We finally escaped from our boat!
26 May 2017 | Bonaire
Bill/sunny with winds
We finally escaped from the boat after a couple of days sort of stuck on board. Winds and white caped swells have kept us and other here in Bonaire on board their boats. With winds in the high 20 to low 30s, and swells coming through the mooring field, you could venture ashore knowing full well you would probably get nailed by some wave during the trip and walking around town soaking wet is less than fun so we just hunkered down and stayed on board. The winds finally let up a bit this morning so we put Puff back in the water(she's been dangling off the starboard side) and loaded up our scuba gear. We tied up to the port side with two lines so we wouldn't swing and it made it easier to load all the gear. We do it piece by piece, tanks, jackets, weights, fins, masks, camera, and a ladder so we can get back in Puff without killing ourselves.
We took off just after 0900 for the north side of Klein Bonaire, a small island just off the south west coast of Bonaire. It's surrounded by dive and snorkel sites as is Bonaire. We'd thought to go to "Sampler" since the reviews for it were quite good but there was a professional dive boat already tied to the mooring so we went just a bit farther along the shore to "Knife". No reviews for it in any of our literature but it ended up being a really great place to dive. We got all Tracys gear ready and lowered it over the side along with her while I got mine ready and then I slowly rolled over the side and into the water. The gear is heavy and we had quite a swell coming past us so Puff was anything but stable. Once in, we checked our gear and headed down, immediately joined by a "French Angel Fish". Needless to say it's a Queen due to it's size. Obviously very used to divers as she tagged along with us for the first part of the dive swimming right along with us. We slowly made our way east along the reef down to about 60 feet before leveling off for most of the dive at 55 feet. Lots of beautiful coral along the reef along with tons of tube sponges and huge schools of fish of all sizes. With over 3,000 pounds of air in our tanks, we had plenty of time to have fun. In the end, we were down 57 minutes before surfacing back at Puff.
With this being an island with protected waters, I'm surprised we have seen so few shells of any king during our dives. Unlike farther north in the Virgins, shells are all over the place, here--none. Strange.
Once back on the surface, I took off my jacket and tied it to a line to Puff and climbed in while Tracy waited. She then took all the extra lead weights off the dive gear(14 pounds for me and 16 for Tracy and handed them to me. It's much easier to pull the tanks and jackets back in Puff if they are lighter. With Tracys just having been repaired, we want to make sure it stays repaired. We don't need another leak in the jacket.
With all the gear loaded, we started the out board and slowly motored back toward the shore of Bonaire getting trashed by repeated waves coming over the bow. It was so bad, I contemplated putting my dive mask back on so I could see. In the end, we toughed it out and made it close to the shore of Bonaire where it was much calmer. We went back to Zephyr for a very nice lunch, a cool shower to ge the salt water off, a run of the generator to top up batteries and then a rid down to the dive shop to get our tanks refilled. With luck and Mother Natures help, we will be off again tomorrow for another site.
For those of you on boats of any kind, you know about carrying extra fuel, be it diesel of gasoline normally in Jerry Cans of different colors, attached to racks or brackets on the deck. It's with sadness I report the sudden death of one of our best 6 gallon gasoline cans. True, it was an antique bought long before the government dictated that we fuel pourers just couldn't be trusted with pouring fuel from one can into another or perhaps into a generator or outboard motor fuel tanks and that we HAD to have some new kind of contraction on the spout so that we wouldn't spill dreaded fuel when ever we tried to pour. From what I've heard and read, more fuel gets spilled with these new spouts that the old but I digress. We keep a total of five cans active on our boat, four that hold 5 gallons and one attached at the stern that holds or held 6 gallons. It came with two handles instead of one and made pouring fuel(even with the out lawed spout)a breeze. The other four are attached to a huge 2X6 rosewood(bought in Madagascar when the old one broke)that's bolted to the port side stanchions with stainless steel bolts. When we need fuel, we transfer 5 gallons out of one of these cans and pour it into the 6 gallon one on the stern. It's easier to then pour the fuel into what ever needs it as it has two handles. We transferred some fuel yesterday and late this afternoon when we moved it, we found fuel on the deck under the can!!! If you've been following our posts for a while, you'll remember that we found a jerry can along the shoreline when we were in the US Virgins. It's been stowed(empty of course) in the anchor locker as we had no other place to keep it. We pulled it out and poured the remaining fuel from the now leaking can into the new found can. It took some time but we looked and looked and finally found the leak. No hole per say, but just this little tiny small crack in the plastic on the bottom. No abrasions, nor wear and tear any where near it, but it sure leaked(slowly but what does that matter, a leak is a leak). Being plastic and flexible, I'm not sure there is any way to fix it. Perhaps some JB Weld? Not sure but if you're out there sitting in your living room(or anywhere for that matter) and have any kind of idea how to patch this really tiny leak, we'd love to hear from you. Just leave us a "comment".
