The last couple of weeks have been a real mixed bag weather-wise. We decided on a change of scenery, and also to get away from the noisy fisherman who wake us up at 4am, so we moved to a mooring furthest away from the town, close to the marina entrance. We had previously snorkelled the mooring to check its condition and survey the underwater obstacles, as this mooring was in the shallower part over sand, and quite close to the shore. The wind here predominantly blows from the east, offshore and nice and consistent. But on rare occasions, the wind reverses with a weather system going through, making a westerly wind blowing onshore and bringing in a choppy sea into the bay. The marina manager had told us that this was rare, in fact the last one they had was 2 or 3 years ago, it usually makes the town moorings where we are untenable forcing boats to move into the marina until it passes. So we thought that we would be safe enough on the new mooring, providing we don’t get a wind reversal. We had a wonderfully quiet evening here, away from the hustle and bustle of the town. So it came as a shock to be woken at 4am with lightening and strong winds building, and looking out the porthole windows we realised we were beginning to back onto the shore getting too close for comfort.
Blurry eyed, we cursed the damn weather – why oh why tonight of all nights – and made an instant decision to get off the mooring and head out to sea until it passed. By the time we had got the ropes ready to drop we were directly backing on to the shore only a few metres away, and only had 60 cm under the keel as we horsed up and down in the big swell now coming in. The empty boat moorings close to shore now posed a problem as one was almost underneath our rudder and therefore too close to our propeller. Luckily the horsing about actually released the rope from underneath the rudder after a few minutes and we grabbed the opportunity to drop the ropes and get the hell out of there. Motoring into the blackness, a squall was hitting us full on bringing torrential rain and strong winds. We spotted another yacht heading into the marina so decided to follow and tie up on the fuel dock until the squall had passed. The marina is incredibly protected, with plenty of depth and turning room, so we had no hesitation in entering in poor visibility and soaked to the skin. We secured ourselves to the large fuel dock behind the other yacht, and watched as dozens of local fishing boats did the same thing to get out of the weather. It was bedlam in the marina for an hour or so.
When the sun came up, the wind had returned to the east and so we ventured back outside to return to our original ‘safe’ mooring closer to town. There was still a choppy swell coming into the bay making all the remaining yachts roll uncomfortably, and a neighbouring boat kindly helped us tie up onto our mooring. This one has plenty of sea room, it is just on the edge of the 20m contour so we have ample depth all around us and the mooring is in good condition. Nevertheless with 37 tonne of steel Joy yanking on it, we decided to add a third line (the moorings here have two blocks and two buoys to attach to, one on each side of the bow) and have attached our own shackle to the block with a loose rope attached to Joy so we have a safety line if the others fail. The rules state that you are not supposed to do this, but lots of other yacht owners have as many of the moorings here are in a bad state of repair. We have also added anti-chafe piping to our ropes where they drop over the bow roller, whilst doing this Jez unfortunately impaled his foot on a split piece of teak decking. It broke off in his foot, like an arrow. Pliers managed to get it out in one piece, although he had a very swollen sore foot for a few days and couldn’t walk very far. However, there is nothing like having a goal in life to motivate you, and with the thought of his beer stocks running low, day three saw a vast improvement with a walk to the supermarket.
So we went on to have two more wind reversals in under a week, they all started with lightening late evening with a drop in wind before suddenly the wind builds and turns 180 degrees. Beautiful Bonaire is ravaged, with crashing waves hitting the small sea wall along the shore sending water across the road. It is usually so tranquil and calm here, it is hard to comprehend how it can all change so very quickly. We are therefore always ‘ready to go’ at a moment’s notice.
On a much nicer note, we have had many great dives here. Our friends Tim and Paula, from the USA, on a boat called Hooligan took us to a site called Eighteen Palms, we saw several turtles and two huge spotted eagle rays amongst the usual reef inhabitants. Andrew and Claire from Australia have taken us several times on their boat, Eye Candy, to various different sites which have all been great. As many of the dive moorings are quite close to shore and this past week has been very windy, we boat sit for them while they dive and then they boat sit whilst we dive. So this has worked very well, although we did all manage to dive together yesterday as the mooring was quite safe.
Today has seen the start of the Regatta, the place is very busy with all kinds of watersports. I had decided to sand down the name plate as it is desperate for a varnish, this entails standing in the dinghy tied on the back so that I can get to the plaque – but not a good day to choose as with all the boats whizzing past us the wake has almost tipped me out the dinghy twice and I now have one arm longer than the other holding on. So I have given up for now. The wind is forecast to drop over the next couple of days, so I will concentrate on interior varnishing for now.
We visit our underwater friends off the boat daily, they are usually under the same rock or in the same hole. The small octopus has been a real treat to watch, it can be quite a hunt for him sometimes as he can change colour and blend in completely with whatever he is holding on to. A sad day came a couple of days ago as we watched a moray eel trying to drag a dead octopus into a pipe. He was shaking it like a rag doll and yanking hard to try and get it in the hole. I prayed it wasn’t our little ‘Oco’ but we have yet to find him again.