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Apsara's Log: Night at Cayo Herradura

================2100 Thursday March 18, 2004 ===========================  

Was just up on deck and it is a moonless night, the wind is blowing 25 knots and the anchorage is rolling with swell despite of the short fetch from the reefs to windward. We are about 30 miles off the Venezuelan coast anchored behind a very low lying island/reef called Cayo Herradura. There are a couple of other sailboats in the area and half a dozen small fishing boats at anchor, the fisherman are ashore in their camps of small shacks made from palms and plastic tarps. The beach is long and curving like a horseshoe, which is what Herradura means, and the sand is the whitest white and very powdery. There is no electricity and the tiny island reef has only a couple dozen fisherman camping here. The water is gorgeously blue - like the Bahamas. Nanc and I will get up in about five hours, around 2:00 AM to set sail for our next destination, the Roques Islands. I have gone from bow to stern several times to make sure that everything is where is should be. Jack lines in place, safety tethers laid out, dingy lashed down, instruments working and uncovered, route check and double checked. Heading out into the open sea at night from a dark harbor has never been my idea of fun and I can tell you it is not Nancy's tonight. All seems safe once the boat is in deep waters and making time toward a destination. It is the getting up in the dark, weighing anchor in the dark, setting sails in the dark and then navigating out of the harbor in strong winds that makes me uneasy. It is all the shallow water and all the hidden rocks. And it is just the dark in a remote unfamiliar place.

The sail should be about 90 miles and take us some where between 11 and 12 hours. Our destination is more remote and is between two long reefs. It is important to have good light when entering shallow waters in order to spot the reefs and we hope to arrive when the sun is still fairly high in the sky. The electronic charts that we have are not especially accurate and last night they showed us anchored on land. So GPS and the charts will get us close after that it will be eyeball navigation to get us safely between the reefs and into a protected spot.

As we creep out of the anchorage, set Apsara's big mainsail and roll out the jib, we will turn and the wind will move behind us and we will sail west waiting for the sun to raise over our backs. Nancy has made fresh scones and the Peet's coffee is ground and in the pot waiting for boiling water. With luck the sunrise will find us one-third of the way there with the wind still strong, warm buttery scones in our fists and hot coffee in the thermos. (That or else we'll be on a reef!)

And that's what happened last night to us.

s/v Apsara

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