This just keeps getting better! Las Aves is beautiful. As we were sailing in we heard the Guardia Costa hailing someone, we presumed it was us. All that time studying Spanish and I got very little of it. So I tried hailing them back but got no response. They did stop calling though. We were on Aves de Barlovento which is twenty miles upwind do the Guardia station so no big deal. The island is named Aves which means birds in Spanish because there are thousands of birds. (Tina you would have loved it). We spent the first night in one of the bays which was nice. The second night we moved out onto the reef. There is a horseshoe reef that goes for miles. You can anchor your boat right in front of the reef and it feels like you are anchored in the middle of the ocean, really cool. We spent hours snorkeling every afternoon. Zack tows along on his boogie board so when he gets tired he can chill. He is getting really good at diving down to see fish and he loves it as long as we are seeing stuff. We need to get moving but we really don't want to. You could spend a month here and not even see half of it.
Cato de Agua is the best yet. It is difficult to wind your way into the bay thru some very shallow and abundant reef, but well worth it. The snorkeling is great, we saw a bunch of lobsters, which is rare because they get eaten pretty quickly by cruisers. The best part though is that two islands are joined by a narrow sand strip that is almost a foot deep. The waves come crashing in from three directions and the boogie boarding is amazing. We spent three days in the surf. Zack and Robin had an amazing time. David and I even got out there. We could stay here forever but the food is running out and the laundry isn't getting any fresher. Look for videos of Zack surfing the waves soon.
Careneros is a picture perfect little island, actually three islands together. The snorkeling is absolutely amazing. It is like being in an aquarium. I think the fish know when they are in a protected marine park! We saw huge fish and lots of them. Unfortunately the wind has died and the Mosquitos and no see umps are unbearable. We have to shut ourselves in at 5pm. We have to tape around the screens and there are hundreds on the outside. Seriously bad enough to make you insane!!
If our passage from Grenada to La Blanquilla was one of our worst, the passage from La Blanquilla to Los Roques was one of our absolute best. We had to wait for wind but it was well worth it! We sailed downwind and were making 6 to 7 knots in perfect weather. The wind lightened for a few hours, but came back toward evening. It took us 24 hours and was a perfect sail.
We pulled into Grand Roque, Venezuela at about noon. Sueno and Turtue de Mer beat us in, so they were already anchored. Twenty minutes after we arrived, and I was about to go into town with Nathalie, the Guardia Costa shows up. A French guy on a nearby boat dropped him off. Thank you for nothing! We had planned to check in because Los Roques is a national park and we feel like we should support that endeavor. We were so wrong. I have been studying Spanish but was only able to understand a little bit. What I got was that it is illegal for boats to travel to Los Roques without first doing customs and immigration on mainland Venezuela. (We actually knew this before we got there). And the main idea was that if we gave him a big fat "tip" the Guardia Costa would turn a blind eye and we would be fine to sail in the Roques for 2 weeks, as long as we did not stay in Grand Roque. He started by giving us some astronomical figure in Bolivares. (They are $10 for $1US) Then he made what he seemed to think was the nice gesture of bringing the price down to $250 US. We said, no way, and eventually got him down to $150 US for 2 weeks. Which went straight into his pocket and not a dime to the park, I am sure. Lesson learned.
The town of Grand Roque is really sweet, with a lot of adobe and Spanish arcitecture. It is a getaway place for rich Venezuelans, with small hotels and restaurants. The people were all very nice. The Venezuelan government subsidies meat prices, so we were able to buy whole beef tenderloins for approx. $12 US. Unfortunately between 4 boats we bought them out and we were only able to get one.
There was not much else to buy. I have never seen such horrible vegetables for sale in my life. They were moldy and limp and inedible. Not great for vegetarians. But David is very happy with his LoMeato (Spanish for tenderloin)!!
Los Roques is beautiful. It is a bunch of small islands surrounded by a huge reef. Our 2nd night we went to Noronsqui. The Guardia said we would see lots of turtles, and we did, but only from the boat. The water was not great for snorkeling and the reef wasn't great. We went in to the beach and Zack and I made the best sandcastle we have ever made.
