| Wednesday, August
23, 2000 Isla Caranero, Los Roques Is. N 11*53.168 W 66*50.710 *=degrees,
correct symbol not available in Airmail)
We have been hanging out in this beautiful lagoon anchorage waiting for any side effects of Hurricane Debbie to pass on by. Hurricane Debbie was, of course, was WELL north of us. Unfortunately, it passed right over the Virgins yesterday, but the morning SSB radio reports today suggested that the VI suffered little. The side effects here have been southerly winds yesterday, and today it is a bit choppy and still SE, so we will wait another day before heading West to Los Aves.
Every cruiser we talked to recommended zipping on through the Roques to get to the Aves. It's true we haven't seen the Aves yet, but we have really enjoyed the Roques. In the past it has been expensive to cruise here, but we spent only 5000 Bolivares ($8) a boat with the Port Captain!
Although the Roques belong to Venezuela, they are in effect the "Italian" West Indies. We are told the population is about 80% Italian, not to mention the tourists! The town we explored on Gran Roque was a wandering collection of charming posadas (inns), lovingly maintained and creatively decorated. This is a big switch from any other Venezuela we have seen, and of course part of that is due to it a being a "resort" destination. But there are no big hotels here at all. Every thing is simple and small.
That evening we dined at El Canto de Baleine (Song of the Whale). The restaurant was a favorite of Gil & Bev of "Moondancer" on a previous trip, and Nellie warmly welcomed them and us like long lost friends. The food was superb, a set meal consisting of pesto pasta, marinated octopus (outstanding), broiled mainated grouper, salad of tomato and avocado, and fresh bread. I may have to learn how to cook octopus!
The next day we dove with Sesto Continente, the Roques only dive shop. We had a wonderful fast run in a pirogue to the south edge of the island group and dove twice in clear water on a good coral bank. The dives themselves were nothing to write home about (how jaded we are; there were not one but two huge green morays!), but for us it was our first dive in almost a year! Can you imagine? Nice to be back in the saddle, so to speak. The other divers were from France and Italy, all handsome young guys!, plus one young American gal, and the divemaster in training was Nellie's hunky 2o year-old son. Tiffer should have been here!
We spent several nights in Francisqui, another "lagoon" anchorage bounded by three small islands and connecting reefs. This was a windy, sunny, sandy horizon with a regular flow of day-tripper boats. A highlight of this spot is a blue pool in one of the reefs, the structure of which was fascinating, but of course most of the coral was dead.
For us the highlight in Francisqui was meeting Giorgio and his visiting cousins from Rome on the CSY "Arno". We had them to cocktails and a tour and they hosted us to an Italian dinner! Molto vino flowed.
We moved west ten miles to Isla Caranero on Sunday after a quick stop in Gran Roque in hopes of fresh provisions. (Hah!) Not two hours after we arrived, we were "busted" by a most charming female park ranger wityh very little English. Seems we were supposed to register with the Park upon arrival. We sort of knew this, but when the Coast Guard boarded us that first afternoonm, we asked if we still had to check in ashore and they said "NO". Since things change in Venezuela like the wind, Don took that to the bank. So, Monday morning, Gil and Don motored all the way back to Gran Roque on Moondancer (bigger engine) to make us legal while Bev and I reamined behind on TII to hold on to our moorings.
While waiting for the boys, Bev and I bartered 4 D-cell batteries for some fish from a local fisher-character named Esequiel, who frequently has a Great Blue Heron named Maria riding with him who protects his catch from marauding pelicans! The fish we bought were essentially an assortment of reef fish - grunts and yellow tail snappers! Gil filleted them...very small fillets!..and that night we had a joint feast of sauteed reef fish, ratatouille and rice. It's a rough life.
More cruising friends will joing us today, and now the plan is for all three boats to head to Los Aves tomorrow.
August 24, 2000
Isla Sur, Los Aves, Venezuela 11d56.794 N; 67d25.774W
Our three boats
are the only boats in this anchorage (though we saw a few other masts
as we approached in the further anchorages) and we share the bay with
thousands of boobies. There are at least two, probably three species
of them, including the red-footed booby, but it seems like more because
they look so different at different ages. They are great fliers, and
they swarmed the boat as we approached, actually seemed to pause to
look in. Looking forward to launching the dinghy tomorrow and exploring
the reefs. It supposed to be great fishing here. Love, the 2 Cs
Just thought you'd like to know we arrived safely at our destination of Los Aves, an even smaller set of offshore islands than the last ones. We traveled with two other boats, who complained about the sea conditions, but frankly, we thought we had a good sail! We left last and arrived first which is always good for the nautical ego.
Our three boats are the only boats in this anchorage (though we saw a few other masts as we approached in the further anchorages) and we share the bay with thousands of boobies. There are at least two, probably three species of them, including the red-footed booby, but it seems like more because they look so different at different ages. They are great fliers, and they swarmed the boat as we approached, actually seemed to pause to look in. Looking forward to launching the dinghy tomorrow and exploring the reefs. It supposed to be great fishing here. Love, the 2 Cs