(pronounced Krall-en-dyke) is the main centre of Bonaire which is a pretty little place off the beaten track in the south central Caribbean. It is a town that caters for tourists and tourist divers and is exceptionally clean when compared to all other places in this part of the world. It is about 40nm to the east of Curacao and with the strong easterly winds here it is a hard sail if going east.
We will attempt it soon when Adam visits and if we fail we can always stop at Klein Curacao till the Coastguard arrives.
Bonaire is very dry and full of thorn bushes, cacti, pink flamingoes, euro tourists and crystal clear water. All in all a delightful stopover and one we recommend. You must use a mooring at USD$10 per day or go into the marina but you can swim off the boat and enjoy the lovely weather and town.
We hired a car and toured the island on the wrong side of the road. It is easy actually till you get to the roundabouts but that is another story. The tour took about 3 hours at dead slow and is really not worth the effort as it is all bush, pink flamingoes, cacti and more cacti. There are 3 supermarkets and it takes awhile to discover the one the locals use where food is still relatively good and cheap. The ice-cream stores are cheap and excellent and have WiFi but the fuel is expensive as is the water if you need to buy it. As with Curacao all water is produced by Reverse Osmosis and is a luxury.
07/17/2012, Caribbean Sea
It has been 18 hours since we left Grenada and we have only done 120nm. The wind has been a bit iffy and dead astern which is not our best point of sail with the strength alternating between 12 and 25 knots so we have not even flown the Code Zero yet. Thunderstorms marked our departure from Grenada at noon Monday the 16th July 2012 but this mornings sunrise was spectacular. Yesterday started well.
Keely and I cleared Customs and Immigration with Keely giving hugs all round to the officials and a great big hug for Kim at "De Big Fish" bar and restaurant where we had spent a few hours having lemonades and hot chips over the last few weeks. We scrubbed the anchor chain as it came up as growth at Grenada is huge. The hull and props had been scrubbed a few days before. By lunch we had begun our exit from Prickly Bay. Keely was excited, Jo had a headache and Gill and Tizer the HOP decided that rest was the order of the day with several movies to help relieve our batteries of their precious power. They both rest for the first 24 hours and both recover their sea legs during this period. Tizer will be looking for his fresh fish shortly but no luck on rod and reel nor on deck catches. It was a great sail for the first 12 hours with winds in the showers and storms around 20 knots so we slid along quite nicely but it has since died down to around 8 knots so motor sailing is the norm once more. We should be able to raise the new sail today as there are no heavy clouds on the horizon in any direction and the winds look steady. Last night was odd with a fair amount of shipping starting at about 2300. The first ship was on a direct collision course with us when we picked it up on the AIS at 10nm. I had just finished my watch so no rest for awhile. Altered course to starboard by 20 degrees and they passed 1nm on our port side 13 minutes later. It looked like they were on their way to Trinidad and in a slight hurry. They did answer the radio and also altered course to ensure safety. Just after they were clear a light was spotted about 3nm to port moving rapidly with no AIS signal and we could not even identify them on radar. They eventually did a full 360 degree circle around us at the same distance so I can only guess it was a plastic warship or high speed fishing boat. Pirates would not tend to do this I guess and leave their lights on.Many ships later the AIS alarm went off a few hours ago at 0415 and it was a repeat of the first but as he was going a tad faster we had to get a real wiggle on. The AIS is a great bonus to have and I would hesitate to sail the seas again without it. At 0430 I checked the fridge and it had defrosted. The powere levels of the batteries were down to 11.95 volts which is virtually flat. Most appliances will cut out at a certain voltage and when you account for voltage drop the fridge is the first to go. We have been suspecting that our batteries were sus but this has confirmed it so I hope Bonaire has some ready for us. It has just hit 6am and I can hear stirrings below as tummies grumble and Tizer looks for an exit from Gill's cabin so will post this off now.
Addendum Friday 20th July
Well we arrived at Bonaire after about 54hours of sailing. We slowed down once again on Wednesday night as the wind picked up to 30knots and we wanted to make our normal sunrise entry.
We caught several Dorado on the way and landed one with the rest devouring the lures and breaking lines. I suspect they were actually nuke subs or large Tuna or maybe even a marlin. We saw several of these jumping astern at one stage of the crossing.
