During just 1 dive this week, at 18th Palm, we saw 3 breathtaking sights, which will stay with us always. Firstly we found a bright yellow frogfish, a rare sight as they are normally well camouflaged but this time it was clinging to green tube sponges and quite obvious. They are such strange creatures with their narrow wide mouths, lightening fast lures to catch their food and a mouth that opens so fast it creates a vacuum to suck in more food. They look like blobs of jelly really and have fins with webbed toes and can be found in several colours.
The next wonderful experience was being totally surrounded by tens of thousands of small silvery fish, all in a tight bundle, glittering all around us. A few tuna were chasing them but not very energetically. Magical!
Finally an enormous navy blue midnight parrotfish swam by, another fish we rarely encounter. Such a wonderful dive and as it is near a very quiet branch of the dive shop we use, easy to get the tanks filled and our gear washed off. Tomorrow we plan to go back there with our friends from ‘Balance’ as they are reasonably new divers and it would be a nice dive to get them back into practice.
We have been socialising of course and joined ‘Horizons’ searching out the secret caves a few miles NE of Kralendijk along a very muddy track. Trust us to choose the day after the only rain we’d seen in months. The 4×4 almost got stuck once and all but Di got out to lighten the load and let her drive through the mud. The caves were well worth finding, containing lots of stalactites and stalagmites plus a big, sleepy owl. A dead goat lay in 1 cave and lots of crab legs and pieces of shell. Not quite sure how they all got there though as we didn’t see anything else likely to eat them. Some Indian style inscriptions were painted on the cave walls and they looked authentic compared with the ‘real’ signs we saw in a proper tourist cave further north.
It was sad to see all the plastic and other waste washed up onto the windward coast beach. So much rubbish that has been discarded elsewhere for it to litter a small island in the Caribbean. Some of the islanders on other islands we have stayed at don’t seem to care themselves but Bonaire certainly does.
After getting back onto the main road we headed for the kitesurfing lagoon on the eastern coast, a vast area of shallow water with a couple of bars and sun loungers to hire for the day. We chilled out for the afternoon, had lunch and swam before driving around the coast road to see the slave huts, obelisks and salt mountains. Slaves worked here in the searing heat and had to live in the small huts, 6 at a time, during the week. They were allowed to walk home to see their families in the north of the island on Sundays.
We were also treated to a really good ‘green flash’, a sight much sought after here. If you haven’t seen the green flash you haven’t lived! Just as the sun drops below the horizon you can see it, an obvious green flash for a couple of seconds as the sun goes down. A great day, with our thanks to Jeff, Di and Claudia for inviting us to join them.
We had friends over for BBQs on Thursday and Saturday, drinks on Sunday and are playing dominoes on Beyzano on Wednesday. We still have 4 dive tanks fills to finish off and need to get US dollars out for when we arrive in the San Blas as they don’t have ATMs there. We need confirmation of their proposed new entrance charges, hinted at on Facebook as becoming law on January 1st and rumours abound about the cost. A frightening option for our size boat was 10,000 US$, ridiculously high. We would definitely have to say, ‘thanks but goodbye’ if this turns out to be true.
Today we spent the morning over on Klein Bonaire with James and Claire of ‘Ocean Rainbow’ and ‘Moody Mistress’, 2 more Belize Rally participants. The beach on Klein consists of perfect white sand with clear turquoise water just off it, followed by a busy reef just a short snorkel from the beach. Ideal for all the cruise ship passengers to spend the day but we all just wanted to see the fish and took our 2 dinghies over to tie up to 1 of the dive buoys. It was reasonably choppy on the return trip but we headed straight across and then used the lee of Bonaire to motor south back to the moorings. The 6 of us then snorkelled just in front of the moorings and Rob took the photo showing the brilliant colours of the reef.
We had thought we might be sailing off for Santa Marta this week but I listened to Chris Parker on SSB 8137 at 0700 again this morning and a huge trough is developing over the Caribbean and he said it wasn’t good news, expected to bring countless squalls over the weekend, exactly the time we were hoping to go. Hopefully a lull will develop before the middle of December to give us at least 3 good days, as it will take that long even if we go direct and don’t stop along the way. We have several options; to go back to Curaçao and wait there (we prefer it here for the diving and social life); continue to Aruba (we haven’t been there) and put up with their dreadful clearing in process and higher winds and wait there or go straight from here, either stopping or not stopping in 1 or more of the bays en route. There is no point being in Aruba and getting no further before Christmas as then we might as well be in Curaçao for the start of the rally. So we have a few decisions to make that all depend on the weather as always. Patience is a real virtue in a sailor.