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Tony Hacking & Family

Chris, Tianna, Tony, Teresa, Daniel, Sean, & Amanda up the mast (of course)
Chris, Tianna, Tony, Teresa, Daniel, Sean,
& Amanda up the mast (of course)

November 13 - December 3, 2002

Jon's brother, Tony, and his wife, Teresa, and their three kids, Tianna (14), Sean (10), and Daniel (8) spent a great three weeks with us off the coast of Venezuela.  Yes, kids were sort of stacked in like cord-wood, but everyone had a good time.  One amazing thing is that we served something like 500 meals (including a Thanksgiving Day Feast) without ever visiting a grocery store!  Most of the places we visited were too remote for grocery stores.

Sean at the helm!
Sean at the helm!

They joined us in Porlarmar, Margarita which was a great place to provision the boat for visitors.  From there we sailed 60 miles south to the mainland and into the Golfo of Cariaco.  We were accompanied by dolphins both in and out of the gulf.  What a treat, especially for the kids!  We relaxed for a few days in Laguna Grande where Tony and Sue spent many hours birding, often right from Ocelot!  We took hikes to the spine of the Arraya Peninsula for great views.  The swimming was cool but the water was a bit murky in the mangroves.  Even so, we found a giant scallop which helped create a seafood spaghetti sauce.

Sue, Sean, Tony, & Daniel hiking the ridge above Laguna Grande
Sue, Sean, Tony, and Daniel hiking the ridge above Laguna Grande
The giant scallop we found in Laguna Grande
The giant scallop we found in Laguna Grande

From Laguna Grande we sailed (well, motored) east to the head of the gulf where we anchored in a mangrove inlet and were so excited to see a flock of some 40 or so scarlet ibises settle in the trees for the night.  These big birds are so red that they look like they've flown into a pot of paint.  Along the coast the next day we left the boat under the watchful eyes of a small hotel owner and took a rather ethnic pickup truck ride for about 3 hours inland and south to the next state, Monagas.  Our goal was the Cuevas de Guachara (literally, oil bird caves).  These limestone caverns look just like all the other limestone caverns we've seen, but the first kilometer or so is packed with some 20,000(!) oil-birds.  When we were there in the early afternoon, only 800 or so were awake, but they still made an amazing sound.  We could only take pictures in the second half, after going through a small hole that the birds don't use, so our flash didn't blind the birds and make them crash.

Daniel inspects some stalactites in Guacharo Caves
Daniel inspects some stalactites in Guacharo Caves
Checking out the crabs that live in the caves...
Checking out the crabs that live in the caves...

From the Golfo of Cariaco we sailed north to Isla Blanquilla, about 125 miles away as the dolphin swims, so we broke the trip into 3 days.  The final sail into Blanquilla was about 60 miles and one of the best sails we've had in ages.  About 20 knots of wind pushed us briskly along, broad reaching at 8-9 knots.  Blanquilla itself was delightful, and a welcome respite from our previous mode of moving almost every day.  We spent the best part of a week there, swimming, snorkeling, playing on the beach, exploring the coastline and the interior, and just relaxing in the gentle tropical breezes.

Tony at the fishing shrine with Ocelot anchored in Blanquilla
Tony at the fishing shrine with Ocelot anchored in Blanquilla
After a delightful lunch in the tropics, it's siesta time!
After a delightful lunch in the tropics, it's siesta time!

FISH ON! A nice barracuda for dinner Of course, fishing is a constant theme whenever Tony is around.  Tony brought us lots of fine fishing equipment and we had fun trying it out.  Unfortunately, we've noticed that the Caribbean doesn't have as many fish as it did in the 1980s.  We used to catch fish about every second time we sailed, but not any more.  Still, Tony caught about as many fish as we'd caught in the previous 10 months.

Another constant theme whenever these Hackings get together is food and fun.  Over the course of the 3 weeks that Tony and family were with us we were only able to shop once, at a small vegetable truck that comes to the desolate far western coast of Margarita 3 times a week.  This means that we served something like 500 meals without re-supplying, quite an achievement, especially when you consider that Thanksgiving came about 2 weeks into their visit.  But the galley produced wonderful meals and a good time was had by all.


The smiling cooks
The smiling cooks, Amanda and Tianna
Dinner in Ocelot's cockpit.  We eat most meals outside.
Dinner in Ocelot's cockpit. We eat most meals outside.

Besides Thanksgiving, the other special occasion we got to celebrate was Tianna's birthday.  She decided she wanted Pecan pies instead of cake.

Daniel, Tianna, Sean, Amanda & Chris checking Tianna's birthday pies
Daniel, Tianna, Sean, Amanda & Chris with Tianna's birthday pies
The hammok, bought in Merida, got lots of use
The extremely civilized afternoon siesta

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