The holiday season is a time for giving and sharing – as was evident in Puerto la Cruz recently when cruisers gave of their time and money to help the community outside Bahia Redonda Marina.
Bill Herbert, a design engineer and builder from California who now resides on his restored schooner Orion, was leaving a local restaurant adjacent to the marina. Returning to his boat with his wife Mary, he noticed that a playground for younger children was being built across from the beach.
“They were definitely fixing up the area but the playground really only fit for very little children so I thought it would be nice to build another climbing structure for the older kids,” said Herbert. “The Venezuelan locals have been so nice to the cruisers here in Puerto la Cruz that it seemed like a nice gesture that we could do. I roped in my buddy Steve Davis and we went to work.
“Pilar Valero, a Venezuelan friend, visited the local community and met with their council who not only gave their okay on the project but volunteered to help us build it. I put out a plea on the local morning “Net” and held an open house, with free beer, to meet cruisers within our marina. From this, a core group was formed consisting of Steve & Gloria Davis, Ken & Kathy Peters, and taxi driver Raul Palacious.”
Plans were drawn up, materials purchased and the cruiser volunteers organized. Steve, from I’Lean, tells me, “We had a lot of community people help us. Bahia Redonda donated cash and a cement mixer and scaffolding; TMO gave us wire cable and Rafael, a local welder, did all of the welding for the Monkey Bars and Fireman’s Pole. All in all, we raised about $1,000 U.S from the cruising community.”
Bill Herbert adds, “It took Steve and me three weeks of planning—how many nuts & bolts, pipes, paint, etc. as to what we actually needed. Raul picked up everything for us, as none of us have cars. After everything was pre-fabbed and painted, we then met at the site and built the playground.
“Several local men from the neighborhood worked with us each day—
digging holes and mixing concrete. Mary, Kathy, Gloria, and Linda from Rainbow Rider sewed flags and an awning top with material donated from North Sails, as well as keeping the building gang happy with food and water. Everyone pitched in to give their help. We all had a lot of fun— and watching the kids use the playground day and night made all of the work worthwhile.”
When asked about difficulties encountered Ken, from Chill, stated, “We intended to make a swing bridge out of sailboat rigging cable, so we put up a starting cable. The next day, when we arrived at the playground to work, we found that 15 or 20 kids were jumping up and down on it. Feeling that it might not be safe, we then cancelled that idea and built a platform bridge instead.”
The results are a welcome addition to the local community. Not only do the barrio children now have a place to play but great friendships have been formed between the local community and the cruisers. Steve, who plans on staying at the marina long term, has been unofficially voted the Chairman of Future Projects.
“While we have no definite plans for future projects, we do look forward to more opportunities to be good neighbors and friends with our host country,” he said. “The people of Venezuela have been so warm and welcoming to our cruising community that we want to return their hospitality whenever possible.”