Both our boats had been in the Bonaire/Curacao area for almost 6 months and needed to leave the country to restart the 6 month customs period. Traveling east means bucking the wind, waves and current so we carefully followed the weather and left Bonaire with a two day forecast of less than 15 knots of wind and 4 foot seas.
|Miss Charlotte at anchor|
The Aves are part of Venezuela and there is a small coast guard station at Sotavento. Our plan was to spend one night there then proceed on to the Aves de Barlovento for most of our stay.
|Hilary and Scott|
A large reef surrounds the clear water, islands and smaller reefs. Most islands consist of no more than sand, a few plants and an occasional palm tree.
One larger island anchors each of the two island groups and these are dense with mangroves on the protected lagoon side and bare and windswept on the other. This section is really lovely and colorful with "meadows" of southern glasswort, seaside purslane and saltwort all in different shades of green and gold. See the picture below.
|Hilary and Scott get ready for some snorkeling. You can|
see the channel through the reefs
He left the conch not wanting the distinction of eating the last two alive.
The water varies enormously in depth. This results in a huge variety of blue green colors that at some times of the day meld into the sky. The snorkeling is excellent and there are many protected spots to anchor. To get around we practiced "eyeball navigation". The charts show the configuration of the reefs, islands and the depth of the water between them. But after studying them we put the chart down and us our eyes to follow the deep blues and dark turquoise/jades paths among the more pastel shallow areas.
|The path to the Memorial from the mangrove entrance|
|There's a gap in the mangroves where you can pull in your dingy and|
then follow the path above
The channels are often narrow but easy to see when the light is good. This happens when the sun is above you or behind you. It's almost impossible when it's in front. So we time our arrival and departure accordingly. We found a lovely spot just north of Isla Sur, the second bay in from the west, with great holding and well protected by a series of small reefs.
|Hilary gets our hors d'eouves ready - that's our Scott|
Free sign behind her on the left. It's brown as we
Hilary, Scott and I took our dinghies out to several different reefs each day to snorkel. They varied enormously but all had lots of great fish and some, healthy vibrant corals. Storms and fisherman have caused a lot of damage. Once I came across a 6 foot nurse shark sleeping on the sand inside a coral corral - and backed out very quickly. That is the first shark we'd seen since we began our trip, while in the water.
We painted and varnished boat signs to place there in Bonaire and one lovely evening left them there, drank wine, and saluted the many sailors who came before us.Scott and I had been here two years ago with "Angel" on our way to Bonaire from Grenada and knew about the boater's memorial on Isla Larga. A small gap in the mangroves allows access to the "moors" on the windward side and there with the ocean pounding behind is this beautiful spot.
Every other morning Hilary and I dinghied over to a beach and did our exercises and yoga. What a beautiful spot to meditate afterwards - and have a swim. That's me at the top of this entry.
It was hard to pull up anchor from this peaceful spot and return back to civilization. But weather windows only come once in a while so when a good one arrived we sailed for Curacao. Scott and I needed to apply for a 90 day extension on our immigration visa. Tony and Hilary are hauling their boat in two weeks and returning to London and Tuscany (tough huh!).
|Tony and Hilary on "Miss Charlotte"|
|Close up of the Miss Charlotte sign|