Drinking rum before 10:00 am in high seas is nuts. Unless you want to throw up. Not a bad way to attract sharks if none of your lures are working. The trek heading west, taking Air Power just north of the ABC Islands, (Aruba, Bonaire, & Caracaou) was pretty fun. We had been cruising in the 8-10 knot range. Depending on whether you are on the the back side of the wave climbing up, or surfing down the face. Many of the waves pushing us along were around 10 feet, with an occasional one, reaching 15 ft. We were glad they were going with us.
It's nice to catch up with the fleet after falling behind. Cruising short handed (just 2 of us) keeps us sailing conservatively. If the skies are full of puffy clouds, we have to assume some of them are going to provide us with squall conditions (heavy bursts of wind and rain). Not a problem during the day. You can watch, plan, or try to avoid them. At night, your only indication is; you can't see the stars or moon. So, we generally drop the gennaker (our down wind sail, that provides the most comfort and speed). If, the main sail goes up, it will probably have one or two reefs in in it. (The more reefs makes the sail smaller and the boat slower). Or, just leave the genoa (jib) up, and make the most of the wind you can. It may be slow, but if "Thor's Hammer" should come crashing down on you, its survivable. (Even up to 45 knots of wind could be scary, but manageable). At least on our boat. I'm not sure what others consider outside their comfort zone. So, prior to the 6:00 pm shift (shifts are every 3 hours at night), if we decide to drop sails, we're cruising at the minimum speed until 9:00 am. That's 15 hours out of a 24 hour period, sailing with a handicap. But, the crew (Jill or Dave) not on watch, can actually sleep without anxiety. You can put a price on speed, but you can't put a price on sleep. Sailing is so much more fun, when you are not tired.
Cruising along the northern coast of Venazuela, keeps you aware of your surroundings. Whenever the picture portrayed by the media of this part of the world makes you feel nervous, think about all the time you drove (or even walked) through various U.S. cities. My favorite cities are San Francisco, Baltimore, Washington DC, etc. You get the picture. The coast line resembled the desert. As we were pressing passed Aruba, (near the Venasuela/Columbian border), a small skiff with 5 young men cruised toward us for an interception. As we passed, one of them held up a large fish (2-3 ft), over his head, in what looked like an invitation to join the revolution. Unfortunately, we could only shrug our shoulders and wave. Some of our cruiser friends believe they were trying to sell the fish. I'm not buying it. Lucky for them, it would have taken too long for us to drop the head sail (gennaker) and parlayed. Our swords, muskets, corsettes, rum and swagger would have been all over them. Word would have swept through out the land, Air Power is on its way to Santa Marta. 125 NM to go.