Out and about in Curacao

Wednesday afternoon we headed off to Mambo Beach again as planned – the weather had improved significantly even though it was still very windy. We took a different route from the car park and walked through the trendy new boulevard and were surprised not to get charged an entrance fee to the beach… We took up residence on a couple of sunbeds and no-one came to collect money from us for them either! Bit surprised but hey not complaining….. We had a good time before heading back for a quiet night onboard.

Mambo Beach Mambo Beach 2 Pirate bobbing

Thursday we decided to have a day out to explore the island a bit more. We had read about this snorkelling site called the Blue Room and wanted to see if we could find it.   So we headed up the coast towards Westpunt…. The first stop of the day was at Shete Boka National Park. This is a wild area with mountains in the background, massive waves pounding the limestone cliffs with loads of blowholes and a cave. We had a lot of fun – with Richard being a bit of a daredevil because he entered a cave which said “Danger – DO NOT ENTER – the waves are too strong today and you WILL get swept out to sea”.  I waited slightly nervously at the entrance as he wandered down inside to have a look – sadly the light wasn’t good enough for the photos to come out – but it looked pretty scary. Another couple also had a look in and asked me whether I had Richard well insured!!!  Thankfully he came back to me unharmed and we continued to enjoy exploring this natural wilderness…..

National park 1 National park 2 National park 3 National park 4

National park 5 National park 6 National park 7

Oh yes – and remember I told you about the security bars at the roadside snack bars – well they even had them here in the national park!  Although it didn’t look quite so bad because of the lovely wall art beneath.

Service through bars Wall art

Leaving the national park we carried on driving until we reached the end of the island and returned down the other side. The roads are pretty good and we were surprised by how green and lush it was in places.   Lots of dead palm trees around – too windy????

Good roads Heading north Surprisingly green

We stopped off to admire the views quite a few times – lovely beaches and coves everywhere on this coast.

Coves and beaches everywhere

We finally made it to Santa Cruz which, according to the rough map we had, was near to the underwater cave. Richard spotted this guy who was sitting there with huge coolers – so we decided to buy some water and ask him whether we could access it from the road. He laughed – all the stuff in the coolers was for his family who were all playing in the surf!   Oops.   But he graciously pointed out a little restaurant / water taxi operation on the east side of the bay which could help us.

Santa Cruz Water Taxi Local restaurant

We walked there and asked about snorkelling trips to the Blue Room – and yes, they did do it and we could go shortly if we wanted.   Fantastic – although feels a bit odd to be paying to go out on a boat!!!   So we went into the restaurant and had lunch. Fantastic food – and great service from the Colombian guy who served us. So after we were fed and watered we headed out with a few other tourists. The coastline is dramatic and the water is beautiful…..

Stunning coastline

We stop at the Blue Room and head into the cave – wow – the colours are just unbelievable!!! This has to be experienced to be believed. Some great fish in there too…. Glad we made the effort.

Into the Blue Room Inside the Blue Room Richard enjoying the water Inside the Blue Room 2

After the Blue Room we were taken to a black sand beach. The Venezuelan captain told us how he had scuttled his father’s boat here to start a new coral reef. He then told us about the tragic loss of his daughter to leukaemia – he had brought her ashes here, encased them in an engraved concrete pyramid, and then dropped it at the stern of the wreck. So as the coral grows on the pyramid it means he has an everlasting living memorial to his daughter. Since then 27 other people have decided to be laid to rest in the same way and he has plans for 5,000 pyramids to be laid in the bay in the future. What an inspirational man!

Black sand beach Living grave

We snorkelled the wreck and did visit the pyramid but unfortunately our camera’s battery decided to die at that point….. so we only have a picture of that. But there were good fish, lots of sand eels swaying in the current, and a baby southern stingray eyeing up the eels for his tea!!!

What a fantastic trip…. it was nice to see more of the island, and we really enjoyed our day out. On the way back we went over the huge bridge again – and I managed to get the camera to give me a couple of last shots!   So this time it was the industrial end of Willemstad.

Over the bridge again View to the industrial side of Willemstad

Friday we were supposed to be giving the car back – but we had done our sums – and to hire a newer car just for the period we are going to be in the apartment was going to be more expensive than keeping our current one for the duration. So we rang the owner – made the arrangements to meet him on Sunday to pay him the balance – and we were pretty happy with our decision.

So we decided to go to the beach again – but this time to try a new one – Jan Thiel. This is closer to the anchorage and is actually much nicer – as it is a tourist destination and has more of a resort feel to it. We had a lovely chilled day although both of us got a bit too much sun.

Jan Thiel beach Jan Thiel beach 2 Jan Thiel beach 3

We did, however, manage to make cruisers happy hour at the Pirates Rest – which is our ‘local’. We got chatting to the staff and they persuaded us to stay for dinner. I wasn’t hungry so picked the baby Pirates meal of ribs (meant for kids!) and Richard had the pork skewer. Well – this came with unlimited salad and bread – and the food was amazing! They advertise as the best meat restaurant in Curacao and we wouldn’t disagree with that…. Interesting decor too!

Pirates Rest Pirates Rest 1 Pirates Rest 2

Lovely end to a great day – and the sky was incredible when the sun set – and we returned to Morphie around 7.30 pm. Sitting in the cockpit and the heavens opened, the thunder and lightning was rumbling around us but the wind seemed to have subsided a bit. During the night we had a large wind shift which set off our anchor drag alarm a few times… Oh well…..

Dramatic sky

Saturday morning and we were up early as we have decided to start varnishing some areas down below which have suffered water damage whilst Morphie was in charter…. They have been irritating us for a while and the recent high humidity levels have taken its toll….so time to crack on. We were having a cup of tea before we got going and we heard the clank clank clank of someone’s anchor chain being lifted – we looked out the companionway and it was our neighbour behind us. He’s a miserable whatsit so we were quite pleased he was going – well, he wasn’t!!!  He did a 360 and then dropped his anchor in exactly the same place where he had picked up from… What was that all about then? Anyway, he didn’t get set the first time so he did all it again. He was so close to us when he dropped the second time I could have leant over and shook his hand…. He did say good morning as he spotted me in the cockpit from his bow though! Eventually he settled but way too close – in our opinion – to another anchored boat but hey, he’s behind us, so what do we care???

The day was spent rubbing down and preparing the wood…. I also did some stainless cleaning under the rail which meant hanging on for dear life in the dinghy as the waves pounded me…. I only managed to get the starboard side done before I gave up – way too hard!   Port side can wait until we get into the marina on Wednesday. So that was it for the day.

Sunday morning up early…. We rubbed the wood down again and applied a coat of varnish. So then we headed off to meet the owner of the car – and then back to Jan Thiel beach. We enjoyed watching a young kid flyboard and was pretty impressed with his ability to stay upright. But then the experts came out to drum up some custom. They fly through the air, into the water forwards and backwards, and they look like dolphins having fun! Amazing….. Richard quite fancied having a go but at $140 a pop we thought it was a bit rich!

Flyboarding kid Flyboarding display Flyboarding display 2

Monday and we rubbed down the beautiful varnish we had put on the day before and applied another coat. While we were in Bequia we had a master class from Winfield on how to varnish and although it seems crazy to rub down the varnish you have already applied, he assured us that this was the only way to guarantee a good finish! Makes for a lot of work, but hopefully it will be worth it!

