Category Archives: Bonaire

Bonaire; Kari & Rasmus Visit — February 18-March 4, 2016

After spending a few days in Curacao, Norwegian friends Kari & Rasmus joined us on Tusen Takk II in Bonaire. Rasmus had done some diving while in the Norwegian Armed Forces, but that was, um, a few years ago. So he decided to start afresh and get PADI certified so that he could dive during their visit. He finished the “book” portion of the process back in Norway by completing a computerized set of on line lessons, reserving the “wet” portion of the process for after he arrived in Bonaire. Our dive shop, the Yellow Submarine branch of Dive Friends, Bonaire, would conduct the lessons, but they were fully booked for a few days, so while we waited we rented a car and toured the south end of Bonaire.

Regular readers will recognize the list of our stops: the Salt Pier and the Salt Ponds and the massive Salt Piles, the White Slave Huts, the Red Slave Huts (now a pretty yellow), the Kite Beach kiteboarding area, the Willemstoren lighthouse, the multi-colored obelisk, the Lac Baai restaurant (always a delight), the Lac Baai windsurfing area, and the mangroves on the north end of Lac Baai where so often (including this time) flamingos can be seen.

On the eve of his scuba lessons, Rasmus mentioned that he had a sore throat and some chest congestion. He resolutely began the lessons anyway, but after a day and a half had to suspend them and visit a local doctor, who diagnosed the malady as a virus that only time could heal – no medicine to take other than lozenges for the throat and something to lesson his fever. In the course of time he returned to the doctor and was cleared to resume the diving lessons. We celebrated his certification with toasts of Prosecco.  Alas, Barb caught the bug and spent several days out of commission.  Kari and I somehow escaped.

Rasmus and I did a fair amount of diving (with Rasmus diving like a pro), and we all (after Barb recovered) did a fair amount of walking. We joined cruising friends for a number of dinners at local restaurants, and the four of us played a number of Mexican Train domino games in the evening. Both Kari and Rasmus caught on quickly and became ruthless players.

On their last full day with us, we rented a double-cab pickup truck and toured the north end of the island, including a long and bumpy drive through the Washington-Slagbaai National Park. On our last stop in the Park, Barb and Kari and Rasmus cooled off with a nice snorkel.

Rasmus and Kari were ideal guests: relaxed, cordial, helpful, and fun to be with. We look forward to our next time together.


Bonaire (Under the Sea) — January 11 – February 22, 2016

Some of my underwater photos taken during this time period.


Bonaire (On Land) – January 11 – February 22, 2016

Some of the events during this time frame:

Back to Bonaire — December 14, 2015 – January 10, 2016

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.

One last orgasmic explosion of underwater pics — Bonaire, June 29, 2015

OK.  So we have been in Curaçao since June 14.  But these Bonaire photos have been burning a hole in my hard drive, and I just must publish them!  (We’ll post a separate note about our experiences in Curacao soon.  No fish pictures then — I promise.)

Catching Up — Bonaire, April 26 – June 14, 2015

Although we have posted snippets to Facebook, it has been a long time since our blog dealt with our above-water activities.  This posting will attempt to remedy that situation and get things synchronized again.

The waters of Bonaire are relatively clear, and the sergeant majors and brown chromis sufficiently hungry and plentiful that the bottom of the boat stays surprisingly clean.  But of course the anti-fouling also helps.  The importance of the paint is evidenced by what happens to unpainted dinghy bottoms that are not raised up out of the water at night.  The first picture in the gallery below shows Roberta and Michael (Celilo) laboriously scraping and scrubbing their dinghy on shore near our moorings.  The job proved to be so tedious that they abandoned the effort after cleaning the fiberglass but before removing the growth from the hyperlon tubes.  We mostly lifted our dinghy up at night, but even so, only Barb’s obsessive scrubbing kept ours reasonably clean.  When she would get cold on a dive she would signal me that she was going up.  I would remain below but near the dinghy for a bit longer.  Invariably, when I surfaced I would find her not in the dinghy but still kitted up in scuba gear and under the dinghy, scrubbing away with a scouring pad.  I wonder, do you suppose I should feel guilty?

