Monday 24 November 2014

Week 35: Having a BLAST in BONAIRE !

Monday November 24th 2014

Bonaire !  You have dazzled us with your great little shops, your lovely “vibe”and beautiful, clean streets (What ?! Actual Sidewalks ?!!!) Free diving opportunities galore ! Crystal clear waters to swim in !  Europeen supermarkets ! Bicycles ! Wind mills ! Gelato ! 

This is such an interesting place too, because, being a Dutch Territory, the sign posts are in Dutch but many people who live here and have businesses here speak Spanish (being so close to Venezuela I guess this makes sense !)

Scooters !

After all of our waiting around in October and early November, we felt that we were due some serious fun and excitement ! So we decided to splurge and rented scooters for a day and toured the entire island! The rental process was simple enough : All we had to do is provide our drivers licenses and pay the fee. I had asked the nice lady multiple times whether my not having a “Motorcycle” class indicated on my drivers license was going to be a problem, and was told that it was not a problem. Great !

The helmet matches the beard, but the bike ? Not so much  

So we geared up with some funky helmets and got on to the scooters...and mere seconds before leaving, as it became obvious that I had NEVER driven anything like this before, all of a sudden the lady looked quite alarmed: “Ju mean to say that ju have no driven one before ?!  Aye aye aye...”  She looked like she was about to pull the plug on our big adventure so I assured her that:  “No no, I HAVE driven one, but it was MANY years ago, I’ll be fine!”, she still looked unsure, but said: 

 “Ju MUST drive slowly , pleasse !

After assuring her that I would be careful, we were ready to go: Meghan bravely putting her life into her mother’s hands by getting on the seat, behind me, and we were off ! 

Okay. Yes, in the first few minutes there were a few “Whooaaaas ! “  and “Oh  S#!T! ”  moments, but as I learned to tame the power of the mighty 50 cc Yamaha ”, (within a mere 15 minutes) all was good and we had a blast !  Meg was very enthusiastic and encouraging: “You are doing very well for a beginner mom!” and by the end of the day I found that I had, in fact, found my inner-biker-chick and felt very comfortable laying it out, full power, as we drove down the quiet ocean side road ! 'Full power' equating of course to about 30 miles per hour ! Most of the day we averaged about 10-15 miles/hour, it’s a good thing Bonaire is a such small island!  Hey, don't knock it ! That's faster than we've been moving on board Amelie over the last 7 months !!!

I was born to scoot !

Matthew of course LOVED this too, although if it was up to him, there would be no stopping, just go-go-go!

Mark and Matthew made a good team as well.....although I think that Mark would have preferred something a little bit more powerful than 50 cc (I saw him eyeing the Harley Davidson's they were renting). The scooter’s performance up hill for their combined weight was, well, I’ll let this picture tell the story.

Mark kept his sense of humour about the whole thing (And Bonaire is thankfully not very hilly!)

On our 8 hour exploration of the Island, we found some great rock formations, some noisy parrots, beautiful ocean views, fast moving lizards and even a swimming iguana ! 

These two sounded like they were having some sort of domestic dispute !

Who knew iguanas could swim ?!

Is the Cactus Bonaire's 'National Flower' ?  It should be!


We saw dozens of awesome looking dive sights, right off the coast (Bonaire is famous for having an enormous quantity of very good dive sites), and...we even saw...FLAMINGOES !


"Jibe City" is a wind surfers paradise !

It was definitely a highlight for us to see these beautiful creatures as they meandered around, with their heads kept mostly underwater, eating up the shrimp that give them their distinctive colour.

Meg loved the flamingos "backward bending legs"

We also saw mountains of SALT (Processed from the salt water).They looked like snow from afar. 

That's a lot of sodium !

These are slaves huts, built for those who worked in the salt mines

More slave huts

Meghan and Mark have been diving right off the boat every day, while Matthew happily swims above them. They could not believe the quality of the diving so close to the boat in the bay.The whole area is a protected marine park and anchoring is not allowed, that is why we have to use a mooring ball at $10 US/night. (The free diving makes up for the expense!)

