Tin Tin's Sailing Calendar

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Bonaire - fabulous snorkellng!

Bonaire was very different from the other islands we've visited. No anchoring is allowed, and moorings are provided all along the waterfront, where the water suddenly shallows from dark blue 150metres deep to pale crystal blue in 3metres of water. The waterfront road and promenade runs in a long gentle curve along the bay with low colourful buildings. The sea wall is only a couple of feet high, and as one walks along one can see loads of bright blue and yellow parrot fish at one's feet, nibbling the coral to make new beach sand.

Around us are lots of yachts from many countries. Astern a big 53' Oyster called "Venture" flies a huge white ensign emblazoned with two golden lions on a red field. This is the personal flag the Seigneur of Sark, but when I went over to chat I find that the Royal Sark Yacht Club is allowed it too. On board I recognised Anita, who did the SSB radio course with me, and her husband Pete. They are awaiting spares for their autopilot and will then rejoin the Oyster Rally through Panama before spending Oct - Apr in New Zealand; something that I am considering as Option B.

We dinghy along the seafront to moor at Karel's Bar, set out on stilts into the azure swimming pool of the sea and prominent with great white awnings, floaty white curtains and white furniture. Definitely the place to be seen, and essential for all the wifi admin I need to do...... :-)

The following day we discovered why Bonaire is so well to do, with its chic cafes, high end menus and well painted buildings. A huge cruise ship docked improbably against the harbour dock, and disgorged its 2000 passengers. As it came in we were already halfway across the mile and a half to Klein Bonaire to go snorkelling.

It was the best I have ever experienced for richness of corals and fish varieties. We snorkelled out across white sand in waist deep water, between brain corals and "cabbage" coral heads, until ahead the water went deep blue at the drop off into 150 metres. The down slope was visible for a long way in the crystal clear water until it became too dark blue, and gave us all shivers of fright as we wondered what might be down there watching us.

Emily is amazing at diving deep down to photograph fish far below. It felt like a wonderful garden with so many shapes and colours of coral, between which swim great blue parrot fish, occasional excreting a plume of chewed coral sand, large round black fish with yellow edged scales and yellow eyes that gaze placidly at one, pink and red pipe fish which swim horizontally until they get shy, when they stick their head down into coral and stay vertical, camouflaged by the coloured markings.

In some of the cabbage like corals tiny yellow and blue fish dart in and out, while red snapper types mooch round below. A turtle or two appeared as well, and once back on the beach we saw lots of turtles and shoals of blue parrot fish feeding in the shallows a foot or two from the sand. Emily followed one or two turtles with her GoPro and they seemed unconcerned by her presence and she got some great video!

Now we leave all that astern as we sail the 36 miles to Curaçao, getting very close to the Venezuelan coast. Justin is fishing at the stern, hunkered down I the shade of the Bimini, Emily is lounging in the sun at the mast reading on her kindle, and Mark is plucking the ukelele. I have just been emptying the holding tanks- glamorous stuff!

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