A few days after arriving back to Bonaire I discovered while recommissioning my underwater photography equipment that disaster had struck: there were several cracks in the underwater camera housing. I had noticed no leaks on my last dive six months earlier, but now I dared not use the housing. I knew that Ikelite had discontinued that particular housing because all of their enclosures are specifically built for specific brands and models of cameras, and my DSLR (Nikon D200) had just gotten too old and out-of-date. It still took perfectly fine photos, of course, but Nikon had moved on to other models and Ikelite had followed. So I was crushed.
Expecting the worst, I sent off a note to Ikelite, and to my overjoyed surprise learned that they will rebuild a cracked housing for a very reasonable price, at a fraction of the original cost. So I made plans to send the old one in via returning guests (more about them below) who had not even arrived yet. But that plan would leave me without a housing for months and months of our Bonaire stay, since the second set of guests coming in from the USA would not be until mid March. Whimper. And then a neighboring cruiser said that he had to return to the USA for a very brief time. And so I sent off for a new Ikelite housing for my newer Nikon (D300s), a camera that has also been superseded, but sufficiently recently that a few new housings for that model are still available. The cruiser returned with my new housing, and I have been taking pictures under water ever since.
But I have gotten far ahead of myself. During the times covered in this post, I had no housings and so took no underwater pictures.
So what did we do? Well, our good friends Bill & Colleen (Doce Vita) were already here, and so we socialized with them and we all joined a local gym. We settled into a pattern of morning exercise often followed by a long walk through the neighborhoods and occasional afternoon dives. We celebrated my birthday on Dec. 19 at a nice waterfront restaurant (It Rains Fishes).
On our former stay in Bonaire, we were often frustrated by the lack of attention paid to maintaining the moorings used by cruisers here at Kralendijk. (Anchoring is forbidden, and we all pay $10/day for one of the 43-or-so moorings here.) Harbour Village Marina had the contract, but maintenance was erratic and slow. And so we were pleased to see that the maintenance has been taken over by the Park Service, which has been attentive and proactive. (The waters out to a depth of 200′ encircling the entire island is a Marine Park.)
We celebrated Christmas Eve out for dinner with Bill & Colleen, and then had them over to the boat the next day for a late-afternoon full-fledged turkey dinner. But before that, Kerstin & Staffan (Balance) had us over to their boat for a delightful sampling of many Swedish holiday dishes. What a nice experience.
On New Years Eve day we went out for an extended walk through the village, and learned that the local businesses have a tradition of hosting a barbecue for their employees, followed by a fireworks display. We happened upon one such display hosted by the local phone company, and it was, um, memorable.
On New Years Eve evening we went out for dinner at Cuba Compagnie with Bill & Colleen. Later we picked up Nancy & Ron (Americans who live on the island some months of the year) and the six of us retired to the upper deck of TT2 to watch the spectacular fireworks: 180 degrees of sustained explosions and brilliant bursts that lasted for HOURS.
January 3-10 Jon & Cathie Ringen joined us aboard TT2, and brought along bunches of things we had ordered from the States. Jon took at Yellow Submarine a refresher course for diving while they were here; he and I did some dives together. We did a car tour of the south part of the island and also got as far north as Rincon. The visit was relaxing and marked by long talks into the night while Jon and I solved most of the pressing problems facing civilization as we know it. By the time they left, my new housing had arrived (via the cruiser) and so the shipping box was used to pack up the damaged one so they could get it to the States for mailing to Ikelite. It was a good visit; we look forward to our next time together.