Sunday, 30 November 2014

Bonaire October/ November 2014

Bonaire October/ November 2014

Unfortunately our night on the town left me (Rowena) with a bit of a dicky tummy. Six of us ate and drank the same but just two of us got the lurgy, strange.  Still, I managed to drag myself ashore for sundowners again with several others boats, mostly old friends which was rather nice.
Sponges Spooring

Richard had a dive with Dave on the Sunday and they saw the tunicates sporing! I had my first dive on Monday, just off Galene and saw the big brown leathery sponges sporing, so then I did not feel too cheated.

Galene from the reef

We started water aerobics again just four of us at first, but gradually increased to 7 or 8. So Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings got off to an early start. This all culminated in a lovely brunch on Exit Strategy on 14th November, celebrating Roses birthday as well as our last class before we all left for our various destinations. Great exercise and good fun chatting with the “girls” at the same time. (Perhaps more chatting than exercise!)

Ladies who Brunch!

We soon dropped back into the regular Bonaire rhythm. Shopping bus to Van Der Tweels Tuesday and Friday, laundry at Mageros, who always kindly collect and return us to the Marina. We often went as a group so this became a little social event too, although most of us tended to make use of their free wifi to catch up on emails, etc. Van Der Tweels publish their own magazine, mainly recipes, which I really like. It is Dutch, of course, but I can understand enough to use them. So part of the fun there is trying Dutch cuisine – they use a lot of capers, red cabbage, beetroot, anchovies and radishes among other foods I rarely use, so now we have a nice new repertoire of meals, many of them quick and easy. 

Wednesday was still ½ price burger night at Bistro de Paris at the marina where we caught up with all the cruisers we had not seen during the week. Another favourite meeting place, just across the road from Karels was Divers Delight, formerly known as Paradise Moon – the sign is still up!- where they serve pints of draught Heineken for $3 during happy hour. They also have a good $10 menu. Of course, you always bump into someone you know when you tie up your dingy at Karels. Bobbejans ribs are as good as ever, too.

The Venezuelan Consulate had a cultural evening, so we went along. There were various food stalls and a small table of “crafts”, but not very interesting. Ladies and girls in national dress wandering around, a few speeches, and a movie running all the time on one wall showing magnificent scenery (no sound) interspersed with what appeared to be various Indian tribes showing how they prepare something which we took to be cocaine! As afterwards they all went into trances or started manic dancing. Very strange.  They had a big orchestra playing lovely music in the background all the time. Not at all as Spanish as I expected. They had nice pamphlets to hand out, showing all the Venezuelan tourist attractions, but all in Spanish, one had a few paragraphs in English. A good idea, but since we believe all the airlines have stopped flying into Venezuela, you have to wonder who this publicity is aimed at.

Diving was as always FAB. One of the most memorable was when we went to Cliff. We saw a reef shark down in the depths – of course I was spooked – and then another, and another and I could not deal with any more, so we made a speedy exit. Of course, it was only the one shark, they are not usually in groups, the others were just huge Tarpon, but by then I was too spooked to look properly!

Honeycomb Cowfish
While there, I got a new Scubapro reg, for not a lot more than it would have cost me to get my Poseidons serviced, as they now need new hoses as well. The other thing is that I can’t get them serviced out here, so it means dragging them back to the UK each time. Took a little bit of getting used too, I have had my Poseidons for over 10 years now. They have a little switch so you can regulate the airflow to suit yourself which is nice. Richards dive computer also died, so he got a new Zoop as well.

Getting ready for the clean up dive
On Saturday 18th October we took part in the quarterly clean up dive arranged by Dive Friends. The object is to pick up rubbish from around South Pier at the commercial dock, so the Harbourmaster stops all boat movement for the morning- not that there is usually a lot! We all meet at Dive Inn and get a free tank of air. It is a great dive under the piers, reminiscent of Salt Pier, with amazing sea life in amongst all the rubbish. They asked us to leave the old rubbish, which is becoming part of the reef, just bring out new stuff.

Octopus trying to hide!
 We saw an octopus living in an old tyre, sponges and corals growing on what look like old engines and various fish using all the junk as hidey holes, so not all rubbish is bad! It was a weird feeling swimming under big ships and looking up at their props, thinking if they turned them on we would just be sucked straight into them. 117 divers took part and we collected 1034 items including 4 towels, 4 pairs of sunglasses, 2 locks, 1 chair and a pair of underpants! We even got a group photo in the local paper. That evening we were all invited to a Barbeque at Hamlet Oasis – Dive Friends providing one drink and the meat. We each brought a salad or desert. A fun evening.
Baracuda on clean up dive

Then, I got an ear infection, so no diving for about 10 days. Very frustrating as during this time we had lovely calm weather, just  perfect for going over to Klein Bonaire, so that delight is for another trip. After I got the infection, several people told me to make a mixture of 50% rubbing alcohol and 50% white vinegar and spray my ears after each dive. If only someone had mentioned this before! I have never had an ear infection before, so it was totally unexpected. Anyway, the alcohol vinegar mix seems to work as no more problems, but I will keep it up, for sure.

One day we were invited on ‘Yachtsman’s Dream’ to go and dive Salt Pier. We had dived it as a shore dive when Ian and Louise were here in July now we were doing it from a boat (a lovely big catamaran). The dive was as good as before despite a long swim from the mooring. 
Picking up the mooring at Salt Pier. Note where you store your cyliners on a cat!

The sail there and back was also interesting as we had never sailed on a cat before. There is no sense of the wind, or speed, the boat doesn’t heel over! You just have to keep looking at the instruments to see what is happening.  Thanks to John and Lela for a lovely day out.
Occi at Salt Pier

While here we managed to do some boat jobs as well, the teak toe rail and rubbing strake were in need of a coat of teak oil so we managed to do this in between dives. Working on the boat is very difficult as the diving is a great distraction, two moorings away from us was a yellow frogfish and on a small boat mooring just inshore of us was a pair of seahorses. The seahorses could be seen while snorkelling as it was very shallow. You just have to look at these things every day!
Our seahorse

The big job was mending the petrol generator. This had been broken for several months and there was no means of obtaining spares in the Caribbean. The fault had been diagnosed as an ignition problem.  On our visit to the UK the repair agent suggested it could be one of three components that had failed, we ordered all three to be safe and were going to change them in order of probability of failure (and ease of replacement). Guess what, the most likely fault was the one we had and with a new ignition module installed and a clean spark plug the generator ran as new. Brilliant we now have 240v electricity and plenty of battery charging in no wind conditions. Very useful as the wind died at night and we needed to charge the batteries up every morning.

The varnish brush came out again as we varnished the companionway entrance and the cockpit  table, the binnacle got a coat of paint as well so ‘Galene’ is looking a bit more loved!
Our stern gland continues to leak when we are running the engine so we always have to manually pump out the engine bilge. This is a problem we will get to the bottom of!
Checking the mooring

The moorings here are beginning to empty as boats are beginning to move on. Most are going west to Columbia and Panama, some through the canal others on a circumnavigation of the Caribbean. We are waiting for a ‘window’ to go North, the plans are to get to the Virgin Islands in one go. The Hurricane season looks to be over so we will be off at the first opportunity. All we want is gentle South easterlies for a few days, who knows we may even get what we wish for!

Yachties leaving and these monsters arriving!

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