Islas Los Roques

Michael Hughes and Ger White
Tue 8 Dec 2009 22:07
Well I think we've just found sailors' heaven!!  These Venezuelan islands--Los Roques-- are 70 miles off the coast and you could spend long happy days sailing amongst these deserted islands--good breezes, but flat seas as all protected from the ocean swell by a large coral reef on the Eastern side--beautiful beaches on coral attols--lovely water colours telling you where is deep water and where is shallow or coral reef. And the chart plotter is about half a mile out, so it's back to good old navigation principles--first time I've used the hand held compass in ages!
We set off from Grenada on Saturday morning--6th--sailing for Bonaire and still debating whether we should stop at Los Roques--which is bang on the route-- given it is not a clearing in port for Venezuela. Sad to leave Grenada--we've been 4 times now, using the Phare Bleu marina--and I guess it's unlikely Simanderal will be there again.
So some 45 hours later--290 miles averaging over 6 knots in a brisk easterly with some nasty squalls on the 7th and a lot of familiar rolling Atlantic style--we approached Los Roques and moored off Grande Roque--the only inhabited island amongst dozens--to see if we could visit. First off Coastguard--no English and our Spanish ain't much--and we managed to negotiate 2 days transit visit--then cleared with the Civil Guard, the Park Authority and someone else.  Then up anchor and off to a beautiful anchorage surrounded by beaches and coral reefs, flat calm but good breeze to keep us cool--did I enjoy that cool beer--or two--and a great dinner on board--tuna sashimi followed by pork chops. And a bit of swimming and 12 hours sleep to make up for that lost on passage.
Then this morning we had a wonderful 20 mile sail through  the islands to West Key--the most westerly group of islands where we are now anchored in splendid isolation having just enjoyed a great lunch and a swim.
Plan is to go to the Aves islands tomorrow--even more remote!-- and then on to Bonaire and back to civilisation.