Port Antonio and dropped anchor in Erroll Flynn marina.
Happy to be in Jamaica

I guess it was 3rd time lucky for us to break the Curse of Santa Marta and we were so unbelievably happy.

Tia and Jarvis, Over and Out!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

The Curse of Santa Marta - Part 1

When we decide to move on to a new place we go through the usual preparation:-

  1. Weather check - on Passage Weather & UGrib/ZGrib
  2. Refill water & diesel
  3. Stock up on enough food 
  4. Go through yacht checks to ensure everything in safe & in order
Attempt 1
Upon deciding to leave to go to Jamaica we made these same checks and with everything looking A-OK we said goodbye to beautiful Santa Marta, hoisted sails and set course for Kingston for what should have been a very good 5 day weather window.
Prepped and ready to go!
After about 10 hours we had burned through 32 litres of fuel and hadn't be able to have the engine off for more than half an hour. Our initial speedy exit from the marina had solely been due to a very strong current pushing us north and now, with the wind not being even half as strong as predicted we were unable to sail without the engine and going through fuel fast.

We sat and worked through some quick maths. With 170 litres of Diesel in the tank and 60 spare, there SHOULD be enough fuel to last us the journey, but only just. There SHOULD be enough wind picking up the next day to make the fuel last. But if we were wrong and the wind did not come (considering how wrong the weather predictions had been so far) we would use up the tank and be left bobbing around waiting for wind with no other means of power generation (Oh to have fully functional Solar Panels).

That was too much chance for us and with heavy hearts we turned around and started the sail back to Santa Marta. In our 10 tonne beast, against the wind and tide it took us two days to return after only 8 hours to get out.

We pulled into the marina in the early evening and were welcomed with many a surprised face. It was all systems go to re-prep the boat and try to catch a new system of wind that was coming at us to get to Jamaica in time to meet our friends. Working into the night we managed a turnaround of refueling (plus a lot more extra fuel this time), food, water etc by 8am the next day and, after explaining our situation to the marina, we didn't have to call our old agent to clear back into the country (whooop whoop). So with renewed energy we were back out on our way to Jamaica.

Attempt 2
We zoomed back out into the seas with a steady 15 knot beam reach wind and beautiful sunshine overhead. It was a perfect sailing day and we made up lots of distance. In the late afternoon with still a few hours until nightfall we put up our Gennaker sail after a slight drop in wind and settled back to watch our speed pick up again. Yet within a few minutes a strong gust came across the starboard bow and the sail ripped clean across one of the coloured joins before we could react. We raced to pull it down and try to salvage it but it was only joined in one piece by a foot of material. The 'gust' turned into a very intense squall and sent our boat reeling in the waves. I had pasta on the stove and as I was pouring out the water we hit a wave that sent me flying into the toilet. I was just very relieved that i had automatically let go of the boiling pot before i fell.

Bye bye dinner...

With our prized sail in tatters we carefully packed it away and re-set the sails. As we finished we heard a high pitched squeal coming from the engine, that sounded like grinding of metal. Immediately we killed it and opened all of the covers to allow it to cool in case there was overheating. We tried to look for any obvious problem but could see nothing wrong so we carefully started the engine again and pricked our ears for the source of the sound.

It started quickly and louder this time and appeared to be coming from the drive shaft. We stopped it once more and then proceeded to spend 3 hours working on pulling apart the drive shaft coupling and attempting to stop it slipping. By now it was about 9pm. We started the engine a third time when we thought the drive shaft was fixed only to now find the noise still prominent but appearing to be coming from the gearbox instead.
It didn't make sense. The noise happened when the engine was both in and out of gear but was worse in high revs. We looked again but could see nothing else wrong and as neither of us know much about gearboxes we were left stumped.

The fact remained that we couldn't run the engine higher than 1000 revs without the noise, that we had just lost our best sail and were only a third of the way to Jamaica.

What to do?! We had enough fuel this time but couldn't run the engine high enough to make an impact and from looking if we took it slower (and i mean REALLY slower i.e. 8 days rather than 3) we would hit a 4 day period that was windless and so once again be left with the possibility of bobbing in the sea.  So what do you do. We wanted to push on. Hope that the wind really would pick up, that the engine wouldn't get worse and that we would stay ahead of the wind shadow, but in reality we had to be smart.

For a second time in a week we turned our boat around and limped back to Santa Marta. This time it took us 3 days.