We then headed out to Budget Marine and purchased 10 foot of anchor chain – we have an American built-boat, a metric anchor windlass has been installed, but an imperial-sized chain has been fitted. Figure that lot out!!!!  This makes for some confusion so we decided to buy a length to test that it doesn’t jump out of the gypsy and works well before committing to buying the 200 feet that we want. Then we headed into Willemstad as we wanted to top up our Grenada digicel phone …. which, of course, has run out of credit and the website says no! The US Virgin Island one doesn’t work here….and neither do our UK phones…… grrrrrr……

When we arrived in Willemstad we saw the floating pontoon bridge was fully open – the first time we had seen this. So we had to get a free ferry across the river instead. That was a novel experience!

Pontoon bridge completely open Free ferry trip

Anyway…into the only Digicel shop on the whole island….and the queues are out of the door. We wait patiently for our turn and this helpful assistant came down the line asking what people wanted. When she found out it was only a top up for a Grenada phone – she took us off to one side to sort us out. Of course it took her longer than if we had stayed in the queue – so a bit frustrating. Anyway, vouchers purchased, and we struggled to understand the Dutch / Spanish instructions. Guess what?!?  Didn’t work!!!! Queued up again to tell her – and we are then told you can’t top up a Grenada phone in Curacao. Great…. Thanks for that!   So we need a new SIM card – but we have to rejoin the queue – but at least the SIM card queue was short. Then the assistant working that line decided to close down her station and everyone had to go to the back of the other queue…..which was out of the door again. The shop was due to close in an hour – so we just gave up in frustration – there was no way we could have got served before the shutters came down. Grrrrrr…..

Heading back to the anchorage in a bit of a bad mood we spotted Richard and Nancy from Sailing Diver walking…. So we picked them up, gave them a lift, and ended up back in the Pirates Rest for a couple of cold beers. We had a fun time socialising with them and were back on board before dark for a curry and an early night.

Tuesday we rubbed the varnish down again – and applied another coat. This is going to be the final coat at this stage – we can do more when we return later in the year. You can see the before and after pictures now – we are pretty pleased with our first attempts at doing this!

Grate damage - before Water damage near companionway - before Grate damage - after Water damage near companionway - after jpg

Well – we still need that phone – so we headed back into Willemstad. We had some lunch and picked up a really good internet signal – so thought we’d try again with the Digicel Grenada website which, to date, has rejected us at every attempt. In fact, last time, it told us that our phone number didn’t even exist!!!  Well – wonders will never cease – it only worked!  Hurrah!!!  In a good mood that we had avoided a repeat visit to the store we drove over to Curacao marine as we needed to get the car there for when we arrive on Wednesday. We arrived – got permission to leave the car in the yard – and bumped into some people we had met in Bonaire. That was fortuitous as they told us a “quick” walking route into Willemstad. We struggled up a hill in the heat – and were rewarded by some views of the marina – before walking beneath the motorway and then down a long flight of steps into Punda. Then we wandered to the bus station and waited. It was probably only a couple of miles but felt a long long way in the heat…. Eventually we found a little bus for Montana who agreed to take us – so we got back to Morphie around 4pm. Phew – we really are turning into cruisers eh???? Walking for miles to save $20 on a taxi???? Not like us at all – but think of all those drinking vouchers we have banked as a result!!!!

Curacao marine

Back on board we tested the chain in the windless – yippee it works – so we’ll order that soon. We also pickled the water maker ready for storage. Getting busy now….. and the real hard work starts Wednesday once we arrive into the marina and then move onto the hard on Friday. We had a final quiet night on board in Spanish Water.

This morning – Wednesday – we got ready to leave early to head the few miles down the coast to Willemstad having awakened to a squally day. We had a brisk downwind sail with a following sea – and radioed the Port Authority as we got close. They eventually answered us – and we requested that the floating bridge be opened. They said they would open it in about 10 minutes so we stooged around close by waiting…… While we were waiting and going around in circles we were being watched by lots of cruise ship passengers and we were videoed quite a few times as well!

Waiting for the bridge to open Smile - you are on video!

Eventually the sirens went off and the bridge opened. We waited for a barge to come out before we headed in…. What an experience!

Our turn to go through

Going through..... Going through 3

And that wasn’t it…. moving closely along the side of the cruise ship …. and then under the huge road bridge we had travelled quite a few times now. Amazing…. Into the industrial area, admiring the huge ships, called the marina, and got our slip info. Phew – we’ve arrived and are safely alongside.

Goodbye cruise ship Made it under! Approaching the huge road bridge Into the industrial zone

We are all systems go now…. So far today we have washed Morphie; finished cleaning the stainless; taken off the sails, washed them and flaked them into their bags; taken down the sun screens, washed and bagged them; dismantled the wind generator; and cleaned out the anchor locker – phew been a busy day.    We are now sitting outside the marina office in the yard getting our wifi fix.

More hard work tomorrow before Morphie comes out of the water on Friday into the working yard.    Bye for now – definitely time for bed!


Busy in Curacao

Late Thursday afternoon we went ashore to Pirates to get internet access – and I published the blog. Then we walked down the road to The Pier where it was cruisers night and they were doing a special chicken skewer meal. We weren’t there for the start of the event – and so people had already broken into little groups by the time we got there – but we were pointed in the direction of the guy who did the VHF cruisers net and had a chat with him. Then we all sat down to eat on one long table – the woman opposite Richard and the guy next to him were chatty – but my end of the table continued to speak Dutch and/or German and really didn’t want to engage with me in English despite all my efforts. So we didn’t hang around for long once we had eaten our meal. And they did all speak good English because they – surprisingly – started to chat to us as we said our goodbyes. Oh well, guess we tried!!!!   Didn’t really feel that welcome though.

Friday morning and we were up before the sun – we had arrangements to pick up our hire car at 6.30 am!!!  Our rent a wreck was just that – a little Ford Focus – which is pretty tatty with no working air conditioning but totally legal and not very likely to get stolen!    At only £13 ($22) a day who are we to complain?!?!

Richard and our rent-a-wreck

The Dutch car owner has lived on Curacao for four years now and loves it – apart from the criminality – and proceeded to tell us about the drug problems and the fatal shooting incident at the airport the day before…. We had already heard this from people in Bonaire – so we’ll definitely be vigilant while we are here!!!

After breakfast back on board we headed out – we have a couple of things high on the list today.   To find the boatyard where Morphie is hauling;  to have a look at the attached marina;  and to find an apartment to stay in after she is lifted out.    The roads here are busy – two or three lanes wide in places – and there is a big ring road that circles Willemstad.  Sounds fine – except the maps are rubbish – and the road signs are often on the junction rather than giving advance warning.  So yes we got lost!!!  Eventually we ended up at a naval base asking directions of big guys with guns – thankfully they were very helpful and gave us very good instructions.   Phew – finally we made it – and pulled up outside the boatyard (cars are not allowed in during working hours). We walked to the office and it was closed for lunch. Oh well…..so we wandered the tiny marina and had a look….and then sat down on the benches outside the office to wait.

Curacao marine yard

Curacao marine

While we were waiting we discussed our dates. This small marina is in the middle of nowhere and there are no facilities here whatsoever…. so without a car you really can’t get anything other than cold drinks / chocolate out of a vending machine or a few bits and bobs at the tiny Budget Marine on site. So the original plan of being in this marina for five days or so to get the boat ready for the lift didn’t really appeal – no pool, no bar, no snack bar, no beach, no mini-mart…. nothing at all, just the surrounding industrial / port areas.

