When we arrived, end of May, we asked the Marina, who collected the mooring fee, to pay for a full week. Safety first. We knew nothing about this Island beside its reputation of world class diving. Arriving after 72 hours sailing usually means your focus is on a safe anchorage / mooring, any decision beyond a week is a very vague guess, usually avoided. Now, after x number of extensions of our mooring fees, we know better. We have been “Dushi” Bonaireans for 3 months. We have made friends with authorities (customs, immigration officials), locals (always expressing a bom dia, bom tardi), fishermen allowing our dinghy to use their pier, and all the Dutch sailors (and Swiss, German, Austrian, Finnish, US, Canadians, Portuguese, Brazilians, French and UK) moored in this Paradise. We have refreshed and used our ancient Diving certificates. We have got TinaP in great shape. General overhaul of the electrics + got a water maker working at a great capacity. Time to move on. Now it is time to check out Curacao.
We say – see you again Bonaire!
Resebrev / Sailing Letter, July 2016, Bonaire
After 10 weeks at Bonaire, same mooring, we still enjoy our stay and have decided to stay here for the maximum 3 months that we are allowed without paying extra for extended visa. Since we have to stay out of the hurricane season for 6 months we will divide the time between Bonaire (3 months) and Curacao (3 months). The last month has been spent with a lot of snorkeling and we have also done a diving refreshment course at the closest diving club. We also did a dive together with a dive master, on the nearest reef close to our boat. It was lovely to be able to dive again and Peter seems to like it as much as I do. We will try to do a couple more before leaving Bonaire since we expect the water quality to be lower in the Spanish Water, where we will anchor at Curacao. The water surrounding Bonaire is pristine with very easy access! We will also buy a torch to be able to do night snorkeling before we move on. Hu! We now find our way to find a bar with a cold beer and have a nice dinner.
Except for the huge salt industry on the south side of Bonaire the island is very dependent on tourism with majority of visitors spending time and money on snorkeling and diving. Dive centers, tank filling stations everywhere!
As in many other Caribbean countries Chinese own and manage many supermarkets, retail stores and restaurants. A paradox is the apparent lack of fresh fish for sale. The waters around ABC are famous for plenty of fish like Tuna, Mahimahi, King Fish, Barracuda. Only place to get fresh fish is to buy it from a restaurant. On all other Caribbean islands fishing boats are eager to sell directly to yachties. Maybe there are some strict policies about B2C?
The last 2 weeks have been spent installing the water maker (see Peter’s facebook update). It was easy to get the parts sent to here, with no problems with customs and the installation was fairly easy, but not quick. Just to remove the old stuff took half a week. Now we have perfect water and are able to take more showers and use our washing machine without too rigid calculation of the water consumption. A major reason for time spent on installation is the temperature. With a day time temp of 33-34 C and night time of 29 it is almost impossible to work between 12-16 daytime. The temp in the boat during this time is at least 32 C and even minimal physical work mean dripping sweat and requires a daily intake of at least 4-5 liters of water (some can be replaced with beer).
On the social side we have met with our fellow sailors for a swimming contest to Klein Bonaire (1nM), Boule/Petanque game with Martin and Ellen, Sundowners and happy hour at some suitable bars. These meetings have given us valuable information for the next sailing season. The plans now are to go to Cuba via Jamaica late November and from there sail down to the Panama San Blas islands and pass the Panama Canal in March. It will be one year earlier than what we thought originally, but it also means that we do the Pacific crossing when we are still “young”. We will pass the Caribbean Islands on our way back eventually and will then be able to stay here again.
The rainy season has now started. For Bonaire, being a desert island, it means an hour of rain once a week compared to Trinidad and Martinique where it rains more or less daily. Even the humidity here is lower than average which is a bless.
The rainy season is also the mating season for the birds so we see more parakeets, parrots etc., flying around. On the island there are 19.000 people, 1000 wild donkeys and another 500 in a sanctuary, 1.200 turtles whereof most are passersby thanks to the good food on the east coast, numerous Flamingos, Pelicans not to mention all the colorful fishes, Iguanas and Lizards.
A true paradise!