The picture today is of the "French Angel Fish I wrote about earlier.
25 May 2017 | Bonaire
Bill/sunny with winds
We were told when we arrived here that there were several flamingo sanctuaries on the island. One on the south east side and one in the northwest side of the island. We visited the northwest one during our ride around the island last week. It's in a huge lake with roads going along it's shoreline making it easy to see them. We'd been told there were here in the hundreds but we didn't see any where near that many. As we golf carted around, we stopped several times taking in the sights of along the shoreline. It's fun seeing them float along and walk in the mud stirring it up to get their food from it. They left a brown wake behind them as they walked through the shallow ponds beside the lake. We only saw one other couple while we were there and they were on a motor cycle(camera in hand).
We wanted to stop at the second and reputedly larger refuge on the southeast side but we ran out of time and couldn't stop as we still wanted to visit the large grocery stores and find fresh fruits and veggies. So here is a picture of what we could get(cheap camera)of the flamingos.
Boat bound on Wednesday.
25 May 2017 | Bonaire
Bill/sunny with winds
We are sort of boat bound today(Wednesday) as the winds have picked up from yesterday and are now howling past our boat in the high 20s with forecasts of them getting into the 30s. The sound reminds me of sitting inside our home in Colorado, listening to a Winter blizzard come through. While it in the high 80s, the sound still can send shivers through our bodies as we sit here sweating. Not a bad time to go out scuba diving if your dinghy or dive boat is big enough but there are white caps running all through the bay. Just about everyone is sitting still on their boats hoping it will lessen up as time goes by. Two days ago, Buoy Weather had it for a "Danger" day up from just a "Small craft advisory". So here we sit, reading stories on the internet and on our Kindles. I've no idea if these high winds are the "normal" for Bonaire but a man we spoke to when we were golf carting it around the island told us that he was tired of the slow winds we had been having recently. He was more than ready for the "normal" winds to return. Maybe this is "normal"?
I took out one of our frozen chicken breast and Tracy is looking for some wonderful way of using it. Time will tell. I just found out--it's going to be Yellow Curry with chicken!!! It doesn't get much better than that!!!
Meanwhile the wind generator is spinning nicely on the stern and we are putting off running our generator till later so we will have plenty of volts to get us through the night. I'm happy to report that Digicel finally straighten out our accounts and we have gone back to a "normal" higher speed internet from a VERY slow internet. It only took three trips in(and suffering in their air conditioned office) but that still better than having to go through everything we did with AT&T back in the US Virgins. What a pain they were.
Yesterday(Tuesday) as I wandered through town on my way to the Customs and Immigration office, I found myself surrounded in tourists!! A cruise ship had come in and there were more people milling around down town than I've seen is a week or more. It's slower time here now with apparently only one smaller cruise ship coming in one day a week so all the vendors are set up and ready to go long before the first passenger ever gets off the boat. The people we rented the golf cart from last week told me they are up at 0430 and taking their carts to the dock and all set up by 0700. These ships stay till about 1700 when they toot their horn and and take off for their next port of call. We didn't check to see where they are going but figure by their course, it's either Curacao or Aruba. It was great seeing all the shops open in town. While it's a tourist destination for scuba divers, and it does generate a ton of money for the island, the occasional cruise ship is a nice boost. Bonaire, other than their diving and the occasional beach has little to offer the typical tourist.
