The cruising adventures of Sid and Manuela

Friday, September 17, 2010

Spinnaker Run to Klein Curacao

It never is easy to say goodbye or what we say “see you later”. We spent our last evening with some of our friends at the Paradise Moon Bar for Happy Hour. Amie, Pam and Karl of Paradise Moon Bar have always been so wonderful to us thanks guys. Randy and Lourae without you guys Bonaire would have been half as enjoyable and fun, thank you so much for all you’ve done for us, you are true friends.

We got an early start and after we had checked out with the port authority and the marina a huge cloud popped up out of nowhere and started growling at us. After that growler another showed up and just behind it another one. By the time all had passed it was noon time and too late for us to head out so we spent one more hot and mosquito infested night in the marina. Paradise Moon Bar was happy to see us again and we had dinner at the Sunset Resort which has the cutest patio overlooking the beach and the burgers were wonderful.

Just after the sun came up the following day we scooted out of the marina, pulled the main up and motored towards Curacao. As soon as we were out of the lee of the island the breeze picked up and we were able to sail. We pulled the spinnaker up and sailed all the way to Klein Curacao. We haven’t had a sail like this in quite a long time and really enjoyed it.

Half way to Klein Curacao a flock of Flamingoes flew by us.

Klein Curacao is a small and very flat island about 1 ½ miles long and ½ mile wide. In the middle of the island stands a beautiful old lighthouse.

There is not much vegetation on the island and what’s there is max one foot high including some lonely cactus. The eastern shore is all rocky and rough with a few wrecks of a sailboat, fishing boats and a big cargo ship. It makes for great hiking and the lighthouse takes good photo from any direction. The middle part of the western shore is a beautiful white sandy beach with a few thatched roofs for the tourists.

(Sunset photo) Klein Curacao is surrounded with the same deep reef system as Bonaire and Curacao and the water is crystal clear. There are about 4 moorings in the leeward side for charter boats which bring boat loads of people to the island during the day. At 3pm they all left and we were the only boat left. It was absolutely beautiful we had a wonderful breeze a beautiful sunset and NO mosquitoes all night long and we could leave the hatches open. The sunrise was even more spectacular as the sky was filled with pretty pastel colors colors from light blue, pink, orange, red, yellow, just amazing. (Sunrise photos)

Although the wind was right on the butt but we did have a really nice wing on wing sail all the way to the entrance of Spaanse Water in Curacao. The entrance to Spaanse Water is an 80 foot wide canal absolutely breathtaking. On the other side of the canal it opens up into a good size lake with several separate bays all surrounded with beautiful homes. Our marina Seru Boca was just around the corner to the right belonging to the Santa Barbara Plantation is surrounded by the golf course from the Hyatt Hotel. It’s a nicely built marina with floating docks with mangroves around, yikes mosquitoes. Turns out that we didn’t get to see one in the evening not even when we took a shower at the outdoor showers of the marina. The electricity is outrageously high 65 cents a kilowatt ouch.

After settling in we took the dinghy on a discovery tour. The anchorages are all full with boats. I don’t think I have ever seen so many boats anchored in one spot. At Kima Kalki marina we ran into our buddies Sundial, what a happy reunion, even Elvis the dog remembered us. Pam was so nice and took me into town the following morning to check in. Checking in here is a breeze they are super friendly and didn’t mind that we were already 5 months in Bonaire. The rule is 90 days per year combined. Pam and I had a blast it was like good old times. She was my shopping buddy in Venezuela and it’s so good to have my shopping buddy back. She took me to one of the grocery stores I thought it was Christmas all over again. The store had so much I think our diet it put off again for a while. I even found rabbit so we’re going to have rabbit stew tomorrow.

Our view in marina:

Now it's time to relax:

PS: Bill so sorry we didn't uprade the Blog in Klein Curacao, been too busy watching the sunset and rise!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bonfire for our 20th Anniversary

