Strange story but my navionics
map has this note next to the Aves islands:
Mariners are advised that prior to visiting these islands, they should visit Margarita to obtain clearance. The venezuelen goverment have stated that they will start seizing yachts failing to do so.
We sailed from Grenada
about 2 weeks ago and the above note convinced us not to stop at any of the Venezuelan islands. With the situation getting worse since last February we stayed far away from the coast and from the islands. Sailing up to almost 13°N before heading for Bonaire.
During the second night of this passage
, 25/26 May, 45NM north of La Blanquilla at 00:00 we where approached by a vessel on our bow that had no navigation
lights, no AIS
and we could not see it on radar
. We saw what looked like a white flashlight that was turned on for several minutes from time to time. When it looked like the distance between us and this vessel became less we decided to change course 90° and sail north. The unidentified vessel also altered course and after about 30 minutes it was again on our port-side going up north with us.
At this moment and with all the piracy
stories about this coast we decided to turn off our tri-color toplight, turn off our AIS
transponder and all interior
lights. We turned on the engine
and combined with the sails
this brought us to hull speed
and we ran away in stealth mode. We could still see the other vessel for the next few hours as we tried to get away north.
At about 5am when we saw 2 cargo vessels on AIS north of us and a bit later their nav-lights the unidentified vessel disappeared.
With the first day-light a bit later and these big vessels around we decided to turn our nav-lights and AIS transponder on again and continue our course towards Bonaire.
We still don't know what it was and if it was any danger
to us but it was a nerve wracking night for us. Maybe it was just a small fishing
vessel and all the stories about this coast made us paranoid, we will never know. It definitely was no sailing vessel as it's speed changed from high speeds to almost nothing from time to time.