It's now 1430 and I have the generator running on the stern. It's still blowing in the 20 knot range so the DuoGen is spinning nicely but I want to make sure, should the wind die as it does most nights, that we still have plenty of power left in our six batteries. When it's blowing, the volt meter shows us with plenty of volts but when the wind slacks off, even for a couple of seconds, the volt meter shows that the voltage is down and the batteries need charging so that's just what we are doing. It's been partly cloudy all day and the winds have stayed strong making every ones boats swing around on the end of their mooring lines. I went out a short time ago to check ours. We have the original two that the country supplies going down to the three big weights on the bottom and then the extra line we put down there attached to one of our shackles. The original two lines are in much better condition than the ones that were on our earlier mooring ball when we first arrived bacl on the 8th and that alone makes us feel safer. Add on one of our own lines and it's even better. We sleep well at night but still on guard should something happen. We do make sure to close up all the hatches at night since we never know when the occasional squall might sneak in on us(and it has).
Tomorrow, should the wind die off a bit, we will be off for more scuba diving. Meanwhile we sit and read and listen to the generator for another hour or so.
The picture today is of the fruit and veggie section at the big super market we visited a bit over a week ago when we had the golf cart. Best selection we've seen in a while and oh so fresh.
Busy in Bonaire.
23 May 2017 | Bonaire
Bill/sunny and blowing
It's Sunday morning and we just got a visit from the Bonaire Coast Guard. As I was finishing up shaving, there was a knock on the hull. Tracy went up into the cockpit and found four men in a boat alongside. Not recognizing the boat, she asked what they needed and was told that they were the Coast Guard coming to check our boat. Now we've already been in Bonaire for two weeks but because we'd left the harbor two days ago to dump our black water tanks and taken a different mooring buoy, they thought we had just come in. Strangely they had never visited us before when we were new. "Passports and boat papers please" was their request. As I sat in the cockpit, Tracy got our document pouch and passed it up. I welcomed two of their crew on board and handed over the requested paperwork and had a nice conversation with them. They inspected all our paperwork and while another of the crew got on their radio to check with probably Customs or Immigration. Their first question was when did we come in. Our answer was two weeks ago. They seemed surprised. We explained that we'd been tied up farther west along the shoreline but had left the harbor two days ago to empty our black water tanks. It was now clear to them about why they thought we were new. They still checked our passports and all our boat papers as well as. Asking about our last port of call, how long we thought we would be staying, and where our next port would be. All the typical questions we have heard so many times before. They returned all our papers, filled in a few more lines in one of their notebooks and took off for the next "new" boat. They did ask about wether or not we had a spear gun(already explained about ours to Customs when we came in)and we explained that yes we did but we've never used it and the rubber sling biodegrade itself to death years ago plus we never fish since we can't eat all of what we might catch and that's not fair to the fish. We watched as they pulled up to another boat moored along the shoreline.
This afternoon, we'll try out our scuba gear again and see if we did indeed fix it. We still need to go to town to the nice store that helped us a few days ago, plus a stop at Digicel to find out why it will take over five hours to download a 500 meg show. Not getting the speed we were told we would get. Back to the store!
We tried out our scuba gear and Tracy's buoyancy compensator jacket is holding air just fine. The rubber gaskets we cut and fitted are doing the job. The dive we made was just off Zephyrs stern but we now know her jacket is good to go.
We never made it to the scuba store on Sunday and Digicel was closed so we stayed on board and did other tasks. I polished the stainless steel dorades (a big funnel that screws onto the deck that channels any kind of breeze into the cabin) with some Autosol, a cleaner and polishing compound we found in Trinidad. Works great and with the help of a stainless steel brush, got all the corrosion off and now they are nice and shiny.
It's now Monday and we're sitting in Digicels lobby waiting for a response from their tech people. The girl at the desk can't understand why the download speed has crashed through the floor so she emailed the tech service for assistance.
Earlier this morning, we ran the generator for about 90 minutes having breakfast and getting all our scuba gear ready for another outing. This time, we are taking Puff, our dinghy to another spot farther west along the coast. There are dozens of mooring buoys to choose from so finding one is no problem. Once the generator was off, we already had our gear loaded so we started up the motor and took off a couple of mile up the coast. We tied Puff to the buoy and then made the last adjustments to our scuba gear and in Tracy went with me a few minutes later. The repairs we made to her buoyancy compensator jacket had worked keeping the air inside. Just one small leak where a hose attaches to the jacket. We will be stopping at the scuba store once we are done with Digicel.