An additional factor we had not catered for was that our cabin sole is in need of some tender loving care after all the footfall it has had over the last six years – so we have decided to bring that work forward and do it ourselves before we leave this year…. Hmmmm…. time to reconsider our plans…..  When the office finally re-opened we introduced ourselves and said that we might like to move things forward, would that be OK?  They said yes, whatever we wanted would suit them,  Have to say they are pretty accommodating here!    We felt happier having come to this decision and went off to try and find somewhere to stay until we fly early on 12 August.  Revised plan is to be in the marina for a couple of nights only – to get sails off and dink cleaned and positioned on the foredeck – and then haul into the working yard on 1 August, with Morphie’s final movement into the customs No Man’s Land storage yard early on 11 August.

We had already tried to search for an apartment on line but had failed miserably….. They don’t really have travel agents here either.   So we drove back into Willemstad and started looking around – a few places were really helpful although didn’t have any availability and a couple of others looked us up and down and decided we couldn’t afford even their basic rooms (which started at $200) although we were offered one swanky villa for $4,000 a night!!!!  Eventually we found two options – one hotel room which was in a great location and one apartment which had more facilities but not such a good location. But the receptionist at one of the boutique hotels was particularly helpful and gave us a website to look at.  So that’s for another day!   By this time we had had enough…. so headed to Spanish Water, picked up dink and back to Morphie…. The wind is still howling through here but she is a good girl and stays where we put her!!!!   We had a quiet night on board.


Saturday and we were up reasonably early – sorted out our laundry and got our gas bottle out to try and get it filled – again!  Before that we were going to visit a guy onboard the catamaran Isis to get internet access on the boat sorted out…. for a fee of $10 a week… not bad!   Well – the guy was expecting us – but wasn’t there…. so we headed off to find Budget Marine and Island Water World instead. We had a list of things we needed to purchase for the wood project as well as the basic decommissioning stuff. Island Water World was shut for stocktaking… and Budget Marine had very little in store. But we managed to find a laundry – there are a few self-service launderettes on the island but the cost is pretty much the same as the service washes…. so we left it at “Wash, Dry, Fold” for a Monday collection.

We then headed back to Pirates for a soft drink and another go at finding somewhere to stay….this time online.  And we struck lucky!  Hurrah!  Got a one-bedroom duplex apartment in Willemstad for a very reasonable $100 a night including tax from 1-12 August.  We got the confirmation e-mail immediately from the booking site and were very happy – and relieved!  After that we headed off to get our propane gas bottle filled – everyone was confident that this was possible here in Curacao. Oh dear…another failure….didn’t have the right adapter. This is so frustrating – we really hope that the new adapter we have purchased will work for the future – in the meantime our back-up solution is to live on BBQ meat with salad as we do still have an almost full 6lb gas tank for that!!!

On the way back to Morphie we sorted out the internet and then went back onboard and tried to log on. Of course it didn’t work – so we radioed the guy – and he tweaked it but it still didn’t work…. So Richard went back in the dinghy to revisit him and finally got it sorted. So – hurrah – internet access onboard albeit very sloooooooowwwwwwww….. We logged into our e-mails and found we had received a confirmation e-mail from the apartments – to find they were quoting an additional $500 for the 11 night stay. Sent them an immediate e-mail attaching our booking reference and the guaranteed ‘value’ price bit and, of course, by now no-one is answering… Nothing we can do….but just hope we can get all this sorted out. Feeling a bit stressed!  Another quiet night on board….

Sunday and everything is shut – so we decide to go to the beach for the day. Drove down to Mambo Beach and paid our entrance fee – the equivalent of £1.50 each – and then found a couple of beds and paid the same again for them. It was a very busy Sunday so good for people watching….  We settled in and enjoyed a chilled day, with a bit of bobbing, and then a splendid Mexican lunch – sharing some with a cute little yellow bird – at one of the concessions in the large boardwalk area running behind the beach. Oh yes, and when bobbing, we came across a little eel swimming freely across the sand. We spent hours hunting these little guys while diving and here is one playing by our feet!  Amazing…

Mambo beach 1 Mambo beach 2 Mambo beach 3 Mexican eating bird Mexican restaurant

Mambo beach 4

People watching here makes you realise what a diverse population there is in Curacao.  The island’s history starts with the Spanish discovery in 1499 when they enslaved the indigenous Indian population.  Then the Dutch defeated the Spanish occupiers in 1634 – attracted to the Caribbean by their need for salt for their herring industry – and by the 1700s the slave trade was the pillar of the economy. This became one of the most important centres for the slave trade in the Caribbean with native Africans being shipped here by the West Indian Company and then sold on and shipped to other destinations, including South America.  Holland finally abolished the slave trade in 1863.  The spoken language here is Papiamentu which originates from different African languages, complemented with words from Dutch, Spanish, English and Portuguese.  It is very different from any other language that we have heard on our travels… but everyone we’ve met has, thankfully, spoken English!  Oh yes, and the Chinese seem to have a strong population here with most of the mini-markets, food takeaway stands and laundries being operated by them….

Chinese corner shop

Had a lovely time at the beach and returned back to Morphie…. to find another e-mail from the apartments which confirmed that the previous e-mail price had been an error with their apologies!  Phew…. very relieved about that.  We had another quiet night on board.

Monday and we went off to look at the area where the apartment is located. This is a rapidly developing trendy neighbourhood. This part of Curacao used to belong to the upper class but became a ghetto during the last decades of the 20th century after the 200 year-old storm-damaged mansions and workers cottages were abandoned…. Since 2000 they are slowly being renovated and restored to their original state and transformed into apartments and suites – with many shops and bars having now opened too – creating a lively and safe part of Curacao which is within walking distance of the heart of Willemstad.  As we were there we popped into reception to say hi – and our apartment is currently unoccupied so we were given a guided tour. It is in one of the workers cottages and we have a little outside area as well as a couple of plunge pools within yards of the back door – along with all modern stuff like air con, wifi, fridge, cooker, coffee machine, safe etc etc etc. That will do nicely thank you very much!!!!  Lovely area and reminded us a bit of Cuba in places….

Pietermaai area 5

Pietermaai area 2Pietermaai area

Pietermaai area 7

Pietermaai area 6

So now we have confirmed the apartment we headed back to Curacao Marine to sort out revised arrangements. All done – and relax!!!!   Popped into Kooyman along the way – a large Homebase type store – and got quite a few things off our list. Things like sandpaper, brushes, electrical extension leads etc are all much cheaper when it doesn’t have ‘marine’ in front them. Back to the laundry to collect our stuff – and then headed back towards the anchorage. Oh yes – and you know we mentioned security here. Well, the local takeaways all serve through metal grills – enough said???

Popular local food concession

Back on board by the middle of the afternoon we put everything away, revisited shopping lists, and chilled for a little while. We are both getting a bit fed up with the constant howling wind and grey skies…. which makes this anchorage particularly unwelcoming and for a very wet ride on the way back from the dinghy dock!  Oh well…what can you do???? We decided not to go out again so had a movie night on board.

Tuesday morning and we headed off to the Hato Caves. These limestone caves are pretty spectacular as they have an active colony of small bats and are full of pillars / caves / stalactites and stalagmites and interesting formations along with embedded fossils as these islands were formed by movement in the tectonic plates pushing them up from below the sea…. Fascinating tour by a very engaging and amusing guide…. Oh yes, and some unusual looking tortoises here too….

