Bonaire is truly a diver's paradise - 89 named dive sites! We have spent the past week sailing to a different dive spot just about every day - Bachelor's Beach, Carl's Hill, Something Special, Just A Nice Dive, Small Wall, Hilma Hooker & 2 dives off the back of PANNIKIN - one being a night dive. The fish life is abundant & coral diverse. The water is warm & crystal clear.
We have spent a lot of time with Jeremy & Susie as we won't see them again after we leave for Curacao on Saturday, unless they make their way through the Panama Canal & across to OZ in 2016. We've had some fun nights out - in particular a ribs night at a restaurant called Bobbiejans - lots of ribs -very cheap & very tasty. We've had plenty of dominoes matches & afternoons sitting on PANNIKIN drinking beer & chatting.
Last night we attended the 'Burger Night' at the Harbour Village marina with around 12 other cruisers. It was a great night - good food & cheap drinks. We have finally caught up with Jane & Russell on Ta-B who we met in Gibraltar. Russell is a Kiwi who likes to give us Aussies heaps. We are having sundowners on their catamaran tonight!
Only 2 more days for us in this lovely part of the world. We will miss Bonaire, but are looking forward to the next part of our journey.
The last few days have been active which is unusual for us, there are so many dive site to check out plus a new island to explore and old friends to catch up with which has filled our days in nicely. There is a bus that takes us to the supermarket on Tuesdays and Fridays for free so we can buy all the naughty stuff we had trouble getting in other places so we went on Tuesday and filled the nibbles cupboard.
That afternoon J & S climbed aboard PANNIKIN and we sailed across the bay to a dive site which was recommended to us by Andrew from EYE CANDY where Jeremy, Susie and Steve went down for a nice wall dive while Ange had a snorkel closer to shore. As Ange was swimming about a dive operator in a large dive boat approached and told her to untie PANNIKIN and bugger off. When she told him she couldn't as there were still three people on the bottom he was very rude to her and left. We checked out with various official people later and we were quite within our rights to be there, he was just a jerk!
The four of us hired a car and set off to have a look at the island on Wednesday which turned out to be a full day with lots to see even if the island is not all that large. There were iguanas, pink flamingos, Caribbean parakeets and colourful lizards to keep us entertained as we drove up to the museum at the national park on the north of the island. The landscape is rough and dry and cactus abound which made us wonder how anyone could survive in the early years here. We continued back towards town and found the only KFC on the island which also sold cold beer! This was too much for Steve so we had to stop for lunch. The next stop was a windsurfing lake followed by a drive around the bottom of the island where there is a large salt pan operation with its pink waters and huge piles of salt waiting to be loaded for export. On the roadside there were the huts for the slaves that worked the salt operation in years gone by. What a miserable existence those poor people must have endured. From there it was on to the donkey sanctuary where we had a great experience. There were hundreds of donkeys of all ages, shapes and colours and we were encouraged to get in and experience their beautiful nature.
The wind is constantly blowing which if it was anywhere else it would be unpleasant, except here it just moderates the temperature and allows a comfortable sleep at night and adds to nice feeling of Bonaire.
We hauled anchor around 10am after checking out with customs and immigration and buying an extra case of beer to use up the last of our Eastern Caribbean dollars and ventured out of Mt Hartman Bay. The breeze turned out to be a little lighter than we would have liked and directly behind which made the going fairly slow, but increased as the day went on. There was a 2 metre swell running and coming from a different direction to the wind making the ride uncomfortable, to the point where Angela was feeling quite off colour and was cuddling the bucket just in case. It did settle down after a while with the wind picking up to 20-25kts giving the boat a more comfortable motion, and after two nights we sought refuge in behind a sand atoll to get a decent night's sleep. The atoll was part of a group of islands called Isla Los Roques which are part of Venezuela and not frequented by cruising sailors very much due to the piracy and crime associated with that country. We were told about it by some other Aussies who stopped there and said that they did not have a problem, so we thought it would be worth a stop. It was beautiful with clear aqua blue water and white sandy beaches and very protected from the wind and waves so we had a good night's sleep and headed off again early the next day.