Until next time,
BR, Eva & Peter
Äntligen! Tio dagars jobb á 4 timmar men då ingick demontering av den gamla watermakern. Nu har vi möjlighet att producera ca 100 liter vatten av god kvalitet per timme. Vi är nu i “regnperioden” här i Bonaire så behöver vi köra vårt elverk ett par timmar varannan dag då det är mer instabilt väder med en del moln, ibland en regnskur (faktiskt har vi längtat efter regn så ökendammet sköljs bort) och mindre vind. Perfekt, då vi kan passa på att fixa ett par hundra liter per tillfälle.
Så var det då dags. “Swim Party” från Bonaire till Klein Bonaire. Ca 1 nm (1.8 km) med 15 deltagare. Vädret var som det brukar, dvs ca 30 grader i luften, något kallare i vattnet och 8-10 m/s vind. Som vanligt stod Martin och Ellen på Acapella för organisation med säkerhet i fokus. Vattnet mellan öarna är ganska besvärligt med ganska starka strömmar. Från TinaPrincess deltog Eva med Peter som jolle support i händelse av kramp eller annat. Eva som är en god simmerska tog täten tidigt och höll den hela vägen till mål. 15 glada simmare blev välkomnade av “shore team”, Hans och Liesbeth från båten Kulikuli. Eva fick tiden 32 minuter vilket är en mycket bra tid även om hon var en av de simmande som använde simfenor. Att simma i öppet hav med ca 30-50 cm vågor är ganska jobbigt. Som nummer 2 kom ytterligare en kvinnlig fen- och cyklopsimmare, därefter 2 crawlare. Starkt! Efter varsin coco-rum drink, gemensamma fotograferingar och lite allmänt stoj, drog vi oss tillbaka för att jobba vidare med installation av watermakern. Ganska jobbigt i värmen och fuktigheten.
We have now been at Bonaire for 5 weeks and will likely spend another couple of weeks here. We like it, it is easy to access supermarkets and restaurants, and the snorkeling and diving is magnificent. Peter is jogging regularly and we are also using the new semi long diving suites to do 45 minutes swimming training. We find new muscles every time J
Among the approx. 20 boats moored here we also have a number of social activities:
- Burger / Happy hour evening every Wednesday
- Sundowners with fellow sailors to exchange plans and information
- We did a dinghy drift with 7 dinghies tied together the other day. Very interesting since we did not know where we should end up. After an hour of nice talks and drinks we were almost at Klein Bonaire (the small sand-island 1 Nm west of the anchorage) and had to turn back due to choppy waves. Fun activity.
- Last week we spent half a day doing a refresh course in diving. Both of us haven’t dived since the 80´s so we felt we needed some reminders both in theory and practice.
- We rented a car for 2 days and traveled south and north on almost all existing roads with pavement. We saw a lot of flamingos in the salt lakes to the south and also in a sanctuary lake to the north. Close to the salt lakes we inspected the old slave houses. They are really more like small huts. Terrible to imagine that families have lived there under such conditions.
Of course we are following the European football games. Starting with Sweden and then Iceland (Good old Vikings!). For the rest of the game we have to just enjoy good football, independent of who is playing.
We are starting to figure out the different types of lizards, iguanas and geckos that are crawling around here on Bonaire. Reading Wikipedia, we learned that they are mostly herbivores, eating vegetables and fruit, some you can even hand feed with a lettuce leaf. On Bonaire it is also supposed to live (including transit) approx. 250 different types of birds. A good site on the web, (what would you do without it), gives the names of the more frequent of them, parrot and parakeets, lot of different small yellow birds, humming birds and big brown pelicans. Under water the coral reefs are everywhere, with easy access from the sea shore. We snorkeled north of the harbor on a place called “1000 steps” and the site was magnificent, with vast areas of fresh corals of different types and forms.
We are truly enjoying ourselves!
Until next time,
BR, Eva & Peter
Football (Soccer) and Sailing is a great combination. At least if you´re OK to watch the game rather than play yourself and if your sailing area covers television screens actually sending what you look for. Getting a bit nostalgic – we browsed through some old pictures from when we started sailing.
Since we started sailing 30 years ago, we have been fortunate to been able to see European and World Championships games, at least from the quarter finals to the finals. Late eighties no one knew about streaming live video on a “smartphone”, in fact very few mobile phones were around and if so, they were heavy and not very smart. As we are now in a football friendly part of the world we are able to watch the games (of course focussing on Swedish games) at a restaurant/bar with a 60 inch screen, delivering the game in HD quality. As we have been here close to four weeks in the “Dutch Caribbean” we can almost understand the Dutch speaker, if nothing else he includes “Zlatan” in every other word. Enough about here and now. Tomorrow it is judgement day. Sweden has not a very impressive European Championship performance so far this year. But “Bollen är rund”, meaning everything can happen in football and hopefully we make it to the next round.
