This trip ranks as highly or better than any I’ve done in the past 8 years. With lighter winds than expected and hoped for it proves that the group dynamic is the most important thing on any expedition and these guys rank among the best. Of course, the mood was helped with 12 out of 14 days of kiting, most of them either at sunset or under the full moon with a strong sea breeze blowing late in the day.
We spent three full days exploring idyllic Tortuga. It is an impressive landscape. Dead flat, with a peppering of well-placed cactus and shrubs that shimmers in the mid day heat, making for a surreal feel that the cameras cannot capture. The land is contrasted against a backdrop of crystal clear bright blue water that are laced with massive parrot fish, plenty of lobster, triggerfish and a plethora of other tropicals from small to large. We spent our days reading, working out, playing cards, enjoying one incredible meal after another compliments of Nico and then the winds would come around and off we’d go into the night.
The only negative for me was continued problems with Discovery and a mound of escalating maintenance issues. Another blown impellar kept me kinked up in impossible body positions cussing at the generator for almost two days. I finally managed a work-around using the salt water washdown pump just as our water tanks were running dry and the batteries down to a bare minimum. On a boat with so many “luxuries” these problems are as inevitable as the sunrise, and something I’m plenty used to but sometimes enough is enough.
With an improved wind forecast and the return of the trades we spent one final night in Tortuga feasting on lobster and getting in a final sunset kite session before setting sail for Los Roques. It was a near-perfect sail, downwind with 20 knots keeping our speed up to arrive late in the day for another long session just inside the reef at Sebastapol.
Over the next 9 days we’d kite 6 different spots and even one long downwinder across a large section of the vast archipelago. We anchored in a new spot each night, each seemingly more spectacular than the last. Never in my years of sailing have I seen a place like Los Roques. The entire area is protected and managed very carefully by Inparque. Sand islands and reef all lie within the protection of a huge barrier reef, which keeps the waters within protected and calm. You can kite literally anywhere.
The main town of Gran Roque is touristy and yet quaint and fantastic. Brightly colored Posadas line the beach along with dozens of fishing boats. The streets are of sand and there is not one motorized vehicle on the island. No motorbikes, no cars. The pace is leisurely and the locals friendly. The town this time of year is filled with wealthy groups of stylish Europeans and the more well-to-do from Caracas and neighboring cities. At night each Posada becomes a mini-festival of music and candles, one romantic scene after another. I’m not sure what I imagined, but Los Roques beat all my expectations and I’m already looking forward to our return as we’ll be coming back to Los Roques twice in the next month.
Nico and I are now underway back to Puerto La Cruz to pick up our next group. We’ll then turn around and head back to Tortuga and Los Roques for more delights. Jody flew to Caracas from Los Roques to pick up our tow winch so we can now paraglide to 3,000 feet which I’m sure will make for some incredible aerial photography. Stay tuned for more adventures…