Arrived in Bonaire

Thu 28 Nov 2013 23:42
12:09.296N 68:16.79W

We got in after dark. It had been another busy night with lots of squalls passing over and a number of ships around. Phil had to call up a big container ship at one time as he was heading straight for us. he changed course and thanked Phil for the call - he'd not noticed us. When day light came we took down our down-wind rig in order to start to drop South above the Islas de Aves, heading for the Southern tip of Bonaire. That meant getting the twin poles down and trying out the new code zero furler we'd had fitted on our second yankee jib, then dropping it. It worked perfectly: it was easy to roll up so we simply had to lower a long sausage onto the deck instead of taming a flapping wild 60ft long sail. We had been making great time and were expecting to arrive mid afternoon, but the wind dropped away to just 6 or 7 knots and we slowed right down, making the South of Bonaire about sunset, having been checked out by the coats guard helicopter as we approached. Unfortunately, as we rounded the tip a series of squalls came through. For the first time since Biscay I had to put on waterproof jacket and trousers as it was freezing playing lookout on the deck in the wind and driving rain. Well, not freezing, but cold! It's always a little worrying making landfall in a new port at night and the rain made it much harder. There's no anchoring allowed in Bonaire so we were going to pick up a mooring alongside the main town, but it was really hard to pick out any anchor lights against the background of the town so we crept in trying to make out the silhouettes of moored boats against the light and trying to judge where a gap might be. The moorings are attached to little floats that lie low on the water, about 18 inches long by 6 inches, so very hard to spot in the dark but we found one and happily a chap on a neighbouring boat hopped in his dinghy to help attach our line so we were safely settled, about 150ft from the beach.

We waited up for Tulu and Field Trip to arrive, flashing our light as they approached to guide them in, then taking to the dinghy to lead them to their mooring and attach their lines. Even in the dark we could see how unusually clear the water was, the bottom showing up clearly with our head torches even though it was 4 meters deep just there. We sat and drank a beer, listening to the evening sounds of the town before we tumbled sleepily into bed and slept like the dead 'till day light came again, when we emerged, stretching our stiffened limbs to see beautiful turquoise waters and the pinks and ochres of the town ahead of us.

When we checked out from Chaguaramas we laughed to see a section on the form to declare any stowaways but the last laugh is on us as we have one. A male cicada, in full voice, joined us for the passage and cheeped his way across the sea. He's somewhere in the galley. We've named him "Chirpy". I wonder what he eats.