17 January 2019 | Bonaire
Our crossing to Bonaire was relatively straight forward with 15 to 20 knots of wind to give us a good downwind sail most of the way. We recommissioned the fishing rod. I'm not sure if we could describe it as successful or not. I bought some expensive lures before we left. My first 17 hole bubble trail was successful in catching something very tasty for supper but the knot tied to the hook let us down so we lost lure and fish. My next little bubble trail lure caught a huge Marlin, it was easily a meter long and was thrashing and leaping out of the water. There was no way we could have pulled him in but after a fight of no less of 30 seconds, if that,
he bit through the line. So in one day we lost £25 worth of lures! All we want is a meal on the table for two but alas it was not to be. Hopefully more luck next time.
We arrived in Bonaire after 73 hours so Skippers calculations were pretty good. We are on a mooring buoy along the seafront of Kralendijk (pronounced Crawlin-dike). It's an island belonging to the Netherlands so many Dutch living and working here but English widely spoken. Cruise ships are frequent visitors so the town centre is full of good restaurants and bars to while away the time. Our first few days were doing the formalities with customs and immigration and familiarising ourselves with the area.
Bonaire has been a marine conservation area for nearly 40 years so the island's waters are reputed to be one of the top 3 diving sites in the world.
The south of is flat and it was good to get the bikes out and explore the coastline a little to find a nice beach and snorkelling site. You can dive/snorkel virtually anywhere on the sheltered west side, the waters are beautifully clear and an abundance of fish, turtles and corals to see.
We hired a pick-up truck for three days as we particularly wanted to visit the Washington-Slagbaai National Park in the north.The park roads are dirt tracks winding their way through hilly cactus/tree forests, we now understood the need for a robust high vehicle truck. The National Park was definitely worth a visit, we managed to see the Caribbean Flamingo as well as other interesting wildlife.
Working donkeys were introduced to the island by the Spanish but by the 1930's they were abandoned and left to roam wild. Unfortunately with so many cars on the road donkeys are injured or killed or die through starvation that 25 years ago a Dutch couple dedicated their life to setting up a donkey sanctuary. We had to visit.
There are 700 donkeys in the sanctuary and as we drove through we were chased by what felt like all 700 looking for a carrot. I was afraid to get out of the truck at first but they were actually very gentle creatures. Just felt so sorry that our little bag of carrots couldn't feed them all. There are still over 400 donkeys in the wild, the sanctuary can't take them all but they do limit the breeding by castrating the males in their care.
Have a look at the gallery to see some of our photos, Bonaire is a lovely island and we have enjoyed our time here.
A few hiccups!
10 January 2019
Before coming home in June we had to get Krabat ready for bed. Not only did she have to come out of the water but the sails and all canvas had to taken down and numerous pieces of equipment had to be taken off/decommissioned and safely stored.
Bill in particular has been putting everything back in its place and systematically checking all equipment is in good working order. We have come to the conclusion that boats don’t really like being left in these hot humid conditions as we’ve come back to several unexpected failures. So far we have a leaky kitchen tap (probably just a O ring that has perished), no gas coming from the gas bottle to the stove (the regulator stopped working but luckily we had a spare), the anchor light wouldn’t come on (I had to hoist Bill up the mast twice, turned out to be a bit of corrosion but now fixed), we have an electric outboard motor but the main battery has stopped working (major problem but we have two, have been talking to the manufacturer who thinks the battery hasn’t come out of it’s deep sleep mode!). When we tried to recommission the water maker it refused to produce any water. That was a major afternoons work as we had to strip the pump down but eventually spotted two seized valves, cleaned them up, reset and sealed and problem solved.
We’ve also had a problem with the battery charger, had to replace a plastic solar panel connector which had perished, couldn’t get a sail out of a zipped bag (zip seized, so had to cut out and then cost us $100EC to get zip fixed), replaced freshwater pump, and SSB radio antennae unit packed in. When equipment fails there is little chance of getting spares here in Grenada They have to be ordered and shipped which can takes weeks. Fortunately we carry a lot of spares and Bill has been Mr Fix It man but thanks to good sailing friends and their visitors we may be able to get essential spares brought out to us once in the Galapagos.
We hired a car on Saturday and had a major provisioning exercise. We were in the supermarket from 10.30am and finished at 3pm. Once we had completely loaded a trolly we took it to the check out, paid and loaded the car. We did this three times with a lunch break in between. Once we drove back to the marina we had two dingy rides to get everything on board. I haven’t dared add up the cost, food is really expensive and choice quite basic. Couldn’t get eggs or butter and meat and fresh fruit and vegetables limited. So I will never complain about our supermarkets at home, they are fabulously stocked in comparison.
At last we feel ready to start sailing. Tomorrow, (Friday) we sail to Bonaire which we’re really looking forward to although it will take us 72 hours. Here we go first of many a long sail!
Hurray Krabat has “splashed “
04 January 2019
A Very Happy New Year everyone. It’s been a hard graft getting the boat ready, especially in 30° heat, fantastic for all the sun worshipers but not when you’re scrubbing and polishing! At last after much sweat and tears, Krabat (looking lovely) was gently cradled off the hard and put gently into the water. She didn’t make a splash, just how us boaties like to describe it! Just in case you would like to give me a tinnie winnie bit of sympathy, my touch phone doesn’t recognise my finger print anymore- I’ve polished them away! We are on a marina mooring buoy until after the weekend, we still have to provision and need a little rest. We will sail to Carricou for a few days and once we get our weather window we will head for the ABC islands.
Here we go...... Grenada to New Zealand
27 December 2018
Suitcases are packed and we’re ready to go. We have an early flight at 9am tomorrow so will be up at the small hour of 3:30am to drive to Gatwick for our flight to Grenada (fingers crossed there are no more drones at Gatwick Airport!)