Hato caves 1

Hato caves 2

Hato caves 4

Hato caves 5

Hato caves 6

Back to the car – and we headed back to Island Water World and registered as a boat in transit to get goods duty-free. Got that sorted – purchased everything we needed – and received a 10% loyalty discount too with our card…. Excellent!   Oh yes and we ended up having some lunch at KFC along the way…. KFC, McDonalds and Burger King are hugely popular here and have massive restaurants all over the place…. The smaller local places – which we would prefer – tend to sit on the side of minor roads in the middle of nowhere and we are unsure of whether it is safe for us to be there – so sadly we are avoiding these places and are stuck with fast food if we want to eat while we are out and about….


We drove back to the anchorage via the ring road – going the other way – so that we could cross over the huge bridge and enjoyed the spectacular views below of Willemstad.

View down from the bridge

View down from the bridge 2

These major roads all have a reasonable speed limit – which no-one adheres to – and so they are pretty fast and furious with Richard enjoying driving around at speed again. Me – not so much!!!!   Back on board and we had another movie night – watched The Wrestler – really good film.

Today – Wednesday – and we’ve decided to head to the beach this afternoon after doing boat jobs as the sky is definitely a little clearer.   Hopefully this tropical wave is finally going through – but the wind continues to howl with future forecasts for 30+ knots – we even heel over whilst at anchor!!!  Please – enough – stop…..!!!

Bye for now



Bonaire to Curacao

Saturday morning we were up early and took dink along to the dock at the Dive Shop…. This pier is really high and you have to be a mountain goat to get onto it from a dinghy – but no choice as we are taking our gear back to Morphie today as this is our final dive in Bonaire.

Dive Friends

We were doing the dive shop’s house reef again for the third time…. This is a really relaxing spot and we particularly enjoy it because we can get up close and personal with some pretty big – 4ft – tarpons. They are diver friendly and do not get spooked as you approach them…. We went a bit deeper this dive – down to 25 metres – and hugged the sandy bottom to the reef for a little while hoping for a sighting of an eagle ray. However it was not to be. We ended up doing a multi-level dive for almost 60 minutes – fantastic!

Friendly tarpon

Back in the dive shop and we got all our gear cleaned and then it was the moment of truth. We had to pay! We had 15 tank fills each which included our two boat dives. The tank tracker card worked out the cheapest for us each at US $175 for all the fills… We just had to pay a little on top for the boat trip. But, of course, although most of the diving here was from the shore, you need a truck to get around. So if we add up everything we spent – truck hire, petrol, tank fills, boat costs – we spent around $30 a dive. Amazing value compared to guided diving we have done elsewhere….. and of course we used the truck for other stuff too…..

Back on board for a short time and then we went to the bar to watch the Holland –v- Brazil match for third place. We were very surprised that there really weren’t many people around – and the Brazilian fans left in despair at half time! But nevertheless it was a great atmosphere and we enjoyed it a lot. Well done Holland.

Sunday morning and we had a lazy start and spent most of the day doing boat jobs. We went ashore at 4pm to watch the final match between Germany and Argentina – not realising that it had started at 3pm – doh!!!! But never mind – it wasn’t too busy so we got a seat – and we had missed the first half which had ended up 0:0 anyway…. We enjoyed the second half and thought that Germany did deserve the win. There really wasn’t much of a celebration afterwards and the crowds dispersed quickly. We ended up staying to chat with Don and other friends that we had made….and ended up having a late night! Oh well…..

Monday and we were up early noticing that Freewinds the little cruise ship had returned again.

Cruise ship

We had been watching this ship come and go throughout our time in Bonaire and were surprised that none of the passengers appeared to come ashore – although they did come off en masse for a group swim in the harbour once and a rowing lesson with uniformed callers for the oar movements!  All a bit bizarre we thought. Well – it is even stranger than you would think – as this ship belongs to the Scientologists and is a place for people to secure the highest grade within their order. It markets itself as a religious retreat to immerse oneself…  Worth checking out their website if you are curious to know more!!!!

The weather is looking good to sail to Curacao on Tuesday so we have a few jobs to do. First of all it was to the marina to buy some diesel and pay for our mooring balls as we had stayed a couple of days longer than we had originally planned. Then we walked to customs / immigration to check out and get our clearance papers for Tuesday’s departure. On the way we watched a egret who was keenly watching some fish swim in the shallows.  It is amazing that you can see parrot fish this close to the shore through the spectacularly clear water.

Fishing! Can't catch me!

Then we walked to the supermarket for passage provisions – and then to Budget Marine to collect our propane gas bottle. Guess what?!? They couldn’t fill it… What a surprise….. Just have to hope that it’s possible in Curacao….

Finally we were ready to go to sea – and so was Morphie. Getting ready to head back ashore for our final sundowners in Bonaire and the sea started boiling with small bait fish jumping out of the water all around us – and then we saw why! A tuna – would you believe – was chasing them and even he jumped out a few times during the pursuit. He was easily four foot long. What a spectacle! We had a nice chilled couple of hours ashore before heading back on board for an early night, having watched our last sunset…. and so to bed.

Sunset 1

Tuesday morning and we got up early – made up some rolls – and were off the mooring by 7.30 am for the 35 mile run. We enjoyed the views of Klein Bonaire as we went alongside and then we headed off downwind towards Curacao.

Goodbye Bonaire Klein Bonaire

We followed our rhumb line to go between Klein Curacao and Curacao itself and then headed up the coast. The wind was lighter than planned but it was stormy with squalls and stronger currents / larger waves than we expected. Never mind – we had a great sail – averaging over 6.5 knots all the way. And we got buzzed by the coastguard helicopter on this passage – we are clearly a helicopter magnet as this has happened a few times now!!!!

Helicopter buzzing

I had set a waypoint at the narrow entrance to Spanish Water – our chosen anchorage – and it wasn’t obvious to the naked eye where the channel started. Because we were going with the strong currents as we came up the coast we had to take the wind and the waves on our side as we turned towards it. It was pretty rough and not nice!  As we were getting closer we realised that there were rocks in the middle of the channel and the shoals from the other side came further in than we expected from our charts – electronic or physical versions. And of course no channel markers whatsoever! This is a notoriously tricky place so nervously we just went very slowly and eyeballed our way in. Once into the sheltered water of the channel we turned around to look at it and it looked pretty wide when you are looking at the calm side – but definitely not the same experience when approaching from the sea! Phew – made it!

Spanish Water anchorage Looking back at the entrance to Spanish Water

The channel then opened up and we enjoyed the sight of the fancy resort and the splendid houses that hugged the shoreline. There are shallows throughout the area – and none of them are marked apart from the occasional post here and there – so we carried on being very cautious.

Swanky houses line the shore Fancy resort at entrance to Spanish Water

Within Spanish Water there are designated anchorages and you have to anchor within these zones or the coastguard will move you on. We were hoping to get into Zone A as this was nearest to the Fisherman’s Harbour where there is a dinghy dock and a short walk to the bus stop to go into town, although it is more industrial this end. We felt our way in and anchored just behind the yellow buoy, right on the edge of the zone. We got a good set into mud straight away – and then set up waypoints on our charts to make sure we were within the designated area – wouldn’t fancy being moved on after dark here! Check out our huge neighbour in the next bay!!!

