Thursday, July 18, 2019

Divers Paradise and so much more

Next week we will have been in Bonaire a month - wow, I cannot believe how quickly the time has gone. I totally love it here, there's a great community of very international cruisers and we can dial in to the social events as much or as little as we like - there's a pot luck every Sunday, happy hour every Thursday, shared diving and any thing else people come up with. The protected mooring field is in calm, crystal clear water just in front of a world class reef, despite the fact that most days it's blowing 20-25knots.

This is what it looks like everyday - I just snapped this for the blog just now.....
My ear infection meant we had a few days off diving and explored the island for three days. The Washington Slaagbaai National Park visit was a real highlight and we ended up spending two days there so we could get it all in. The Park covers the whole north of the island and contains, wild countryside full of cacti and spectacular coves. Plus hundreds of flamingoes, the highest point on Bonaire and several remote dive sites. Of course we had to climb Mount Brandaris to check out the view - just 241m but the rest of the island is so very flat. On the way back we stopped in Rincon again and this time visited the Cadushy Distillery - liquor made from Cacti..... We had a great tour and yummy tasting whilst admiring the beautiful island birds that visit the terrace.

Beautiful National Park

Our hire truck - needed for the national park

Warawara birds in the park

Trying Cactus Liquor

Look how they make fencing in Rincon

Centre of Rincon

One afternoon we got a surprise invitation to Linde's birthday - Linde was turning 13 and made invitations for a birthday party including a Dutch Bottle Bash. Boat kids are so fantastic, here was a 12 year old who confidently came to our boat and spoke in perfect English to invite Andrew and I to her birthday. It was such a fun afternoon with other Dutch, Swedish and French boats all with kids playing a game with water in bottles and a football. There was lots of cake too. For Linde's birthday 4 of the boats got together and we bought her a trial dive which she did the next day - I think watching this was an even more special gift . She was also given a windsurfing lesson by professional windsurfers which she did the day after and then went bareback horse riding in the water- what a week this fabulous girl had.

Birthday Girl

Our final day of car hire took us exploring the south of the island. This consists of salt pans, wild donkeys and more flamingoes. The salt pans are all different colours making for a stunning landscape.

Salt Pans
This is a complete package island for watersports enthusiasts - South is Kite Surfing central and then on the East side there's a protect lake that is home to Windsurfing central - oh my goodness I think I might even think about learning windsurfing again it looks so perfect at Jibe City - we just spent a couple of hours having a beer and watching the professionals and beginners.
The Lac

Jibe City

Ear fixed, or so I thought, we got back to diving and I have been keeping up a dive log most days on instagram..... We got invited to do a shore dive in the north of the island with the Fat Susan's - a lovely English family also with an Oyster - you'll need to read their blog to learn why she's called FatSusan. The dive at Karpata was great and we got experience truck diving that Bonaire is famous for. The dive shop they used, allowed you to pull in fill your own tanks and drive on to the next dive, in the car parks at most dive site divers chat and compare notes. We must have passed the test as last week we got invited back to dive the wreck of the Hilma Hooker with Sian and Des - too deep for teenagers. We repaid them with a roast dinner aboard Askari last night.
Me taking pics on the Hilma Hooker - thx @Growingapair

Andrew and Fat Susan crew after a great dive at Karpata
After our fun night wine tasting we had invited Gabi and Audrey aboard for dinner - these guys were such fun and I think were quite intrigued about our lifestyle - it's always interesting to see what people think when they don't know about cruising and then bringing them into our world.

Local friends looking at home on Askari
I have to admit we haven't done much boat work in the last couple of weeks but it has been a lot of fun and we feel happy to stay another month at least.....

Oh btw if you haven't seen my frogfish and octopus swimming videos the're here and here....This was the coolest diver ever we did earlier this week.

Sunset over Klein Bonaire

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Biba Dushi - Bonaire

'Dushi' is a Papiamentu (Bonairian language) word which means sweetheart, lovely and basically everything positive and is everywhere here in Bonaire. 'Biba Dushi' is a phrase that means living a sweet life and that is exactly what we have been doing for the last week.

Bonaire is hopefully where we are going to be for the next couple of months, at least, so just as well we love it. It has really grown up and is much more sophisticated than when we were last here but is still wildly beautiful, has a relaxed feel, the water is still crystal clear and the reef full of 'fisheshs'.

Boni Bini Bonaire - Welcome to Bonaire
When we first arrived our mission was diving and we hardly went on land. We did six dives in the first 4 days. The best of the pictures can be found at where I have been posting my dive logs, but this turtle was my favourite of the week - he looks like he was taking a selfie with an angel fish behind him.

Loving the local craft beers

Bonaire Brewary - so upsclae

We did get in a bit of evening socialising though with a great cruisers catch up for happy two hours at the Bistro de Paris and a few sundowners with other yachts and trying out the local brewery. A 'Jellyfish Jamboree was however something I had not anticipated being much fun but it was- box jellyfish arrive in Bonaire 8-10 days after a full moon and a scientist was here doing research so set himself up at Carel's Bar with a bucket and alot of jelly fish stories. I even got to hold one which was pretty wild. We ended the evening with the other cruisers at a Cuban bar - there's such a mixture of things going on here.