Now everyone feels disheartened and frustrated at times and this for us was one of them. It was official that we wouldn't meet at least one of our friends. We also felt like failures at our inability to successfully sail to Jamaica. We didn't want to try a third time. I mean, what would happen next?!

We trailed back into the marina and reluctantly cleared back into Santa Marta. We had an engineer come out the following day to look at the engine and informed us that the entire problem had been a loose belt! A loose belt that we had a spare for on board. One that we could have changed underway and have kept going. But we didn't know and feared for something more sinister so we had to take comfort in our caution.

The next weather window wasn't for another week which meant Jarvis' 30th Birthday was to be had in Colombia nor Jamaica. We partied in Taganga and had Cocktails, Curry and watched an amazing Sunset. We even found the most random Pizza filled ice cream cones in a cute little bar near the seafront, but it was bitter sweet without those whom we wished we were with.
Pizza Cones

Taganga Sunset meal at PachaMama in Taganga - AWESOME FOOD

A weather window finally opened and we spoke with Dino (our agent) to get ourselves cleared back out to give attempt number 3 a try. But the authorities had a different idea for us. We found out what it's like to really hit red tape and the difficulties the can be made for you....

The Curse of Santa Marta still has a few tricks up it's sleeve - a near death experience, learning that justice does not always work and our most difficult sail yet. So come back for Part 2!

Tia and Jarvis, over and out!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Guilty as Charged - Part 2

The Lost City was incredible but after we got back to Santa Marta we didn't have time to dwell on the experience as we only had a few days to get ready to leave and go our own ways... *sniff*.  It was only for two weeks but it was a strange concept after spending everyday together for 8 months to be planning 2 weeks apart.

I was off to New York to see my wonderful Naomi and have a brilliant exploration of the city and it's surroundings. Jarvis was going more 'jungle man' with his trip and heading to Nicaragua with his friends Todd and Brandon, yet all of this was not before Jarvis and I took a fantastic last day together where at the end he surprised me beyond belief.

We wandered around all the best parts of Santa Marta treating ourselves to their amazing fresh smoothies, good beer and a delicious steak lunch. We laughed and ran around the park acting like the big kids we are until exhausted and then came back to our Croc Bones to sit and have dinner on the dock watching the sunset. As i was coming out of the boat bringing the last items for dinner I heard our song come on and was presented with the most beautiful hand carved jewelery box. Jarvis had been working on it for 3 months. It was lined with red velvet, varnished and contained a note saying...
  "there is a question i have for you..."

as the sun set to a purple and crimson sky he proposed and made me the happiest person alive (i said yes by the way), and after a hell of a lot of jumpy up and down times we sat, ate and enjoyed the last of what felt like the best day ever.
We're Engaged :)

The next day we were off our own ways. Our trips were amazing and the only minor hiccup was the eventfulness of the Colombia bus transport that i had to take to get to and from the airport in Bogota.

On average it is a 16 hr overnight journey, but it's on a pretty comfortable coach and has stops for breakfast. The only downside is their obsession with air conditioning. At 30+ degrees outside you sit on the coach in as many layers as you can still shivering whilst staring out at all the sweaty people - very strange but all good. Yet on the way back there was an extra 7 hour detour because of a storm washing away the main bridge that connects the north to the south (that is the level of road quality), we were boarded twice by the army who searched every male on board (apparently women are ok) and at the food stop i witnessed the most violent fight i had ever seen, watching as the army stationed there stood by and watched too.

Back in boat land we awaited the arrival of the boys Jarvis had holidayed with in Nicaragua. They arrived on the evening of my birthday and we all went out to a brilliant restaurant called Ben and Joseph's on the promenade for huge steaks that melted in your mouth and drank into the night catching up. Over the next few days we tried to take the boys out for a sail but with no wind we soon came back and focused more on fully sampling the local beer.
Happy Birthday to me

Great food right on the sea front

Todd, me, Brandon and Jarvis happily full

Before their arrival we had been given a small leaflet by a random guy advertising a little place up in the mountains called Minca. It boasted Eco-huts, waterfalls, water tubing and every ad said to talk to a guy called "Jungle Joe" so, of course, we had to go. The four of us taxied it 3 quarters of the way there (had to walk the rest as the driver ran out of petrol hehe) and after much a complicated Spanish discussion found ourselves in a big wooden lodge on edge of the mountain looking down over Santa Marta. It was stunning.
Our hamock hut outside our eco house