Anchorage zones in Spanish Water Monster neighbour!

All set and we know that to get legal here in Curacao takes a while – so decided to put ourselves in quarantine, raise the yellow flag, and not go ashore. Sadly we were unable to connect to any internet services onboard. So a relaxing afternoon and an early night followed.

Wednesday morning and we were up early and on the 7.55 am bus into Willemstad, the capital of Curacao. We had vague instructions of where to find the customs building – but, of course, we couldn’t find it. We asked a few times and eventually we found it – no signage whatsoever on the outside at pavement level. Entering the building and we were told to go through another unmarked door – and a cleaner tutted at us and we were told to wait until she had finished washing the floor. OK – so we waited until it had dried! The welcome was fine – but was a long and drawn out process. Not sure why he had to have four copies – all individually signed – of the clearance plus then an electronic scan of them all, including our passports. Oh well – part one achieved!

We then found the floating bridge that connects both sides of Willemstad and enjoyed the views as we crossed over. When we looked back to admire the waterfront view we realised that the customs building has a huge sign at the top, but of course you can’t see that from the side we approached!

Floating bridge Customs building

Oh well…. As we got to the other side of the bridge sirens went off and we watched it open to let a little boat come through – we will have to do this when we go into Curacao marine for our haul out – so was good to get an idea of how it all worked!

Bridge opens to let boat in

The instructions were to turn right as you cross the bridge and the immigration / port authority buildings are under the huge 160 foot high road bridge. OK – so we followed the road – admiring the old Dutch buildings as we went – and ended up under the bridge but in a motorway viaduct!  Definitely not right!

Huge bridge with 160 feet clearance

Old Dutch buildings Old Dutch buildings 2

So we retraced our steps and asked at the cruise ship checkpoint – and we were pointed in the right direction between some broken down warehouses, and graffiti strewn rocks, inside the secure area. Would never have guessed this!  Eventually we made it and the process at Immigration was easy and then to the harbour authorities. Yep – more forms – and the best bit of all was that we had to hand draw a picture of Morphie for identification purposes. Richard made a very good effort although I’m not 100% sure we would be recognisable from it LOL.

Not the most obvious route!

Phew…. exhausted with walking in the very hot and humid atmosphere…. and we headed back into town, amazed at the huge cruise ship looming over the town, crossed back over the pontoon bridge and marvelled at the floating fish market and the floating fruit and vegetable markets. These boats come across from Venezuela to sell their wares….

Cruise ship towering over the city

Floating market

Wandering around town we enjoyed the sights and sounds and knew we were in the right place when we came across the huge sign saying Curacao!

Willemstad 1 Willemstad 2 Willemstad 3 Willemstad 4 Willemstad 5 Willemstad 6

Back to the bus terminal we waited patiently for a number 6A and got back on the bus to Spanish Water. Walking from the bus stop we came across a bar called Pirates where we could get internet so had one cold one while we caught up with everything on linel. This was a bit of luck actually as we managed to organise a very cheap rental car for Friday morning while we were there…. We had another quiet night on board – well, I say quiet, what I mean is quiet as in no traffic, no people and no sounds. But the wind howls through here at 25+ knots all of the time so it is not actually that peaceful…. although the wind generator is keeping our batteries topped up very nicely!   And the sunset was spectacular.

Curacao sunset

Thursday morning – today – and we were up early to listen to the cruisers net. Not much going on although we did found out about a cruisers’ happy hour later so might go along to that…. Oh yes – and the stormy weather continues with some torrential rain this morning. Pretty unusual for this area but hey, nothing surprises us any more!

Stormy in the anchorage

We dinked to the Fisherman’s Harbour and waited for the shopping bus. It turned up at 10.00 am and this complimentary bus took us right to the supermarket. Great as it had an ATM inside as well…. We had got US $ drinking vouchers out in Bonaire but didn’t realise that Curacao used the Dutch Guilder. This was the same situation in Sint Maarten but there everyone used US dollars most of the time. Well here – they take the US dollar – but give all change in guilders. And this means that we are never quite sure of whether we are getting the right change or not – so we now have Guilder drinking vouchers to hand LOL!  Good supermarket – got everything we wanted – and back on the bus to the Harbour. In our two seasons onboard this was actually the first complimentary shopping bus we had ever used – so another first this season!  Back on board and Richard is running the generator to make water while I’m blogging……

Tomorrow we pick up the car so are looking forward to exploring the island before we start the hard work of decommissioning Morphie for her lift out of the water on 5 August….. We also need to find somewhere to stay after she is hauled and before we fly….

Bye for now



Chilling in Bonaire

Sunday afternoon and we head off to the beach at Luc Bay. This is a windsurfer’s paradise with shallow blue water and lots of wind….. The dark patches in the photos is sea grass which is being cultivated for the turtles as this is a nesting place for them.  We enjoyed a lovely lunch in the beach bar and then took to the water – amazed by some of the gravity defying leaps around us and the skills of some of the youngsters.

Luc Bay 1 Luc Bay 2 Luc Bay 3 Luc Bay 4 Luc Bay 5

We had a really chilled afternoon people watching and then headed back up the coast to Morphie for a quiet night in after another spectacular sunset.

Sunset 1

Monday morning and we headed off early to return the truck. We were sad to see it go as we had had such good fun exploring the island. But we had pretty much done it all – so it was time….. After dropping off the truck we wandered back to the dive shop and did a single dive on the house reef. And we saw four huge tarpon just hanging around…. We also saw a huge shoal of blue tangs but sadly couldn’t find the seahorse that is supposed to reside on this reef…. Was a good long multi-level dive and we were underwater for almost an hour.

Dive 1 Dive 2

After cleaning and stowing all our gear we headed back to Morphie – with an initial panic because we couldn’t see dink on the pier!   He was still there… but had been pushed underneath… so the top of our outboard got a bit scratched up. Grrrrrr…. this is because people here tie up their dinghies so tight that they bounce others underneath the pilings. Oh well – what can you do???  Anyway… that was us for the day…. we just spent the rest of the day and evening on board.

Tuesday morning we were up really early, had a quick breakfast, made rolls for our surface interval, before heading into town.  We have booked to go boat diving so had to be at the shop ready to go by 8.30 am….. All sorted and there were four of us – which we were pleased about when we saw the size of the little boat that came in. But hang on, loads and loads of tanks on board. Then we find out that there are another 10 people coming from the other dive shop. Going to be a bit tight!

Dive boat

Went and picked them all up – got our gear ready to go – and we headed across the channel to the coast of Klein Bonaire. The first dive of the day was at Leonora’s Reef. A lot of the dive sites have girls’ names – apparently because they were all named after girlfriends of Captain Don!   Not sure whether that is urban myth, but makes for a good story….

This site was a typical sloping reef with huge coral formations with hollow centres – these are the ancient ones because corals age from the inside out and begin to die where the coral polyps are the oldest. Estimates of age for some of the formations here have been placed at over 75 years old.  Unfortunately the visibility wasn’t so great as the weather was overcast so a bit gloomy and a bit busier than we have got used to with so many divers in the water. But they all kept a reasonable distance so we had a good time – with loads and loads and loads of beautiful fish, including a few free swimming eels.

