One of the issues to watch out for whilst in Bonaire is the wind reversal. A couple of times a season, the wind blows in from the west and the shoreline becomes very unpleasant, as the deep water quickly shallows and the waves bounce off the beach back through the moorings.
There is a website posting warnings when this occurs and Curacao gets hit first, so they alert Bonaire. If we see the fishermen taking shelter, then we ought to do the same, whether in the marina or out to sea for a day or so.
On Thursday, we did have a slight reversal and Beyzano swung round with her stern towards the beach. It wasn’t too rough but despite boats of 55 feet supposedly being able to use the moorings, our stern started floating through the dive school buoys which marked out their confined water area. I saw that a buoy had got entangled in Galene’s gear so swam over to get that off for them but when I got back to Beyzano, her rudder was caught in 2 thick loops of rope, which were being held high up the rudder by a couple of buoys.
As Rob is out of action, I had to get them off and fortunately was able to twist them one by one on the boat hook like spaghetti and then force them down and under the long rudder until they popped off. We then decided we couldn’t risk staying on that mooring, nor could we approach any other free ones as it would mean going into shallow waters to head into the wind. So, our only option was to try out the marina.
Leaving the mooring was a heart stopping time in itself, as once we dropped the 2 lines, we had long ropes dangling around the boat. Another buoy with a line to the seabed was just in front of us as well, so there were plenty of dangers to contend with. Losing the propeller at that point, with the beach only 30 metres away would have been disastrous. We managed though and motored into the marina through the rocky entrance.
First we had to tie to the fuel dock to sort out a berth. Didn’t quite understand why, as there were loads free and the staff knew we were down to 1.5 arms and couldn’t do much. The new employee was very keen and helpful but tied off the bow far too tightly and Beyzano lurched towards the dock, stern went out and Rob had to leap ashore to get the stern line on! Once we had chosen the berth it was time to leave the fuel dock and the ‘assistance’ this time was to untie the lines as soon as I started the engine. Again the stern started to leave the jetty before Rob was even onboard but he jumped on somehow ☺
Fortunately a super yacht was berthed next to where we were going and one of their crew came to take our lines as well, so it was better as they knew what they were doing. So for 1 night we were safely docked next to ‘Jack’s Sin’, a 80+ foot motor yacht with a 28 foot tender with 2 x 250 hp outboards which they tow behind. Lovely boat, according to the web she is for sale at near 7 million if you fancy her!
The docks are nice and high, about level with our deck and very easy for Rob to get on and off. There is a swimming pool, bar and restaurant, clean showers but no shelves nor hooks in the shower cubicles, no soap or drier by the sinks and no hot water. Typical of most of the Caribbean facilities really, unless you go later in the day when the sun has heated up the water.
That evening our spies out in the mooring area texted us to say one of the boats had hauled its dinghy onto the foredeck, so likely to be leaving in the morning and sure enough they did. We pottered out again and took the vacant buoys, which are well clear of any obstructions this time, so no matter if we swing around 360°.
Several cruisers have asked if I would like to go diving with them whilst Rob is incapacitated, which is very kind. I went with Richard and Rowena on ‘Galene’ one afternoon and we dropped down the reef under our boats to about 18 metres, seeing loads of pretty fish and a lionfish. They are still trying to keep their numbers down before they decimate the reef fish population but only the locals are given special training and spears now, as it became difficult to keep track of the equipment with visiting boats coming and going.
There are divers around our boat every day, given away by the bubbles and lights at night. Quite strange to see the green lights moving around underneath us and the sound of bubbles on the hull. We will probably take a guided night dive the first time as I think it will be a bit scary!! We have rigged up some ropes on the dinghy so we can get back in as there are well over 80 dive sites, marked with a yellow, stick buoy and a loop to tie your dinghy to. Once Rob is able to dive again we intend visiting a few sites further afield and on the island just opposite, Klein Bonaire. The sandy beaches and bright turquoise water over there look amazing.
Using the ‘noodle’ as a shoulder support and a swimming sling ‘Tranquility’ lent him, Rob has been snorkelling. This morning we were in the water before 0700 and it was obviously breakfast time for the fish as there were hundreds around our boat, near the surface and all eating something! The flounders are well camouflaged until they move.
On a domestic front all is well. We topped up with water whilst in the marina to save running the watermaker but people take containers in to fill up otherwise. The fuel dock is easy to get onto and we also went past it and could turn around to approach into the wind. You can get petrol for the outboard there as well and they will pass the hose into the dinghy so you don’t have to lift the tank up onto the dock. Comms are more problematic as the 4G dongle we bought from Digicel has never managed 4G, sometimes 3G but mostly 2G. The connection is better early in the morning, at lunchtime and late at night but we aren’t sure it will be up to Skyping. There aren’t many good or free connections in local bars either, so we are making do. A friend lent us his MyFi dongle and this is working well with our local SIM card.
The generator stopped one morning but we found a lot of oil in the case and the pipe had come adrift due to the vibration, spilling out the oil. At least it wasn’t the impellor this time and we only had to mop up the spill, secure the pipe again, tighten up the screws and put in a litre of oil.
‘Coho’ introduced us to Martin and Ellen yesterday, as they have cruised in Surinam and had lots of great information on the river and facilities. It is a place we hope to visit later on. A few of us have been talking about getting around Bonaire and seeing a few of the sights. Scooter hire is 25 US$ a day or 3 days for 65 US$ and as they are 2 seater we can manage that, if Rob trusts me to ‘drive’! We have settled in here very happily and the hull is incredibly clean still in the clear water. Some of the fish nibble it clean as well ☺