Daily dives

Happy to be back swimming in the ocean everyday

Our two resident divers also joined a PADI group for a “U-V” night dive; Where special Ultra-Violet Lights are attached to the masks, bringing out the vibrant colours of the coral and other sea creatures in the night !  I will let Meghan tell you all about this in her next blog !

Welkom Sinterklaas !

Being a Dutch Island, Christmas comes early to Bonaire, Sinterklaas actually delivers his presents on December 5th (on St-Nicks Birthday), but on November 22nd he came to town right here in Bonaire, to visit school children ! There was a parade and lots of excitement and we came to understand that Sinterklaas rides on a white horse (or a boat like in the photo below),he carries a staff, has a side kick that looks sort of like a Jester (or clown) and that he wears a hat that looks a lot more like an Archbishops head dress than the red toque we tend to associate with him in our country. I guess he does not need his reindeer in these parts of the world ! It was fun to experience the cultural difference! 

Sinterklaas arrives on December 5th 

We hope to learn more about the different ways Christmas is celebrated at our next destination : Cartagena, Colombia!  Yikes I'd better get cracking in my Spanish lessons ! We will be joining our friends on S/V Perry on a crossing from Aruba to Colombia over the next 4-5 days, leaving Bonaire sooner than expected (On Tuesday) because of the Christmas Trade Winds which are coming in soon ! We look forward to sharing these experiences, and more, with you next time!Until then, Amelie IV is signing off with lots of love.

 Magnificent Frigate Bird catching lunch mid-flight !

Matthew getting into the cool and relaxing vibe of Jibe City

Jibe City, Bonaire


Great floating art work moored near us!


Friday 21 November 2014

Bonaire or Bust !

Friday November 21st 2014

Crossing from Grenada to Bonaire; 400 nmiles

When I wake up, I am on my back, my body is shifting back and forth, back and forth, like some sort of strange slow motion horizontal hoola hoop. As the weight shifts from my left buttocks, to my right and back again....lee board beside me creaking in unison, I realize I must have been doing this strange dance for at least two or maybe even  three hours now..,,,and the first thought that pops into  my mind is : “ I wonder if this counts as exercise ?!...Please God....make this count as exercise !”

We are on our way to Bonaire, having finally escaped from the clutches of the slow motion deck work in Grenada.The new decks look great but nothing beats being out of there and out in the great wide open once again !  When we moved from the lagoon into the anchorage for our last minute pre-departure preparations you could not wipe the smile off of Matthew’s face, it was a beautiful sight after 7 weeks of being landlocked, this had been particularly hard on him !

Bonaire being a little more than 400 nautical miles away,Captain Mark had scheduled a 2 1/2 day crossing . Since we left late in the afternoon on Tuesday, this means that after 3 nights on board, we should be arriving at sunrise, tomorrow morning, that’s in 6 hours according to my watch !

My first night’s watch (03:00-06:00) was no picnic. My body had seemingly totally forgotten what it means to be constantly moving with the waves.....we are sailing down wind the whole way which is nice because you are not pounding against any thing, but the swell rocks Amelie like if she was a tiny nut shell in a bath tub, and that’s the motion that give me that dreaded queaziness. I spend most of the three hours feeling wretched and damp, wondering what on earth appealed to me so much about sea travel.

By Thursday everything seems better, and my perspective changes again. We have had good weather, better than expected, and the sight of the stars at night has been a great reward after all this.

Cptn Mark set up the jennaker to help us on our downwind run, and it worked like a dream !  Amel did a great job in designing this sail to go up, right next to our Genoa (large headsail), but in its own track, meaning that we can raise this  lighter yet similar sized twin sail without too much fuss and without having to take down the headsail!  He was very pleased with how it all went, going up and back down again...and it gave us an extra 1.5 - 2 knots of speed in the 15 knots of wind we were experiencing. 

