31 January 2018
Photo: Lac Bay
Wednesday 24th January at 08:30, we left Seru Boca Marina, Curacao and motor sailed into 14-20kt easterly trade winds to Bonaire. We had booked a berth at Harbour Village Marina, and looking at the full mooring buoys outside it was a wise decision. We were tied up in our berth by 15:00 and then walked along the boardwalk to clear Customs and Immigration. On the way back we stopped at Karels Bar for a drink, the bar was mentioned in the cruising guide as a popular stopping place. Dinner Wednesday evening was at the French Bistro, within the marina complex and less than a minute walk from the Dol.
From Harbour Village Marina it is a 10min walk along the boardwalk into Kralendiik, the main town area. As we walked along and looked at the moored boats, there were plenty of bright blue fish, like parrot fish, swimming in the shallows. Bonaire is a world renowned dive and snorkel destination and plenty of people were snorkeling and diving just off the many beaches. Driving around the island we saw many yellow painted stones with the names of the dive and snorkeling sites. These corresponded to names on the road map. Cruise ships were in port most days, making the area quite busy with lots of English accents.
We walked into the main town area on Thursday, checked out the Budget Marine chandlery and then found the 2 good supermarkets, which are a reasonable walk to carry groceries. We did the walk a couple of times and on one occasion on the return trip, we were startled as 3 Iguanas shot across our path and sat in the short grass close by.
Saturday we had Johan and Lisa, Rubicon, a Swedish couple, over for drinks and shared our adventures with them and they there’s with us. Johan and Lisa are also heading for New Zealand, they plan to transit the Panama Canal before us but we will no doubt meet them again along the way.
Bonaire is a marine conservation area, hence anchoring is not allowed. To swim, snorkel dive or do any water based activities you must purchase a Nature tag at one of the many dive shops, price depends on what you intend to do, and display it when in the water. We attached ours to our snorkel masks. There are certainly lots of fish and some coral when snorkeling, but Bonaire is known for diving its reefs, so probably better.
Monday we hired a 4 cab Ute for a couple of days and drove up to the North West to Washington Slagbaai National Park, following the yellow and green iguana sign posts. Bumping and bouncing our way around the park over the potholes and ruts, it is easy to understand why cars and bikes are not allowed, you certainly come out shaken. The park is a wilderness of bays, rock formations, water holes, and bays for snorkeling and diving. Unfortunately for us, the day we went the surf was too rough and no-one was in the water. We enjoyed our 3 plus hours driving through the park, saw flamingos again, several Iguanas, the Bonaire Whip Tail Lizard, Birds and other natural phenomenon. The park must have thousands of cacti, they were everywhere although in places the park was also quite stark with rock.
Tuesday we went across to the east coast. Our first stop was the Donkey Sanctuary, home to 700 donkeys. The sanctuary was founded in 1993 as a place to care and protect the many donkeys which were previously used as workhorses but with modern transport they had been abandoned. There are still over 400 in the wild on the island but the ones in the sanctuary are curious and have learnt that a car may mean food and will put their heads inside the car if the window is down.
From the donkeys we drove to Lac Bay. What a contrast to the rest of the island. Lac Bay is a natural lagoon, surrounded by reef with on-shore breezes, with turquoise blue water, a mecca for windsurfers. There were dozens of them flying up and down the lagoon as well as learners. Ashore there are many windsurfing schools, cafes and bars. It seemed that most of the people off the 2 cruise ships in town had descended on Lac Bay. A good lunch stop to watch all the activity.
We continued our drive around the south east of the island, stopped to look at the Slave worker houses of the salt mines and also the beach for the kite surfers, who like the off shore breezes. It was then back into town to the supermarkets for a final stock up. Brian says we have to start eating some of the food on board or Dol will sink. We certainly have a lot on board.
A weather window seems to have opened for us on Friday to get around to Cartagena, Columbia. The area is known to be one of the 5 worst sea condition areas in the world, so we are a little apprehensive, but Dol should handle the conditions well. We anticipate the 480nm trip will take us around 3 days to complete.