St Lucia to Bonaire

Fri 19 Jan 2018 02:03
452 nautical miles and apart from some very slow daytime sailing it was as close to a perfect sail as possible. The nighttime sailing was truly beautiful, about 1 knot of current with steady winds giving downwind of 6-7knots. The tradewind clouds perfectly showing up as little black smudges across the starry night sky, with no moon.

Our first problem was a cargo ship that appeared and was heading on a converging course with us at 13.2 knots. With our courses set up to end in collision and as we were sailing and they were travelling at a much greater speed, we radioed them. They failed to answer and by then at just over 1 mile apart our only choice was an emergency gybe out of their way. A rope slipped as the main went across and Murray thought he had broken a wrist as his reflex was to try to hold it. So Murray is now in a wrist brace and the genoa pole decides to fall off while he is standing under it. Murray now has a bloody head to go with his injured wrist.

We sailed past the beautiful Las Rocas islands; pretty well no-one visits Venezuela anymore, armoured cars are needed, violent crime including piracy is common. Venezuela has now closed its borders to the ABC islands as well as Columbia. So onwards we sailed to Bonaire, to find it was full. After 4 hours of faffing about we gave up and left. Not only was every marina (though currently half empty) fully booked, every buoy was taken and no-one was leaving.
After a few hundred mile sail the last thing you need is unfriendly people and a 'full' island. One woman screamed and yelled at Caroline because she didn't know their water taxi schedule so reverted to the normal collision avoidance regs of passing port to port. We filled up with some fuel at the marina as we had to do some quick repairs to our mainsail to be able to sail on. As soon as we had fuel we asked if we could pull our boat back to stay at the end of the fuel dock. We were told we had to leave now. It all seemed unfriendly and we couldn't get in anywhere. We just left- what else could we do? It was very disappointing to have to do this (a first for us). No doubt we'll never return to Bonaire – at least we had a great visit in 2009, but now it is more popular and too far to sail to have to give up and go somewhere else.