On Saturday we went with Steve and Nellie on Alkemi to a lovely cultural day at Rincon, where we listened to great local music, watched the men jump fire; to improve their fertility apparently, and ate some yummy local food. Rincon is the oldest village in Bonaire and has a lot of history; the first people to live on Bonaire planted crops and lived in the hills around this area and then the village was founded by the Spanish in 1527. As in inland village it was considered safe from pirates. Then as the Dutch took over Bonaire it was home to a huge community of slaves. The language and culture is a bit of a mixture between Spainish, Portuguese, African and Dutch. The people we met at Rincon were so friendly and the kids took a particular liking to Nellie.
Fun day out at Rincon
Fire Jumping

Local girls in love with Nellie

We caught up with crews of Star Gazer, Tryst and Midnight Breeze at Rincon 

My new friend - quite the dancer

Local dress - took her a month to make - quite Portuguese
Returning to Askari we got cleaned up for a date night. We had spotted a sign for a special wine tasting event at a local restaurant so made a booking. What a treat we were in for and one of the best meals we have had since leaving Europe. The restaurant owner was a really knowledgeable and fun Italian who did a wonderful job including all the guests (mainly who lived in Bonaire and all knew each other) in the discussion about the wines and the food. We ended up at the end of the evening hanging out with Gabi and his girlfriend Audrey with their friends for a few more wines. We will definitely go back next month.

Date night - sparkling wine from Chile
Wine Tasting at La Terrazza

Sadly on Sunday I woke up with a pain in my ear which has since developed into an ear infection - damn! We had a rainy day (totally unusual) so did some boat jobs and took in sundowners at Coco Beach a great spot just along from the anchorage. My ear is still playing up and I've been to the local Dive Doctor who confirmed I have an infection and to keep taking the antibiotic drops and hopefully it will clear up in a few days - ah time to update the blog and rent a car.....

View from Coco Beach Bar
 Biba Dushi

Monday, June 24, 2019

Arrival in Bonaire

Our last night at sea was lovely, we switched the pole onto the Port tack about 4pm so we could lay the north tip of Bonaire and then sail around the west end without changing things in the dark. The wind lightened up to 15 or 15 knots so it ended up being a little slower than we planned however as the sun came up we saw the outline of the island. At 7am we dropped the pole and sailed on the wind right into the bay at Kralendijk.

Approaching Bonaire

Here's a little clip I posted on instagram from our sail

We managed to grab a mooring ball off the town and by 9am we all secure in our new home for a while at least.
Look at that water
Clearing in was super easy and free, we pay US$10 a night for a mooring ball, $10 a week to access a dinghy dock in a marina and $45 for a dive permit that lasts a year. We can dive straight from the boat and there's over a 100 marked dive sites we can access by dinghy or hire car. We will get straight in the water.

Angel fish at the back of the mooring field

Scorpion Fish

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Passage to Bonaire 23rd June 2019

Position at 1200 local time 12 degrees 43 minutes north, 066 degrees 11 west
Sailing with poled out genoa wing on wing at 7 to 8 knots
Wind 14knots from the East
Swell lengthened
VMG to Bonaire has been 7 plus for the last 24 hours and we have 130nm to go

Yesterday afternoon the wind eased off a little and we continued to sail poled out other then a short stint were we went onto a starboard tack as the wind went a little more north easterly. It was a lovely relaxing afternoon reading and catching up on sleep. Andrew got the fishing rod out and we hooked one fish but it got away after fish drill to slow Askari down from the 8 knots she was doing at the time. We spoke to Steve on Alkemi and they caught a huge Mahi so we were a bit jealous.

Overnight the wind was amazingly consistent and I don't think we touched a thing all night. We had about 15 knots of wind and it was lovely. This morning the sunrise was shrouded in cloud unfortunately but then the blue sky broke through and the wind dropped, our speed dropped to and it was a bit frustrating for a while.

Food has been going well and I even just made a cake as I had left over frosting from Andrew's birthday.

Now we have a few squalls around us and in between the wind is lighter, so one minute we are trucking along and then we are being slewed around by the ocean and not enough wind.

Update 1400 we just spotted a military ship approaching us - it was the same one Steve mentioned came by him yesterday TTS Moruga - the MMSI looks American to me but they told him they were Trinidad and Tobago Navy. We will be tracking them.

We should arrive in Bonaire tomorrow - yay!

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Saturday, June 22, 2019

Passage from Grenada to Bonaire 22nd June 2019

Position at 1200 local time 12 degrees 29 minutes north, 063 degrees 28 west
Sailing with poled out genoa wing on wing at 8 knots
Wind 18knots from the East
Swell fairly short interval approx. 5 feet
VMG to Bonaire has been 7.5 to 8 knots since we left and we have 298nm to go

We ended up pulling anchor just before 1 am as the calm rolling anchorage at St George's wasn't working for us and I think we were both just keen to get on the way. The bars on Grand Anse beach were in full swing as we gently motored out of the bay under a lovely big bright moon. About an hour later we had cleared the wind shadow of the island and set the sails - Askari was off. The wind was quite northeasterly, so despite having set up our pole we were able to run on wind angle of about 120 on a starboard tack through the night.

We agreed we wouldn't take a direct line to Bonaire as this would take us too close to the coast of Venezuela, where there have been some reports of those desperate people approaching yachts, so we have set a waypoint keeping us 100 miles from the mainland. The conditions have been perfect so far, even though the sea is a bit steeper than we would like it is giving us an extra push; Askari is surfing down waves frequently over 10 knots and occasionally we have seen 11. This morning was a glorious blue-sky day and just after breakfast we pulled the genoa across and have been running wing on wing since.

We both managed to get a little bit of sleep during the dark hours and have just have pita pizza for lunch which was yummy. We learned yesterday our friend Steve with Nellie the dog on Alkemi is leaving today too so we hope to chat to them on the SSB later.

All well on board - we can still do this!

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