Next we moved on to Crasqui. It was a beautiful long white sand beach. Zack rode in with Tortue de Mer and David and I snorkeled in. I have never seen so many jellyfish in my life. Thousands of them, no choice but to just swim thru them.(We hadn't floated the dinghy yet because it was too windy). We made it to the beach and there were some guys kitesurfing. Zack was all about that and we had brought a regular kite in with us to fly. I got it flying way up and Zack knelt on his boogie board and was being dragged along. It was pretty cool, but seeing as we did not have a dinghy we couldn't let him go far, so I kept pulling him back to the beach and launching him and David stood out as far as he could to catch him. He had a blast and is all about kitesurfing now.
We moved onto Sarqui. It was beautiful, lots of turtles swimming around. We took a long walk on the beach and we did some of the best snorkeling ever. The reefs were very alive and there were lots of fish. Some really big dinner type fish. But it is national park so no fishing. We spent 3 days here swimming, exploring and snorkeling. On the 2nd day we found a dead yellowtail snapper on the beach, it was a nice sized one to. Zack played with it for about 2 hours, (he needed a friend) We named him All Dead Sned. (The name comes from a book character named Half Dead Fred) We tied Sned to the back of the boat to see what would come and eat him. Nothing really came except for the biggest Puffer fish we had ever seen. It stuck around for a good 10 minutes and was really cool to watch. We also saw a Puffer fish while we were snorkeling and a couple of lobsters. We were having a fabulous time and then the wind died. The mosquitoes were unbearable. Worse than the boatyard, worse than blackfly season.
We moved on to Carenero Island. It was a lovely anchorage and well protected. The snorkeling was amazing with lots of huge fish in shallow water. We spent 3 days here snorkeling and having a great time. Except for at night. By 5pm we had to totally shut ourselves up in the boat. The were, no kidding, millions so mosquitoes. They were voracious. We had to fix our hatch screens and tape around them. It was so bad we were swatting so many of them and the blood splatters were everywhere it took me hours to scrub the boat clean, nasty.
We then moved down to Cayo de Agua. Sueno had left from Grand Roque to get to Aruba to pick up guests and Tortue de Mer had left a few days earlier to provision in Grand Roque and continue on. We were pleasantly surprised pulling in Cayo de Agua to be hailed by Tortue de Mer. Zack is especially glad because tomorrow is Halloween and at least now he will have his friend Robin to hang with. Although Robin is 10 and speaks French. They still had a great time together on the beach at Noronsqui and I am sure we will have a great time tomorrow. Zack is bumming because it is Halloween and he is not home to get all the candy. Thankfully I thought ahead and got some in Grenada. It won't be quite the same but it will be some surprise at least.
It has been 3 weeks since we left Grenada, with no grocery stores and no laundry or internet. We have 3 carrots left and then we will have to eat canned vegetables. I am starting to understand why people think boaters are a bit smelly, We have about 2 weeks left till we get to Bonaire and the grocery and laundry thing is going to get a lot worse before it gets better!! Oh well, boaters. We are having a great time!
We left Grenada on October 10th. It was 10pm after Maxim's birthday party. We started with the main sail up, but as we got out into
the sea we realized it would be too much sail, so down it came. We pulled out the jib and were having a really nice sail. About 3 hours
into it we came over Reindeer shoal, the wind died and the seas started coming from the side. It was absoluteley miserable. The no
wind continued till morning, when we finally got some nice wind, for a couple of hours. Then the wind died off and we motored most of
the rest of the way. With the exception of Guadeloupe to Iles de Saints, this is probably our worst sail to date. Oh well, La Blanquilla is
beautiful. We dropped anchor and went for a snorkel, this is some of the best snorkeling we have seen, there are thousands of fish. I
saw a seahorse! Unfortunately we have also seen at least 6 large lionfish.
We did not check with the Guardia when we came in, we probably should have gone straight in, but we were waiting for Sueno and
Tortue de Mer. By the time we all got together it was late and we planned to do it the next day. The next day got really stormy and we
had to pull up anchor and go to see to avoid the storm. After it calmed and we had anchored safely a fishing boat came to see us. I
thought they just wanted to sell us fish like the boat the day before. Wrong! I can speak a bit of spanish but with 7 guys all talking at
once, it was difficult. About all I got out of the conversation was that the one clean cut guy was calling himself the Commandante and it
was his birthday. OK! Yeah Right! Whatever, they fleeced us for a bottle of wine and left. It was all pretty good natured and fine.
We spent a week there and had a great time snorkeling (amazing) and playing on the very beautiful beach in Americano Bay. If it cost a
bottle of wine that is very cheap!
We are safe in Bonaire after an amazing time in the Venezuelan islands. Sorry for the delay, we had no Internet access. We will update soon.