So another week goes on by and the winds are increasing in strength rather than allowing us to head for Colombia. It is possible that the trade winds have set in and could be with us for many weeks or months. We now have 3 options and decisions to make but the weather may decide for us. Firstly we can just stay in Bonaire, safe on the mooring we have occupied since the beginning of November and continue to enjoy the social life and diving. Second option is to make the 6-hour downwind sail to Curaçao and put up with being anchored in the very windy Spanish Waters. Trouble with this option is that you stay on the boat a lot more as a dinghy ride anywhere will result in a soaking. There isn’t much to do without hiring a car and it is more difficult to get domestic chores done, such as the laundry but we have lots of friends there to pass the time with and a few gatherings planned with the other OCC Rally boats. Our third and least favoured option is to use a day’s calm (if it turns up) to sail to Aruba and just wait there for either the rest of the Rally to join us on January 3rd, or to take a 2-day weather window on to Santa Marta. It would mean a quieter Christmas, as nearly all our friends will be elsewhere.
Having been a Christmas enthusiast all my life, the decorations are usually up by now, the CDs will be playing carols or Slade and the mulled wine should be filling the house or boat with a lovely spicy aroma. So not even knowing which country we will be in for Christmas is a little frustrating! Last year we managed to get into Antigua for December 17th so I had time to settle down, decorate the boat, start baking and get into the festive mood. Antigua will be busy again this year and friends there told us a Facebook page was set up to organise a mass gathering in Falmouth and English Harbour. They are expecting up to 40 boats so it will be a great party.
Bonaire is doing its best to help though, with more and more decorations being put up. We noticed a couple near a house opposite the boat, the man gingerly leaning from a tall ladder into a cactus plant in his garden. He was placing Christmas hats on it, something he does every year he told us, adding an extra hat each year. El Mundo’s bar has good WiFi, shows the Grand Prix on a big screen and does amazing iced cappuccinos. They have cool decorations as well, very tasteful. Rob likes just small, white lights and a single colour or perhaps two, on the tree and matching wrapping paper for the presents so as not to spoil the theme. Our poor kids had to ask us every year for the colour scheme or knew their presents would have to go behind the tree. Facebook photos have revealed that they are doing the same now themselves, bless them.
In anticipation we have dragged out our decorations from under the front bunk but until we make a final decision about where we are going to be, we haven’t put much up. The 2 foot gold tinsel tree now has both LED lights within a red bauble string and miniature red tinsel. The advent candle is counting down the days and we have a wreath on one of the winches in the cockpit but the rest will have to wait.
One of the town’s churches was open today and we wandered in for a look. The circular stained glass window was pretty and there was a small chapel with a reference to Venezuela so I looked it up. Along the waterfront we watched a pelican hoping for some scraps from the fisherman, saw a big haul of tuna and barracuda near the fishing dock and watched a few more cruise ships arrive. 2 big ships with a capacity of almost 6000 passengers are due in on Christmas Eve.
I was interested in the Lions Club Time Capsule, near the town square but thought 40 years was quite a short time to wait before re-opening it. It contains letters and contemporary articles from 2002.
Suzie and David, the rally organisers, arrived this week, had dinner on board ‘Beyzano’ on Tuesday and joined 8 of us at our weekly ‘pre-rally gathering’ at the marina’s burger night on Wednesday. Thursday we had drinks on their boat ‘Suzie Too’ and Friday was the Arepas night at the marina. Sunday is ice cream at Gio’s at 1530 for anyone who wants to catch up. Looks like we’ll be moving on early this week so won’t make Jazz on Tuesday. There isn’t much time in between the socialising to do the laundry, so I’ve been sending it to the marina. It costs 4 US$ a kilo and is ready the next day but folded into tiny squares as usual and I can’t iron anything without shore power.
Now the generator exhaust has been welded, we can run it, make water, heat the water, have toast and I can dry my hair. Luxury! It cost 80 GBP to have 2 big holes welded and Lele put a stainless steel jacket around a section that seemed to have numerous tiny holes, almost invisible until the water sprayed out of them. He was on time, did the job in a day and came to the marina to collect it and drop it back. You can quite a lot done here and the marina office is a good place to start asking. They even telephoned Lele for us. Friends on ‘Tusen Takk’ had canvas work done and were happy with the result. Water costs just over 2 pence a litre and outboard fuel is 70 pence. With the twice-weekly free shopping bus, we have everything we need here and are sad to be moving on. It is very disappointing not to be able to get all the way to Santa Marta and in hindsight we should have taken the weather window in late November. Our friends on ‘Hokule’a’ did go then and wrote to say how much we would love it in Colombia with all the festivities going on. Other friends flew to Bogota for a few days, something else we had hoped to do. Doesn’t look like we’ll make it this time unless the weather changes drastically, so we might just have to plan another circuit of the Caribbean to get there for Christmas another year.
Next we will use SailClear to do an advanced clearance form for Curaçao, top up all the tanks, clear out of Bonaire on Monday and head off on Tuesday morning. It is due to gust up to 25 knots but we’ll make sure the anchor is well dug in before we have to leave the boat to clear in, a morning’s task at least. I much prefer the islands where only I need to go to Customs, as leaving the boat just after you have arrived never feels wise.