It was a very nice dive with the water perfectly clear and 81 degrees. We've seen lots of people in wet suits but have no clue why. We were in about 47 minutes and felt fine when we got back to the surface. The deepest I went was 74 feet with Tracy in the mid 60s. Headed west in the water and then reversed course back for Puff when our air was about half gone. It was partly cloudy day so I didn't take any pictures this trip as the colors were very muted. The water was still crystal clear and it was a very enjoyable dive with not a sole anywhere near us. We had this section of the reef to ourselves. Diving around Zephyr, there is just about always someone nearby. Lots of different coral but no a lot of color with the clouds overhead but lots of fun and easier than diving off the back of Zephyr.
We zipped back to Zephyr, unloaded our gear, had a nice lunch and then took off again. Back to the dive shop to have the tanks refilled and then into town for the errands we are doing now.
One thing I will say is that the fish we see during our dives have no fear about swimming right up to you and checking you out unlike other spots we've been in the world.
After about thirty minutes, we got a response from Digicel that we had used close to 15 gigs and that was why our speed had been cut back. I again explained to the sales clerk that, yeas, we had used up all of our original 10 gigs and then had purchased on a different plan another 16 gigs so using just fifteen of our 26 gigs should leave us lots of "fast" internet left. I showed her on our phone how much we had left. She got back on her terminal and another thirty minutes later, she came out and said that it was being corrected and we "should" be fine in about 15-30 minutes. The operative word was "should". We left(our mistake) Digicel to run more errands and once back on Zephyr, found that we still had SLOW speed internet. It was coming in in the Kilobytes per second instead of the Megabyte speed we expected. It was to late to get back to Digicel so I took off this morning(Tuesday) to talk to them as well as Customs and Immigration. When we'd come in, we asked for a thirty day Visa, now, since we've had so much fun, we wanted to get cleared for a total of ninth days. No problem says the Customs and immigration official at the office. Problem solved.
Back to Digicel. As I walked in, it was as though they had been expecting me. The sales person that had helped us on Monday came over and told me she had gotten a call from their tech people just after we had left, asking us to turn on our WiFi hot spot device. He would then make the necessary corrections to ur account and we would have been good to go but since we hadn't gotten the message, well we were still on the really SLOW internet. I turned it on and another thirty minutes and we were back to high speed internet again,YEA!!
I retuned to Puff, stopped by Zephyr picking up Tracy and we went to the dive shop and finally got out scuba tanks back. Tomorrow, back in the water again!
The picture today is of the mountains of salt along the southeast shore of Bonaire. They have a huge salt production plant there working around the clock. Huge mountains of it with ponds of saltwater slowly evaporating.
Working on our buoyancy compensator.
20 May 2017 | Bonaire
Bill/sunny with winds
Yesterday, we finally made it into the water with our scuba gear. I got Tracys ready first so we could see if there were any problems with her buoyancy compensator(BC) jacket. It still has a small leak, actually a couple, that we will be working on. Just going to take some time and a bit of glue. We'll be going back to the store on Sunday that helped us on Wednesday trying to get it fixed. He may have found the part we needed. Once Tracy came back on board, we found bit of water inside the bladder of her jacket so we'll be looking into that also. Mine was fine with no leaks and the new regulator I brought into the US Virgins worked just fine. We dove for about 40 minutes before coming back to Zephyr to get everything washed, dried and stowed for the next dive. I'll be going in on Saturday morning and getting our tanks refilled. We bought a card for 21 fills and it's time to use two.