The view from our house

Some of the other Eco Houses

On day two the little lady who ran the place cooked us a full Colombian breakfast - heavy corn cakes, fried plantain, a coffee based hot chocolate and a delicious potato omelet. With full bellies we explored the surrounding jungle and then set about contacting Mr Jungle Joe and found a guy at the Edlewies restaurant (the only restaurant) who called him for us. Joe was awesome, not many people know that the only way to make a strong Bamboo house is to only cut it on a full moon (it lets out it's power apparently), and after a good price haggle by Todd we arranged to meet for a half day adventure the next morning.
Our breakfast being cooked inside one of the huts

Now trips like this away make me smile. I think mostly because it brings out the British rationality and caution in me as my brain ticks off the multitude of things that just wouldn't happen in the UK due to health and safetu. We had a local kid guide us for an hour up through the muddy river banks, across slick rocks and places of very strong current to arrive and a secluded waterfall. Then it's playtime in the icey water until we go onwards and get on to the tubing. There are life jackets that are all one size and slip off me, helmets that are one size and don't fit Brandon and tubes which don't really fit anyone. Then its sit down and have a firm push to send you flying down some extensive rapids that are bitterly cold, riddled with rocks and have huge drops and yet despite all that, and all the bruises and near hypothermia, it was AWESOME. After all it's the unknown and 'could never do it elsewhere' aspect that makes it so appealing.
Boys will be boys

Two days later it was time to say cheerio to the boys. They were so awesome to have on board and it was very entertaining to watch these two very tall men try to sleep in the back cabin and not play night-footsie so we were sad to see them go. As for us it was time to get cracking and get ourselves on our way to Jamaica.

We had another awesome friend to meet and time was of the essence so only a day after their departure we we re-fueled,cleared out of the country and ready to go...

...but don't get too excited for the stories of our Jamaican fun times just yet - we still had to get there. The most stressful and dangerous times at sea for us had just begun!

Tia and Jarvis, over and out!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Guilty as Charged - Part 1

Ok so y'know how you get busy and then distracted and then carried away and then before you know it -  it's two months later??? That'd be me.

So the last update left you hearing about how amazing Bonnaire was, well people we are 2 and half months behind so let me give you the first of a two part blog giving you a break down on how The Adventures of Croc Bones has been progressing.

CURACAO - This was our next stop after Bonnaire and it is, at first sight, a cruisers paradise... that is if you are Dutch (or at least speak it) and quite content to chill and not do very much. Spanish Water is the main anchorage on the island. It goes as far as the eye can see and is filled with yachts of all sorts in every space in between. There is a free shopping bus and a cool little bar where everyone gathers and listens to music that happily plays into the night and even a morning Cruisers net detailing activities and items for sale.

Music Night at the Cruisers Bar
But that's pretty much where paradise stops. The streets and water are covered in litter, everything has a high cost attached to it and there is incredibly poor transport to get you around the island. You can see why a lot of people come here, especially those taking it slow and where cost isn't a problem. It has a strong community akin to Grenada but with nowhere near the energy or enthusiasm - think along the lines of a retirement village. (Harsh but true!). So for us it was a place to move on quite quick from, at least for the next 40 years.

High Point - Central Williamsburg - the capital. A beautiful town to explore with old style colonial house painted in exotic pastels - but it's a one day thing at best.

Biggest Low - The rubbish everywhere. Broken bottles on beaches, dirty water and hardly any sea life just to emphasise the point. Such a shame considering the huge success Bonnaire has made off of its reputable water quality.
Things you find under the sea......

ARUBA - A hop along from Curacao and a free country to enter, Aruba had the biggest draw for me on reputation - i mean, after all, i grew up listening to the Beach Boys singing about it. Yet we stayed for a mere 5 days anchored only 100m from shore which sounds great... until you know that the airport runway started 150m away from us. We were just oh so happy that planes do not land at night time - YEY! So we were mainly in Aruba to take an exam each that we booked way back in Grenada. We revised, prepped and turned up at our test centre to find that it no longer existed*sigh*. A little email to Pearson Vue got us our money back but the disappointment and frustration were ranking quite high for their, and i quote "minor clerical error".. hummmm.

The island itself consisted mainly of huge resorts, a vast amount of very expensive clothes and Jewelery shops and private stretches of beaches. The city itself is very small and just a huge tourist attraction with very little history or culture so we didn't really get up to much here.

