Definitely the highlight of our trip so far: Los Aves! There are two
archipelagos, Aves de Barlovento and Aves de Sotavento (downwind Aves and
upwind). They're mostly coral reef, each in a big circle, with a few islands on the
edges. Aves de Sotavento has a tiny Coast Guard station and a few fishermen;
Barlovento has only a handful of fishermen. It's extremely remote. Also, because
they are so far away from and place to buy food, water, or fuel, they're
relatively unvisited by yachts. Some days there might be 12 boats in a given
archipelago, other days only 3 or 4. And since there are so many anchorages,
many of them way out on the reef, protected from the sea only by the barely
submerged reef, we never felt crowded. The Aves were really very magical. In the
Aves de Barlovento, we spent a few nights in a protected mangrove
anchorage that is a bird hatchery. Thousands and thousands of brown- and
red-footed-boobies, as well as noddies, herons, pelicans, and
frigatebirds nest on the island. We were able to dinghy right by nesting
birds. Liv and I spent a few evenings trolling along the edge of the
mangroves in the dinghy, and she landed some delicious Mangrove
Snappers! Yum! We found a tiny half-hidden beach to pull the dinghy up
under the trees, and found a path to explore the island. The windward
side was completely different from inside the reef, wild and windy. We
found bird nests, eggshells, and skeletons.
To download a movie about Liv's Mangrove Snapper,
click here. To see one about the
Slipper Lobster, click here.
On shore there was a sort
of camp set up by fishermen and cruisers with a wall of coral,
flotsam, and boat's names left for posterity. One thing we kept
remarking on about Venezuela was the incredible amount of shoes washed
up on the beaches. Several people had found foot-shaped pieces of coral
and posed them in shoes that had washed up on the beach: it was very
moved to a few different anchorages in the Aves, particularly after the
wind eased up and we didn't need the protection of the mangrove trees.
It's easy to sail around in good light, with someone on the bow looking
for coral. There was often a nice breeze and flat seas inside the
barrier reef. We found some phenomenal snorkeling; Neil had great luck
spearing large Schoolmaster Snappers and prize-winning lobsters! Our
last day we found a small island that turned out to be something of a
bird hatchery.... thousands of Frigate Birds and boobies, and even a
have more stories we want to share, but only have an hour to get this
posted before we leave for the remote San Blas, so we'll have to add
more text later. Sorry!!!
We arrived on a very blustery
day, and sheltered behind the mangroves on the south island, but quickly
moved up to a glorious anchorage in the NW corner, tucked up to the
island with the lighthouse, Saki-Saki. We shared the anchorage with some
really nice folks on Safari, and will fill in the adventures we had when
I have a little more time! For now, here are some pictures of our
beautiful week..... it was really incredible!
the ABCs and Columbia...