Z E N I T U D E
Blue Water Dreaming
Bonaire - The "B" in the tiny ABC islands - Beautiful above the water, beautiful under the water
Kralendjk - 11 to 23 November 2008 - (12.09.0N-68.16.80W)
Arriving in the afternoon we picked up one of the moorings. It is not possible to anchor here and the island provides moorings for all cruisers, at a price of course, but the moorings are excellent and the price is not too bad. Bonaire is part of the Netherlands Antilles, and you can feel the contrast with dangerous Venezuela nearby, here we feel safe again.
What an amazing place, the water is so clear it is possible to see the bottom, even at night, as we are lucky to have a full moon. We can see lots of fish and we can snorkel off the boat. There is a coral drop off not far from the moorings. This is divers’ paradise.
Town is charming and organized. Happy hour at the City Café is very popular, you can watch amazing sunsets enjoying a cold beer. Oscar organized drinks here for his birthday and we had a good time with Booker and Dave from Tortuguita, Anne and John from Leavin' the Dream and Gislayne, Talita and Hugo from Beduina.
Next day we decided to go in an expedition. Covering the northwest portion of the island, taking almost 20% of the land, there is the Washington-Slagbaai National Park, a great place to explore. Roads are rough and may be impassable after a rain, but it’s well worth the effort. So we rented a truck and together with the crew from Tortuguita and Beduina went to visit the park. Not to be missed. The terrain is mostly tropical desert, and there is a proliferation of cactuses and birds.
We saw pink flamingos, colorful iguanas, lots of big cactus trees, a water phenomnum called “suplado”, which are splashes caused by air pressure in the rocks. There is also an impressive “terrace”, this is formed by coral fossils and rocks formation caused by rise and fall of the ocean level, the wall is more than 1 million years old and makes you wonder about current theories of global warming based on raising ocean levels. It has happened before!
Exploring the Washington-Slagbaai National Park
There is a place where you can snorkel. Impressive is the size and quantity of fishes, obviously, it is all protected and there is no spear fishing here (actually there is no spear fishing in the whole of Bonaire). We all went snorkeling inside the lagoon and out to the coral drop off where we saw big barracudas, huge parrot fish, lots of small colorful fish, sardines and many more. We could have stayed for hours but the ranger came to told us it was time to start heading back. This is a big park and they are serious about getting everybody out by closing time.
The following days we had to dedicate to maintenance work so we left the mooring and went to the Harbor Village marina for a couple of days. What a nice and cute place. There is a wonderful restaurant, highly recommended: Patagonia, owners are from Argentina and we had great dinner and a good chat with them.
There are so many places in Bonaire for diving and snorkeling but as it is no possible to anchor (it is deep with coral all alongside the coast), they've installed moorings for people to go around. You get a map with numbered moorings and an explanation for each site. The moorings are for day use only and you can stay in each one for a maximum of 2 hours.
We invited Booker and Dave on board Zenitude for a day of snorkeling along the coast. It is all very well organized as everything in Bonaire, except that we were expecting numbers in the moorings and couldn’t find them. It took us a while to find out that the moorings have names, not numbers! We had a good laugh when we realized that a mooring that said: Small Wall was not a mooring for Small Craft as we initially thought.
Once we understood how it all worked, we stopped at Small Wall, Andrea, Bon Bini and Cliff. Snorkeling is ok but most places are better at about 10 meters deep, so they are better for scuba diving. In many places we could see bubbles coming up the surface from all the divers below.
One of the moorings has a a small wreck and all of them have lots of fish that come over you as soon as you get in the water, they must be used to people feeding them.
All in all it was a great day, even with the squalls that kept coming once in a while and the promised little sea horses that we never found.
I was really glad that Dave was doing all the work, handling in/out of the mooring buoys.
Back in our mooring we get ready for an early start tomorrow, as we are saying good bye to this beautiful island to get underway for a day sail to Curacao.
Dave snorkeling in the clear waters
On Saturday we went over to Tortuguita for a farewell party for Beduina. We’ll be going separate ways as they are planning to cross the Pacific next season, so they’ll keep going west while we are planning to go back north to Puerto Rico. It was sad to say good bye but the party was great, Booker knows how to put a wonderful ambience with candles, music and great appetizers.
In the meantime it is raining non-stop, lots of wind as well. This doesn’t seem to bother the mosquitoes that keep bothering us. Finally, we leave the marina and go back to the mooring. Most of the moorings are now taken and this time we moored in front of another Lagoon, Never Land, very helpful, they helped us with the lines.
We are trying to finish our maintenance work, under the rain, everything is wet and humid, and now we find one of the toilets is clogged. In the process of ‘unclogging’ we find the seacock is broken. This is an under the waterline seacock and even if we managed to stop the water pouring in (what a scary moment!) we want to replace it as soon as possible. There is no place to haul out Zenitude in Bonaire and we decide to go to Curacao, where there are good haul out facilities for catamarans. We really don’t want to risk a long trip north with a broken seacock. On the positive side, we'll see Beduina again.
Little Sea Horses
Looking hard for them but nowhere to be seen
(Photos from the trip to Atlantis, Nassau)