Seahorse-tastic in Bonaire
Our replacement gas cell arrived via the boat yard in just under a week from ordering, so the kicker on the main is now fully functional again. The Suzuki motor is running a real treat, super fuel economy and fast! Full throttle is so fast I wonder if the dinghy can handle it. It has meant getting to dive sites has been much quicker and more comfortable, and of course cheaper.
The solar panels and wind turbine have been generating all of our power, we have a fully stocked freezer and have managed to heat our water every day as well as make water to top the tanks up. Diving does increase the usage, washing down all the salt water from our gear after each dive. It has also been bliss to have a hot shower afterwards (we haven’t had hot water since July last year!). The sea water temperature is actually quite chilly in comparison to the last time we were here, time of year I guess. Air temperature during the day though is a pleasant 30 degrees, dropping to a nice cool 25 at night! We manage to get 2 x 1 hour dives out of a tank of air and an hours dive is really enough for one day as we emerge shivering (we even now have thermal hoods, pansies spring to mind). Our tank refills have therefore lasted a long time, our closest dive shop, The Yellow Sub, sell a ticket of 21 refills for $120 which makes it only £3.95 for a tank, and we get two dives from this.
Joy hasn’t been the only one needing a little maintenance, I had a painful ear infection which needed attention. They have a great medical clinic just opposite the small 60 bed hospital in town (Bonaire has about 15,000 residents) and I managed to get an appointment within one hour of request despite a full waiting room. Whilst there, the English-speaking Dutch doctor removed part of my ingrowing toenail (I don’t do things in halves) and I hobbled out of the clinic with ear drops and nasal spray, and a fully bandaged toe that felt like it had been in a fight with a nut-cracker in the dentist chair (if you have ever had this done you will know what I mean). This halted my diving schedule, but after 8 days I was glad to be fully healed and no ear pain.
Our first dive back was treated with another seahorse sighting. He (or maybe She) was black with sparkling ‘bling’ patches, a little shy not wanting to face the camera so we hung around for a few minutes and to our delight he lifted his head up and galloped over the coral into another hidey hole. Whoopee do, I had to really try hard to contain myself and not let water into my mask with my facial expressions. I have recently misplaced the red filter for the GoPro, a small plastic disc inserted into the casing in front of the lens improves the colours when diving as the natural light fades as you go deeper and certain colours are lost. So on this dive the footage wasn’t the best it could be. The only red filters we could find on the island are larger covers which go over the outer waterproof case of the camera, much sturdier and less likely to be lost but at a price, $35 at Carib Inn where I learnt to dive. Their prices for gear are hard to beat, this was $9 cheaper than any other dive shop here.
On our next dive at ‘Windsock’ with my new filter in place I jumped in and whilst descending a beautiful Hawksbill turtle swam towards and then past me, totally un-phased by our presence. I love the shape of their shell, look at the pointed fringe at the rear. This is a great dive site, right opposite a small sandy beach with the airport behind it, hence the name. The coral is beautiful and so many different species of fish. There is a commercial pier close by, the large supports have a great number of fish just hanging around so it makes a nice point to turn around, ascend to a depth of about 30 feet and enjoy the view. Getting back into the dinghy an airplane came in to land right over our heads.
Yesterday on a dive off Bachelors beach late in the afternoon, we discovered a big Slipper (or Shovel-nose) Lobster which looked like an enormous bug. They have bright blue stalk-like antennae with what look like little pincers on the end, searching around for things, and the two disc-like shovels at the front of his shell are also sensors which dig about in the sand for things to eat. We have only had one other sighting of these peculiar crustaceans, snorkelling off Sandy Island near Carriacou. A huge Parrot fish also made an appearance, the size of a Labrador with lips like Mick Jagger. My eyes were on stalks, equally fascinating for these creatures I’m sure. I was busy filming, when an inquisitive scrawled filefish decided to look into my goggles and then ‘peck’ at the back of the Go-Pro, if only I could have reversed the camera view.
These are spider-like Arrow Crabs, one hiding in each hole in the coral. They are a beautiful golden colour with tiny blue pincers.
This long discarded car tyre has been taken over with coral at about 30 feet.
We are now looking for a weather window for our sail to Jamaica, we have almost completed our run-in hours for the Suzuki outboard motor so it can have an oil change before we leave. After gearing-up for a departure Thursday or Friday this week we have seen a trough of low pressure develop just east of the Bahamas which for a short period may have some spin on it, before heading across the Caribbean sea north of the ABC Islands. This may cause a wind shift and increase for the coming weekend, with expected gusts of up to 40 knots. So we may not get away until after this has passed early next week but we will see how it pans out. In the meantime we continue our daily dives, and of course the odd sundowner, with Jim and Sharon from yacht ‘Somewhere’. My Aloe Vera also seems to be enjoying Bonaire, a flower stem has appeared and is growing at about 1 inch a day, I have been harvesting a few leaves here and there to make some cooling skin treatments so I hope I haven’t sent it into survival mode.