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margarita - march, 2002

I do not feel I need to say a great deal about El Yaque in Margarita since a fine account was written last year for the NOMADs. Also a recent edition of "Boards" magazine included an article.

The booking was with Club Margarita - the same people who run club vass. Also on this trip from the NOMADs was Mark Gregory. Also Heather Mulgrew joined us for the last couple of days at the start of her holiday.

The departure was 11:45am from Gatwick on a Wednesday, which meant a very early start. In hindsight it might have been easier and cheaper to catch the aeroplane at Manchester since from Gatwick it flew to Manchester to pick up more passengers. Then the flight was a direct 9 hour haul to Porlamar and a thankfully swift transfer to El Yaque. This is the worst thing about Margarita - it is a very long way away.

El Yaque is a windsurfing resort. Half a dozen hotels, restaurants, bars and windsurfing centres. Plus a couple of windsurf shops, small supermarkets, beach, sea and lots of wind. However, it is not remote with the whole of Margarita easy to visit. The beach is ideal. The first 400m is standing depth, though this can be neck deep for a tall person in places. However, drift down wind and you'll find shallower places if you need them. Those confident in their water starts can sail out far further. Unlike some resorts the rescue boat does not provide a taxi service. You really do have to be in trouble before they'll bring the motor boat out. I didn't see it needed once. I was surprised how much wind chop could build up. For some this was a chance to do loops (mainly the local lads).

Club Margarita use Fanatic Boards and Neil Pryde sails. The quantity and range was good. Only on a particular strong day was their competition from the small boards and sails at peak times. However with 7 hours of good sailing time available you could always afford to wait. Club Margarita has a mainly British clientele and staff. It seemed that each centre tended towards a particular nationality.

For the first week the weather was untypical with some clouds and variable wind. Enough however, to give me very sore hands and arms. By the second week I was toughening up and the weather had settled into the usual clear days and steady wind, building progressively each day to a force 5 or 6 in the afternoon. The climate there is about right. I rarely needed to use the room's air-con, and never needed more than shorts and tee shirt.

The Club Margarita group was a very varied and interesting group of people. We had a good time off the water as well. The food was extremely good and reasonably priced, with the steaks at El Yaque Beach hotel getting my first prize.

Most of our group were staying at El Yaque Paradise hotel or Windsurf Paradise hotel. Of these Windsurf Paradise gets the recommendation due to a far better breakfast. We at El Yaque Paradise know this since, for some unexplained reason our hotel had to send us to the Windsurf Paradise on one morning. From those I talked to it seems that Jump and Jibe Hotel is also good, while if you don't mind a few hundred meters walk to the beach, then Casa Rita and Atti Hotels are both good. They seemed to me to be peaceful with pleasant gardens and fine views, being up a slight hill. Some people I had met, had booked the flight, hotel etc. separately and directly, and seem to have saved quite a lot as a result. One person arranged it all only days before leaving.

Apart from windsurfing there is a fair variety of other activities and excursions, ranging from a morning's surfing ($10) to air trips to Angel falls. A few had a go at kite surfing which is available at El Yaque. I can recommend the trek in the mountain jungles and plantations.

Did my windsurfing improve? Well at first my usual intermediate form deserted me, so the elusive carve jibe seemed even less likely. But by the end I was beginning to try to enter a jibe.


I can highly recommend El Yaque.

neil bass

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