Our first trip to Los Aves proved worthy of a return, which has completely altered our planned itinerary, but all for the good. This time the crew of Discovery only had 4 days to prep both the boat and ourselves for our next guests, Thomas and Adriena Scheuring and their daughter Clara from Germany, and Martin Stockl and Keith Cockrum who would join us from the States. Martin and Keith were on our “try before you buy” gig and I’m happy to say now ten days later that they are our most recent owners! I’m not sure if it was the boat, the food, the locations, or what was the deciding element because unfortunately this trip it probably was not the wind. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We were supposed to be in Aruba by now but I write this 48 hours before departing for the States for some much needed time repairing body parts (knee and tooth) in Bonaire yet again. Just can’t peel ourselves away from this place, although getting back this time proved a lot more difficult. Our guests arrived right on time last Saturday, while Jody, Nico and I scrambled (as always) to meet our deadline. It never quite feels like paradise the day of departure for the crew, but once everyone was onboard everyone quickly got into leisurely pace of onboard life.
We had a go at kiting the local spot that afternoon, and even with light winds the boys had a good time. We had our first of many amazing meals that night at Chez Nico, then with a light forecast decided to head again for Los Aves, 45 miles east. We motored all night, arriving early the next day. Regardless of wind Los Aves is an incredible place, and this time around that was a good thing because we got very little of it. It howled the days leading up to the trip, and it’s howled ever since it ended yesterday, but the kiting was slim pickins’ for the 8 days we spent cruising the two archipelagos. But we did have our moments…
So we did kite several times, and of course snorkel, explore, relax, and take in the unique beauty that is Los Aves (spanish for “birds”, of which there are thousands). Each day we were greeted with spectacular weather, beautiful warm water, great company, fantastic food, many smiles and plenty of laughs. Keith and Martin even went for their first night dive/lobster gathering attempt (saw quite a few, nabbed a few less than that, but their attempt was worthy!).
One morning Jody, Keith and I woke up early and nabbed some early wind. I have to say it was one of the more special kite sessions I’ve ever had. Not only was it certain to have been a first for anyone- another in the growing list of first ridden places on this expedition around the world; but the beauty of the water, early morning light, and thousands of boobies and other seabirds diving, singing and dodging my kite made for a truly wonderful way to wake up. Like the US army recruitment slogan- “we do more before 9 am than most people do all day.” It felt like that, but without anyone shooting at me, screaming at me, or forcing me to eat crap food. There isn’t a single person permanent person living on these islands! Later that day we were all laughing about what it’s like to kite in Tarifa. Sorry, I prefer these “crowds”.
On the last couple days in Los Aves the weather turned a bit foul. Lots of rain kept us indoors watching movies and reading, while wind from all quarters made for some midnight re-adjustments to the anchor. This turned out to be quite fortuitous as I got to learn how to walk on the bottom with anchor in hand. It reminded me of the Laird Hamilton footage of him walking on the bottom with a boulder. Keith and Jody even took a try the next day at this new-found work out which I think will become a staple on The Best Odyssey for trips to come. The weather hardly shook anyone’s spirits though and I actually think it was while the rain was pounding that Keith and Martin decided they would be joining us for the next 4 years.
From Los Aves we motor sailed downwind all the way to Curacao, where everyone was scheduled to leave. Curacao was a reality hit I would have preferred to miss. Always painful visits to customs and immigration (4 times), airports (4 times), missed flights (2), delayed flights (2); which left Nico and I on the boat facing the first really good winds in 10 days- from the east, which was exactly where we needed to go back to Bonaire. We’d hoped to get Discovery hauled out of the water this week in our absense to prep her for the upcoming months (bottom paint, new prop zincs, etc.), but the only yard in the area (Curacao) is full and the only marina suitable to leave her is in Bonaire. Nico and I put our game faces on, cranked up the donkeys and headed out. 6 hours later and a little shaken (but not stirred) we made it to Bonaire.
The Best Odyssey takes a short hiatus for body repairs, rest, and reenergization for the next 3 weeks, then we’ll be heading west to Panama for our next series of grand adventures. Stay tuned.