Not sure quite where the weeks are going but we are certainly enjoying our stay in Bonaire, despite the red dust which settles on the boat and makes it filthy. Having the hatches open allows it to settle on everything inside as well, so we are using our 4 electric fans instead. This is an arid island and there is a lot of construction being done, so some of the dust must come from Bonaire. The rest is carried in the Tropical Waves, which originate in Africa and bring us dust from the Sahara along with disturbed weather. There are websites tracking these ‘waves’ and you can sometimes see up to 4 moving across the Atlantic at once. As some develop into Tropical Storms and Hurricanes, it is wise to keep an eye on them. We often sail between ‘waves’, so timing is paramount.
The cruisers meet every week at the burger night but the numbers fluctuate depending on who has left or arrived. Several of our friends left today, including Chuck and Barb from the USA on ‘Tusen Takk II’ and ‘Sören from Sweden on Lady Elaine’. ‘Ula’ left earlier this week, a lovely family from New Zealand with 3 young boys who behaved impeccably when they came over to Beyzano for the evening. It was a late night, nearing 2300 when they left but Ely, Salem and Eden were very entertaining company and a credit to their parents, Dave and Vicky and we hope to see them again in Curaçao. It is always sad to see people move on but that’s the nature of our lifestyle and you never know who will be on the next yacht to sail into the bay.
We set up a Mexican Train Dominoes game for Monday and had another session yesterday, with 3 new recruits now knowing how to play. They had seen people playing on other islands and were keen to join in and Linda brought delicious brownies along. Despite Chuck winning 7 of the 13 rounds, he still ‘had the most fun’, i.e. came last as he picked up a whopping 166 points in 1 round, courtesy of his fellow players not starting a public train for him to put his dominoes on. Glad I was on the other table!
We also attended our first open air cinema screening at the Empire Cinema, a short walk from the marina at a cost of 6 pounds each. Naturally there isn’t a lot of call for outside cinemas in the UK and it was great fun, well attended and the new ‘Jurassic World’ film was being shown ahead of the US opening. Great film with nice velociraptors and all the dinosaurs were so realistic!
Tuesdays or Fridays are supermarket bus night, using the free bus at 1700. It returns at 1800, so the shopping trip doesn’t really interfere with the socialising. Last Friday the bus was full, the supermarket cool, quiet and jam-packed with everything we could wish for. There was also a stall outside selling smoked chicken and the smell was heavenly so we bought one and it was delicious, if a bit expensive!
The laundry run was expensive too, as expected, costing nearly 28 pounds. I did have 3 loads in the end and 2 loads for the dryers. There were plenty of machines available and I prefer to do my own washing, just so I can add clothes conditioner and tumbler dryer sheets and fold the clothes. For some reason, most laundries seem to want to fold the clothes into tiny squares and ironing everything is not a good option on a boat without shore power. The travel iron will work on our inverter but it is so small it takes forever. I think it is cheaper to do the washing on the boat and make water instead but there is the issue of the red dust when you hang the clothes out to dry.
We have been diving, every other day at least and have seen abundant fish, including huge tarpon and beautiful parrotfish. A turtle swam right past us, gracefully gliding by. Lately we have been trying to concentrate on identifying the smaller fish, as we know the names of most of the bigger ones. We dive under the boat as the reef is just under our stern and you can’t get lost going along the reef since it runs under all the moored boats. Sometimes we travel to a dive site by dinghy, either on the main island or over to Klein Bonaire if it is calm. Then you just tie the dinghy to one of 80 yellow, named dive buoys and hop over the side to the reef below. You can pick up a free map with all the locations and names of the sites from most dive shops and the tourist office in town.
It was our Wedding Anniversary on the 7th and Rob surprised me with an unexpected present. It was wrapped in a Budget Marine boat chandlery bag, so I thought it would be something boat related again, like the outboard engine I had for my 50th birthday or the marine toilet I got a couple of years before. But no, it was a stunning piece of jewellery, which we can add to in future and I’ve already seen that they do little charms with sailing yachts and anchors on them.
We also celebrated with a ‘posh’ meal, something most cruisers splash out on very rarely. ‘At Sea’ is a short walk south along the coast and we went there twice in 2013. The service and presentation are still excellent but their concept of ‘flavours’ has been taken a bit too far, with the number and variety of flavours totally masking the taste of the chicken and fish we ordered. It all looks very pretty but we, and several others, have now mentioned to them that they are overdoing the accompaniments with the main course. Hopefully they will listen, as there are many more great restaurants on Bonaire.
The watermaker is still working well (tempting fate) and we fill the front tank every other day or less, at the same time as heating up the water and using the electric kettle, toaster and charging equipment up. As we are diving regularly we have been using a fair bit of water, not in rinsing the dive gear but in hair washing. Whilst we wait for our tanks to be refilled, we wash off our gear in the dive shop’s tanks, saving a lot of our own water. It has been my hair, something Rob likes to be long, which has been taking so much water to wash, so at last I persuaded him to let me take the plunge and had a good 6 inches chopped off the back. It’s a regular topic with female cruisers; what best to do about your hair. The choices are simple really. You can have it long, tie it up all the time and you don’t need to get it cut very often but for me it just hung there looking like no style at all. Or you can have it cut very short and hope your husband or a friend can cut it but very short doesn’t suit everyone. I’ve gone for the worst option I suppose, which is to have a graduated bob with some layers around my face and this will need to be maintained and not by Rob but at least he liked it! There are good hairdressers on Bonaire but I don’t know how I’ll get on further west, time will tell.
I was told that the Netherlands is becoming concerned about the increasingly unstable situation in Venezuela, which is less than 100 miles away and worried that refugees might start arriving in Bonaire, Curaçao or Aruba. The coastguard has been very visible lately, patrolling the island’s coastline. Friends (I think it was Orion I) also told us that they had been advised not to go to the Aves and Roques, gorgeous groups of tiny islands just east of here, as people with boats are considered rich and when they arrive on the islands and can afford to buy a lot of the food, it just fuels the feeling of desperation in the Venezuelans and apparently there have been examples of animosity towards cruisers.
Last night 7 friends joined us for drinks and snacks, as 3 were leaving today and another 2 on Thursday. We moved to Tusen Takk’s mooring this morning, simply because if we swing around 360 degrees we wouldn’t hit anything, whereas there were mooring blocks for the fishing boats in the shallow water opposite where we were last moored. We added our own extra line as the mooring lines didn’t look very new and shortly afterwards the Marine Park boat came along to replace them both, so we feel very safe in the high winds now. I waved off Sören, our neighbour for over a fortnight, who is a single-hander, that rare breed of sailor who is happy to sail alone across the oceans.
So all in all, we are having a lot of fun but as soon as the house contracts exchange we will have to book flights, sail to the marina on Curaçao and get back to the UK for completion and to live in a house for 3 months. Beds that don’t move – how weird that will be!