Lots of shipping and always at night to increase the adrenalin levels and a few flying fish to assist Tizer the HOP in his growth patterns.
We arrived here and moored directly in front of Eric and Lucky on "YELA" who we had not see since May in Grenada. He left Friday morning for Curacao and we will see him again in Santa Marta.
Bonaire is lovely and clean. It is a real change after Grenada and the water is even clearer than Tobago Cays. Will snorkel in a few days after we have installed the new batteries. I think it is my fault. I had the inverter on while running the engines and left the battery charger on at the same time. This appears to have destroyed our 6V battery bank. They can be cgharged but remove the charger source (sun, wind and generator) and they immediately begin to lose the charge at a rapid rate. While sailing our batteries were down to 11.95V after a night with them fully charged at 14.2V at sunset. The autopilot uses a fair bit if juice so it was not noticed as much in Grenada. Luckily Budget Marine stocks them and they will be delivered tomorrow morning and I will install soon after.
More to come but after we have experienced it.
Setting Sail from Grenada
Hi all. It's time to go and we are ready to set sail from Prickly Bay, Grenada for Kralendijk , the Capital of Bonaire which is at about 12deg 10min north latitude and 68deg 17min west longitude. It is about 400 nautical miles to the west of Grenada and we expect to have a great sail getting there. The trades are here and the breeze is about 15 to 20 knots so we will have a pretty good downhill run all the way and I anticipate 48 hours for the sail unless the wind dies (it always does) so it may add another day and more opportunity to catch another Dorado or Mackeral.
We were going to visit Islas Los Testigos (the witness) on the way but the increase of Venezualean piracy makes the stopover a bit questionable. A few boats have reported armed robbery at sea to the west of Testigos on solo boats so we will now leave it south of our track and go direct to Bonaire for a few weeks before tacking the trip to Curacao which is a further 40 nautical miles westward to pick up our friend Adam Gollow who is quite keen to come visit and see one of the three top dive destinations in the world.
The boat is packed away for sea. The engines serviced, and all systems checked. We just have to pack away the washing machine, stow the genset, dump the rubbish and clear customs and immigration, hoist the Code Zero and navigate our way out of the slightly crowded anchorage of Prickly Bay. To prepare ourselves for this great adventure Jo got in a bit of exercise yesterday with a Hash run to celebrate Bastille Day while Gill, Keely and myself sat and watched a couple of movies during the daily thunderstorms.
We have made some great friendships here and it will be sad to leave them behind but as always there is the option of catching up again and we truly hope this happens. "Avatar" may well join us in the western Caribbean Sea and "Shiloh" may not be too far behind us and anticipate leaving in September/October I think. We even think we may see Eric, Lynne and the boys of "Amarula" in Santa Marta and look forward to that as well. We tend not to say goodbye but rather "see you down the track". It is lovely to look through our visitors memory book and recall the different personalities that make up this lifestyle. Gill is also rather proud to have lost his virginity here. He is going to talk about it on his Facebook page so watch out for it.
This sailing business is really not about the countries you visit. Beaches, animals, trees and dirt are similar all over this piece of wet rock. It is actually the people and differing customs and civilisations you come across as well as the like minded people from the other cruising yachts. While we lived in Darwin, Northern Territory we hardly even knew out next door neighbours and had a relatively small circle of friends. At anchor here everyone smiles and waves as they dingy past on there way somewhere and then stop for a chat and introduction to become new friends. There are all sorts of people and boats to stop and talk to and look at, admire and question and discuss. It was probably like this on land before we all had to work so hard to earn a crust and became quite insular. Saying all that a lovely deserted beach and a fresh Coral Trout does take some beating !!!!!
Goodbye Grenada and Hello Bonaire !!!!!!!!!!!!!
07/04/2012, Prickly Bay
Well we have now been in the Caribbean for over three months and still waiting to get somewhere. For those of you who have not been here the sailing is grand, the water is blue, the weather is pretty good, the fishing is lousy, the coral is non-existent (I think we have been spoiled), the sailing folk are very sociable, our friends are lots of fun, anchoring is a challenge at times and everything is relatively expensive although compared to Oz it is still cheaper.