We were greeted with light winds which made progress slow and by mid afternoon we decided to put the motor on and head for Aves De Sotavento for the night, which is another atoll in the middle of nowhere. When we found a calm anchorage there was two Venezuelan yachts there and one of them came over and asked where we were from and offered us some fresh fish he had just caught - not all Venezuelans are pirates apparently.
The next day was Friday and after an early start we had a good sail to cover the forty miles to Bonaire, with the last eight miles in the lee of the island which meant no waves and a good breeze so PANNIKIN was in her element. All of Bonaire is a marine park so there is no anchoring and mooring buoys are provided at $10US per night which makes things very easy. Andrew from EYE CANDY came out to greet us and helped us pick up the mooring lines which was right next to Jeremy and Susie on JOY and then gave us the run down on the place.
Bonaire is a Dutch colony which gives a completely different feel to the previous Caribbean islands we have visited with western shops selling the things we are more used to and the supermarkets are great with huge range to choose from, even if beer is a little more expensive.
The island is a world renown dive spot with good reason, the water is clear and warm and sheltered with no monsters (as Ange says). Off the front of the boat is good snorkelling in 2-3m and off the back is good diving with a wall that drops off to 30m. There are many dive sites and they are marked with a mooring buoy to tie up to so we will be blowing heaps of bubbles here.
01/09/2014, Secret Harbour, Grenada
Friday we had a great walk to the "jerk chicken man" who has a stall above Clarks Court Bay. We met Stan & Lann and their friends Flemming & Hells at Secret Harbour & had a 30 minute walk to our lunch spot - it was great to catch up with them & and the conversation didn't stop for some time! We had a quiet afternoon reading & swimming on PANNIKIN and an early night.
Saturday morning Ange walked into Grand Anse to get some last minute fresh groceries from the IGA. It rained on & off all morning, but was still hot & muggy for walking! Steve attended an informal information session on Panama held by another cruiser/delivery skipper who has transited the canal seven times. He found it very useful & picked up a lot of ideas. We had a game of dominoes with Lann, Stan and Flemming in the afternoon & sadly said our goodbyes to Lann & Stan as they are flying back to the US to see their families for a month. It has been wonderful meeting them & we're sure we will keep in contact.
Yesterday we got PANNIKIN ready for our sail across to Bonaire, did some washing & treated ourselves to a cheeseburger & chips for lunch at Secret Harbour marina. Steve played dominoes in the afternoon & Ange had a great phone call with Lesley who is nearing the end of a holiday in Europe. Great to speak with you Mum!
After checking out of Customs & Immigration in Prickly Bay this morning we are on our way to Bonaire. Should take about 3 days we reckon!
28/08/2014, Secret Harbour, Grenada
We are now back in lovely Grenada & another week has flown by again!
The last few days in Trinidad were spent doing our final jobs & saying goodbye to new friends we've met. We had a great game of dominoes with Steve & Pat (our neighbours at Coral Cove) on Saturday that got so out of control Steve (not Webby) fell off his chair! Dominoes can get physical!!!
Monday we were back in the water at 2pm. It was great to be off the hard in the water with a little wind. Our canvas man still hadn't delivered our cushions as promised, so we decided to take Monday night in a berth at PowerBoats marina. It also gave us a chance to stick up on groceries as Grenada is that much dearer.
We were up early on Tuesday... a young South African guy, Shaun, was getting a lift with us back to Grenada, so he arrived at 7.30am with all his gear. We checked out of customs & immigration and then hit the duty free alcohol store & grabbed some beer and vodka. Much cheaper without the tax etc so we should be right for the next month!
Our sail back to Grenada was odd. No wind at first (as expected) then we were cracking along at 7 - 8 knots. We were hit with squalls constantly in which we had to reef then lost all our wind once they passed. It took another 15 - 20 minutes before the wind came back & the current then was pushing us off our course. This went on all day & night as well as thunderstorms & lightning. We arrived into Prickly Bay at 10.30pm tired & wet but safe. A quick clean up of the boat, a beer & then bed.
