To recap a bit: we arrived in Bonaire on December 9, after a 51 1/2-hr passage west from Carriacou that took us through 408 nautical miles. Two days later Mike and Roberta (Celilo) arrived, having followed the same route but having delayed their departure in order to wait for better sailing weather.
I arrived with a persistent head cold, and so our first dive was delayed until December 21. Meanwhile, we got squared away with the dive shop, getting our discounted refill dive cards and paying our “nature fee” to the Bonaire National Marine Park. The Takks and Celilo rented a double-cab pickup and toured some of the island, visiting the salt flats to the south, the Lac Bay to the east (famous for its wind surfing), the Gotomeer salt water lake to the north, and further north, the entrance to the Washington-Slagbaai National Park and its associated museum. We also stopped in the village of Rincon, where we visited the relatively new Cadushy distillery.
We have had a number of spectacular sunsets since we got here. One night I captured a series of photos showing a green flash, reproduced here with absolutely no color manipulation.
Bonaire has changed since our last visit. Cruise ships now appear several times a week. There is a first class grocery store, just barely within walking distance from our mooring field, but not to worry: there is a free shuttle at 5 pm two nights a week. Most of our favorite restaurants are still alive and well; the Takks and Celilo and Don & Pam (Dorothy Ellen) had a fantastic dinner at Mona Lisa. We had a great Christmas dinner on Celilo, and another on New Year’s Eve on Dorothy Ellen. We have enjoyed playing cards with Celilo on a number of occasions, although Mike & I are convinced that the ladies are somehow cheating. We have taken advantage on a couple of occasions of the “hamburger night” at the bar at Harbour Village Marina.
On Boxing Day the Takks and Celilo and Dorothy Ellen attended a concert at the Kralendijk Catholic Church, expecting a mostly Christmas-oriented performance. The primary sponsor of the concert was the Bonaire Classical Music Society. The pre-publicity had mentioned Antillean Classical Music, but that description had not prepared us for what turned out to be mostly of a marked “Scott Joplin-esque” nature. One of the performers came onto the stage with an escort and a cane. He was 84 years old, and was reportedly suffering from Chickungunya (hence the cane). Remarkably, the affliction did not appear to have affected his ability to play the piano. The only Christmas music selections were provided by a choral group led by a different plodding pianist simultaneously providing exaggerated conducting gestures.
During the performance we could hear occasional booms courtesy of the fireworks and firecrackers in the neighborhood. As the week between Christmas and New Years wore on, the frequency and intensity of the explosions steadily increased, until on the night of New Years Eve, displays were visible from the deck of Dorothy Ellen for hours all up and down the west coast of Bonaire. Of course, the “climax” was near midnight, but in fact the colorful and noisy bursts lasted much longer: Later, back on TT2, I recall a prolonged outburst at about 3:30am. Furthermore, occasional bursts of fireworks and firecrackers could be heard for days and days following New Years Eve. We have never heard or seen anything quite like it.
On boat news, battery problems have reared their ugly heads a couple of times. The generator battery totally died, and was replaced with one from the local Napa store when the local Budget Marine had nothing appropriate. Then the house bank began acting funny, and I found in one of the 6-volt Trojan L16 a dead cell, so it and its pair had to removed from the bank, leaving a bank of “only” 1350 AH.
Barb and I joined a local gym and go in each morning for some exercise, characterized by a lot of aerobics and a little lifting. Then we come back to the boat for a little rest and some lunch, and then take our dingy out for a dive, joined by Celilo in their dinghy. We have spent a couple of dives searching in vain at a particular site for a reputed frog fish, but today Roberta & Barb each found (separate) sea horses at a different site, thanks to the advice offered by one of the employees at a dive shop, advice gained by virtue of a 4.5-mile walk by Barb in lieu of her morning gym workout. Another win for the girls, with each of them winning the “chocolate sundae” prize for the “first to spot”. Mike & Roberta are relatively new divers who have been extremely enthusiastic about the dives; it is fun to be with folks who share our passion.
Life is good.