Our “few” days in Los Roques turned into six – we just couldn’t seem to
tear ourselves away from this piece of paradise. It was absolutely
stunning – cruiser’s heaven if there is one. Turquoise waters, magnificent
white sandy beaches and amazing snorkelling with the most abundant fishlife
we’ve ever seen. Best of all there was noone here. In six days we
only saw three other cruising boats, two Venezuelan motor boats, one charter
yacht and a superyacht. Most anchorages were absolutely deserted –
bliss. But of course there is a reason for this which I explained in our
last “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” blog......the Veneuelans don’t make it easy for
cruising boats. We were there illegally, which went against the grain, but
we had little option. And because of this we were constantly looking
over our shoulder.
On day two, when David spied an official looking RIB approaching at speed
we thought it was all over. A quick call to Balvenie on the VHF to alert
them confirmed our suspicions.....it certainly appeared to be coastguard.
Black RIB, people in uniform on board. Collective hearts skipped a beat
but as the RIB came closer the VHF crackled....”do you think coastguard have
blonde hair and long legs” said Mark. Hmmm....possibly not. Turned
out the RIB was from Senses, ex Doug Myers superyacht which was anchored nearby,
and the uniformed officials were in fact the crew obviously enjoying a spin in
the tender. Phew.....first close encounter over and done with.
We kept moving in Los Roques; one reason being there were so many divine
anchorages that we wanted to see as many as possible and the other to hopefully
avoid detection. For years other people had been telling us how amazing
Los Roques were and we have to say, the Venezuelan archipelago surpassed our
expectations. The Roques consist of dozens of tiny (most uninhabited)
islands and coral reefs all anchored in the most stunning coloured water – from
sapphire blue to light turquoise. The intensity of light and colour was
simply superb. Snorkelling was the best we’d had and while visibility was
fantastic sometimes it was hard to see far ahead due to a wall of fish.
At our second to last anchorage we snorkelled on a wonderful reef and, on
swimming back to Bandit, noticed a rather large barracuda sitting underneath
Bandit’s keel. Getting out of the water fast, with fins, up a ladder, is
not easy let alone ladylike, but damned if I was going to share my swimming
space with such a large ‘cuda. However I had to get used to it as for the
next two days large barracuda seemed to be constant companions. They did
keep their distance......but seemed to watch our every move – a little
disconcerting to say the least. Still rather ‘cuda than stingrays. I
don’t mind the graceful spotted rays we saw in the windwards, but not ordinary
old stingrays. On one of our morning swims we swam into a school of about
eight, including one who adopted the defensive tail in the air
position.....another encounter I could have done without.
Coming into our final anchorage Becqueve we had hopefully our final
encounter.....I was on the bow guiding David through the shallow spots and coral
bombies when I spotted a sinister black shape in the water ahead – sure enough
it was a shark. Probably a harmless reef shark but a shark
nonetheless. Our last day snorkelling was the best yet. The coral
was wonderful and it was like swimming through an underwater forest – an
adventure playground for millions of fish. David decided to swim/snorkel
back to the boat and as he did he spotted a lobster crawling along the
seabed. Of course by the time he’d retrieved a glove off the boat the
lobster had gone but it was definitely a close encounter we could happily have
had more of.
We are now on our way to the Aves – another group of Venezuelan islands and
coral reefs – and the only encounter we are hoping for is lobster.