Thursday, 28 May 2015


We finally left Grenada with our new sails and we were on our way West. We had made many new friends in Grenada and it is easy to see why so many yachties return there year on year ...the friendliness of the people and the range of different scenery and activities make it a special place. 
The trip to Bonaire took about three days we started with low winds tootling along with our headsail poled out and our new main out the other side we set ourselves up for a down wind sail that would get us into Bonaire in daylight. We had planned to go to Los Roques on the way but just two days before leaving we got some information from Alajandro the Venezualan yacht agent there advising us not to go! The situation with food and fuel shortages is becoming critical and he felt that it was not advisable to stop. As he is Venezualan and yachting is his livelihood  we felt that really we had no option but to take his advice.  So it was straight to Bonaire!
Needless to say the wind picked up and we started to rattle along with the wind on a broad reach meaning that we would arrive in the dark. Neither of us fancied picking up a mooring bout in the pitch dark so we hove two for a couple of hours and finally arrived at around 9.30 in the morning. Whilst I was on night watch unfortunately an over inquisitive bird managed to fly into the blades of our wind generator and the poor thing lay in the cockpit with its wings broken...well I wimped out woke John up and we had no option but to throw it over the side. We both felt awful doing it but really there was no option. The result was that in daylight we could see we had blood in the cockpit, on the stern and on our new cockpit covers to clean up but before we had the chance to sort it we were boarded by customs! Just routine but I was pleased when they accepted our explanation about the blood on the decks.
                                       One happy Donkey
We were lucky and a very helpful Dutch yachty came along and helped us tie to the mooring bouy...they have two bouys and they like you to use your own lines and tie a line either side and by the time we arrived the wind was blowing 35 knots so we were grateful for his help. 
Customs and Immigration is easy in Bonaire, they are both in the same building and there is a dinghy dock nearby at Karels Bar. No charge for checking in and out and they are open 24/7!
The water here is crystal clear and even around your boat there is some good snorkelling to be had. They are conscious  about protecting what they have got and they request the use of holding tanks and that nothing is thrown into the water. Getting rid of garbage is a bit of a chore having to walk up to the Marina to dispose it but the walk did us good! 
                                                                  The Salt Flats
There are no public buses so we hired a scooter for a couple of days figuring that it's only a small island and so we should be able to get around most of it in a couple of days.  We went North to the National Park and were disappointed that the roads around the Park were not good enough for a scooter so we could not go around but the scenery on the way was great. We did see the flamingos though that live on the mud flats in the North. Unfortunately they were all miles away from camera range so the best we could do was catch one loner that was feeding closer to the path. One thing that is evident here is that there is dead coral everywhere....the paths are made up from the stuff and the beaches are mainly coral that has been ground down to sand. There are just tons of diving spots ....spots where you can do a walk in dive, spots where you can tie to a yellow bouy, and loads of diving boats .....take your pick! It also seems to be a good kite surfing spot and as we were coming in there was a guy hydro foil kitesurfing he was rattling along at an amazing speed!

The landscape here is arrid and cacti abound they have a neat way of using them as fencing which was impressive. It is very different to green fertile Grenada. The locals also speak a range of languages. One of the waitresses in Karels Bar claimed she was fluent in seven! From what we could tell most people here can speak three, the local patois, Dutch and Spanish and of course I forgot to mention...English! There is a South American influence with quite a few, Cuban and South American places to eat.

We also headed South on our trusty scooter to the salt flats ...apart from tourism, well mainly diving, Bonaire also makes some of its money from Salt. The salt flats are quite amazing lakes surrounded by shiny, sparkling mounds of dried crystal sea salt. The salt flats once dried out are then piled into enormous mountains of sea salt just waiting to be exported by sea. On one side of the road you have the pink salt flats on the other the turquoise coral laden sea...quite a contrast.

We also headed off to the Donkey Sanctuary.....started by a Dutch woman who wanted to help the plight of the donkeys on the island there are now 600 donkeys in the Sanctuary. Donkeys were introduced to the island by the Spanish in the 1700s but with the advent of motor transport on the island they were surplus to requirements and left to fend for themselves . There are apparently still 250 or so roaming free on the island but those in the Donkey Sanctuary were well looked after. The sanctuary is over 120 acres and visitors can walk through,scooter through or drive through though if you walk you cannot feed the donkeys as you are liable to get mobbed! Walking through the Sanctuary you can understand why the local do not appreciate wild donkeys on their land... they have stripped every last blade of greenery from the land and if you were a local trying to grow food you would be pretty fed up if a vagrant donkey came along and stripped your fences and garden of anything that happened to be growing!

Now we wait for the right weather window to continue West to CuraƧao.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Lion Fish Hunt

As you may or may not know Lion Fish are an invasive species of fish that are found in great numbers in the reefs here in the Caribbean. They feed on the fish found here and as yet do not appear to have a predator that will keep the numbers under control. They are a lovely looking fish but have very nasty poisonous barbs on their dorsal fins so need to be treated with respect! Many of the Dive Centres here offer a Lion Fish Hunt and I went on one with Scuba Tech recently. I was pretty sure before the dive that I would be a Lion Fish spotter down there rather than a hunter! We used a small Trident that was propelled by what seemed to be a large rubber band which meant you had to get very close to have any success. Lion Fish tend to hide in the nooks and crannies found in reefs and can be hard to spot but once you've found one they seemed very obliging and would stay very still allowing you to get a good shot in. I was still hopeless at it but I did manage to spot a couple and allow others on the dive to complete the tricky bit! Once caught they are collected in a tube to be carried back up to the dive boat once the dive is completed.
In Halifax Bay we managed to catch around 30 fish in two 50 minute dives.

Once back at the Dive Centre it was time for the barbecue but not before the fish had been filleted. Ackie was obviously very skilled at this and he showed me how it was done..... it was the peeling off of the skin that I found to be the tricky bit! The fillets were meaty and delicious barbecued with a dash of olive oil,lemon juice and herbs.