Z E N I T U D E
Blue Water Dreaming
Los Roques - An archipielago of incredivel beauty - Venezuela offshore islands
We left Isla Tortuga in the afternoon towards Los Roques. It is about 90 miles so we tried to time our departure for an early morning arrival in Los Roques.
Winds were good all the way at 15 to 20 knots and we did such a fast trip that arrived at the first entrance, Boca de Sebastopol, at about 3.00 in the morning. At this point we decided to keep going to the next entrance, Boca del Medio. Finally at around 8.30 with good light we entered behind Tortuguita. It was a hard entrance, a zig-zag among shoals and reefs all around. Even if we had missed the beauty of the place, we thought it would have been better to continue sailing and enter rounding el Gran Roque which is an easy entrance. Things are made more difficult here because charts are not reliable and are known to be off.
Towards Los Roques 26 October 2008
The archipelago of Los Roques is a National Park and it was created in the 1970’s to protect a marine ecosystem of exceptional beauty dominated by coral reefs and mangroves. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful natural areas of Venezuela. The park, located about 80 miles (128 km) north of the port of "La Guaira" in Caracas and it is largest marine park in the Caribbean Sea.
Los Roques - 26 October to 6 November 2008
Crasqui - 11.54.5N-66.45.0W
It is a beautiful anchorage, very wide and easy. There are lots of birds feeding, and of course lots of fish. We go fishing with the dinghy and follow the birds. Oscar throws the line in the middle of their feeding area. Good strategy, it paid with 2 yellow tails for dinner. Back in the anchorage we met with several friends that are here.
Sarqui - 11.53.5N-66.48.4W
We keep going together with Tortuguita and Beduina arriving at Sarqui, a small and a bit crowded anchorage with good holding. There is a great beach and we go for a walk with Dave and Booker, we had a fantastic time playing with pelicans, so many of them in a feeding frenzy. They seem to have an easy life around here with so much fish.
Oscar and Hugo tried to go diving at night in search of lobsters, but it is a moonless night and they come back after a short try empty handed.
There is a lot of conch in very shallow waters. Patrick, from Migo, gave Oscar and Hugo complete conch lessons on how to catch, how to clean and finally how to cook. We get so many conchs that after 2 lunches and 2 dinners and lots of work for cleaning we decide to go back to fishing.
Pelicans fishing in Sarqui
Leaving Sarqui on the morning towards Noronsquis, a hard entrance we found it was good to follow Doyle’s guide. This is a nice day anchorage, there is a beautiful lagoon where we went snorkeling and strangely found no fish. There was just a lonely turtle. As we do not trust this place to spend the night, where you can get trapped inside the lagoon if the weather turns bad, we go back to Crasqui where Oscar finally goes spear fishing and gets our fridge full with 2 yellow snappers and 1 mackerel.
El Gran Roque
Next we come to El Gran Roque, the only place around here were it is possible to find some shops. However, there is not a lot to buy. You need to get here when the ship comes and apparently it came last Wednesday, rather than Friday as we were told. It is a small town with several posadas for tourists. There is one place with internet and we wanted to get news from home but the internet was down. Finally, disappointed with this visit we left town. We found a bunch of kids at the dinghy docks messing up with our dinghies, and disgusted we left.
Francisquis - 11.58.0N-66.37.8W
We entered Francisquis in the afternoon with poor visibility and it was hard, it seems that we choose the shallow part to enter.
This place is very crowded and there are so many mosquitoes, we don't understand why so many people is here, probably because of the vicinity of El Gran Roque, we don't really like it.
Here we met Peter, from Eleytheria, he is also from Argentina, he tells us about La Rueda, a net run by Alejandro in Bs As at 23.00 UTC, frequency is 14385. If you speak spanish, this is a great net to join in.
Dos Mosquises - 11.47.5N-66.57.0W
A four hour sailing trip took us to the western part of Los Roques. We traveled with Beduina and Tortuguita. Talita in Bediuna caught a nice barracuda and 1/2 hour later Oscar caught one as well. What a delicious fish, cooked in the oven was a real treat. We arrived to a beautiful anchorage in Tres Palmeras. The entrance is tricky and you need good light but once inside the lagoon anchorage is great.
Next morning we went to visit the research station where they have a program to protect turtles, taking care of the turtles until they are a year old when they release them back in the water. They are doing a good job and we left a contribution to a good cause.
The beautiful beach in Sarqui
The research station
Talita is allowed to gently hold a turtle
Cayo de Agua - 11.49.20N-66.56.40W
Arriving here we had to negotiate another tricky entrance but we came with good light and did well. This place has an amazing beach with a sand bar where two islands met: West Cay and Cayo de Agua.
It is an outstanding place with beach and corals on both sides and a light house at the end. Amazing colors with white sand and many colors in the clear waters.
Cayo de Agua and West Cay meet in an amazing sand bar
Finally we are ready to leave Los Roques towards Las Aves. On November 6, right after breakfast we leave together with Beduina and Tortuguita. Exiting was easy with the sun behind. Los Roques was a wonderful experience indeed.
Just across Cayo de Agua, in the same lagoon is Bequeve, another beautiful place where we find Livin the Dream, the only ones at the anchorage. They invited us for drinks and we were able to catch up. They have heard from our mutual friends in Drum, who had finally left PLC. John and Anne are leaving to Las Aves and will be heading soon towards Cartagena and San Blas. We are starting to feel nostalgic as soon we'll go different ways from all our friends.
Only a few of the islands are inhabited mainly by fishermen. We visited several of the islands while going from one end of the archipelago to the other.
The coral reefs host some of the most beautiful underwater fauna and flora of the Caribbean and the park has amazingly beautiful beaches of white sand and multicolor, crystalline warm waters which make it a diving, sailing and fishing paradise.
The archipelago has an atoll structure not very frequent in the Caribbean and common in the Pacific with external barriers formed by very developed and diverse coralline communities, an internal lagoon of shallow waters and sandy at the bottom of the sea.