Today, we dropped the lines to our mooring buoy and took off the empty our black water(stuff from the head)tanks. We are one of the few that has tanks for the heads as most boats just pump it straight over board. Here in Bonaire, it's against the law to pump your black water over board. You have to go five miles of shore to do it. We left at 0900(20 to 25 knots of wind in the bay) and finally returned just before noon so we know we went out as far as needed. We were in water over 1,000 feet deep when I pushed the buttons on both forward and stern heads. Now our tanks are nice and empty for another ten days or so. Then we get to do it all over again. As for the other boats in the mooring field, many having been here for a long time, we never see them drop their lines and leave to take care of business so I figure they just pump over board what they leave in the head. I guess since they have no tanks, they have no choice. We who have tanks must leave as emptying them in the bay would cause problems for the reef. Our forward tank is about 25 gallons and the stern is 18. A little pumped overboard is fine but a lot at one session isn't. That's how we killed the morning.
When we returned, we moved farther east along the shore and took a different mooring. This ones lines were in great shape though the port side line was to short to make it to the deck where I could attach our lines to it. We did get attached to the starboard fitting and then Tracy jumped in and I handed her our line for the port side mooring line . She threaded it though the "eye" at the end of the mooring line and handed it back to me and I attached it to the forward cleat. After lunch, I put on my suit and dove down to attach a shackle to one of the mooring blocks and installed our back up line. Now we have three lines attached to the mooring blocks. Two of theirs and one of ours. We're not going any where.
The rest of the day was quiet as we waited for another boat to come in and crowd us here in the anchorage. So far(it's now 2230) none have shown up but there is always tomorrow. They have the buoys packed in here but with no anchoring in Bonaire, they have to. Imagine showing up here after a multi day/night passage and finding no where to tie off your boat unless you go into one of the expensive marinas. Not a good way to make friends with cruisers.
Tomorrow, we are headed into town as the Animal Shelter is having a "garage sale" of sorts where people drop off things they no longer want or need and the public can buy them. One of the scuba shops we went into suggested we stop in there as many times, people or shops donate used scuba gear. Maybe we can find a used buoyancy compensator instead of having to buy a new one. Once we are done with that , it's down to the dive shop and get our tanks filled. Then we will try and get in another dive. Hopefully the winds and waves will have stopped as it's never fun to get thrown around by big waves as you're trying to get in or out of a dinghy in full scuba gear. In the Baja, we say the "Buffalos are running". I'll let you know how that goes.
It's now Sunday afternoon and we are back from town. We got to the animal shelter right at 0800 since that was when they were to open. OOPS! We forgot that we are on "island time" and that means nothing starts when they say it does. We got to the restaurant where the advertisement said the "garage" sale was to be only to find nothing. One of the waitresses saw us just sitting out back as we waited for someone to show up. She knew nothing of any "garage sale" even after we showed her the advertisement. She went in and asked and surprise, surprise, it wasn't at the restaurant but across the street. No clue who wrote the notice but they sure got it wrong. As it was, nothing was actually ready to be sold till much closer to 0900 as everything they had inside had to be lugged outside and put up under four tents that they also had to put up. We saw several BIG tubs of what looked like scuba gear come out and after waiting a good bit, slowly wandered over to the tubs. What buoyancy compensators they had were MUCH worse than what we had. I did find another pair of fins as I needed some parts off them to fix my pair(bought in 1981!). The adjustment clip for my heel had started to snap and these had just the part I needed. Cost $10. Not bad as I saw another pair similar to what I had just bought at a scuba store for $165!
We hiked back to Puff and headed back to Zephyr to get our scuba tanks so we could get them filled. Tracy lowered them down to me and we took off for the dive shop. While there, I asked if they had any "BCs" for sale. Yes they did but at a different location farther down the shoreline. While they filled our tanks, we headed down only to be disappointed on what they had for sale. Old, no frills BCs that had been very well used. There wasn't a place for weights so Tracy would be wearing a separate weight belt. We passed on it-cost was $150(probably close to what they originally paid for them) where a brand new one with lots of extras was only $299. We returned to the dive center and still had to wait for the tanks as they still were not filled. Once done, I carried them to their dock and lowered them to Tracy and off we went back to Zephyr.