April 30 was “Rincon Day” in Bonaire.  It is an annual affair, but made special this year by the presence of the King & Queen of The Netherlands.  Most of the population of Bonaire must have been there in the second-largest (and really the only other) town on the island.  There were opening ceremonies with speeches and flag-raising and performances, and then a lull before a parade that featured bands and costumed marchers depicting the history of the island.  When the last sound truck had passed the Royal Observation Stand, it stopped for a time and the Royal Couple joined the parade, with the King and Queen dancing to the music as they progressed.   As our taxi driver later remarked, the King wasn’t much of a dancer, since he is Dutch, but the Queen was magnificent, since she is from Argentina.

On May 11 we had Roberta & Mike (Celilo) and Kim & Doug (Gabrielle) over for dinner on Tusen Takk II.  Kim is the fish identification expert who trained and certified us for doing fish surveys for REEF.   It was at her suggestion that I visited a particular dock looking for new fish to photograph.  When neither of us could identify the subject of one of my photos, she sent the picture off to a scientist, who identified it as an Oyster Blenny.   I later sent the photo to a scientist at Smithsonian, and he confirmed the identification.   This was of some moment, at least to we fish nuts, because the Oyster Blenny had never been identified in Bonaire before.

On May 13 when we arrived back to our boat after a dive, we got a call on VHF to come help rescue a boat that had broken loose from the moorings and was drifting off dangerously close to Klein Bonaire.  Bodacious and Celilo, the primary rescuers, had dashed out in their dinghies and climbed aboard.  The catamaran was locked, and so the engines couldn’t be started.  The wind was too strong for the dinghies to be able to push or tow the cat back to the mooring field.  They managed to use one of the sails to keep the cat off of Klein until a large dive boat arrived and towed the boat to the marina, where the dive boat had to disengage and the catamaran was in danger of hitting rocks at the end of the dock.  We arrived just in time to help push the cat into position against the dock and away from the rocks.  Turned out the cat had scraped along another vessel in the mooring field when it had first broken loose, causing some damage to the other vessel.  While being towed by the dive boat, the bow of the cat was damaged because the towing line was too short and the cat kept banging into the swim platform of the dive boat.  Bodacious, Celilo and Tusen Takk II were never contacted and thanked by the cat owners for rescuing the boat.  We later heard that when the cat left and went to Curacao they ran aground on their approach to Curacao Marina.

On May 17, two days before their departure to Curacao, Roberta and Mike had us over for a breakfast of eggs and sausages and sourdough pancakes with genuine maple syrup.  Oh my.  You can take me now, Lord.  Later that day, Barb took a picture from shore showing Bodacious, Celilo and Tusen Takk II at our moorings.  And then on May 18, we all had a farewell dinner at It Rains Fishes.   Barb snapped pictures of Celilo leaving on May 19 and of Bodacious on May 23.

Not a happy time to have good friends leave.  Not at all.   But what do cruisers do when friends leave a site without them?  They socialize with new people, of course.  Rhian & Rob (Beyzano), who we met last year in the Windwards, showed up in the mooring field, as did Kari-Anne & Per-Arne (Blue), Norwegians we have known for a couple of years.   Other Norwegian boats also arrived, with some staying longer than others, including Snorre & Ingunn (Spinnvill) and Vigdis & Lasse (Polaris).  And Americans Linda & Steve (Moondancer), and Australian singlehander Ian (S/Y ?).  And of course Sören (Lady Elaine), a single-handing sailor from Sweden who had worked as a farrier, had already been there and joined us on many dives and social events.  Most of us attended the world premier showing of the movie Jurassic World, the very first offering of a new outdoor theatre, which features a huge screen behind stone walls.  After entering through a small gate and buying tickets, we each picked up a plastic chair and placed it where we pleased in the gravel lot.  On another afternoon many of us gathered at the Zazu bar for a two-table rousing game of Mexican Train.   We were due to leave Bonaire the next day, but could not resist joining the group for a post-game sundowner aboard Beyzano.

