Saturday, December 30, 2006

Aves de Barlavento


Our next stop was Aves de Barlavento. We finally brought the spinnaker out and we had about 3-4 knots of wind and we were traveling about 6 - 6.5 knots Speed over Ground. It was great and we used it for most of the sailing out here as it was all downwind and light air.

There are two separate little island archipelagos, separated by about 10 miles of deep water. They got their name from the large number of birds that make them their home. The birds live in the dense mangrove forests on the large island Isla Sur. It is a horseshoe reef that gives protection to the two islands and a few smaller cays. The bird-life on the southern island is pretty cool. There are hundreds of birds in the trees, adults and babies. The majority are various species of booby, but there are also seabirds and herons and we did see a pelican or two. Every dawn and dusk the birds climb out of the trees to feed and it is a sight to see. We couldn't really capture it on the camera, but imagine hundreds of birds setting out from the trees and flying around. They would sometimes find an updraft from the island and you could see them spiraling upwards, trying to find another wind draft. They did most of the hunting on the other side in the sea, so we didn't see that. But the flying was incredible.

There were many fishing boats here and we traded for red snapper once, for a very small bottle of rum (1 pint) and a small pack of cigarettes. We had about 8 red snapper on the deck and Mike kept saying no more - we can't eat that many. But he fried them in beer batter and they were great. It was a good thing too - we were getting low on food. Kim even had to bake some bread.

We did explore the whole island - it was pretty amazing. We found a rock sculpture, and the windward side was just as beautiful and the leeward side.

There was a little water inlet off the windward side. The terrain was mostly stickery plants so we had to be careful. We didn't go too close to the mangroves because we didn't want to upset the birds nesting with their young.

This little needle nose fish stood guard on our anchor rode. He was there everyday with his buddy who we didn't get a picture of. We also had little baby squids under the boat. There was some great snorkeling here. We saw some very big squid, a few great barracudas , some giant midnight queen fish and some very friendly cow fish. We did not get any pictures of these, you'll have to look them up or wait till we post some of the Bonaire underwater shots and we will try to get some of these species to show you.

We had a wonderful time here and were by ourselves in most of the anchorages for the first time - truly alone. We took advantage of it and made ourselves comfortable :)...we used lots of sunscreen.

Til the next island...Mike and Kim on Ka'imi

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