Overnight from Tortuga to Los Roques



We left around 6 pm and started sailing to Los Roques 85 miles away. Our plan was to arrive mid morning, but at the start, we were sailing over 7 knots.  It was a great sail.  Around 9 pm, a huge pod of dolphins surrounded our boat.  At first, even with the moonlight, it was hard to make out what was causing the splashes, then a dolphin leaped up high right next to the captain’s seat, where I was keeping watch.  Another one did the same, until nearly all of them were leaping high out of the water.  Very exciting.  Around midnight the rains started and didn’t let up the rest of the trip.  At times it was a whiteout.  Thank goodness for the radar.  Since I couldn’t visually see, and was relying on the radar and autopilot, I sheltered myself in the cockpit.  I felt bad for Jenny and Otis on Independence.  Their autopilot was broken, so they had no choice but to hand steer the entire trip.  But besides the rain, the crossing was really nice. We made great time, even with slowing down so we wouldn’t arrive too early.  It was still raining as Dan wound his way into the reefs at the southeast entrance.  Our original plan was to make our way up to Francisquis, but with the rain, we decided to stay anchored here on the southeast side.  The next day we had clear skies and moved the boats to an anchorage not too far from Francisquis.  It took a few times to get the anchor to hold, as the bottom had good sand in some places and marl and coral most.  Once we found the thick sand (with Otis and Dennie’s help) the holding was good and the view great.  Los Roques islands are a national park and a pride of Venezuela deservedly so.  The water is shallow, the reefs great for snorkeling, and the views are amazing.  Well, they will be as soon as the rain stops!


Grand Roques


The next day Dan and I took our dinghy and Dennie and Rennie took theirs for a 2 ½ mile ride to Grand Roques.  We hadn’t officially checked in yet, so we didn’t take the big boats over.  Dan and I fell in love with the town.  The island used to be vacation homes for Venezuela, now the homes have turned into quaint, colorful hotels.  The feeling in the town is of a laid back pueblo in Mexico. You want to stay forever.  As we started our search for a supermarket, a local named John, in limited English, asked if he could help.  He was a great asset as he took us to the Panderia and told us what was good to buy.  Then he carried our groceries as he took us to the market for fresh fruit and vegetables.  We bought a case of soda and a case of beer at another store and he managed to carry those too.  Our final stop was an internet café where we had our first internet since leaving Margarita!   It was nice to catch up on our mail, but the weather was showing squalls moving in. We would have to move the boat to a more sheltered location in the morning.  That night we had sundowners on Salt and Light, and we inundated with mosquitoes.  Huge, biting, mosquitoes!!!  Luckily we could sit on the front of the boat and the wind would keep them in the cockpit, but they were determined to find us.  Just when we thought this was paradise!!!



Cayo Herradura



This is what you come to the offshore islands for. This is what we’ve been missing for so long, a nearly mile long, white sand beach, clear water and only 4 boats, one of which is FRUKO.  Paradise.  Friday night (my birthday) we celebrated with a birthday cake and potluck on Salt and Light with Fruko.  That was nice.  This is the second year I have spent my birthday in a Spanish country and I really love it!  Last year was Ocean World, this year a spectacular beach with new friends!


 Saturday morning we were reminded of how close we were to the mainland.  Apparently this anchorage is very popular on the weekends with powerboats from the mainland.  And they came.  Nearly 30 powerboats arrived by mid Saturday, some small, a few sport fishing, several luxury yachts and one mega yacht.  About midmorning, a helicopter arrived, somehow setting down on the narrow strip of island, and delivered some guests to the luxury yacht called DRAKKAR.  Nice!!

The anchorage was soon hopping with jet skis, dinghies, people waterskiing, and kids on the beach.  It was fun!!  Dennie got out the wakeboard and Tristan and Tessa had their first experience wakeboarding.  They loved it, but were soooo tired the next day.  That night, the anchorage was very colorful with the lights from the fishing boats, and Dan and I sat on the bow for awhile taking it all in; the moon reflecting off the white sand causing it to glow, a streak of white on a blue canvas, the water so clear even in the moonlight you can see the bottom, its turquoise shade leaving you aching to jump in, the stars seeming so close giving a sense of protection, again thanking ourselves for going west instead of north.


A little after 4 am we weighed anchor for our sail to Isla Tortuga.  It ended up being a motor, not even a motor sail as the wind was so light and we arrived mid afternoon.  A bright spot was our catch of another Mahi Mahi!  The first night we stayed at Playa Caldera, a beautiful beach with fisherman shacks and a small airstrip.  The next morning we across the island, and stumbled upon a restaurant/bar, painted in the most striking color of blue I have seen. Along the beach was another Coast Guard office, though we did not check in.  The water on this side was shallow and bright turquoise.  Tessa, Liam and Tristan spent some time swimming while the rest of us beach combed for treasures.  Of course it was hot, but it was beautiful.  Too soon we headed back to the boats to motor to Cayo Herradura, a small island part of Tortuga, a few miles away.

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