Thursday, 23 October 2014

Bonaire July 2014

Bonaire July 2014

For all of you who by now think we have either sunk or been captured by Venezuelan pirates -  no -we are alive and well and have just had a rather hectic few months.
We arrived in Bonaire on Sunday 6th July and most of Monday was taken up with checking in at customs and the marina and most importantly at Yellow Submarine, the dive shop.

Where we get our tanks filled

 Here we purchased our dive passes and air card, which has gone up to $120 for 20 fills. Still a good price as we can use their facilities to wash our dive gear, free wifi and coffee and as much information and advice as we need. Once again they give us the location of a frog fish, practically under Galene!

Yellow Frogfish
Tuesday was spent sorting out the boat, washing off some of the salt and putting up shade covers, etc and getting out the dive gear. The cockpit was full of all our dive gear when the Coastguard arrived and boarded us! They were very friendly and just rechecked all our paperwork and photographed our passports and Galene. They said it was in case we ever went missing they would know what they were looking for? We finally managed a dive at 16:30 off the boat and found the frog fish. As you can see, not very well camouflaged.
The next few days were a flurry of shopping and preparation. 
A Queen Angel fish just under the boat

My brother, Ian and his wife, Louise were coming to spend his 50th birthday with us. I felt very honoured that he was coming all this way to spend his birthday with me. 

Happy Birthday IRB!
We had a lovely week with them. They were the perfect guests and really enjoyed boatie life. 

Yes we are here!

We did some dives off the boat and dinghy and then hired a twin cab pick up to do some more distant dives and so they could see some more of the island.

Dinghy diving

 Shore diving came as a bit of a shock after just climbing down Galene’s ladder or slipping off the dinghy into the sea. 

Shore diving team!

Most entries were shallow over sand and rubble but as you got deeper there was sometimes quite a surge to contend with. This combined with an abundance if Fire Coral made one super careful!

Midnight Parrot fish
There was usually a lot to see even at the entries in 1 -2m, as many Parrot fish inhabit this part of the reef as well as many small fish, sea fans and anemones and eels. 

Yellow headed Jawfish in the shallows
We all agreed the best two dives were Salt Pier and Fish Hut.

Atmospheric Salt Pier

 Salt Pier for the atmospheric scenery with light coming down through the pillars and a very dense and diverse fish population. This was where we saw a huge Midnight Parrotfish and a Rainbow Parrotfish.

Bait Ball
At Fish Hut we found ourselves inside a huge bait ball of Mackerel  Scad being mercilessly  shadowed by big Bar Jacks and Horse Eye Jacks. They would just all swirl gently together then suddenly a Jack would pierce the ball and grab a fish. The whole school would veer and swirl away as one and then just resume their slow and rather grisly procession. This and the Turtles and Spotted Eagle Rays made this the number 1 for us.

Spotted eagle ray
Shoreside, we took them to the local restaurants and bars, watching the Football World Cup Semi and the Final at Karels.

Saving the reef while eating lunch!

Lunch 'in the wild'

 Bobbejans excellent ribs was dinner on the first night. Wednesday all the cruisers get together at Bistro de Paris for Dive Masters burger night, so Ian and Louise got to meet lots of other boaties eating good French style burgers. 

Our Last supper with Ian and Louise

We had a delicious birthday dinner at It Rains Fishes, a really nice restaurant in a restored old merchants house. They have their own fishermen so the fish is always literally the catch of the day.

Ian and Louise stayed on Galene for the first few nights and then had a few days of luxury at Eden Beach Resort. We enjoyed it too, as we could use all their facilities as well including a nice kitchen in their apartment, so that made nice convenient lunches some days.
Going down on the 'Hilma Hooker'!

Too soon, their week was over and we started our preparations for sailing to Curacao where we would leave Galene when we flew back to Europe.  No more diving but a few more social evenings with friends old and new. Trying not to buy much more food, but needing enough for the next 10 days or so was taking a bit of thought. I knew we would not have much time in Curacao so did not want to waste time going to the shop.
Venezuelan fruit and veg

We sailed on Thursday 24th July for Willemstad leaving at 07:30 and sailed all the way in a nice easterly 4/5. Having started with the genoa and mizzen, we later handed the mizzen as it kept turning us into the wind. After sailing 45 miles we were tied up at Curacao Marine by 16:30, to be greeted by Rocky, the boatyard manager. He remembered us from last year which was nice.
After a hectic weekend preparing for our summer layup and haul out, we were lifted out at 1600hrs on the Tuesday, our taxi was booked for 1700 to take us to the airport, the flight at 2100 with Air Berlin to Dusseldorf, then on to Zurich and a train to Vevey, our first stop in our summer family and friends tour! I think we will need a holiday! 
We spent 2 months in Europe visiting family and friends and apologise to those we didn’t manage to catch up with.
Arriving back in Curacao at the beginning of October gave us another hectic few days getting things ready for the start of the season when we will sail back to Bonaire before heading North after the end of the Hurricane season.

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