11:57N 66:39W Los Roques

Conor & Marion Wall
Sat 22 Jan 2011 05:55
OK, so we left Isla Blanquilla for Los Roques on Friday 22nd January. We didnât depart the anchorage until 1500 local time as it was an overnight passage and we did not want to arrive Los Roques during the dark.
Sunset on the way to Los Roques. Why are sunsets nearly always more stunning than sunrises?
Los Roques as explained in Reedâs Caribbean Guide is a group of many cays and an extensive and dangerous coral reef about 70 miles off the coast of Venezuela. Chris Doyle in his guide explains the islands as an unbelievable cruising area made up of about 14 by 25 miles of protected, reef studded water, dotted with pretty little islands. The shallow reef areas reflect so much light that the clouds sometimes turn green colour and whole areas of reef seem to give off a greenish glow. Marion and I have seen birds, especially pelicans, fly past our boat and have had to look twice as the underside of their wings was most definitely a green blue colour. The cays are all lower than 25 feet in height except for one of the islands El Roque on the northern extremity that rises to 380 feet. There is a small airstrip on that island and a small village with one shop.
Port side as we entered Francisquis anchorage. The little shack appeared to be a place where kite surfers hang out.
As we were here illegally, strictly speaking, we avoided the village and instead headed for the beautiful anchorage of Francisquis. A pool of water almost completely surrounded by three small islands and adjoining reefs giving it total protection with plenty of room to anchor, powdery beaches and good snorkling.
Toucan at anchor with three other boats at Francisquis pool.
We had entered Los Roques at the South Eastern end of the group in the early morning and had motored up through the extensive reef of over ten miles long with the sun behind us. We noticed that our GPS chart positions were about a half a mile out so it was essential to eyeball the passage with the aid of the GPS and allowing for the error factor.
We spent two nights in this beautiful anchorage but would have liked to have spent more. We were a little worried that should we outstay our welcome that we might be targeted by the marine patrol/customs with hefty fines. Formalities for Venezuela require you to check in at a main port, for us that would have been Margarita, 138 miles to the South East of Los Roques and a place that we would have loved to visit. Unfortunately as already explained there are issues with going there and we did not want to put our boat or ourselves at risk so avoided that area. Without checking into Venezuela we were here illegally and to top that Los Roques is a National Park and special permission is required for yachts to visit. Once again this permission can only be given at the main ports of call on the mainland.
I just had to show you this photo, no not seals but domestic dogs that swan back and forth between two of the islands. A hefty swim for an adult let alone a dog. The larger dog leading the way and the little fellow behind, swam right past our anchored boat a couple of times.
We moved to another beautiful anchorage at the Eastern end of Isla Carenero. Itâs hard to believe that these islands could be more beautiful but I think they were. The snorkling perhaps not as good but the beaches were just amazing.
A sample beach with day trippers chilling. They seem to fly in for the day and go by sunset. True jet setters and Spanish speaking.
Our anchorage was a short dinghy ride from this beach above. Once again we anchored with a small group of yachts, three plus ourselves.
I tried to do a bit of fishing from the dinghy on advice given to be by another boat at Isla Blanquilla some days earlier. Was assured that it never fails so I trawled a lure around the outer end of the reef. Nothing even close to taking my lure and then I noticed a frenzy of what looked like smaller fish being chased by larger fish, the water was boiling with fish jumping all over the place so I quickly got over and into the millee. There were fish jumping over my line, over my lure, even over the dinghy but still no bite on the hook. It must have looked comical from the other boats and Marion certainly got a laugh out of it. We had tinned salmon for supper.
Again we stayed here two nights although we would have liked longer. We left this most beautiful group of islands, reefs and cays and set off for the first of what is known as the ABC Islands. Bonaire would be our first in the group.