We had our Code Zero sail delivered this morning but the sailmaker had had a car accident so it will be awhile before it gets fully and finally fitted. Cannot wait to fly it for a good sail but I guess that will have to wait till we get ready to leave. The sailmaker did turn up at lunch and we fitted the sail and took off through the anchorage for a downwind and beam reach test. Mag-bloody-nificent to be precise. We now are an all weather capable craft again or will be when it is fully complete.
Currently down to last things before we sail for the ABC Islands. Gill and Keely have had haircuts (Gill had a least 2 hairs trimmed) and Jo had her hair styled this morning.
We need to fuel up, do some last minute laundry, buy a few bits of tucker for the cupboards, fill the gas bottles and wait for some reasonable weather after Keely's teeth have been the rounds with the dental specialists. Here the wind always comes from the ENE to ESE with the Trades being very dominant and our course is west so unless a low hurricane comes in two weeks we will have no issues sailing the entire way.
Our trip away to the Tobago Cays with Avatar and Shiloh has been our highlight here and we are looking forward to returning next year after we have done the rounds of West Indies via Yukatan Penninsular.
The image above is of our projected passage for the next 12 months if it interests anyone enough to visit. We may leave the boat in Santa Marta and head for Peru for a flying visit and again in Florida or even Cheasapeake while we visit the delightful wonders of Disneyland and Maccas (on every corner) We plan to stay at the tropical paradise of San Blas for Christmas so hopefully Santa has a good read and a good look at the map. All this adds another 18 months to the timeframe so we will make a decision soon.
We have decided to invest in a new anchor but there is nothing big enough here and most of the marine stores are not getting anymore stock in for a few months so it will have to wait for Curacao where there are apparently bargains to be had. There are a few Auzzies here but we are badly outnumbered by the Sud Afrikans, French, British, Canadian and of course the ever present Americans. Today is Independence Day so good luck to them on their special day.
The port dunny plumbing has been leaking and every now and then a little sewage odour brightens our day but all pipes have been cleaned out and reset this morning. Mind you, I am the only one aboard that will dive down the dunnies, clean pipes and reset seals and clear blockages. No cuddles for Dad during and after this job I am afraid. Strange night last night with calms and violent storms resulting in very little sleep so I was a very happy chappy this morning up to my armpits in poo poo paper.
It is kind of strangely lonely at the moment with our mates on Avatar having left yesterday for Trinidad so they can go back to South Africa for a few weeks and Gill's mate Kieren went with them. Actually they offered to take Gill with them and we offered to take Kieren with us. They have trouble getting visas so that is a job for Cape Town. Our other buddies on Shilo have gone back to Tobago Cays with family and the poor buggers are coping a hiding in the weather and bad luck stakes.
Jo, Gill and I all started facebook pages so we can keep in touch with our friends so if you have nothing else better to do have a look. There is a video of CH sailing with Grenada in the background that is pretty good to look at.
Hi. Sitting at anchor outside of St Georges, the main harbour for Grenada and its time to think about the last few days.
We arrived back in Grenada Island last weekend with all intentions to stock up on food and fuels and head for the eastern islands of the Netherlands Antilles of Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba; but as usual it pays to be flexible and take life as it comes.
Jo took Keels to the dentist after much angst on Keely's part and it appears we may have to stay a bit longer as we do the tours of orthodontists. This may sound an expensive exercise for those of you in Oz but it is relatively cheap here with good quality services available to all. Keely is not too keen on this as are most kids (and me) who are allergic to dentists. We now think we will be here at least another month.
The second biggest lie for yachty folk is to say you have never dragged. Well CH has dragged on several occassions but on Monday we did it in a big way. Our anchoring methodology is well practised and we sometimes reset a few times just in case and this anchorage was no different with a coral rubble and weed bottom but we eventually got a good set. On Sunday a fellow anchored in front of us and dragged. We think now that he may have dragged and lifted our anchor out of the rubble below as on Monday I took Jo and the kids ashore to go to the Dr Giggi when a large wet season storm struck with all the ferocity we enjoyed in Darwin. Winds to 50knots, driving rain, thunder and steep short seas.
By the time I could dink back to CH she had dragged back 80m and was just about to go ontop of a large monohull from Norway. Luckily they had fenders out and were prepared for their boarder to arrive. Engines on immediately (thankyou Yanmar) and anchor raised with the help of Mark (Avatar) and John (Shiloh) saw us avert disaster and begin the search for a better spot to anchor in the wind and rain. Jo, Gill and Keely were comletely unaware and were suprised to see we had moved a mile to a better anchorage without them when they returned. It is a better anchorage and last nights storm did not move us a bit.
