Bonaire to Aruba
Sun 27 Feb 2011 15:24
After the easterly trades picked up, we had a good downwind sail to Bonaire for the last 24 hours, clearing in at Kralendijk at 1.30pm last monday.
We had read that this was a divers paradise, in fact ranked as one of the top three dive spots in the world. All waters around the island are a protected marine park, no anchoring is allowed and moorings are provided. There is a very steep drop off several metres from shore, so the moorings also offer security in holding. We picked one up with the drop off right under us, so were able to snorkel right off the boat. The water is very clear and even along the sea wall in the commercial harbour fish of all varieties and colours were abundant and great to watch. Kralendijk is a lovely quiet town, the total population of Bonaire only 14,000.
Surprisingly there is a very good marine store there, so we made the compulsory visit and purchases. We also had some good meals ashore, two Australian boats were moored alongside us, both heading for the Pacific, so much information was shared. After further reading we took the dinghy to a recommended mooring to see "the most diverse fish species", here again we saw the amazing steep sandy drop off and much fish life.
I loved the "public swimming pool" set up right off our bow, where each afternoon groups of people would come to swim laps!
We departed Bonaire at 10pm on tuesday evening, having decided to bypass Curacao, for an overnight sail to Aruba. All three islands in this group have oil refineries, Curacao however is the most commercial, with the largest population.
After a reasonably fast but very lumpy passage, some large bulk carriers, and the loss of two fishing lures - we cleared into Aruba (population 103,000) on wednesday, paying US$10 for the privelege of tying up at the dock for an hour while we did so.
The anchorage here is at the end of the runway, so during the day and particularly it seems in the late afternoon, planes land and take off every few minutes.
Having checked out the town of Oranjested and confirming that this is the resort island (including all the big name designer shops in the shopping malls) Dick and Dick completed a list of jobs they had earmarked. We had a farewell meal ashore with Dick at Nikky's on the beach in front of us on thursday night and then Dick returned to Annapolis on friday pm. We had shared a lot of laughs and covered many miles, thanks Dick for to joining us and for all your help.
Yesterday Dickie and I caught the local bus to the NW of the island and now we know where the "real" resorts are! High rises, people by the hundreds lined up on the beaches, every water toy known to man and more (deserted) shopping malls. The police seemed to be enjoying their day in the RIB though! At the end of the bus route was a kite and windsurfing mecca - they were everywhere and a brisk 25-30 knot easterly making everyone happy!
We decided we much preferred our anchorage in spite of the airport proximity. Last night was the start of Carnival here, we went ashore with Jamie (a Canadian we had met last year in St Marten) for a meal and to watch the parade. At 11.30 after strolling up and down the main street with all the locals in real party mode, we decided we couldn't wait for the parade, which was said to have started at 8pm, so returned to the boat, the music coming from ashore continued for hours, we assume the parade eventually began! The parades go on all week we are told, so we will try again to join in the fun!
We have some parts ordered to be flown in from St Marten, hopefully they will be here by tuesday and we will look to heading to Santa Marta, Columbia on wednesday. The weather has been very overcast, lots of rain and squalls, hopefully this will clear in the next few days also. There are only a handful of cruising yachts here, it seems Bonaire is the main stop off point for most cruisers.