We had had our last dive a few days earlier.  Sad, yes, but sorrow mitigated by Barb conducting a fish survey in which she identified over 100 different species.  In one dive!  Some details:  Barb and I had recently upgraded our thermal protection, so getting cold on a long dive was no longer a problem.  We dove at 5 pm, a time when the fish are particularly active and about.  We dove on a site that is well known for its diversity of species and the diversity of its micro-environments.  In all, the dive took over 100 minutes, but was safe because it ended in shallows.  Good thing, because even though Barb uses much less air than I do, she was down to about 200 psi by the time she finished.  (I had not followed her to the deep sites, so I didn’t use as much air.  What, she dove without a buddy????  Nope, she dove with Sören, who had also recently cracked the magic 100 mark.)

The results of a survey are entered into a database maintained by REEF (  Surveys are conducted world-wide, but Bonaire is such a hot bed of activity that special slates have been created containing the most common fish from the island.  Barb conducts abundance surveys, which means she not only says what she saw, but how many: Single=1, Few=2-10, Many=11-100, and Abundant=over 100.

We got certified and trained for surveys by Kim West when we were in Bonaire in 2010.  We stopped at level three, which means we correctly identified pictures of at least 80% of 50 species taken from a pool of about 150.  (We actually scored much nearer to 100%).  The highest level is level 5, in which one must score at least 95% of 100 species taken from THE WHOLE DAMN BOOK (4th ed. of Humann & DeLoach, Reef Fish Identification, Caribbean, which contains 683 different species!)  Sound impossible?  Nope.  Sören just achieved level 5.  I wanna be like Sören when I grow up.

Shrimp, anyone?

We are no longer in Bonaire, but I am still thinking about underwater photography.   Here are some recent photos featuring shrimp.

Fish Photos — Blennies & their Near Relatives, Bonaire, May 23, 2015

Welcome.  On the menu today we have some of the blennies (and their near relatives, the pikeblennies and triplefins) that inhabit the waters off Bonaire.  Save one, all of these pictures were taken by one of your hosts, Chuck, during the last several months, and are protected by copyright.  The exception is the lead photo, which was taken by Barb back in 2011 using her housed Canon G12.  Chuck’s gear has not changed much since then, but he has gotten even more handsome.  Barb has switched to a GoPro, and you can expect to see some of her work in the near future.  She has also grown even more beautiful in the intervening years.

The last fish in this series — the least visually striking — is actually the most exciting.  Thanks to a tip from Kim White, fish identification enthusiast and trainer, I visited a particular site to attempt to get pictures of Tessellated Blennies.  I eventually succeeded, but also came back with a picture that neither she nor I could identify.  She sent it off to a scientist, and the surprising response was that it is a fish not previously reported in Bonaire: an Oyster Blenny.  When she got the word she brought over a bottle of champaign so we could all celebrate the remarkable development.

Folks, if you arrive in Bonaire, find out if Kim is on-island and conducting her periodic sessions on fish identification. She is an incredible resource and her enthusiasm is infectous.


Audrey visits — Bonaire, April 11-25, 2015

Barb’s sister Audrey arrived for a two-week visit on April 11.  Next night, a bunch of cruisers went to Buddy Dive to have dinner and watch the weekly multimedia show given by their photographer.   We always enjoy the underwater pictures, even if some of the commentary is a bit off.  Example:  while showing pictures of goat fish, he made the claim that yellow goatfish turn into spotted goatfish when they come off the bottom.  Groan. And that if one ever sees an iguana that has fallen into the sea, it should be rescued immediately before it dies.   But see this.