Best bit - shamefully it would be our first taste of a Taco Bell meal, which was OMG delicious. I am not saying that we DID eat there 4 nights in a row... but if we did, are we judged??

Worst bit - I think the non-exam centre and the vibrating boat courtesy of the airport draw a tie on that one.
I wasn't kidding about how close

COLOMBIA - Ahhhh Colombia, what wonderful adventures you provided us with. Ok so we're sailing from Aruba aiming for Santa Marta but the wind is not what was predicted and we are burning fuel like crazy. All up - we are not going to make it to Santa Marta and are going to have to take a quick 'pit-stop' off in another place called Rincon. Now we are quite aware that stopping and not clearing in is a bit of a no no so we just made it reeeeeeealllly quick like.....  
"Hello Mr local man we need Diesel, you can get us some? Awesome. Thanks a lot. Cheerio".

A quick getaway... oh i mean 'dash', and we are hitting up Santa Marta, meeting our awesome agent Dino who was to do all of our clearing in with Customs and Immigration and we're off exploring. Santa Marta is lovely. Colombia, in my personal opinion, has way too harsh a reputation of being a 'bad' place. The people are amongst the friendliest and happiest anywhere and are incredibly proud of being Colombian.

Sunrise at the Lost City

Our first and biggest adventure was going on the Lost City Trek with Expotur. It was in a word- AWESOME!! I don't think saying it's the best thing i have ever done would be too far a stretch. We were a group of 8. A Danish couple, an Irish couple, a guy from England, girl from Israel and us. We bonded quickly as a group, and spent the 5 days helping each other, seeing the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountain and experiencing life in the Jungle.
One of the more tame river crossings

From top Left - Maddok, Listo (our guide), Mark, Paw, Jarvis. Bottom left - Shaha, Line, Holly and Me!

We met the local Kogii Indians who live as nomads in the mountains and who still use the Lost City itself as a place of worship. The trek was 50miles all up and included numerous river crossings over 1200 step up to the city and some crazy steep hills with sheer cliffs. We slept in a combination of Hammocks and mosquito netted beds and spent our afternoons playing in fresh water rivers and waterfalls. On the forth day we arrived at the Lost City and it was definitely worth the wait. We arrived a little after sunrise to have the eerie light shine through the trees and see mountains descend around us. The city consisted of about 4 levels of massive circular paved areas and you could easily see how it is considered a place of peace and worship.

It was all over too quickly and before we knew it we were back to the city saying goodbye to new found friends in the quirky little backpacker town of Taganga over wayyyy too many Cocktails ( 2 for 1 for Jarvis is happy times)....
Brilliant night out with new friends
REALLY happy about the 2-4-1 cocktails
 Phew....That's 2 and half countries (lots of Colombia still to go) and part 1 of my mass update complete and we are only up to the end of September... but have no fear because Part 2 will be coming soon (promise this time) and it gets pretty dramatic - 2 birthdays, 2 people go their separate way,  many a boat disaster, some brilliant water funsies and what happens when you say yes to a Jungle Joe....

Tia and Jarvis, Over and Out!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Beautiful Bonaire!

We had decided that Bonaire was going to be down as our adventure island. Normally we take things pretty easy on the spending front and find more cheap or free things to do but we knew the diving there was meant to be amazing and so we decieded to have a full adventure week and ease out the belt on the budget.

So we hired an awesome shiney red scooter and zoomed (as best as the old girl could) around the island for 3 days exploring all of the national park, coastline and sights. What a change from the slow pace of yachting. It felt so freeing to go at high speed everywhere. Be able to see somewhere far in the distance and know we could actually be there in a few minutes not a few hours. 

Next came the big one,  Scuba diving.

Jarvis hadn't dived in 5 years and only ever in Oz and I myself had never done it before. I was really worried about being able to equalise and weather i would have any pain but I took to it like a fish to water - excuse the pun.
Jarvis went on a day long dive out on Bonaires little sister island, Klein Bonaire whilst I took a begginers course. I had a fantastic instructor and brilliant entertainment in the form of a young Venezuelan girl also learning to Scuba Dive. She wanted to do it without getting her hair wet, without having the "horribly heavy" tank on and without using a regulator. Needless to say she didn't last long and soon ducked out to pose on the sand instead. More fool her because the diving in Bonaire is incredible - some of the best I have heard (and confirmed by Jarvis).

Take a look at some of the beauties we saw under the sea....

