This time, at the end of October, we left Grenada and civilization behind for over two weeks, a personal record for both of us. It meant time for the boat, for each other, for sailing and for exploration. It also meant no internet connection, which in turn meant giving the business a break and throwing stress and frustration overboard. We found ourselves filling the days with the occasional chore (a lot of cooking and dishes), a project here or there (sewing, cleaning, fixing some boat issues lower on the list), a lot of relaxing and staring at the beautiful surroundings from our cockpit, snorkeling the reefs, walking powdery beaches and barren land, a lot of reading for Mark (he finished four books!) and some writing for me (I can’t resist).
Soon enough the realization sank in that this is what most cruisers do every day and that this is more how the boat life should be! How we would wish it could last forever. But, the real life continues and in there we really do need groceries, a washing machine and internet… Before reaching all that in Bonaire again, we stopped at the islands of La Blanquilla, Los Roques, and Los Aves, a safe distance away from Isla Margarita (robberies) and mainland Venezuela (pirate attacks).
This flat island offers relatively rolly anchorages and the best way to deal with those – other than rigging a bridle – is to go ashore. We rowed our dilapidated dinghy to the beach and took off exploring, not sure what to expect. Along the way we stopped by two other cruising boats, offering them our freshly caught barracuda (we had too much fish with the massive king fish we had caught later), but they both declined (!) and we – unfortunately – had to toss the fish to the birds. Mark and I decided to follow the sandy and rocky coastline in order to find Americano Bay, written up to be a nice place. After half a mile or so, we were forced inland, with only low brush and cacti around. Then we discovered a multitude of tiny trails through the inhospitable area: donkey trails! We followed some in the general direction of where we wanted to go and enjoyed being explorers, dodging prickly things and being hissed at by wild donkeys.
Los Roques covers a pretty big area with different islands surrounded by sandy beaches, reefs and mangrove trees. The first two places we stopped didn’t impress us. Francisquis was busy with Venezuelan tourists, speeding pirogues, anchored yachts and passing planes and Isla Carenero housed dense forests of mangroves that came with uncountable attacking mosquitoes. The water wasn’t very attractive to swim or snorkel in. When we moved to Sarqui, beauty and relaxation greeted us: shallow, clear water, interesting reef patches to snorkel and a couple of islands to walk the shoreline.
This group of islands consists of two groups of islands with ten miles of open water in between: Aves de Borlavento and Aves de Sotavento. We stopped at the first set for two nights of peace. No beaches in the bay we picked to anchor, but a lot of birds and tall trees ashore. A walk brought us through some thick brush and past a site full of homemade signs, created by other visitors over the years. The last days of our vacation were spent in Aves the Sotavento, where we anchored off Isla Palmeras for a few nights. The scenery was beautiful, rowing to shore against wind and current provided some needed exercise and the snorkeling on the south side of Isla Ramon was great. We hoped to meet some fishermen to trade cigarettes and rum for lobster, but … no such luck. When the wind picked up some and the area became uncomfortable at anchor, we sailed the 45 miles to Bonaire, which concluded our vacation.
Americano Bay, La Blanquilla
Natural Arch, La Blanquilla
Cayo de Agua, Los Roques
Dinghy landing in the mangroves, Aves de Borlavento
Isla Palmeras anchorage, Aves de Sotavento