On April 13th Tusen Takk II and Celilo and Dolce Vita and Bodacious rented two double-cab pickups and drove up to and through Washington Slagbaai National Park.  Most of the roads within the park are unpaved and bumpy, but we always enjoy the visit.  The harsh and dry scenery is beautiful in an austere way, and I enjoy the nature photography.

Next day some of our friends (Dolce Vita, More Mischief & Flash) left Bonaire, some to store their boats in Curacao and some to cruise all the way back to the States.  We haven’t had our fill yet, and don’t need to be back until early July, by which time we will have also put our boat (temporarily) on the hard in Curacao.

On April 14th Audrey completed in the warm and inviting waters of Bonaire the capstone dives required by the scuba certification process she had begun in the COLD waters of Nevada’s Lake Mead.  She dove well with us for the remainder of her visit, including diving from Bodacious when Jack and Jo hosted another scuba expedition to more remote dive sites (on the NW corner of Bonaire and on the NW corner of Klein Bonaire.)  

Barb has been taking pictures with her new GoPro and has put together a short video of Audrey’s visit.  The video can be seen here.  

We continued our tradition of dining out with lots of visits to local restaurants.  On Audrey’s penultimate day we three rented scooters and toured the southern portion of Bonaire, visiting the landmark locations that faithful readers will by now recognize.  The scooters were fun; they provided an enjoyable means of showing Audrey some of the sights.

Bonaire — March 7 – April 3, 2015

One of our regular readers (Kevin Caldwell) recently sent an email note wondering if we were OK, since the blog has been so silent lately. Yup, we are fine. Just having such a good time in Bonaire that we have been neglecting our blogging duties. But we have now been energized, and faithful readers can expect a FLOOD of postings to get us all caught up.

High school friend Curtiss arrived in Bonaire on March 7, accompanied by his girlfriend Roseanne. They stayed a few nights in the posh Harbour Village Resort and then when Roseanne had to return to the States, Curtiss moved over to spend the rest of a week aboard Tusen Takk II. As is often the case when guests come, they brought along many packages of STUFF that we had had shipped to them so that they could bring it along with their own luggage, and thereby save us the high costs of shipping to the Caribbean. Just before coming, they asked if there were any treats that we would like to receive. Barb mentioned a package of dark chocolate-covered blueberries. When they arrived, they had MANY packages of chocolate-covered blueberries and chocolate-covered cherries, as well as other treats. Yum!

It was good to have the chance to reminisce with Curtiss about the good old days and to discuss how to solve the world’s problems. For a copy of our solutions, send two new hundred-dollar bills to our mailing address.

Jack and Jo (Bodacious) arrived in Bonaire on March 22 after a multi-day passage from the Virgin Islands. Jack is a diver, and Jo snorkels. On March 31 they hosted a bunch of us on a trip out to Klein Bonaire for a two-tank dive. Mike & Hilda (More Mischief), Mike & Roberta (Celilo), Bill & Colleen (Dolce Vita), Hank & Seale (Flash) and of course the Takks. Bill & Colleen were in charge of assembling the comestibles.  (We dive almost every day, getting to the dive moorings by dinghy.  It had been blowing stink for a number of days, and Bodacious graciously offered to take us out to Klien for a change of scenery since it had been too choppy to get there by dinghy.)

We socialized frequently with all of the folks mentioned in the previous paragraph during the period covered by this posting, and with Don & Pam (Dorothy Ellen) and with Ron & Nancy (landlubbers) as well.  Not always ALL of them at the same time, of course.  Wednesday burger nights and Friday arepa nights at the Zazu Bar, and special nights out at many of the restaurants in Kralendijk, including Mona Lisa, Chez Madeleine, Sebastian’s, Ingredients at Buddy Dive, Wanna Dive Hut, At Sea, Bobby Jeans BBQ, Pasa Bon Pizza, and Karels.  And afterwards, often a visit to Gio’s Gelateria. Barb & I have had a grand time.  And thanks to our mostly-faithful morning visits to the Bonaire Health & Fitness Center, we have mostly-maintained our youthful figures.  🙂

