Tag Archives: Washington-Slagbaai National Park

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.


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 — December 9, 2014 – January 8, 2015

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.