Ship's Log               s/v Uliad 


 September 9:  

   The word is that the new paint job on Uliad is almost complete.  Part of me wants to beg our yacht agent in Trinidad to send more pictures...the other part of me says, "No, wait until you get there and see her for real.  Let it be a surprise."  The mixed emotions remind me of my patients trying to decide whether or not to look on the ultrasound to see if their new baby will be a boy or a girl.

   I have my plane ticket back to Trinidad purchased, so I'm officially counting the days now.  All summer long I've been staying in a hotel in New Mexico and right next door there is a McDonalds being renovated.  I've been wondering if it would be finished before I leave here; they keep plodding along and it looks like it will be close.  But yesterday I stepped out of my car in the parking lot to the unmistakable smell of hot french fry grease in the air.  They must've been giving the deep fryer a test run, because they're definitely not open for business yet.  It ocurred to me, however, that pretty soon that aroma will be a constant feature when I step out my front door.  This morning's fresh desert air smell is far preferable to fast food.  How soon will it all smell like hamburgers?  7 days a week, sunrise to sunset there are workers over there slaving away to get this place back online.  Ronald is really cracking the whip.

    We're getting close enough to coming home to Uliad that I have my own projects to deal with.  When I return, I have to finish up installation of a new wind generator, solar panels, and canvas.  We have to paint the mast & boom, and varnish the cap rail.  We still have to arrange for bottom paint, too.  And then there is the long process of recomissioning a boat:  engine and generators coming back on line, un-preserving the membranes on the watermaker, reinstalling the sails and deck gear, and of course, having the boat set back in the water where she belongs!  I'm already starting to plan out the chores so we can get back to some secluded, quiet, Caribbean beach.  Give me a salty breeze over a happy meal any day.

     

 

 September 13:

    It was hard to notice with all the non-stop Sara Palin news coverage, but a few important events have happened elsewhere in the world.  This week the anti-American president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, expelled the US ambassador from his country, claiming that the Bush administration is supporting plots to overthrow his government.  At the same time, two Russian bomber planes paid Venezuela a visit and a fleet of 4 Russian Navy ships are scheduled to conduct joint maneuvers with the Venezuelan Navy next months.

    Venezuela has never been a particularly friendly place for tourists.  Even before these latest events the US state department's travel alert web page states that: "Violent crime in Venezuela is pervasive...has one of the highest per-capita murder rates in the world.  Armed robberies take place in broad daylight...Kidnapping is a particularly serious problem...Investigation of all crime is haphazard and ineffective"   And even more concerning: "Incidents of piracy off the coast of Venezuela remain a concern.  Some of these incidents have been especially violent, including the severe beating of a U.S. citizen in 2002, the fatal shooting of an Italian citizen in January 2004, and a machete attack on a U.S. citizen in 2005.  U.S. citizen yachters should exercise a heightened level of caution in Venezuelan waters."

   When we leave Trinidad, we must pass by several hundred miles of Venezuelan coastline.  Perhaps we'll be safer from piracy with the Russian Navy poking around, but we definitely don't want to risk getting caught up in any sort of international political intrigue.  We'll probably be avoiding mainland Venezuela and stopping only on a few isolated offshore islands.  We'll probably stay way offshore and travel in the company of other yachts. 

   The first leg of our next adventure is looking like there could be some sobering risks to face.  So I'm trying to keep up on the news reports out of this area as best I can.  I wonder if Sara Palin even knows where Venezuela is?

 

 

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