Dive 3 Dive 5

Dive 4

The second dive was Carl’s Hill – and the main feature of this dive is the sheer wall that begins 20 yards offshore and drops to a sandy bottom at 70 feet. The face of the wall is covered with sponges and gorgonians and a seldom seen species called featherbush hydroid which sits on the upper face feeding on the plankton. Again large schools of blue tangs and a few bar jacks were around. We also saw some great little stuff in the shallows as we finished our dive on top of the reef for our safety stop. Really enjoyed boat diving and was glad we had signed up for this.

Dive 6A

Dive 7

Back on board in the middle of the afternoon for a short time then we headed back into the bar…. Time for more football!   This time it was Brazil –v- Germany.   We were anticipating a good match and a great atmosphere as there is a huge Brazilian following here and we had been entertained by them royally during this World Cup. Oh dear….. oh dear….. Terrible upset. The supporters couldn’t bear to watch – and the few German fans celebrating didn’t help matters either. Head in hands and everyone left pretty downcast after such a terrible result for them. Had to feel sorry for them…. After the game we headed back to Morphie for a quiet evening on board – and no cars noisily patrolling the waterfront tonight with flags flying and horns blazing. Not sure that the Road Runner counts LOL

German fan celebrating

Wednesday we were up pretty early and got busy. Boat jobs beckon – Morphie needed some tender loving care down below, particularly the wood. So we changed beds, scrubbed floors, polished walls and generally gave her a spring clean. She looked and smelt lovely afterwards! We then headed back to the bar for the 4pm kick off – tonight is going to be fun – Holland –v- Argentina. Hup Holland Hup!!!  The locals were in festive mood and were clearly expecting to celebrate big time tonight.

Young Dutch fan geting excited

Well the match wasn’t great….and they just couldn’t score. As the time went on it got more and more tense – felt just like watching an England match!!!! Then extra time…. still 0-0. Oh dear.. penalties looming.. and this time they didn’t swap the keeper.

Tension mounts

Not sure what is going on…. Oh dear…. all over…. Holland are out!  Absolutely shock and horror all round…. We had intended to go to the cruisers “burger night” in the marina after the match – but ended up chatting with other people we had met so didn’t move…. and had a pretty late night in the end!

Sunset out to the anchorage

Thursday morning and we were going to go diving…..but didn’t feel like it after the excesses of the night before. And to be honest we were both pretty tired – we have been quite busy since we got here and think it just caught up with us – so ended up doing nothing all day! Just reading, snoozing and chilling. Was lovely!!!!

Sunset 2

Friday morning – today – and we were up early to another stormy, windy and slightly miserable day. We have been surprised by the amount of Sahara dust that is getting dumped on Morphie – but mustn’t complain as the presence of this in the atmosphere suppresses tropical storm activity! But it doesn’t rain here that often to wash it off….

Our first task today was to head off to the smart modern laundry – on foot this time – to get the sheets and towels done.

Large modern laundry

Then to the bank for more drinking vouchers and finally to the local Chinese supermarket as we had managed to run out of soft drinks again – and then back to Morphie. Richard then ran ashore to Budget Marine to drop off our cooking gas bottle as they think they know someone who might be able to fill it. This has been a constant problem up and down the island chain with the US fittings on our bottles – so today Richard ordered an adapter which we hope will help us resolve this once and for all!!!! So fingers crossed for Monday when we go to pick it up. And that’s it for the day folks! Another early night beckons.

Tomorrow we’re planning to do our final shore dive – and then bring the gear back to Morphie to dry off and get it packed up for the season. And I think there might be another football match to go and watch in the afternoon????

Bye for now.




Exploring Bonaire – part three

Wednesday morning and we were up reasonably early to go to the dive shop to pick up our gear and four filled tanks. There is a lot of choice here with 63 dive sites dotted along the coast and they are all for independent exploration. The small dive guide is our bible as it gives information about each site such as strength of currents, whether it is a beginner, intermediate or advanced dive, maximum depths etc etc….  In making our decisions we’re looking for clues into the entry points as we are shore diving and we need to park, kit up, and then walk into the sea. Well – a lot of them don’t have specifics about the entry site but there are a few clues in the names like Rappel, 1000 Steps and Bloodlet…..

Today we had selected Bachelors Beach and Chez Hines with the backup site The Lake, which came highly recommended. So off we go – errrrrr….. we are not able to park even vaguely close to Chez Hines so we scrub that.  So we drive to The Lake – errrrrr…. might be a lovely dive but I really do not fancy sliding off the top of jagged rocks into the depths below – going in might be OK but could not see how you would get out!!!  So scrub that one too…. Off we go again – this time to Aquarius. Yay there is a small channel through the rocks we can see – so we go for it. Getting in was fine – although I was really cautious because I’m concerned about my dodgy ankle as I step from rock to rock.

Aquarius has a sandy bottom and is home to many schooling species. Nice corals here – more colourful than we had seen so far – and we had a great time. Then we moved on to Bachelor’s Beach which has steps down to the small beach – so great easy entry although getting off the bottom of the steps onto the beach below was a bit of a challenge!   Another lovely site and one of my favourites so far….. The coral formations here were much larger, there were more soft corals and it looked like a forest at one point as they swayed together in the swell, as well as huge purple tubes dotted around. The sheer volume of fish is huge – from tiny fry through to very large parrots and trigger fish – and they are all pretty curious and it is not unusual to get a few of them eyeball to eyeball!!! There are a few small critters of note too if you look hard enough. But still no turtles or eagle rays…. Check out some of our favourites.

Dive Day 1

After diving we headed back to the shop – cleaned our gear and stowed it for another day – and then back to Morphie. We made water and charged the batteries for a while and then decided not to go ashore….. so had a quiet and chilled evening on board.

Thursday morning we were up early and having a cup of tea in the cockpit when we see dolphins playing in the channel between Bonaire and Klein Bonaire… They didn’t come very close – and of course the camera was being charged so no chance of photos – but great to see them. Oh yes, and a turtle popped his head up to say hi too!   What a great start to the day….

Today we are exploring the Washington Slagbaai National Park. This park covers a significant portion of the top end of Bonaire and we get free entrance with our diving tokens. So we packed a picnic lunch and headed off… arriving at the park around 10.  I was quite taken by all the cactus fences surrounding properties on the drive there – bet that keeps intruders out!

Cactus fence

At the welcome centre there is a little museum which was interesting about the history of Bonaire – and we spotted a hawk!  We picked up our park map and decided to go the yellow route through the park – which is 34 km long and takes about 2 ½ hours if you don’t stop….. Driving off and it is just dirt roads – but not too bad with concrete reinforcement at dodgy bits – and then you enter into a moonscape!  Mountains; rocks with fossils embedded; the towering terraces caused by the rise and fall of the ocean dating back 1 million years; the crashing dangerous sea onto the lee shore; the wind turbines; the blowholes; the sandy inlets; the fresh water lakes; more salt; more flamingos; dive sites designed for mountain goats; cliffs; and some old ruins and renovated historic buildings. We were blown away by the sheer natural beauty of it all….

Park17 Park 1 Park 2 Park 3 Park 4 Park 5 Park 6 Park 7 Park 8 Park 9 Park10 Park11 Park12 Park13 Park14 Park15 Park16

Park21 Park23 Park22

We eventually ended up at a little beach for our picnic and enjoyed a short time bobbing while watching all the macho posturing of the ‘look at me’ divers as they surfaced with all their knives; their BCDs equipped with every useless object you could find in a dive shop; and their huge camera / light displays. Quite funny!!! Actually this dive site looked great – and we were a little jealous – but realistically there was no way we would have fancied having tanks in the back of our truck while we bumped and shuddered along these tracks…..

