Venezuelan Islands - Nov 25 to Dec 16 2006
07 January 2007 | Venezuela
Nov 25-28 - Trinidad - Los Testigos - Isla Margarita
We left Coral Cove dock at 2:30pm along with Amida and anchored just around the corner in Scotland Bay for a few hours for a swim and refreshments. We departed Scotland Bay at dusk and motored all through the night and anchored off Iguano Island in Los Testigos at 7:30 am to visit the Guardia Costa to check in (to Venezuela). They were all very friendly and the local oil company people gave us red caps & t-shirts. After checking in, we over to Play Real to anchor off the beautiful beach. There were several boats there already. After getting things back to ship-shape after the overnight passage from Trinidad, we relaxed & swam. Marilyn from Amida notice a dinghy floating away from a nearby Jeanneau 54 - so I went to the rescue and together with a couple of local fishermen we got it back to the owners (French), who came over bit later with an excellent bottle of French wine to show their gratitude! Went over to Amida for Pina Coladas. Next day we explored a little by dinghy - lovely sand dunes and the windward beach. Had a lazy day.
We raised anchor at 6:30am the following morning for the 45 mile run to Margarita Island. We had a very nice sail with 10-12 knots on a broad reach and reasonably calm seas all the way. We dropped anchor in Porlamar in the late afternoon. Quite a few boats (70-80) in the anchorage - this is another cruiser hangout. We saw Cumulus II from Quebec whom we had last seen in Georgetown, Bahamas last year. We had Andy & Marilyn over to share the bottle of French wine.
We went to Marina Juan to check in - this consists of a dinghy dock and a small office & store - where Juan does all the checkin / checkout paperwork for a small fee (150,000 Bolivars to Check in and 80,000 Bolivars to check out (that's about $US 60 and $30 respectively).
Nov 29- Dec 5 - Isla Margarita
While the anchorage is a bit out of town (Porlamar), taxis are cheap ($2-3 to get down town) and we spent a nice week in Margarita. Got wireless internet in the anchorage for the 'Wi Fi Guy). We took a taxi to abig open market one day and together with Andy & Marilyn, hired Nathalie - a local lady with a beaten up old Taurus to take us round the island for 20,000 Bolivars ($8) an hour. We went to the North and East coats and to Asuncion the capital one day. Another day we went to visit the Mangroves by boat and the beach at La Restinga. After that we did some major provisioning at the local supermarket followed by Happy Hour drinks at the Beach Rum Bar (a bit seedy) and a nice dinner at the Sunset Beach Restaurant. I also bought a couple of cans (10 gallons of diesel from a garage for 2000 bolivars (about 80c!)
On December 5 we left Porlamar with Amida in the early afternoon for the overnight passage to La Tortuga.
Dec 5 - 16- Isla Margarita - La Tortuga - Los Roques - Les Aves
We had a very nice downwind sail along the South coast of Margarita in 10-15 knots. However once we got out of the lee of the island it became quite rolly dead downwind so we switched on the engine around 10pm and motor sailed overnight and anchored in La Tortuga at 6:30am. La Tortuga is just a small island behind a coral reef We relaxed, swam, walked on the beach etc. that day. The next day we arranged to have a lobster lunch with Andy & Marilyn on the beach from a colourful local fisherman - Jose (we had 3, 1 kilo lobsters for $14 per lobster). That evening we left at 5pm for another overnight sail this time to Los Roques, a group of reefs and small islands. This was a great passage sailing on a broad reach at 5-6 knots all night. Los Roques is a set of islands behind another set of reefs. We anchored just inside the first gap (Boca de Sebastopol) which was quite a hairy entrance with quite a narrow passage through the reef. The anchorage was behind a small mangrove island and it was very windy (up to 28 knots) and squally. The next day we headed to another anchorage among the reefs near the middle entrance (Boca de Medio), but had trouble finding it so because the light was fading, dropped anchor in fairly deep water among the reefs. It was a bit of an anxious night, but the anchor held and all was well in the morning. After that we headed to a beautiful anchorage called Francisquis near Grand Roque (the main 'town/island). We spent a couple of days here, doing some swimming & snorkeling etc. Had a very nice dinner aboard Amida. Fixed a few problems with the heads and the windlass. Finally we headed over for a half day sail to Isla Carenero, our last stop in Las Roques and anchored in a lovely lagoon.
Next stop was Les Aves, two groups of Venezuelan islands, the first of which (Barlovento) was about 36 miles away. We 'eyeballed' our way in through the reefs to
An anchorage protected by mangrove trees containing thousands of birds. Aquila, the German boat we had traveled with in the Orinoco and whom we had also seen in Los Roques came into the anchorage later. The following morning we had a leisurely sail over to Sotovento the other Las Aves islands. We were finally able to use our big DRS (cruising spinnaker sail) and after arriving around 1pm, anchored near Round Island (Isla Palmas). We explored a little and found a marvelous little reef just behind the island for snorkeling with all kinds of colourful fish. With Amida, we decided to spend a couple of relaxing days here since it would be our last 'desert island' stop before the more 'civilized' Dutch islands - the ABCs (Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba). On the second day after more boat work, relaxing, swimming etc, we had a short visit from the Guardia Costa (5 very young guys in a motor boat) who inspected our papers and suggested we should be on our way the following morning. When they finished they asked for some water - I proposed some cerveza and gave them a beer each, After which they asked if we had any cigarettes or liquor to which we replied that didn't that we were Canadian (don't smoke or drink liquor!).
On Saturday December 16, we raised anchor early (6:15) along with Amida for the sail over to Bonaire. We had a good wind and it was a nice downwind sail despite being a bit rolly. We arrived in Bonaire around 2pm after a beautiful close reac up the protected West side of the island, and picked up a mooring buoy in front of the town (Kralendijk).