I still wanted to work on Tracys old BC but we needed to run the generator and it's darn near impossible to hear the "hiss" of escaping air with a generator running close by so I waited till after lunch(Tacos again--YEA!) and the batteries were full and between the two of us got hers fixed. I keep on board some nice pieces of rubber that were originally intended to be seals for the diesel tanks but one sheet has had a few chunks taken out of it over the last five years or so so it was time to take some more. I laid out a pattern on the rubber and cut around it in a somewhat nice circle. Cutting thick rubber with scissors never gives you a perfect cut or circle but it came out well and after we discussed what needed to be done some more, we had the parts we needed for some better seals as what was on it wasn't keeping the air in. It took some more work but we got it all together and after filling the BC with air and spraying soapy water over the valves, it looks like we have the leak sealed!!! No air appears to be making bubbles at any of the valves and the air I put in it 30 minutes ago seems to be staying as the jacket is still nice and puffy. We'll be going in the water tomorrow to try it out and then hiking to the dive store that was so nice to us a few days ago. He's checking his inventory of parts for something else that might help us solve the problem permanently.
I've attached a picture of some of the wind generators along the northwest coast of Bonaire. We counted 12 but saw more in other parts of the island during our golf cart ride. Cheap and environmentally friendly.
Solving problems and getting ready to go diving.
18 May 2017 | Bonaire
Bill/sunny with winds
On Tuesday, we tried to recover from having our bodies shaken and jostled by the ride around the island in the golf cart. We got up to the sound of rain hitting the deck! It's the first rain we've had in a long time and about all it did was turn our dirty decks to muddy decks. Little seemed to have gotten washed away, just liquified so every where you walked on deck, you left muddy foot prints. Hopefully we will get some more but since then all we've gotten is wind and lots of it. It's forecast for "small craft" warnings for the next week or so with winds in the mid 20 knot range and seas in the two plus meter size. We're protected from most of the swells but the wind just keeps on coming and that's fine as the DuoGen on the stern keeps trying to put volts into the batteries. No way it can keep up with the demand as it's not that good a generator. At least the winds in the 20's helps.
We made up some fresh gasoline(a mixture of 50 to 1-gas to oil) for our two stroke Tohatsu out board as we were getting a bit low with all the traveling around we've been doing. No way do we want to ever run out as we would be swept out so sea quickly with the winds and currents here in Bonaire. When we snorkeled along the south shore of the island just off shore, I sat in the dinghy while Tracy floated along beside me. Before I'd dropped the line to the small mooring buoy, she's drifted a good 100 yards to the west of me. It was just easier to float along in the dinghy while she swam as the water was too deep for any picture taking.
Once Puff was launched and the Tohatsu lowered and installed, we took off for the local marina to pay for our mooring for another two weeks and get rid of two bags of trash. Taking most of what we buy out of boxes while still at the store really cuts down on what we have to throw away. Keeps nasty bugs off the boat too since they seem to like to hitch a ride to the boat in the boxes. We paid our fees($154) for the next two weeks so we are good and got rid of the trash. I enquired about who maintains the moorings as ours is in need of repair. Mooring lines are supposed to have a eyelet installed on the end of the line that you pass one of your dock lines through. One of the two lines from the mooring doesn't have an eyelet, just a knot in the rope. I ended up speaking to the dock master for the marina and he told me he would have someone out there to get it fixed as soon as he could. No clue what that means in actual time as this is the Caribbean and not much moves quickly around here(it's now Thursday and no repairs have been done).
We returned to Zephyr and got the generator and a small tarp out so we could charge up everything on board and keep the generator dry should it rain again. Just the appearance of the tarp assured us that it would not rain again and it hasn't. We transferred gasoline from one of our forward jerry cans to one we keep on the stern that has a easy to pour handle. We poured fuel from one tank to the other and made sure the generator was nice and full. We ran the generator for about 90 minutes and most of what we had that needed charging got taken care of.
Lunch, always an important part of our day, was hamburgers made with the left over meat from the tacos we had on Sunday. Our trip to the grocery store yesterday gave us all the extra condiments we needed for a really great burger. We had it on simple sandwich bread instead of buns as it's much cheaper and tastes just fine. We'd bought a half loaf for $1.50 and it was just perfect. We've found that if we buy a full loaf, we can't eat it all and it goes bad quickly in the Caribbean as most of the bakeries don't use preservatives.
I'm off to take a few more Motrin to try and stop the body aching every time I move. Age sucks sometimes.