We are now closer to the beach but further from the main port. Luckily the supermarkets and marine stores have dingy docks so it is not too far to walk.
Last night we dingied over to Grand Anse beach and had a meal at a beach restaurant called Umbrellas. They make the best milk shakes and hamburglars in Grenada and it was a great way to end the day with dinner on a truly beautiful beach. Fiona had kneeboarded to the beach and Mark kneeboarded back to their cat. It looked great fun so we followed them back to "Avatar" and all had a try even me with dodgy knees and back. It was fantastic fun and we will have to invest. Gill and Jo got into the action and they both even did some slides and wake jumps. Our dink will handle the tow with its new 15hp engine so I guess we should have one to play with today to disturb the anchorage with.
Everyone is fine, happy and well here in Grenada as we hope you all are.
06/15/2012, Tobago Cays
Sorry for the large gap in writing but we have been busy exploring Grenada and the Grenadine Island Group to the north with two other catamarans, "AVATAR" with Mark, Fiona and their son Kieren and "SHILOH" with John and Holli. We are currently at Tobago Cays which is a part of the country of St Vincent. Very beautiful but few fish, dead coral though heaps of turtles to swim with.
Last night we celebrated Fiona's birthday on a small beach with champagne at sunset. Gill and Kieren mucked around on the beach and checked out the iguanas while Keely swam in the surf. A very nice ending to a great day. We sailed originally to Petit Tabac which is where some of the movie Pirates of the Caribbean was shot. (The part where Cap'n Sparrow is abandoned on a beach with a large rum stash) It was blowing a bit and the anchorage was untenable so we will get to go and search for the rum another day. There are also some old Soyuz rocket parts washed up there from a misfire at French Guyana.
Since going back into the water in Grenada we have spent a few weeks at a place called Hog Island. It is a nice sheltered little anchorage with a great beach bar and we stayed till we could wait no longer for the Code Zero sail and will pick it up in a couple of weeks on our way south. We moved north about 50 miles to Carriacou which is the second main island of Grenada and spent a few days there at Sandy Island which has great clear water but once again no coral and very little sea life. I think they have been learning from the Indonesians here!
Then the big 10nm jump to St Vincent in a blustery 30 knot head wind and the beautiful Chatham Bay. Lots of turtles, beach bars and a nice reef to the north. Nothing we have seen compares to Cocos Island or anything in the Indian Ocean so we now regret leaving there so soon. Tobago Cays is a few more miles to the east and is a reef anchorage and is a bit like the Whitsundays but with more boats. It is the "off-season" here with the Hurricane Season in full swing but is still busier than anywhere we have sailed. Full of Americans, Canadians and various Europeans on sailing holidays so every second sailbag has Sunsail or Moorings printed on it. Bit disconcerting when the wind picks up in an anchorage and they start to move around a bit.
Last night we had a Tropical Wave come through and it blasted the reef with strong winds and showers but thankfully no-one dragged. It caught everyone unawares as it was forecast for the day before but decided to make landfall last night instead.
We ran the reef on the way up but caught nothing on the lines and the new lures we have made. I think it is time to go back to the drawing board on fishing lures as we are all waiting to sink the teeth into a freshly BBQ'd mackeral.
With only a week to go to Mid-Winter (mid-summer here) things are hotting up on the home front with the 30th reunion of my first Casey 82 Antarctic Expedition. The emails are flying thick and fast between the old crew as they prepare for a 3 day "jolly" on a cruise ship out of Sydney. It would be nice to join them but circumstances do not allow it. Hard to believe it has been 30 years since I was there with all those wonderful people. We will celebrate it here on a tropical beach and think of the dark and cold of an Antarctic winter.
Our plans continuously change and we may now go to Bonaire around July, San Blas for Christmas and up the Yukatan Peninnsular, Cuba then the eastern seaboard of the states to check out how the other half live before heading for the Pacific. At least that is todays plan. Will post some photos when we get access to internet in a few days or so.
Hope you are all in good health and happiness as we are.
Tizer the HOP you ask ! He was renamed the HOP (Hidgeous old Pollywobble) after his wilder tendencies have made themselves apparent and his destruction techniques had been fully honed.