On 25th October 2014 the “travelling wilburys” (Cadman family) were on the move again. Although we were all travelling, it was to completely different destinations. Paw Paw was on the move from Curacao back to Bonaire and Keenan was moving to Washington DC. We arrived in Bonaire safe and sound after a gruelling 10 hour sail into wind, waves and current – not the weather predicted – surprise, surprise!. Then to top off the day, every mooring ball had been taken when we arrived in Bonaire and anchoring is prohibited. My prayers were answered though, when we found the last one tucked away as the sun set. It wasn’t ideal, but it did until the following morning. We definitely weren’t expecting that many yachts packed into the small mooring field. We were up early the next morning to scout around for a better mooring ball and claimed the only other vacant one after a yacht left. Needless to say, we were delighted to be back in paradise – swimming, snorkelling, diving – we were back on holiday again!
Our return to Bonaire was short lived, however, when we decided to set sail earlier than intended, as a suitable weather window opened up sooner than planned.
Prior to our departure though, we did get to enjoy some unexpected delights such as a freshly caught Mahi Mahi. It was thanks to Ronnie from Campechano who caught it on their sail over from Curacao to Bonaire a few days after our trip. It was chilled by lunchtime and on the dinner table that night. We had so much of it, though, that it was another first on Paw Paw the following night – Sushi - which actually wasn’t at all bad for a first attempt, thanks to Chef Roy!
We also had one of our best snorkelling adventures ever – We joined Georgia (Chris and Paul) for a dinghy ride to a reef a little north of our anchorage. We got to see enormous parrotfish, an octopus, a large school of Blue Tangs, a few Scorpion Fish, a Moray Eel and, best of all, turtles, one of which was as real character. We found him scratching his shell on some coral. He then surfaced right next to us; returned to his scratching; surfaced again, before deciding to wander off. We got to spend at least 20 minutes in his company – Just amazing!
Halloween was rather different from previous years – We went for a sail to Klein Bonaire on Campechano (Babbie and Ronnie) with some of their friends, followed by a picnic lunch, a snorkel and a walk on the beach before sailing back again at sunset. We then got to enjoy the live entertainment along the beachfront from our foredeck.
Other delights included:
· A “Taste of Venezuela” evening at the Consulate – Great food, great company and I believe the rum was excellent. Of course, it begged the question as to whether or not we were technically in Venezuela.
· Having our new neighbours in the floating village over for sundowners and a light dinner aboard Paw Paw. I guess we could conclude that a good time was had by all when no one left until midnight and, then when they did, there were a few unintended swims associated with the perils of getting into one’s dinghy after one too many.
· Elaine enjoyed a very pleasant luncheon aboard Exit Strategy (Rose and Dan), with all the ladies who participated in the early morning “noodling” classes, to celebrate Rose’s birthday. Dan was an excellent “cabana boy” who keep us all well supplied with mimosas.
· We managed to enjoy a few dives off the back of Paw Paw, but unfortunately, due to our earlier than intended departure, Roy had to cancel his night dive. He did, however, get to have dinner (with Elaine) at the Argentinean restaurant he had wanted to visit on our first trip, but missed for various reasons.
Although our time back in paradise was over all too quickly, we did get the opportunity to learn so much on our combo fishing / sailing trips on Campechano. It would be remiss of me not to mention that Ronnie, besides being our Spanish teacher in Curacao, is actually an Olympian sailor as well as a CORT (Caribbean Ocean Racing Triangle) champion and Babbie is a two time Caribbean Champion sailor. Talk about luck being on our side to have the opportunity to learn from the pros – priceless!
Curacao has remained a mixed bag for us as we continue to oscillate on our opinion, based on a spectrum of experiences, both good and bad. It was here in Curacao, though, that Elaine got to realise a lifelong dream and fulfil her #1 Bucket List item – To swim with dolphins. In fact, she got to surpass this dream, as she didn’t swim with dolphins, she actually got to dive with them in their natural habitat. For her, it was indeed the most wonderful, magical experience which will forever hold a special place in her heart and one that definitely outweighs the negative aspects of our experience here. Specifically the Spanish Water anchorage, that has left us with the distinct impression that cruisers are no longer welcome here. Couple this with locals, with the exception of a few, who have been extremely unfriendly and, at times, downright rude, where one lady in particular, completely embarrassed and humiliated Elaine. We would go as far as to say that many have a “major chip on their shoulders”, which is unfortunate.
What has made the anchorage in Spanish Waters very unpleasant, besides the bizarre demarcation system, where cruising yachts have to anchor within a set boundary, are the endless speed boats that race, not only up and down the fairways, but straight through the anchorage field, sending every boat into a violent rock. Add to this, the numerous small sailing yachts and wind-surfers hurtling through the anchorage field at a rate of knots because of the strong winds, and, at times colliding with the cursing yachts. Not only is the anchorage unpleasant, but it is extremely unsafe and certainly does not serve the purpose of having us all corralled into one area - supposedly for our safety. The remote location doesn’t help either. It is miles from the capital, Willemstad, with no facilities for cruisers within a dinghy ride or short walk. This is fortunately negated by a reasonably inexpensive local bus service that can take you to town, as well as a grocery bus that runs every day to one of the local supermarkets and within walking distance of a laundry and various chandleries. Other services like obtaining propane gas or provisioning at the larger, less expensive grocery stores, however, requires a car. Access to the internet is non-existent, without visiting one of two local restaurants or purchasing a rather expensive data plan from one of the local providers. Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention the water and the howling wind that funnels through the anchorage. The latter is relentless and, at times, reaches speeds in excess of 48 Knots and the former is not ventured into at all, except for the sole purpose of having to clean your yacht, dinghy, chain and bridle. Some brave cruisers do, however, dare to take a daily plunge in order to bathe. It is, therefore, not surprising that, although this used to be a bustling hurricane holdout for many cruisers waiting to transit the Panama Canal or who headed south to avoid the hurricanes, as we did, now choose to by-pass Curacao.