When I planned to make the sail straight from Grenada to Puerto Rico the only thing to worry about (geographically speaking) was a tiny sandbar of an island called Aves Island (Spanish for Bird Island) that sits by itself in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. It is roughly 225 miles from Grenada, 180 miles from Puerto Rico, and 115 miles from Montserrat.
Even though it sits in the middle of nowhere, sailors still need to pay attention when sailing my route because it sits about 5 miles off a straight passage between Grenada and St Croix. I found my Garmin chart plotter was off by three miles, but Navionics on my tablet is accurate as the island sits at N15 39.653/W063 36.975.
The island is a quarter mile long, no more than 160 feet wide, and only 13 feet at the highest point. The only thing on the island besides a little vegetation, birds, and turtles is a huge, three story scientific naval base named Simón Bolívar built in 1978 by the Venezuelan Navy to maintain their rights and claims to the sand bar that was granted by a 1865 ruling made by Isabella II of Spain. This was due to claims from Venezuela and the Dutch islands of Saba, Statia, and St Martin which were still allowed to fish the waters around the island.
I have been wanting to make the sail my dad and I did ever since I found out about Aves Island and we made plans to alter our direct course to Puerto Rico to pass 3 miles to the west of the island. The idea was that if we would be passing it within daylight hours, we would continue to it and hopefully spot it around 5 miles out (which we did) and then sail closer to it once we knew exactly where it was. If it turned out to be dark by the time we got there, or the weather was bad, we would have adjusted the course to a more direct route to Puerto Rico and put more miles between us and the island for safety sake.
We ended up passing the island at 4pm with the sun shining where we were. The weather was 15-20 knots of wind and the seas were 4-6 feet. I would have loved to anchor and land on the island, but it was not safe enough in my opinion. We were able to sail between a quarter mile and half a mile of the island and the depth sounder never registered a bottom, so it is deep right up to the western side. The only interesting thing is the naval base, but we could not stop looking at it and taking pictures. It sits over the water on 20-25 foot stills and has three levels above that. There is a walkway and stairs or ladder to the island itself. The base appeared to be abandoned and I can only imagine how cool it would have been to walk around inside the base.
What do you think? Would you like to check out the inside of the base also? Would you sail here just to see this island no one else has even heard of?