We’ve got the Best crew for 15 days in Los Roques, which they’ve split into 3 trips of 5 days each. The first go brings us Gavin Butler, Best’s photographer, Alvaro Onieva, currently 3rd in the world on the PKRA, Rou Chater from Ikitesurf magazine, and the two lucky winners of Best’s retail challenge to win a free trip on The Best Odyssey, Harm Wattel and Martin Kooger from Xwatersports in Holland.
We’d gotten a couple nice evening sessions in Tortuga and were planning our early morning departure for Los Roques when we got “wind” of Hurricane Dean. My forecast had light wind and little swell on the horizon, but upon further investigation we found the beast bearing down on Martinique, forecasted to sweep 180 miles north of Los Roques in two days. I felt that was a little too close for comfort, so we decided to spend another day in Tortuga.
We had an interestingly painful week in port prepping for #9, the trip we are now on. I had two large shipments to navigate through customs and in some ways was unsuccessful with both. The first were 8 solar panels which had been shipped to Miami two months ago and then brought down to Margarita by boat. I’d done this to avoid the hefty import taxes Venezuela places on “luxury items”. The second was our paragliding tow winch, which was coming from Slovenia via Air France freight, to arrive in Caracas.
This trip ranks as highly or better than any I’ve done in the past 8 years. With lighter winds than expected and hoped for it proves that the group dynamic is the most important thing on any expedition and these guys rank among the best. Of course, the mood was helped with 12 out of 14 days of kiting, most of them either at sunset or under the full moon with a strong sea breeze blowing late in the day.
My return to Discovery was not exactly welcoming, nor even pleasant. A long flight from Seattle to Caracas, a sleepness night in a ratty hotel near the airport and then an early flight to Puerto La Cruz burdened with three massive bags and boxes stuffed with gear, parts and galley equipment only to be met with a frantic Nico. The water pump to the freezer had quit the night before and we were losing all our frozen goods. I dumped all the gear, hooked up the cooling water intake to the shore water and ran to the chandlery to purchase a new pump (and spare). The next 5 days would be of much the same. Replace the impellar for the generator after overheating, two of the 4 electric heads were down and needed replacement,…not a fun week in the blazing heat.