In the last few days we had weird clouds build up over the northern part of Bonaire. Sid remembered what Mark, a local, had told him to watch out if a cloud builds up at the northern part of the island then lingers and lingers, like it did that day. Mark warned us in that case to get prepared for a good blow. He said it's a local condition he grew up with and that without warning the wind can blow 40 plus knots through the anchorage. Sure enough the wind started switching and came from that direction up to 15 knots. We were ready but luckily it didn't get any worse and the wind waves were tolerable. The following day the same happened again but luckily we didn't get much wind out of it. On our Anniversary same thing again, the cloud built up then some heavier clouds due to a tropical wave approached from the north east and joined the cloud. Boats started to turn into the cloud again. We were ready for the worst. Then we saw two lightning strikes hit the northern part of the island. Tons of rain came down but never made it to us. When the rain finally was over we noticed some gray fog hugging the two humps of a hill and thought nothing of it until that fog went straight up into the air we knew that one of the tanks at BOPEC which belongs to PDVSA, Venezuela was on fire. A second tank was hit and smoldering but luckily they controlled and extinguished the fire. The other on the other hand turned into a blazing inferno. The cloud from the smoke was so high in the atmospheare it started to develop it's own weather. Black soot rained down onto the National Park.

Later on we went to Inka's house for her Birthday and house warming party and learned that they finally had extinguished the fire. We had a wonderful time at the party and met many new Bonairians. About 9ish we heard roaring thunder a clew for us to return to the boat. Luckily one guest was leaving as well and drove us back. By the time we arrived back at the boat the lightning show was over but learned the following day that it brought in a wind reversal and made the anchorage uncomfortable.

The following morning Sid woke me up early. The fire at BOPEC had picked up again and a humongous clou
d was towering over the north end of the island, it looked like a volcano eruption. Again it created it's own weather and black soot rain fell over the park again, not good. Because of Inka's Birthday we had our Anniversary dinner postponed to the 9th which we then celebrated at Villa Blue with Randy and Lourae and Barb and Chuck on Tusen Takk II. I had prepared a wonderful Fondue Bourgignonne which we all enjoyed with an incredible view over the bonfire at BOPEC. It made for a spectacular sunset:

Reflection in the infinity pool. (Photo 1: cloud of first photo had four funnel clouds trying to reach the water, none succeeded. Photo 2: reflection with fire in back ground. Photo 3: Can't have a bonfire without Marshmallows):

As the evening went by the flames became bigger and bigger and seemed really out of control and flames shot 300 feet up into the air, it was amazing. The following morning only some smoke lingered and it looked like the fire was under control and only one hour later I saw flames again, oh no! They finally did extinguish the fire and we also found out that the same day another tank in Curacao also belonging to PDVSA was also ablaze by a hit of lightning but they killed that fire right away. The weather didn't look all to go either. A Low build right over the Grenadines and is threatening to turn into a tropical storm. Since this system is still fairly south we were in the path of it or at least we would get some wind reversal and rain out of it. Along with some other boats we took a slip in the marina just to be on the save side. Besides the boat is filthy from all the island dust a good bath was in order for her. We're on our last day here in Bonaire. Tomorrow Monday we're going to check out and sail to Curacao where another adventure awaits.

Here are some photos of the Bonaire disaster (click on photos to view bigger):

Monday, September 06, 2010

Last week in Bonaire

Amazing how busy one can get on a small island like Bonaire. Kim on Gabrielle organized Fish Idea Seminar learning all about the fish we daily encounter on our wonderful snorkels or dives. We finally saw our first seahorse, fairly big sized and all black but unfortunately within a week it died. One day snorkeling in the shallows along the mooring field I saw a lionfish, they are really beautiful fish but they are not native to this area and since they have no predators they decimate the fish count in Bonaire and the rest of the Caribbean. Divers carry wine corks on a long red or yellow ribbon and tag the area where they see lion fish. Trained lionfish catchers will capture them and use them in research. Unfortunately since it is against the law to use spear guns here in Bonaire many lionfish are getting away and since they can reproduce 3 times per month they are taking over the reefs. Lionfish are eating machine, they eat and eat just until before they pop, throw everything up and start eating again. Next day we watched divers leaving the water and Sid noticed that they had the lionfish bag with them, so we rushed ashore and asked them how badly they wanted to catch a lionfish. 10 minutes later we met them where I had seen the lionfish and showed them were. It was fun watching them how they the fish into the see-through plastic bag with the assistants of two fly swatters. They were really happy as this was their 50th lionfish. On the way back to the beach I found a dead baby angelfish and the head of a nurse shark, the couple took them both home for their young kids to dissect.

