VENEZUELA SEPTEMBER TO DECEMBER 2006
 

On the hard
   
On the hard at Bahia Redonda with new antifouling. The long keel and big rudder are the exact opposites of modern racing designs, however she tracks straight in heavy weather and doesn't broach (turn violently into wind sometimes putting the mast in the water, which modern racing designs do). In other words she's a perfect short-handed ocean cruising design if you want safety and comfort. The boat behind is the next best design with a long fin keel and (although you can't see it) a rudder hung off a protective skeg.
 

Going back in
   
About to go back in the water. We'd had a new stopcock fitted on a through hull fitting so the instant she was in the water we jumped on board to check it wasn't leaking. Obviously we briefed the travel lift driver to hold her in the slings while we checked, ready for an emergency lift if we were sinking. We didn't sink but we did find a small leak later that was fixed the following day and a week later a pipe split.
 

Grace and Jerry
   
Grace and Jerry from the US flagged Andrea Lee. Grace gave me half my antibiotic injections.
 

Birthday breakfast
   
In the centre is Steffen of the Danish flagged Cat Coquette, the rest of the chaps are there for his sixtieth birthday breakfast.
 

Plants
   
We've been growing basil and tomato plants from seed. For reasons we don't understand the tomato plants have been flowering but no tomatoes have appeared.
 

Pot luck
   
Some of the people at the pot luck barbecue on Christmas Eve, just before sundown. The barbecue area is built on top of the seawall so it gets a cooling breeze and has a great view to the islands off Puerto La Cruz. I'm talking to Colleen (wearing the eye protectors) from the US flagged Unplugged. In my hand is a glass of wine, one of the first alcoholic drinks I had after three months of abstinence - I couldn't drink alcohol because of the medication I was takinng. At one stage I was taking thirteen tablets a day, including antibiotics and painkilllers. The wine was bliss.
 

Pot luck
   
Another shot of the pot luck. Everybody brings a dish to share and their own meat to barbecue. The food is usually excellent, there are some very good cooks living on boats. You can see some of the food laid out on the far table.
 

Thaleia
   
The second prettiest boat in the marina, two along from us - Thaleia - she's a French design, built of wood in Canada. Wooden boats are high maintenance and the owners have had enough of it and have put her up for sale. She is strikingly pretty and with her raked-aft masts looks as though she's doing ten knots when she's tied to the quay. Her design is strikingly similar to the schooners used by the Confederate blockade runners.

 

Meal
   
And here I am holding the hallaca I made. Behind my left shoulder you can see a red bow and silver tinsel (difficult to make out against the silver leaves). We decorated the boat with bows, tinsel and fairy lights for Christmas.