We’d gotten a couple nice evening sessions in Tortuga and were planning our early morning departure for Los Roques when we got “wind” of Hurricane Dean. My forecast had light wind and little swell on the horizon, but upon further investigation we found the beast bearing down on Martinique, forecasted to sweep 180 miles north of Los Roques in two days. I felt that was a little too close for comfort, so we decided to spend another day in Tortuga.
Sure enough, the first signs of Dean hit us the next day, with a gradually increasing swell that brought us some nice waves, the first we’ve had in months. Miguel had a nice long surf session at two breaks, and I gave it a short whirl, but with my ever-problematic knee I was forced to mostly watch. We ended the day under dazzling sunset and now feeling secure that Dean would pass well north of Los Roques we set off just after midnight for the archipelago.
We had decent winds and a good sail for the first 3 hours of the trip, but then the winds unfortunately subsided and we had to trade out for the donkeys. We threaded the reef into Los Roques just after noon, again blown away with the vivid colors and pristine beauty of this remarkable place. We had just enough wind for a short evening session, all of hoping for the forecast that was showing a healthy swell and wind on the backside of the hurricane to arrive.
Thankfully the winds and swell did arrive, giving us two insane days. We all played on the outer reef for a few hours, then hoisted Discovery’s sails and headed off for Gran Roque, Miguel and Bruce opting for a 10 mile downwinder along the reef. These were the best winds we’ve had in a month, and the day would only improve.
We finally stopped for lunch and a hasty clean of Discovery as we’d have a new guest arriving today, Mark Godley from Canada and the owner of the “Kitelauncher”, one of our sponsors. Getting him onto the boat turned out to be a bit of an epic in itself as Gran Roque was being slammed by swell and getting the dinghy into the docks was precarious at best. But we pulled it off, and motored around to Franciski, where Bruce and Miguel were already shredding some gorgeous offshore waves. Mark kited til sundown and the boys came back gutted, after kiting for well over 6 hours but sporting huge smiles.
On Monday Nico re-provisioned the boat for our final week while most of the gang hit the town to catch up on email. Then we headed east out to the outer reef again, where we found a gorgeous blue hole for swimming, filled with massive soft corals and alive with tropical fish of all types. Parrotfish, snapper, angels, grouper, wrasse, cod, triggers, sierra mackerel and dozens of others I can’t identify were scattered everywhere. I haven’t seen a single healthy reef in the Caribbean since our start back in January, so this was quite refreshing.
The wind blew all the next day as well, with gorgeous blue skies filling the white sky Dean had left in it’s wake, making photography possible again. Jody got out the lens while Mark and Bruce hit the water. My knee continues to keep me sidelined, which I’m noticing is seriously deteriorating my peace of mind. It was then further agitated when we took off for a downwinder, a 10 miler to Augustin, a jewel we found on the last trip. Miguel thought his student Rob was up for it, but after 5 minutes his kite went down and he wasn’t able to re-launch.
Discovery was well underway under full jib so we reefed her in, got Jody and Miguel in the dinghy and off they went for another rescue. Thinking fishing would be a good idea we put out two lines, then Bruce promptly rode across our stern and almost lost his johnson, all of us screaming at him to LOOKOUT! In the maelstrom Nico then hooked into a barracuda and almost broke his neck diving into the main salon for a knife, gashing his head. Luckily the line to Bruce snapped and the lure hadn’t touched him, hooking into his chicken loop instead of body parts. Broken but still standing, we carried on to Augustin thankful everyone was in mostly one piece.