Beautiful reefs in clear water, cacti, flamingos and lizards. Bonaire and its dry, warm climate is a nice change to the humidity of the windward islands. We were lucky to get one of the last slips to moor Porky as all mooring balls and marina berths were taken and already reserved for the next months. Our dock lies right in the town of Kralendijk with walking distance to most shops, but is only protected from easterly winds and swell. With the limited protection we were constantly checking the weather and when a storm passes through and reverses the trade winds, we immediately had to leave the marina to not risk damaging the boat in the swell. So far it only happened once and we drifted behind Klein Bonaire for a few hours until the storm passed. The big advantage is that it didn’t really feel like being in a marina as we could still jump into the water from the back of the boat and enjoy sunsets sitting in the cockpit. Below our boat we spotted turtles, reef fish, huge tarpons and even a pod of dolphins visited one morning.
The vegetation and general flair of the island couldn’t be more different from Grenada. Paved roads often turn into bumpy dirt roads that are no big issue for the pick up truck we rented while Daniel’s family was visiting. Beside the road you see dry bushes, cacti and a few trees that grow more sideways due to the constant easterly winds that blow here.
Since we started diving we have heard about Bonaire as diver’s paradise (as indicated on the local license plates), but we were also happy to find a great kite spot in the south of the island. After having some of the world best kite spots to ourselves in the Grenadines it took us a bit to get used to being out on the water at such a crowded spot again. After all it was always a fun activity besides exploring the beautiful underwater world.
At first we were surprised to see snorkelers and scuba divers walk into the water wherever we looked, even right next to our boat. But soon we noticed that wherever you enter the water, there will be a reef or something else to explore and we soon got the hang of shore diving. Having a rental car for the first time, we took advantage of being mobile and went diving almost every day at many of the 105 different dive sites. We saw many species of fish, corals and crustaceans that we haven’t seen before and our dive logs quickly filled with awesome dive experiences.
On land we enjoyed watching flamingos, lizards, iguanas, goats, donkeys, parrots and various other birds. One of our favourite parts was the Washington Slagbaai National Park in the north of the island, which is very well maintained and therefore worth the entrance fee because it offers nice views along the dirt roads that you follow by car as well as beautiful hiking trails and snorkelling. We climbed the 4 km long trail up to the peak of the Brandaris, which is the highest mountain on the island. At the top we could see most of Bonaire and even spot Curaçao on the horizon.
Beside the good experiences we also had to deal with some issues. During a day sail around Klein Bonaire we had water coming in the lip seal again. This time the bolts that hold the shaft in place came loose and the wobbling caused the lip seal to let in water. Daniel fortunately noticed the leak and we immediately turned off the engine, hoisted the sails and tacked our way back to the marina. After calling other cruisers over VHF for help, 3 dinghies came and towed us into our slip. We found a very good mechanic who managed to get the broken bolt out and replace the damaged ones. After retightening every bolt, the engine worked perfectly fine and no more water was coming in. After this experience, we now know what to check and how to fix it in the future. Besides this repair and a leaking water tank we only worked on other smaller boat projects to keep Porky in good shape.
All in all it was a perfect destination for us while Daniel’s family visited with many different things to do off the boat, beaches to relax on and good supermarkets and restaurants to feed all 5 of us. We even tried our first Döner after leaving Germany a year ago and were surprised how delicious it was.
Unexpectedly we also found a fun and mixed group of (mostly Dutch) people with whom we play ultimate frisbee once a week. Daniel loves this sport and immediately agreed to join. After learning the rules and running in the wrong direction a few times, I also got the hang of it and am already looking forward to the next session.
We’re planning to stay till September until Max will be reunited with us. We then plan to sail to Curaçao together.