Highlights that we forever remember:
First year with our Becker 27 (1994) in Norway, we were at an island south from Kristiansand, and started to listen to the radio in the middle of the night, to follow the football, listening intensively to the games, forgetting to look around and understood afterwards that we anchored on an Island restricted as a military zone(!). Since Sweden were good this year, we followed up with a very late night in Mosterhamn (heavy morning the day after) and the quarter finals/semi-finals in Korsör together with a lot of other nationalities. As a matter of fact Sweden got a world championship bronze medal!!!!
Another fabulous memory is the football during 1998 when we were sailing in Scotland, around the Hebrides’. When the semi-finals were played, we were at a mooring in Loch Maddy. A gale was blowing and there was little to be seen in the proximity of the harbour. North Uist was at that time tea total during Sundays, children’s playground chained down, but the hotel owner opened up a “garage/snooker” room, put in a TV and all of us stranded sailors and gave us the possibility to buy canned beer. We gathered together to follow the game, Germans, Swedes and French. The final we saw together (!) in Harris, Stornoway. France won.
In Almerimar, we of course followed “El Classico” (Real Madrid vs. Barcelona) on a local bar. It is very important to check out who the locals support as to avoid embarrassment and angry looks.
So now we are anchored at Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean Islands. Following the games on a local bar, checking that they really show the Swedish match against the Belgium tomorrow. The Italians are playing at the same time so it is a matter of which games has most people watching. Since we are only 2 Swedes around on the island, we have to beg for assistance and the bartender will start 2 TV Screens so we can see our game! We are not real nerds…but close to…
Keep the fingers crossed for us tomorrow. Zlatan (the captain of the Swedish national team) will retire after these games so tomorrow could be a historic event.
By the way – tomorrow is a hectic day. Peter has a doctor’s appointment in the morning, the Match is at 3 pm and at 5 pm we are joining around 20 sailors for the famous happy hour hamburger and beer treat at the Harbour Village Restaurant. Hectic Days indeed….
The month started with a sail back to Martinique from Dominica. First stop was Anse Mitan, which we enjoy very much. A good anchorage close to a village with nice restaurants but less good super(-markets). From there we wanted to visit Fort de France (capital of Martinique) but we found the anchorage a bit too shallow and upset with all ferries and taxi boats so we went further south to Les Anses D’Arlet, a very small anchorage with crystal clear water. Petite but nice! Good snorkeling close to the boat is always appreciated. Unfortunately Peter’s ear was still bothering him so Eva had to do the dive herself, not as nice as being able to share experiences.
Next stop was Ste. Anne, outside the “Cul du sac” of the big Le Marin harbor. We stayed there to be able to swim and enjoy the anchorage before entering the major marina. We stayed anchored also in Le Marin and only took a place in the marina to celebrate our anniversaries: 2 years since leaving Sweden and 20 years as liveabords.
A lot of things had to be done in Le Marin before moving on: stocking up on food and water, clean the fridge and freezer, replacing our compass, buying spare parts and appointments to the dentist and doctor (Peter is now able to dive again!) We bought a wind scope to get some more wind down the aft cabin. Works well
The Whitsun eve was spent with the Swedish boat “Nanny”. Very nice (and long) evening with guitar play and a lot of “chit chat”.
We now feel the change in season. People/boats packing up and going north to get back to Europe or down below the hurricane belt for “over-summering”. Restaurants are closing, so it is like autumn back home. This year we have talked to some people that are moving to the ABC islands for the hurricane season. We have also heard a lot of good rumors about the snorkeling/diving areas there. So we decided to check out these islands.
Mid May we headed to St Lucia, wanting to see the harbor where all ARC’s are ending up, crossing the Atlantic. We stayed at anchor in a rather sheltered bay outside the harbor. The surroundings were not really our “piece of cake”, rather touristic and most likely a party place when the ARC comes, but now more restaurants were closed than open. The original village was a bit off from the harbor and seamed to live a separate life side by side with the big marina. Anyway we stayed there for almost a week, enduring 36 hours of rain before we could check out, buy some cheap diesel and go west towards Bonaire.