Park20 Park18 Park19

After a while it was time to head off again to drive the final 7 kms to exit the park before it closed – and this was the worst bit of the whole day. The tracks got increasingly narrow, windy and steep. Richard enjoyed his attempt at rally driving while I was just glad to escape without serious injury LOL!

Park24 Park25

Phew – finally we arrived back to Kralendijk having had a fantastic day out – pretty tired and a little bruised! – so we had a couple of restorative cold beers watching the sunset whilst sitting on the pier before we retired back to Morphie for the night.

Sunset 1

Friday and we are off diving again…. This time we planned to dive Alice in Wonderland and Tori’s Reef.  Alice in Wonderland has a split reef and you have to watch your depth gauge carefully – but we managed to navigate ourselves around and get back to exactly where we started. We are getting lots of practice at this!!!  This is a very popular site – so we saw other divers underwater. We were a bit shocked to see how bad some of them were particularly with buoyancy issues. They weren’t crashing into the coral thankfully but they were all over the shop… with flailing arms and legs….one woman even managed to kick Richard in the face as we passed by….   We also saw quite a lot of solo divers too which surprised me – but everyone to their own I guess – or maybe their buddy was too far away for us to see ?!?!?   We enjoyed this dive but didn’t really see anything different. The next dive was Tori’s reef which was a bit of a struggle to get into the channel out over the rocks – but we managed it. This is the number two dive in the whole of the Caribbean for fish diversity – and I can see why. Another huge aquarium filled with loads and loads of critters….. Nothing of particular note – just overwhelming numbers, although I have to say that parrot and angel fish do seem to go to the toilet quite a lot and they particularly like to do this on top of our heads LOL!!!! More favourite things below…. Dive Day 2

Back on board – sitting in the cockpit watching the comings and goings and we admired this nice yacht coming into the anchorage….. He went towards a couple of mooring balls – and then carried on going – straight towards the wall….. And then he ran aground. Oh dear….. So Richard is in the dinghy to offer international rescue services – one of the guys took a line to the mooring balls behind and the owner of the yacht started to winch that. Another guy took a line to the dinghy and started to pull – Richard went to the other side and pushed. Eventually they got him free and safely onto a set of mooring balls. There is a reef ledge just along the waterfront but it looks like he grounded before hitting that – which was a bit of luck because I don’t think he would have got off of that without doing some major damage…. Excitement over and we got ourselves ready to go out to dinner.

International rescue

We had dinner at It Rains Fishes – a beautiful waterfront restaurant we are moored almost directly opposite. Richard had a duo fish soup starter whilst I had shrimp croquet – followed by steak for me while Richard was tempted by the steak and lobster combo. The food was fantastic, cooked beautifully, and the ambience was great – although one of the tables behind us was a bit noisy, so not quite the romantic evening it would have been otherwise!  We did succumb to deserts too – I had the chocolate duo while Richard tried out the home-made tiramisu ice cream – but I forgot to take photos.   Doh!!!

It Rains Fishes 1 It Rains Fishes 2 It Rains Fishes 3 It Rains Fishes 4 It Rains Fishes 5 It Raines Fishes 6

Oh yes we watched the firework display further down the coast which presumably was for US Independence Day. Hope all our American friends had a good one…..

Saturday we were up early – more diving – this time to Andrea I and Bari’s Reef. The entry at Andrea I was difficult – climbing carefully over jagged rocks and then pulling ourselves over flat boulders to get into deep enough water to get the fins on…. But it was worth it – this was a very interesting dive site in terms of different topography, more twists and turns, more colours, and the biggest parrot fish we had ever seen in our lives!!! They were absolutely humongous…..and when they crunched down on the coral the noise was very loud….. We also saw a few barracudas, a giant pufferfish, some nudibranches, lots of cleaner shrimps, and were blown away by the place. This is the number one dive site for fish diversity in the whole Caribbean and it lives up to its name.

Dive Day 3

Back on land – doing our surface interval eating digestives and sipping water – we were joined by some huge iguanas…. They were easily four foot long – and were very keen to sample our biscuits!  I know you are not supposed to feed wild animals but this was just too tempting – they loved them LOL… Iguana Iguana 2

Back in the truck and we headed off to do Bari’s reef. Entry was easier from a sandy beach – but I didn’t realise there was a step down and got caught by a wave coming in – so managed to fall on my bum in a very unladylike fashion on the way in…. And of course there were people around to see this! Ooops….. No harm done apart from to my pride – and we descended. Bit gloomy here but at least the reef wasn’t a long swim away like some of the other sites. This place had been recommended to us – but to be honest it wasn’t a patch on our earlier dive… The topography was boring, the corals looked a little beaten up without much colour and although lots of fish around, just the usual suspects. Oh well – never mind.

Back to the dive shop to clean and stow the kit – then back to Morphie for a couple of hours relaxing. We chilled out reading and snoozing – then got ready to go out again. Time for more World Cup football – Holland are playing – so we want to be part of the orange world!   Back to Karels – and we managed to get a spot near the bar – and we watched the match. Well….. the Dutch were going mad!!!!  They had so many chances and so much of the possession – but just couldn’t get that ball to go in the goal. Then it’s extra time….and groans get louder as the tension rises. Then they fail to score again and it’s coming down to penalties. Quickly they swapped their goalie out – and the locals explained that their normal goalie isn’t so good at penalties as the other one – and the whole bar held it’s collective breath!!!

Holland game 1

Thankfully they made it – hurrah – orange drinks all round…. Lots of shouting, screaming, car horns, dancing, firecrackers, laughing…. just complete excitement. Well done! Really good time had by all.

Holland game 2 Holland game 3 Holland game 4 Holland game 5

And after the game…..while the whole of the island was celebrating….there was the most beautiful sunset ever.

Sunset 2Today – Sunday – and we have to give our truck back tomorrow   As we had quite a bit to drink last night celebrating along with the rest of the bar – we decided not to go diving. So I’m blogging while Richard is doing boat jobs.  Later on this afternoon we plan to go to the beach for a bobbing session…..

Bye for now



Exploring Bonaire – part two

Friday morning and we got cracking.  I cleaned more stainless and even climbed up to wash the huge amounts of Sahara dust from the solar panels.  Richard did more maintenance and other cleaning jobs down below…… Phew…… Really hot and humid here now – so everything seems to take so much more effort than before.

After an early dinner on board we headed into the town square where there was a commemoration evening for Captain Don – the Dutch guy who introduced diving to Bonaire having shipwrecked his yacht on arrival – having somehow managed to rescue his scuba tanks.  He was something of a character, ran his own dive operation, and lived to a ripe old age. It appeared that he was universally loved and there was a constant scroll of photos of him on the big screen throughout the evening.

The evening included the kids with the local dance troupe doing a modern dance after  a rendition of Mary Poppins!  Couldn’t believe that here we were in Bonaire singing along to Supercalifragilisticexpialidocous!  Completely bonkers….. Oh yes, and that wasn’t the only thing that surprised us – there was a full-on kebab van doing proper doners…. and was the busiest food outlet of the night! We can only eat them after a drink, not before or during LOL!!!!

Mary Poppins Modern dance

Then it was the turn of the fire dancer / eater to entertain us – and his friend on the mike got some local kids to dance and then their parents. All good family fun…..