We are excited at being reunited with Krabat although there will be lots of work to be done before she’s off the hard and back in the water on the 4th January. We’ve had 6 months on dry land so will have a few local sails to get our sea legs back before setting sail for the Bonaire (ABC islands). For those who don’t know our sailing plans we intend to go through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific Ocean to Galapagos, French Polynesia, Tonga and eventually New Zealand. This is an adventure of a life time and we are ready for the challenge (it won’t all be plain sailing). The experience of meeting different cultures and seeing amazing wildlife will out weigh the long days and nights endured at sea.
I apologise to all the friends that we haven’t managaed to catch up with. We have been so incredibly busy with family and getting this trip organised (it really is, without exaggeration, a military exercisers to organise). We will miss everyone but our 14 months away will soon pass.
Love to all
Moira & Bill
Kalinago territory, Dominica
10 May 2018
As we've travelled through the Caribbean islands we have come upon much information about the indigenous people before the European settlers arrived in 1493. It is believed that the islands were first inhabited as far back as 4000 BC. These first settlers came by sea from the region of the Orinoco River delta on the coast of South America. First came the Ciboney people or 'stone people' then came the peaceful Arawaks who were followed by the 'warlike Caribs' around 1000AD
When the Europeans colonised the islands they claimed huge areas of land for the production of sugar cane. The trees were cut down and the Arawaks and Caribs were callously removed from their villages and homeland. The Arawaks and Caribs were hunted down if they showed any form of resistance until they were completely wiped out on most of the islands.
Dominica's rugged terrain worked to the Caribs (or Kalinago as they call themselves) advantage as they held back European settlers for two centuries. When Europeans finally settled on Dominica the Kalinago were forced inland to a remote, inaccessible area on the east coast where they have lived ever since. The Dominican Kalinago are the only surviving indigenous people in the Caribbean.
In 1903 the British colonial authorities officially handed over the territory of 3,700 acres to the Kalinago people. The Kalinago have their own local government and a ceremonial Chief. The population have largely remained isolated until the last decades of the 20th century when modern utilities and roads were finally introduced.
The present population of around 3000 people share communal ownership of all land within the territory.
A model Kalinago village was established in 2006 within the territory (encouraged by the Dominica Tourist Authority) and this is where we visited. Unfortunately hurricane Maria made a direct hit in September 2017 causing considerable damage to the village but there was still an information centre, traditional crafts and buildings including the large community hall to be seen. We were shown around the village by a Kalinago guide and what was very apparent was the difference in his appearance. Our guide was very South American Indian looking rather than Afro-Caribbean.
I was slightly concerned that after being isolated for hundreds of years, everyone would be a distant cousin to each other and our guide agreed that this was probably true. Our guide explained that the future of the Kalinago colony as it exists now depends on the younger generation who are now exposed to the wider world through education, internet, television, smartphones etc. The Kalinago are very proud of their culture and heritage and there are still very few mixed marriages.
Hurricane torn Dominica
05 March 2018
When hurricane Maria made a direct hit on the island of Dominica in September 2017 residents fled to the safest corners they could find. For eight hours the winds howled up to an astonishing 260 mph. The next morning the island was unrecognisable. No longer was the island a lush green but brown, the trees were stripped bare. Debris everywhere, telephone poles down and wires strewn across the streets. Tin roofing scattered the ground. Massive boats thrown onto the shores and torrential rains had swelled the rivers causing massive flood damage to homes and roads.
Bill and I had discussed many times what we could do as individuals to help the island. We had donated to the relief fund but should we fill the boat with much needed things and hand them out when we get there? Should we even go, we didn't know if Dominica could cope with tourists? In the end we decided the best thing to do was not to sail, by as many sailing yachts would do, but visit the island and spend our money where it was most needed. Our first anchorage was in Roseau where we were greated by Marcus in his boat. Marcus told us that he and his wife had a young baby but he no longer had a home, his house totally destroyed in the hurricane. Life was tough for them but he was grateful that all his family survived unlike others who had lost their lives. Marcus explained that some areas of the island still had no electricity. Many homes still had temporary blue tarpaulin covering the roofs despite it being more than six months after Maria hit. A lot has been done to clear up the debris but labour and materials are in short supply so rebuilding and recovery is slow. The government is now insisting on a strict policy of building regulations and will only reconnect the electricity supply to homes that have had their roofs repaired under the inspection of a building engineer. We were pleased to hear this but the problem arises if not insured and have not the money to pay for the cost of a proper roof repair. Dominica is one of the poorest Caribbean islands and many families have built their own homes. Marcus appreciated that we had taken the time to visit his island which is still called paradise
Dominica depends on tourism, and still has a massive recovery job on its hands if tourists are to be encouraged back onto the island. Despite this the people we met and talked to were resilient and optimistic.
We organised a tour with SeaCat (his real name was Octavia) who took us up into the mountains for a hike, to see the Trafalgar falls and the Tito Gorge. It was a fantastic day out. SeaCat was so knowledgeable about the rainforests and showed us how nature was fighting back. The trees were stripped down to just their trunks but only six months later the trunks had sprouted little branches which were covered in leaves and even fruits. Amazingly bird life still existed and we saw parrots sitting in the trees (normally you would only hear them as seeing would be almost impossible as they would be high up in the dense canopy of the rain forest). It will take 20 years for the rainforests to return to their full glory.
We moved further up the coast to Portsmouth and did a further two tours, a trip down the Indian river (at 7.30 in the morning!) and a tour out to the Kalinago Indian reserve (the only indigenous decendents left in the Caribbean).
We were so glad we didn't bypass Dominica, it is still a beautiful and interesting island. We wish the islanders all the best in their recovery and pray that they are spared from another direct hit come the next hurricane season June to October.