We also watched the sergeant major laying eggs, which are attached to any structure, like the mooring blocks. The male changes his color from yellow and black stripped to the color of the eggs, purple and black striped and he’ll guard the eggs. One nest in particular stood out as the eggs were arranged in a perfect heart shaped form, how unique. Then right next to our boat I noticed a suspicious looking knot on the sand, which I’ve never noticed before. After staring at it for a few second I noticed that it was slightly expanding, as if it was breathing. I pointed it out to Sid and as soon as we swam right over it, it would pulsate. Could it be an octopus? As Sid dove down it slowly spread out and started opening like a sundial, became really huge and the color turned white, then it closed up again turning dark. This happened every time we got close to it. It was really fascinating to see the octopus showing his aggression. Sid left and I watched it for a bit longer. He finally stretched out as long as he could get and swam 6 feet away from his spot and wrapped around a rock and it was like he wasn’t even there, he was so well camoflashed.

Every Friday afternoon the local kids meet at the Sailing Club and sail around the bay in their Sunfish little sailboats. Sid ended up volunteering to stand by with the dinghy to help and also to teach the kids. He had a lot of fun and one kid specially was so grateful he proudly gave Sid a Bonaire cap. How cute.

Sid as every Wednesday meets the boys for breakfast. He learned some Dutch; in Holland they have a “Bob”, which is the designated driver. Bob of course is the abbreviation of “Bewust Onbeschonken Bestuurder” try to remember that one; I think we stick with “Bob”

I meet Lourae for breakfast and we usually go shopping afterwards but Saturday is our chicken run. There is a Venezuelan butcher with the biggest charcoal rotisserie grill I’ve ever seen. I think he can fit about 100 chickens a time plus some ribs into the grill and they are the best we’ve ever had. I usually buy 6 chickens for some of the other cruisers.

Our neighbor Clayton on Argo had a big heart scare and needed to be airlifted to the States. He was a Dan Diver member and they sent in a Learjet to pick him up the following day. In Miami a medical team was waiting for him and brought him to the hospital. He needed a pacemaker and is doing great. He and his wife will still be for a while longer in the States so in the mean time we’ve been taking care of Argo, making sure she gets aired out and batteries are up to snuff.

Lourae and Randy invited the cruisers for another fun potluck at their house. We were 25 people and the taxi we used before doubled the price. Now what, Sid remembered the old, old school bus that now and then drives around town for events and so I hunted it down, didn’t take much effort to find it, after all Bonaire is a very small island. We all met in at the marina parking lot and Sid and I had a 4 gallon jug full of rum punch ready, it was a happy group by the time the bus arrived. What a great way to get up to Villa Blue, besides the bus has the loudest air horn which announced our arrival at Villa Blue. Randy and Lourae laughed so hard when they saw the junk bus. We had a wonderful potluck.

Then of course the motor broke again and Sid was busy for a day or so to fix it, but he did fix it. Never a dull moment.

The last month plus we have had a fun and active cruising community. We met at least once a week at the Paradise Moon bar for Happy Hour, went to the Wanna Dive Hut for their all you can eat BBQ night with free rum punch. On Sundays we “Paradise” organized noodeling parties behind our boat. We stretched a line between our stern to a nearby buoy which was the parking lot for the dinghies. Behind the boat we had two further lines out attached on each a floating mattress we call the bar and the end of the line had a bumper attached. Our little blow up cooler was filled with ice, rum punch and cups and was floating between the two mattresses. Each time we had around 30 people floating on their noodles behind our boat sipping rum punch by Jimmy Buffet. It always was a hoot and enjoyed it.

Then we had a BBQ potluck with games on Klein Bonaire. Now this was really a good party with lots of fun. We plaid Charades, Trivia (the winner of each question had to drink a shot of a concoction Sid made or designate someone else to drink it) and a Dunking the Tampon game now that topped the whole day. I line up 8 guys on the beach, in front of each was a beer bottle 1/3 filled with water, I then attached a line around their waist with a dangling tampon at knee height. At the count of three they all had to try to dip the tampon inside the bottle, let it soak with water pull it up to the bottle neck then with the bottle dangling run to the finish line. It was so funny we were screaming.

Most of that cruising community has left and it is a lot more quite again.

Sid slipped and fell and hurt his foot again, I had a weird heart palpitation and had an EKG done. Sid is still in a lot of pain, my heart is in good health and we’re on our count down to leave the island sometime after our 20th Anniversary next Wednesday the 8th.

Thanks to Caroona, Fine Line and Tusen Takk II for the great Fotos.

Anyway, I'll try to update the Blog more often now that we are leaving Bonaire. Sorry for the long wait. Hugs and kisses