Friday, April 20, 2007

Cayo Herradura, Tortuga, Venezuela

We left at 6 AM on Heather's birthday, April 17, to sail on to Tortuga. It was an easy broad reach with 10 - 13 knots of wind and 3 - 5 foot waves off the stern quarter. We averaged just over 6 knots until noon when the wind died down and we had to motor sail the rest of the way. Late in the afternoon Dave caught a large Dorado and radioed us that they'd be bringing some over for dinner. We were both anchored in the large shallow bay of Cayo Herradura off Tortuga by 6 PM and not long afterward toasting each other in our cockpit with rum punches. Scott had made brownies and cole slaw yesterday and now set the table with a birthday party tablecloth. We roasted vegetables on the grill and baked the fish. A wonderful celebration as I turned 62.
Tortuga is a mostly unpopulated low dry island 40 miles off Venezuela. We were staying at one of the small cays off the NW end of the island. A long crescent white beach circumscribed one side and were continued by reefs three quarters of the way around.
Only a few small fishing shacks stood on one side. In one was a shrine to the Virgin Mary and another shrine stood alone in the grass near the beach. A path of stones led up to the glassed in statue with many small religious tokens surrounding it.

These charming shrines are very well taken care of and as there are several on some of the islands, they probably belong to individual families. At the end of the cay was a red and white striped lighthouse. At one side was a small graveyard with simple crosses, shown here with the lighthouse in the picture.

That first night there was one boat sharing our anchorage and the next, we were alone. But the third day was Venezuelan Independence Day and after breakfast the first of the big power boat squadrons arrived. By noon there were 40+ big motor boats lining the beach. The deserted crescent beach of the day before was lined with umbrellas and tents. Hundreds of people lined the beach, swam in the water and buzzed around in fast dinghies. It was an amazing transformation. We were off that night at 6 PM for an overnight sail to Los Roques so we waved good-bye.

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