I will leave you with what i think may become out little mascot for the trip. This funky piece of local Art that we spotted in a cafe in the south. Created by a local artist out of drift wood it may not look like much but it now sits proudly in our Saloon. Whale-Bob is born!

Tia and Jarvis, Over and Out!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Hallo, Buenas Dias, Hello!

It has always amazed me how there are those people for whom speaking another language just seems to roll off the tongue so effortlessly. Where ever we have gone a large proportion of people have been bi-ligual and those here in Bonaire are no exception; well except that most are tri-lingual!

The strangers in bars, homeless in the street, shop attendants all have this ability. The waitresses at the bars casually flip between Dutch and English giving their formalities over the drinks specials or the food and then, mid-sentence, lean over their shoulder and rattle off another half a dozen sentences in Spanish! It's astounding; their fluidity, clarity of speech and absolute lack of hesitation.

I myself get knots in my stomach if I am called upon to speak French or Spanish on our travels – not because I am awful at it (rusty for sure and by no mean fluent, but not awful) but more for fear of making a mistake or of being confronted with something that I do not understand.

I always used to think I would end up working in languages in some form or another and studied Spanish as part of a degree at Uni. Yet somewhere down the line that ambition and ability slipped away and was replaced by fear and so it was left only for the elite that I knew to go on and speak with the world. I guess doing this trip has made me somewhat ashamed at not being able to communicate fully with the people I meet in their own language and needing them to make the effort for me – not good.
Back home I have found that speaking multiple languages is normally reserved for those in that type of work, those highly educated or those with a lot of free time – not your average Joe. Being here I realise that that is just an excuse – there is no 'class' of person whom multiple languages is reserved for and it's not seen as something amazing to be able to do, just the norm. Why?

Maybe it's culture. If everyone speaks 3 languages around you, I guess you soon learn.
Maybe it's attitude. When you have a desire to know people and connect with them – a common language is a good place to start.
Or maybe it's really just down to the person. Not thinking “I cant” or “I’ll fail” and worrying about mistakes – just going with the flow and enjoying life.

This gives me a solid lesson of the day – try hard, do not fear failure and definitely pick up my Spanish books again.

Tia and Jarvis, Over and Out!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Paradise Roques

Although we were confined to only one island in the Roques Cays in our 2 day stay this did not stop us from maximising our time.

We spent hours walking through the tiny nooks of streets in bare feet just happy to feel the sand between our toes. We climbed to an old fort, tried local ice cream (YUM) and floated in the crystal water around the boat.

We watched the hundreds of Pelicans wheel and dive into the ocean catching fish and, let me say, grace is not one of their qualities. Looking as though they are splatting the water head first and then fitting whilst they, half spluttering, drag their drenched bodies around may be effective in catching fish but certainly isn't a sight of elegance.

Time passed in a lazy Sunday afternoon way and was reflected by the way the population go about their tasks. An island of mañana was proven when we saw half a dozen young guys spend an entire work day creating some outstanding graffiti on the main stage wall of the town plaza. Moving and laughing without a care in the world. This attitude suited us perfectly, a little too perfectly as we only had 2 days to explore.

It was with force that we made ourselves go out in our little dingy (that we have named Crocito, that's little croc) to a lone rock that jutted out slightly from the main land to snorkel. It didn't look like much at all and from the surface we could see no reefs but hey, we were there so we thought we'd give it a go. And boy are we glad we did it proved, to date, to be the best water-life either of us had ever seen and once again made us so thankfully to have our underwater camera! The abundance of fish seemed surreal and more like I was watching a David Attenborough show than living it in reality. Hundreds of luminous blue fish swam past in schools whilst barracudas wove their way in between giant 2 ft rainbow fish. Sting rays, coral reef, jellyfish and ones every shade of the rainbow danced around us it was, in a word, amazing.

We ending our stay at a little Pizza restaurant, eating at our table in the dark street after a power cut with a candle flickering in the slight breeze and listening to Spanish guitar music floating down the street. The class and purity of the night was almost too much for us boaty types so it was thankfully drawn back into a more manageable level when Jarvis got a local beer to finish his meal that displayed a skimpy bikini clad beauty on it. Ahhh nothing like a hottie on a beer to bring the night to a close.

As we sailed away the next morning to head for Bonaire we saw a local charter boat called 'Paradiso Roques' which I think pretty much sums up our time there... Paradise does indeed rock!

Tia and Jarvis, Over and Out!