Wednesday we checked in with customs & immigration in Prickly Bay & put Shaun into a taxi to take him to his boat in St George's. He was not well, complaining of aching, painful joints & fever, so we hope he hasn't contracted one of the mosquito borne viruses! We then spent most of the day chasing up odd jobs that still needed to be done & finally topped up our internet credit. We had a swim back at PANNIKIN & then popped into Prickly Bay marina for a pizza for dinner. We had wanted to attend Bingo at 8pm, but we were both too tired & retired to the boat to watch some TV & early to bed.
Today we ventured into St George's to Island Water World to buy a new dinghy. Mr Slappy is now well past repair & goes flat within a couple of hours. We are worried he will become a safety liability in the Pacific & haven't been able to find a second hand tender anywhere. Our new tender was delivered to the dock at Spice Island Marine at 2pm & we dragged it back to PANNIKIN very proud owners! We yet have to name the new dinghy - we're sure it will come to us over a couple of beers! We have motored around the corner to Secret Harbour to spend the next 3 days before we head to Bonaire! It's too rolly at Prickly Bay! We are catching up with our friends Lann & Stan from BAREFOOT LIFE tomorrow before they head back to the USA for a month. It will be good to see them.
Photo is of downtown Port of Spain, Trinidad
21/08/2014, PowerBoats boatyard, Chaguaramus
Last week was a time of chasing tradesmen, getting jobs done & preparing PANNIKIN for her haul out on the 18th. Ange had an afternoon of retail therapy on Thursday afternoon at WestMall - not much to buy, but it was nice wandering in the air conditioning. Another grocery shopping trip on Friday. We did manage a dominoes match with Kevin & Susie from TEMPTRESS and Paul & Jill from ELEVATION (Aussies) on Saturday, with Ange being the runaway winner. Sunday we had a lovely lunch with Paul & Jill at Cafe Feel Oh at Coral Cove marina & a good chat.
Monday we were up early & away from Coral Cove marina at 8.15am. We motored down to Power Boats where we tied up in the lift dock & waited for our hoist. Once we were up we waited for an hour & a half as the yard crew attempted to stabilise a trimaran we were to slot in front of. We spent the time trying scrap off all the shellfish that had attached themselves to PANNIKIN's underside - there were heaps - thanks to Hog Island, Grenada. Once we were settled on our props PANNIKIN was pressure washed Ange began the huge task of scrapping her bottom with a metal scrapper & Steve followed behind with the sander. We achieved 2/3 of her hull on Monday before calling a halt to the day. We let down our anchor & all chain to sit in the sun while we are here to get rid of any growth. We also cleaned out the anchor well - smelly!
Tuesday we finished scrapping & sanding and applied some epoxy primer to patches where the old antifoul was a bit thin. Ange also sanded back the propeller & sail drive ready for new paint. Mel at Majestic Coatings has kindly given us a new product called Prop Shield (apparently similar to Prop Speed) to try out. All he asks is we send him a photo of the propeller each month so he can record the effectiveness of the paint against growth.
Yesterday we applied the first coat of antifoul. We are using a hard paint again, this time Pettit Trinidad Pro. We are hoping it will hold up better in the Caribbean waters as the growth here is savage. After cleaning up (we were both covered in black paint) we had a delivery of our bimini from the canvas guy & also took our saloon cushions for covering - FINALLY!!! The bimini looks good after its wash & reseal - we still don't think it will be waterproof, but you never know. We had a great dinner last night at the Wheelhouse Pub at Tropical Marine. Swordfish & side salads for 100TT ($17) & the piece of fish large enough to feed both of us. It was grilled in garlic butter & then smothered in a mushroom sauce - YUM!
Today we will apply another coat of antifoul & will reconnect our solar panel & LED cockpit lights after taking them down to remove the bimini. But important things first - doubles for breakfast!!!! Doubles are East Indian in origin. They are a small roti filled with spicy chick peas. They are very popular here in Trinidad for breakfast. They are served at roadside stands from around 6 - 9.30am so you have to be quick.