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Los Aves-

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 funny!

We 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 flamingo!!!

We 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!!!

Aves de Sotavento-

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!

Next: the ABCs and Columbia...