The standard length of stay in Bonaire granted by Immigration is three months. We had heard that it was possible to extend by another three months for a rather large fee, and we decided to apply. In our initial appointment with the Immigration office, we learned that as of the first of the year, the extension fee had been increased from around $300 to $788! Per person! In cash! But, we were REALLY enjoying Bonaire, and so we decided to continue with the plan. The application required submitting proof of financial independence and an official document from “home” from a local police department attesting that we had clean police records. Through our mailing service (St. Brendan’s Isle) in Green Cove Springs, FL, we arranged (for a modest fee) to get the police document, and had it scanned so that we could show a copy to the Bonaire Immigration office. Nope, not official enough. No proper seal. So the mailing service went back and had them put a seal on the document, and we had the document mailed to Curtiss (see above) who brought it (along with the chocolate-covered goodies and other things.) On March 9 we again met with Immigration. Nope, not official enough. Pressing to learn what “official” meant, we for the first time heard the word “apostille”. Back at the boat we learned that an apostille is a certification provided under the Hague Convention of 1961 for authenticating documents for use in foreign countries. As such, it is kind of a super notarization. It is a notarization issued by a government entity attesting to the authenticity of a (conventionally) notarized document. So we had our mailing service yet again visit the police department to get a notarized document, which was then sent to the appropriate Florida Governmental agency to be “apostilled”. That went back to the mailing service to be packaged with some other STUFF, including a replacement (under warranty) underwater flashlight that had flooded on our very first dive with it. And 90 days worth of drugs for my arthritis. Tracking of the package stopped dead in Memphis. No one could find the package. We needed the apostille. I REALLY needed my medicines. (Screw the flashlight.) We had the shipping company in Bonaire looking. The branch in Curacao looking. FedEx in the States looking. After days of fruitless search, someone mentioned that they had seen a note attached to the package saying that there might be a problem with shipping drugs to Bonaire. And then one day Barb is on the web looking at our latest batch of mail waiting for disposition at our mailing service, and discovers a mysterious FedEx package. She had the mailing service open it and discovered our package that had been missing for ten days. Guess they just returned it with a new tracking number and never updated the old one. Fortunately, our $156 International shipping fee was refunded.

We had the package rushed to Barb’s sister Audrey, who was coming to see us in Bonaire on April 11. So we got the apostille, and the medicines, and the flashlight, and a bunch of other STUFF.

But I have gotten ahead of myself.

When we went back to Immigration to tell them that our package containing the apostille had been delayed, we got some remarkable news. On March 1 the Dutch American Friendship Treaty (DAFT) was amended to permit citizens of either country to spend UP TO SIX MONTHS (of every year) in the other country. For free! No fee! And since Bonaire is a “special municipality” of The Netherlands, we had just been saved from paying $788 + $788 = $1576 unnecessarily. Had the package containing the apostille not been lost, we would have already paid the fee before the new policy was known in Bonaire. What to do with $1576 in cash? On April 3 we went to one of the better restaurants in town (At Sea) and celebrated with Roberta & Mike, who were also applying for an extension and had also suffered delays in their paperwork and therefore had also been spared the fee.

But the story doesn’t end there. The same paperwork that was formerly required for an extension is also required to apply for residency. To be eligible, one must own or rent property on the island, and actually reside here for most of the year. We rent a mooring buoy, and when doing so, we reside here. Why not apply for residency? We did, and to our amazement, it worked! We now have a special sticker in our passports attesting to our residency in Bonaire, which means that we are not even restricted to six months per year. We can come and go as we please, so long as we do not stay away too long.  Pinch me. I am dreaming.

In the photo section, below, I include a few of the underwater pictures taken during this time frame.

As I mentioned earlier, Audrey came to see us, and stayed for two weeks. But to learn about that visit and some interesting tours of Bonaire, dear readers, you must tune in to the next exciting episode of “Chuck & Barb Go Cruising”.