Thursday, February 23, 2017


We are really enjoying Bonaire.  The water is crystal clear and there is a great feel to the city.  We can snorkel right off the boat.  Bonaire is surrounded by a marine park so there are fish everywhere. There is no anchoring allowed so we are on a mooring that was only $150 for 14 days, quite reasonable. The island is what we sailors call steep to , which means that the bottom drops off very quickly from the shore.  We are moored within a 100 meters of shore, and yesterday we snorkelled along a reef along the shoreline and it had moray eels, tangs, butterfly fish, a beautiful trumpetfish, crazy goatfish using their spiky things to dig on the bottom , nudibranches galore and so much more, it was terrific.  
We went to a talk on sea turtles last night, it was great, very informative . They have tagged them here, getting a 200 pound turtle in a small boat and applying the GPS tag is quite the chore, as you can imagine. They have data of where all the turtles have gone, and their tracks were amazing. All the way up to Cuba and all over the Caribbean basin. The presenter also told us where we could see hundreds of them popping up to breathe as they feed. 

Yesterday walking along the esplanade we saw some young men practising water polo.  I have never seen that before in the ocean. I suppose that makes sense here, why use a pool when you have unlimited warm water to practice in. Interestingly the coach was a woman. We have set up our diving while on the island.  Bonaire is all about diving, they have lots of sites all over the island. The shop we visited had a unique set up.  You were given a sheet and everything you rent is recorded on the sheet, you have to do a set up dive to ensure your equipment fits and the weights you have are correct. Then you can use the equipment as much or as little as you want. They have a spot for you to keep your stuff which is locked with a combination lock , that is so you can return your equipment after hours if you choose to dive on your own. A lot of the dives are just off the steep to shore so you could get in your car and zoom off to whatever site you wanted to go. We will have to be very careful not to overspend here. 
 Bonaire is a part of the Netherlands which is evident in some of the architecture here. They chose to not be associated with the other two Netherlands Antilles and have the U.S. dollar as their currency . There are also signs that there are factions on the island that do not want any help from the Dutch.  We here Dutch, English and a lot of Spanish spoken.  Quite a few of the stores we have been in have had Spanish speaking staff, I would assume from either Venezuela or Columbia, I guess Panama may be a candidate as well. My Spanish is way better than my Dutch, which is non-existent. 
We are hoping to take an island tour tomorrow.  There will be a smaller cruise ship in and they will speak English.  The day I asked about the tours, they were all being given in German. Yesterday there were two big ships in and it was interesting watching the one that had been behind manoeuvre to get out. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Heading West

I feel as if we are on the last leg of our decade long journey. At the moment we are sailing between Martinique and Bonaire, the first of the ABC Islands. They belong to the Netherlands and are referred to as the Netherlands Antilles. They are located north of the Venezuelan coast and west of the Windward Islands of the Caribbean, such as Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, st. Vincent, etc. 
We spent a total of two weeks in Carriacou, enjoying the small town feel of the island and the anchorage. We had the sun screening I had sewn for the bimini in 2013 replaced as it had started to deteriorate. The new screening offers much better shade but not as much air flow as the old stuff. 
We visited the boat building community of Windward on Carriacou and found this unfinished large boat in the yard.  There was no one working on it but it was great to see that the traditional skills were still in use. 
There were a number of smaller craft to see, all of them exhibited the rather flat bottom that seems to be this island's style. The bright colours are another feature of Carriacou boats. We went on this trip with Carleton and Aggie a couple we met who were from Florida, they have been living on their boat full time for the last four years. 
We needed to reprovision for the next three months, so we headed north to Martinique to do some serious grocery shopping. I knew the stores there and it does not cost anything to enter Martinique so off we went.  It took us 36 hours to go about 125 miles, we were hard on the wind the whole way and had to tack the last 20 nm into Fort de France. We met up with the young German couple we had for dinner at Christmas, it was great to see them again. Most of our time in Martinique was spent shopping and hauling the stuff back to the boat. There was a good weather window two days after we got there so we left.  We are almost half way to Bonaire now. There is only 1250 nm left until we get to Golfito, Costa Rica and complete our circumnavigation. I have told myself to live in the present and let the future take care of itself. It is hard not to run scenarios about what will happen when we get back to Canada in my head. There are lots of wonderful things to see and do between here and there and I intend to enjoy them all. 
A gorgeous red sky in Fort de France. 
A group of drummers practicing for "Carnival " . They we awesome and went on for hours.  They must have been exhausted when they were finished. The fellow in the middle is the conductor, he had a whistle and would blow it to indicate a tempo or rhythm change. 

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Back in the water

This is Edwin the yard master toggling the controls on the new travel lift. The lift in went off without a hitch, it was just three days late.  Another boat was lifted out just after us and it was put in such a position that we could not be lifted in until after he was moved.  This boat had their bottom painted by the yard and they power sanded the bottom, whereas we just wet sanded ours when it was in the sling. As a result we finished a day before the other boat was done and due to the weekend we had to live on the hard for three extra nights. I was vexed every time I had to climb up and down the ladder to go to the bathroom on the weekend. 
I used the time to paint the quarter berth lockers and their lids.  It was a challenge to find a clean flat spot on the boat to do it.  I had them laid out on the bow and then the fellow that we had been waiting all week to come and fix a connection for our lifelines finally showed up, so I had t move them, this worked and they are hidden under cushions so a perfect paint job was not required. 
There was a wooden boat being worked on in the yard by local boat builders.  They were fairly young guys and they were willing to explain to me what was going on. This is mahogany that is grown in the area that has been used to replace wood that was spongy. Watching them meticulously measure them cut and join the wood was a pleasure. 

We went for a walk up a very steep hill then along the ridge on top of the yard.  The boat facing the marine office with the red bottom is the one blocking us in. Cat's-Paw IV is facing the camera perpendicular to the red bottomed boat.  The colourful boat is a local fishing boat, what great colours. 
We are going to explore the island for the next few days. There is a luncheon planned to raise money for a local boy who was burned. We are going to attend, on Friday, with another couple and go and visit the boat building community on the other side of the island at the same time. 

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Life on the hard

Think renovations, think messy, think about having no working toilet, that is life on the hard. Usually while you are on the hard it is a mad rush to get everything done that you can while you are out of the water, so all the tools you need are left out and Voila, a mess. That big white bag on the right of the picture holds our at times indispensable flopped stopper.  It usually lives under a cushion at the back, but I needed the coveralls which we under the flopped stopper so out it came and it was time to paint so it did not get put back.  Barry is much better at putting stuff away than I am, good training I guess, not that my Mom didn't try, I will get around to putting stuff away just after I am sure I do not need it anymore. 

We put two coats of black paint on her yesterday, now she looks like a mean machine! We just have to move the chock stands and put two coats on where they were. The only thing is we ordered four cans of paint and they not got three in. We tried really hard to squeeze the rollers so we could do it all with three cans, we used 1 3/4 cans on the first coat and 1 1/4 cans  on the second coat but we still need to redo the water later ne, the leading edges, and under the chocks so we need the fourth can.  It may have shown up yesterday but the woman at the office said she would come and tell us if it came so I imagine we will have to wait another day for the paint.  $&#%€<¥
View from the deck towards the office and the facilities, so near, yet so far. 

Update: the paint came in, let the fun continue. We splash tomorrow afternoon.