Full moon, wind from the aft (too much from the aft unfortunately) and no fishing luck. After gybing north and south we used the engine the last day to take us in to Bonaire during daylight.
We took a mooring buoy just outside Kralendijk and checked in for a week (as a start). The water is crystal clear and we are moored on a slope that is 4,5 meter at the bow and leaning from 10 to 60 meters just aft from us. Makes nice snorkeling! Bonaire is a nature reserve since 35 years, handled very seriously; you even have to have a permit to snorkel. Doing dives close to the boat you see the result of the efforts. I (Eva) have never seen so many different fishes, some rather big, in such a small space since Hurghada in Egypt. We are enjoying it daily. The island, Bonaire, has a welcoming feeling to it. We will stay here at least a month (if weather permits) before moving on to Curacau where we shall haul the boat for regular maintenance and install a water maker among other things.
Fabulous: on land you have wild donkeys, Amazonas parrots, Iguanas and really pink Flamingoes. Under water there is a throng of fishes. Big, small, all colours. Yesterday I counted to 7-8 Moray Eels, 3 different types. We have a Porcupine fish swimming around our mooring stone every day, Sargent majors, Trunk fishes, Eels, Surgeon fishes etc. are everywhere. For the first time I (Eva) have been able to identify the different species, from not only “male and female” but also “adults and young”. Since we do the snorkeling almost at the same place every day, we have the ability to check them out more in detail. A fantastic place…
Until next time,
BR, Eva & Peter
Yesterday we got our folding bikes unfolded, pumped up and shipped to nearest dinghy dock. Our legs got severely beaten up by our 4 hours ride – but in the end it was worth it.
Our goal was a reef protected bay on the windward (west) side of Bonaire. At JibeCity, a surfer hang out place we were treated with this fantastic show, actually a training session.
We have also last couple of days enjoyed the fabulous snorkeling opportunity. Every meter of the coastline is crowded with corals and brightly colored fish.
Apologies for some delay in updating this sail blog. Sometimes there is not much to write about. Our last update was from Rodney Bay anchorage, Saint Lucia. We spent a week in Saint Lucia but the weather was unsettled. Lot of rain, some rather windy days and a village that showed all signs of going in to ‘sleep mode’ with shops, restaurants aimed at tourists either closed or only open for weekends etc. Talking to locals we understand that this place goes into big time party mode by the time ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) arrive with 200+ boats around mid-December every year.
Anyway, we used our time here to do some minor repairs, got our diesel tanks filled (US 0.6 / litre) and prepared for the 500 nautical miles (900 km) sail towards Bonaire. We delayed our departure two days due to sustained wind speeds of around 30 knots (15+ m/s) to get a more comfortable 15-20 knot ESE wind with less than 1.5 meter waves. The sailing was “un-eventful”, meaning rather boring actually, no fishing luck (had two probably Mahi-mahi’s) but the jumped off, few birds, actually only sign of life was (mostly) dead flying fish on deck. A big bonus was clear skies and a fantastic, near full moon.
This route passes uncomfortably close to the Venezuelan coast. Reason for the un-comfort has been many years of bad reputation of theft, robbery and even violent murders. A general advice amongst cruisers is to avoid coming closer than 50-100 miles to the Venezuelan coastline and shutting down any AIS transmitter AND Ships lights. Just before we left St Lucia we read about escalating riots in Venezuela with people being fed up with the regime. Obviously we kept a very active watch and had our radar on day and night. After 3.5 days and 515 miles we made landfall in the Kralendijk, Bonaire yesterday afternoon.
Bonaire’s official nickname is “Diver’s Paradise”. The island is about 100 km north of the western part of Venezuela, Colombia border being about 150 nm to the west from Bonaire. Rulers of this small island, as with most Caribbean countries have been almost all west European countries with colonial appetite. Since the 1600th the Dutch has governed Bonaire. Independence struggles (as all Caribbean former colonies) happened during the last decades but a final decision to keep the current relationship with Netherlands or become (semi-) independent is still an open question. As we are happy users of a “EuroSim” communications service, Bonaire seems at least from their perspective to belong to the European countries.
Now moored at a buoy – no anchoring allowed as the whole coastline is a marine nature reserve since close to 40 years. Just below our boat, the water is crystal clear and we have all possibilities to snorkel.