As we were making our way into the harbor our friends on Uno hailed us on the VHF radio. They had been in Bonaire for a few weeks and had the skinny on the best place to moor. Next thing you know Steve pulled alongside in his dinghy and helped us pick up a mooring, strategically close to the dinghy dock as our dinghy motor is still not working and we have to row. Steve offered me a ride to shore so I could check in, so I quickly changed clothes, grabbed our passports and boat papers and took him up on his offer. It was a short walk to the Duante (port office) where I quickly learned they wanted to see my crew too. (First time in over 14 countries the crew was required… generally crew is not allowed on shore before clearance). We got that sorted out and were checked into Bonaire… no fees.
Uno was headed out to a prime scuba/snorkeling spot and invited us to go along. So rather than dropping into a much needed heavy sleep, we quickly gathered up our gear and jumped aboard Uno. Susan prepared a delicious lunch with Dutch cheeses, meats and breads, while Steve sailed Uno to the far end of the island. It was great fun to be up on the high bridge deck of their catamaran, totally a different view of things than on Glass Slipper.
We picked up a mooring very close to the rocky shore. Anchoring is not permitted in Bonaire as the whole area is an underwater sea park. There are plentiful dive moorings scattered around the island, and the tiny Klien Bonaire. The dive moorings are free and the moorings for overnight are $10. The water was so clear you could see the bottom at 60 feet. The sea was overloaded with colorful fish and coral. It was great fun to snorkel. The Uno family had recently picked up some used scuba gear and invited Coleen to dive with them. I had a good time watching her dive. Unfortunately the camera fouled up and we have no pictures.
The overnight moorings are quite close to the street, as in I can swim that far. Our first evening in Bonaire, we watched a Christmas parade while eating dinner on the foredeck. Admittedly it was a bit of a loud and bright place at times, and late that night some crazy guy ran his motorcycle up and down the street for a ½ hour while making it backfire. It bothered DJ and Coleen, but lucky for me I don’t hear too well.
The next day the Dutch family we met in Grenada invited us for a beach cookout on Klein Bonaire. They picked us up in their dinghy and we joined several other families aboard their lovely, huge older Bennateau. It was a short trip and soon we were ferrying people and gear to shore. Klein Bonaire is a small uninhabited island nestled in the bay. Gorgeous white sand beaches, great snorkeling, trails and a big barbeque made it the perfect place for a party. We went in the late afternoon, after all the tourist boats had left so it wasn’t crowded. Everyone brought tons of food to grill, plus sides so we had quite the international feast. We stayed well past dark, enjoying the full moon. Some of the teenagers drew a circle for wrestling and we all enjoyed watching them compete with each other and their dads.
Bonaire was one of our favorite stops. I only wish we had been able to stay for a month or more rather than a week. We filled our time snorkeling, sometimes from our mooring, and other times taking Glass Slipper to dive moorings. We rode our bikes, enjoyed browsing through the colorful shops, and provisioning with great Dutch food at good prices.
Each day we watched the weather, waiting for that perfect time to make tracks for Colombia. It was super hard to leave and I considered staying there for months, heck maybe just living there, but distant shores were calling and the weather looked favorable. Time to drop the mooring and go……