Yesterday, Wednesday, we went back to shore get our phone/internet recharged as we were down to just 320 megs of data left out of the 10 gigs we got back on the 8th. We'd been downloading another show or two(off ITunes) and adding in all the surfing we've been doing learning about Bonaire, we'd gone through our allotment. One thing they didn't tell us at Digicel was that the plan we were on doesn't allow computers to connect to the phone you are using to get the internet via a "Hot Spot". It says it's connected(via WIFI) but there is no internet. We discussed this problem with the sales person and she confirmed what we already knew. You can't get internet under the plan we were on unless you put the simm card in a WiFi dongle that will broadcast the signal. Then you can connect to the dongle, just not the phone. Why??? The sales person had no clue, it's just the way Digicel does it here. At least we had the WiFi dongle and didn't have to buy another piece of electronics to add to our vast collection.
We found another problem that needed attention on board. When I pulled out Tracys buoyancy compensator jacket(holds her scuba tank when she dives) we found that another of the air dump valves had come off(not supposed to do that). We'd originally found the problem of these valves coming off back in Madagascar and had taken the jacket into a repair shop when we were in South Africa. The tech was amazed how bad the condition of the valves were as the jacket looked brand new. We'd bought it two years before then and brought it back to Fiji when we were there. After usage, it always got washed in fresh water and dried in the cockpit(out of the Sun) and then stowed in the locker in the forward head(same as mine). The tech did a good job on the valves that looked like they needed replacing or reglueing. Unfortunately, the one that has now popped, isn't one of the ones he fixed. We needed another repair person or we needed a new jacket($$$$). We did some research on the internet, found a repair shop and called. He said he needed to see it so we jumped in the dinghy and took it to him. He was also surprised at the blown valve as the jacket, now four years old, still looks new. His comment was that most of the companies were using cheap rubber from China(his opinion) and many jackets were doing the same thing. His suggestion was to just eliminate the valve by glueing a patch right over the hole. But---he had no glue nor any patch material! So much for a suggestion. He did have a rack full of new jackets and surprisingly not a very inflated prices. We checked when we got back to Zephyr on the internet and his prices were in line with those back in the US. Quite the surprise. We knew of two other places in town that might fix it so we jumped back into Puff and took off for down town. The next place we stopped at had no suggestion(other than take it back to where we had just come from) other than buy a new one. Their prices were higher than where we had just been for a new jacket(nicer place with higher rent). We left and hiked down to store #3 and after the tech(owner of the store) looked at it, he had some suggestions as to where to get glue but again, he had no patch material. He took pity on us and started hunting around the different drawers in his shop and came up with a replacement valve. We pulled out the bad glue that had held the old valve and then he slowly fit the replacement valve in place and screwed down the valve cap onto the inner fitting, took the jacket to a spare scuba tank and inflated it. The valve leaked just a little so he tightened the fitting and the small hiss we had heard stopped!! It was fixed, not permanently but it was good to go for diving. He said he would look around his shop to see if he had any valves that might fit better and to stop by on the weekend(Sunday) and see what he came up with. To say we were impressed with his service would be an understatement! He could have just thrown up his hands as the previous two shops had and tried to sell us a new jacket. If it doesn't work out, well we know know where we will be buying a new jacket on Sunday but today we will be jumping in the water after lunch and trying it out. It's blowing in the high teens to twenties so the water is quit stirred up out there with lots of white capped waves running through the bay so we will just dive from Zephyr again and see how it is. Tracy did go into the water on Wednesday morning for a test dive to see how her ear was and she reports back that it's better than she thought and equalized even better the deeper she goes. One other thing we did buy at the third dive shop was some more weights for our diving($25 for two 2 pound weights). We now seem to be having a problem sinking once we let all the air out of the compensators so we got four more pounds to try and counteract the buoyancy problem.
Today, we cleaned up and bit, ran the generator, petted(and annoyed)Blue as she laid on the table in the main salon and made preparations for this afternoons dive. Tracys tank is still full at 3,000 pound and mine is down to probably 2,000 with us both using it for two short dives. It's going to be fun getting back in the water again.
The picture today is of the sign outside the "Mens Room" at the National Park on the northwest corner of the island.