After a couple of weeks of excellent weather here on Bonaire, on Wednesday night we had a very dramatic electrical storm. Lightening cracked overhead interrupted occasionally by booming thunder which rattled the rigging. All accompanied by torrential rain, but luckily no wind, so Joy had a much needed fresh water wash down. The sky since has been very cloudy and overcast, although still around 30 degrees, and a distinct short chop entered the bay making boats lurch around a little more than usual for a few days. Despite the distinct lack of direct sunlight, our solar system has performed brilliantly and we have still managed to run our watermaker for an hour each day as well as top up the batteries without running the generator.
The day after the storm we took advantage of the cloudiness, and walked to a small marine centre near the supermarkets just out of town, in search of a new AIS antenna as ours isn’t working. AIS is an automatic boat tracking system, all commercial vessels have it and now quite a few private vessels too. It links in with our Raymarine chart plotter, so when another vessel is in range (30-40 miles) it appears on the screen. It gives you details of the boat, name/call sign/length as well as important things such as distance from you, its direction, and whether you are on a collision course. Our lifejackets also have AIS transmitters on them, so in the event of ‘man (or woman) overboard’ not only can the person left at the helm track the person in the water, but also any other vessel in the area will also pick up the man overboard alarm and exact location. It hasn’t been receiving other vessels until they are within half a mile for a while now and so it is important we get this fixed.
The long walk to the marine shop was a fruitless one, but we felt we needed the exercise and it is quite a nice walk when the sun isn’t too fierce, although a large part is unpaved so it’s strictly ‘eyes down’ as the local donkeys seem to pooh everywhere, whilst it isn’t particularly offensive you do run the risk of being ‘billy no mates’ at happy hour in the bar.
We found the antenna we were looking for in the office of the marina, purely by chance, and only a short dinghy ride away. We had gone in to ask them for some workshop space to get a few jobs done which we didn’t want to do on-board Joy (granted, the staff are so kind and helpful) and there it was on the shelf amongst a few other items mainly antifoul paint. And it was only US$50, the local chandlery said they could order one from St Marten at $90 plus the carriage, so we were delighted. Today with the new antenna in place, we picked up vessels 27 miles away, so we have another job we can tick off the to-do list.
The tourist season is about to start here, this morning the first of many cruise ships docked right next to Karells Bar, it was quite a sight coming in and it dwarfs everything around it including the buildings ashore. As you can see from the photo, it is more than three times the length of the dock.
A flurry of activity continues on Joy, many jobs still to finish before we leave on Thursday/Friday next week and we also have to get some provisions in for the journey north. Countdown has started, we will be sad to leave Bonaire and all our new friends but we are both excited and looking forward to the next part of our adventure.