Arrival December 2010
Los Roques archipelago is a federal dependency of Venezuela consisting of approximately 350 islands, cays, and islets. The archipelago is located 128 kilometers (80 NM) directly north of the port of La Guaira. Because of the wide variety of seabirds and rich aquatic life, the Venezuelan government declared Los Roques a National Park.
When the 2011 hurricane season ended in November we set sail for Bonaire via carriacou and Los Roques.
Los Roques is an unbelievable cruising area off the coast of Venezuela, 14 by 25 miles of protected reef-studded water, dotted with pretty little Islands. Some insurances do not insure your boat for the coast of Venezuela because of piracy. One of the reasons why you can have a long beach or an Island to yourself, only few cruisers venture out there. It is a popular destination for rich Venezuelians, at weekends you will be anchored alongside chic motor yachts. We sailed the 283 nm in 53 hours from Cariacou to Los Roques with our sailbuddies from " Good2go". It was a lovely sail with the wind and the waves right behind us, the current pushed us along as well. During daytime hours it was easy to stay together, night time sailing without loosing the other boat was a bit challenging. There were hairy moments when we were just too close.
There are a lot of stories you hear about cruising the Los Roques, and I can tell you, they are all true, its just pure luck, if the coast guards do not show up and leave you in peace. Well, we thought it best to "pay" them a visit and tell them we are here and would like to stay a couple of days. Not a good idea, unfortunately they insisted on "inspecting" our boat, hahaha... they came under the pretence of a "security check", stayed for hours and raided our fridge for cold beer and wanted dollars for the marine park. We paid U$180,- for the pleasure of staying in Los Roques. It is worth it though, nature rewards you with stunning views, the water is crystal with lots of fish. Los Aves, is another one not to be missed, such a variety of birds! There we were offered a very tasty Spanish lobster for only a packet of cigarettes.
8 December 2011
Arriving in Bonaire was quite a shock. Such peace and quietness in Los Aves and now we are anchored in front of a little artificial town with a cruiseliner dock. Most shops are tailored to suit the needs of thousands of cruise liner guests, you find one souvenir shop beside the other, bar´s and café ´s, most of them are shut on days without cruise ships. Once the cruise liner casts off the lines, the "town" is dead. Apart from weekend nights when extremely loud music is keeping the whole Island awake till the small hours of the morning.
Passionate windsurfers will always discuss windsurfing spots around the world, Bonaire was high on our list, or shall I say, my wish list of destinations. Lac Bay`s protective barrier reef provides a surf spot with onshore steady winds, flat and shallow waters, ideally suited for all levels of windsurfing skills, that´s what the brochures say. And it did actually look like an ideal old Ladies surf spot. Gentle breezes for only a brief period, so having a break is a must, as well as big boards and sails. When we were there it was absolutely windstill or it rained. Luckily we did not fly all the way, we came on Aluna with all our surf gear in the bows stowed away. In those 20 days we stayed in Bonaire, we only got to surf once from our boat and the wind was very gusty, very disappointing.
Bonaire seems to be a divers paradise, dive sites are dotted around the Island and you are not allowed to anchor even your dinghy. Dinghy anchors get confiscated when in use, you have to use a stone anchor. Dinghy docks are rare and in bad shape. Cruisers have to take a mooring bouy, you can snorkel right from your boat, the water is so clear and lots to see, absolutely fantastic. We went across to Klein Bonaire and loved the snorkeling there as well, we saw even lots of turtles close up. When we did our Island tour with a hire car, we came across numerous dive sites, astounded also by the many "real estate ruines". There must have been a building boom and then no buyers..mh?
There is no public transport, you have to hire a car, since Taxi´s are just waiting at the Cruisliner docks for the real big business. They are not interested in a short journey. The supermarkets are difficult to get to, but it is worth it, they have wonderful fresh produce imported daily from Europe. We enjoyed all the yummy European products, pretty fed up with the usual "enriched, reconstituted, adulterated, radiated, genmanipulated, preserved, homogenized, pasturerized....full of E-no and colours..imported provisions one usually gets on other Islands. We stick to the local fresh produce if we can and available, I learned to cook with exotic staples like breadfruit, ackee, yams, christopines, plantains and so on, more to add every time we come to a new Island.
25 December 2011
Thanks to Danielle and Phillipe from „Sweet Surrender" a Christmas Potluck happened in a seaside restaurant . God knows how they persuaded the Restaurant owner to have guests which bring their own food and only have a drink from the bar. The cruising community in Bonaire is very small, since it is a bit off the beaten track. Most cruisers use Curacao as a hurricane hole and briefly visit Bonaire for the clear water and diving.
We met "Sweet Surrender" a year ago, when we both arrived in St. Lucia after crossing the Atlantic, they were in a hurry to go straight through the Panama. What a surprise to meet them here, we did not think that we would see them again, like most cruisers we just go with the "flow" and they and we changed our routes as we go along. There is so much to explore and you hear of new destinations from your fellow cruisers and you quickly find yourself in a new paradise you never heard of before and you certainly did not have on your itinerary.
For several weeks the Caribbean Seas were very high and two boats ventured out , turned and came back after a couple of hours because the chop and the waves were just too much. We had to wait patiently for the next weather-window, bought our last provisions, knowing that those lovely cheeses and patés will be the last ones available for the next 8 months of cruising, the hire pickup was loaded with all the goodies, the fridge and bilges filled to the brim.