Fire eater

Fire dancing

Oh yes, and we bought a single raffle ticket, and guess what!  We won!!!  Seriously – the first ticket of the night was ours and we won two t-shirts from one of the local dive operators. We never usually win anything….!!!!

Raffle prize

Overall we had a great evening and thought that Captain Don would have been proud. We listened and watched some local teenagers that had won the equivalent of Britain’s Got Talent and were now appearing in Curacao. Eventually we called it a night and left.

Saturday dawned and it was miserable – raining intermittently and grey. The wind had dropped as well so our battery bank was feeling the pain!   Oh yes….and the fridge and freezer are working….but they are drawing way too much power.   Need to get this sorted next season pronto!    We were on board doing boat jobs most of the day and headed in for sundowners….. We caught the end of the Columbian game and enjoyed the spectacle of the VERY noisy and excited fans celebrating their success…..

Columbian celebrations

We then headed back onboard for a quiet night and a spectacular moody sunset.

Sunset 2

Sunday morning and we were up early. The Dutch were playing again in the World Cup so we wanted to be part of the orange world.  So we went into the bar for the 12 noon kick-off – Hup Holland Hup!   Well…. it got quieter and quieter as the game went on – oops looks like they might not make it – so you can only imagine the noise and cheering and general excitement when Holland scored and eventually made it through! Phew….. Having enjoyed a few Coronitas (baby Coronas) we decided not to watch the next game and went back on board for a quiet afternoon / evening.

Beautiful sunset

Monday morning and we headed into town to hire a car. Well, actually, it’s a pick-up truck. They don’t allow you to have dive gear in the cars so this is what we ended up with instead. All very new and shiny and probably the best – and definitely the most expensive – rental we’ve had this season.

Our pick-up truck

The rules were carefully explained to us – no locking doors; no leaving anything in the truck; leave windows open and any contents on full view. All very alien – but apparently, if you leave it open the local vagabonds can check it out and will leave it alone. Leave a bag inside and they will steal it. Lock it up and there is clearly something worth stealing inside – so they smash windows!  Not what we were expecting but hey, if the locals say this is how to do it, then who are we to argue????

Now that we had transport we decided to explore a bit of the island. Bonaire is largely desert and volcanic rock and is very desolate in places – and completely different from the lush green islands that we have visited. But it has its own beauty – a bit like Anegada – with coral strewn beaches and empty roads and the sea has the most visibility than we have ever encountered. Watching parrot fish from the jetty or the pier when you know the water is 20 feet deep is something very special.

Desolute! Colour of the sea Coast road Cactus everywhere

We went down the west coast of the island and noticed all the yellow boulders on the shore line which link to yellow markers in the ocean – all marked dive sites ready to be explored. Looking forward to doing this soon!

We then visited the slave huts – the slaves imported here were largely involved in the production of salt – and marvelled at the huge mounds of salt being harvested…. There were flamingos in the salt lakes too… Amazing.

Slave huts 1 Slave huts 2 Slave huts 3 Salt production Salt production 2 Flamingos

Further down the coast and we came across a number of obelisks – these used to be coloured red, white and blue to match the Dutch flag – and were identifiers for ships coming to collect salt with the different coloured obelisks identifying the grade of salt available at each location. The slave huts were incredibly small with just a tiny doorway and a window to the rear – quite sobering to realise that people lived in this barren land in such harsh conditions.


We then headed off to Luc Bay – a windsurfers paradise…..   Had a sandwich and a soda before moving on…..

Luc Bay

We then visited the donkey sanctuary. Originally the donkeys were involved in the movement of salt – and were left to run wild on the island when machines took their place. A Dutch woman decided to rescue them from a life of scrounging and being injured / mistreated – so she managed to obtain an area equal to six football pitches and now rescues them.  Males are castrated immediately and the females – who are usually pregnant when they arrive – are sterilised after they have given birth. The new arrivals, mothers and babies are kept separately until they have settled – being fed three times a day, and some of the newborns with additional milk – and then they are left to roam around the area and are fed twice a day. We visited the babies first – and Richard decided that a selfie with one of the little ones would be a good idea, hilarious result! – and then we drove into the compound.

Ahhhhhh..... Feeding time 1 Your face my ass!! Feeding time 2

As we drove along we met a few donkeys here and there and we gave them carrots…. Oh yes, and then they all materialised out of nowhere and started chasing us. It was funny to start with – then they stood in front of us, wouldn’t move, would run alongside and we would worry about hitting them…. All for carrots!   Well, in the end, it wasn’t funny as they were getting a bit naughty so we just chucked carrots out along the side of the road and only fed a few by hand when we were sure there were none hiding around the corner!  Check out the photo of one running alongside……

Hand over your carrots!

Later on we ended up back in the bar for a couple of cold ones before retiring back to Morphie to watch another sunset and have a quiet evening on board.

Sunset 3

Tuesday morning and we were out and about early. We picked up four dive tanks – two smaller ones for me and two normal sized for Richard. Decided to go down this route – and I wore my really old 1mm suit rather than my normal 3mm one – just to reduce the amount of weight that I have to carry. Shore diving is much more strenuous than boat diving…..

Our first site was called 18 Palms – after the palm trees that line the road. This dive was very similar to the ones that we had done off the back of Morphie – and nothing in particular to note other than the huge shoals of fish that were around. They weren’t particular big fish but wow – definitely another aquarium job!   Then we moved along the coast to Windsock (named because it is close to the airport) – which had a pier to the right and a split reef to the left. The coral here was different – with large bombies along with quite a bit of fire and stag coral. Loads of soft stuff in between too…. We stayed around 20 metres / 60 feet on the way out and 10 metres / 30 feet on the way back. The navigation was tougher than the others but we managed to get back to where we had started from and had a great dive. The fish here were larger than we had seen – of particular note are the parrots, trigger fish and porcupine fish who are up to two feet long!  And then the huge shoals of blue tangs come along….following the goat fish who churn up the bottom….and another very large wrasse. He was probably three feet long. The coral here had more colour to it – and there were loads of purple sponges lying around. This was also a nursery for sergeant majors and others. Fantastic!  Here are some of our favourite dive buddies…..

Dive buddies

Oh well…. back to the truck – back to the dive shop, cleaned and stowed all our gear – then back to Morphie who really likes her mooring balls……

Morphie likes it here too.....

And then we picked up the laundry.    Yes, I know…. more laundry….. but sheets and towels are really hard to hand wash and get dried – so we end up collecting them until we find somewhere to get them done. The laundry here was great – very very clean, loads of machines etc, free wifi and ability to buy soft drinks. We were about to start watching the USA game on the TV too but the woman who worked there switched it over to some cheesy Spanish soap opera!  Oh well… never mind. Laundry done – and we ended up back in Karels for a couple of beers just to catch the end of the match. Huge crowd in – and split loyalties – so was a pretty good atmosphere. Was a tough game…. Well done Belgium – bad luck USA, you played well. My loyalty was with the USA of course – not because we have loads of friends there actually – but really because their manager Jurgen Klinsman used to play for Spurs (Tottenham Hotspur) many years ago and I loved watching him in action!!!!

After the game we had a quiet night on board and enjoyed the unusual sight of a small cruise ship in the harbour…..

Visitor for a couple of days....

This morning – Wednesday – and we went diving again. More details to follow in the next blog. Bye for now