We are hoping to catch up with a few friends in Bonaire and Meghan is very excited to take part in the rumoured exceptional diving that she can do, right off the boat !  We are staying here only for a few days, waiting for the best weather window before heading out towards Colombia, where we hope to spend Christmas in Cartagena. From what we have read, it sounds like that window will be opening up mid week, as we don’t want to miss our last change to cross before the  trade winds come, in early December. 

Update: We have arrived !  As planned we sailed into the bay  (Kralendijk) just after sunrise. We took a stroll around and so far we are much impressed !  This island is very clean with a charming buildings and a lovely boardwalk along the seaside. Being a Dutch island, there are many people riding on bicycles, something we did not see much in Grenada at all ! We look forward to telling you all about it in the next blog !

Our first view of Bonaire, Kralendijk Bay

Saturday 15 November 2014

Meghan On Amélie-October-November 2014

Well, unless you want me to talk about how I walk to the grocery store and come back everyday or how I wake up, do school and then sit around for the rest of the day, I have pretty much ran out of things to say so this blog will mostly be pictures. This blog is a bit later than most of my blogs are but it combines October and beginning of November. This will also be (hopefully) my last blog I do of Grenada since we are getting a bit tired of this boatyard and are getting ready to leave soon. 

Have a Boat-tacular Halloween!(Most of the following pictures in this category are taken by Lisa, SV Daydreamer) 
First of all, let’s talk about Halloween costumes. If you went online and researched costume shop in Grenada, it would come up with question marks saying: “that is unavailable” in one of those irritating monotone voices you hear on a commercial call. Down here, almost no one (except for cruisers) even know what Halloween is so you don’t really have the option of either buying your costume or making your costume (you have to make it). My costume was fairly easy to make since all I had to use were my yellow shirt, my green shorts, our dreadlocks hat (hair that many rasta men have), ears (that we actually found in a little store) and paint for my whiskers but many of my friends had to be very creative in how they made with costumes. Here are some examples:

Jellyfish made out of mosquito nets,
tissue paper, paper plates and lego blocks

Halloween girl with garbage bag dress accessory and
zombie with cut and painted shirt and shorts

Frankeinstein with full on makeup and attachable bolts
and minion with hand made glasses

(Almost) everyone and I especially love the two little
robots in front with duck tape arms, tin foiled box
bodies and real electric parts on the bodies

On the 26th of October, there was a kids Halloween party at Secret Harbour Marina. I have to say, for people who just learned what Halloween was last year, the marina put that party together pretty well! They had spider webs (fake) hung everywhere with cartoon zombies hanging on the walls and lots of cool games to win candy with. There was even Halloween style twister with the “put your left hand on ghost” thing which my friend and I mastered with
an award of a full sized “3 Musketeers” chocolate bar! There was even a surprise foam blower that was probably the highlight of that party. Let’s just say my whiskers and painted nose were gone, gone by the time I got out of there! I know that Matthew especially enjoyed the trampoline and full-sized bouncy castle!

Three days later on the 29th, the kids had an early trick or treating. We all set out in dinghies and went to designated boats that said they would give out candy. It is a bit different than normal trick or treating in a few ways and the same in others. It is definitely the same with costumes and candy but either than that, it is quite different. When we drive up to boats, it is really wavy (especially in the open bays like Calivigny Island) and so to grab on to boats to get your treat, the front person has to grab on and hold on tight to something solid while the driver has to put the engine in neutral because you probably won’t have much luck with receiving candy if you drift forward to the anchor chain! Meanwhile, while all this is happening the others are tripping over each other with the waves trying to get candy without falling in while calling out: “Trick or Treat!”. Also, here is a sentence you probably never heard in your trick or treating that we heard quite a few times in ours: “Here catch this candy! (sploosh!) Oops! Well, at least the fish will enjoy it!.” When we came back from trick or treating, we were walking down the marina docks with bags full of candy in hand and very wet from getting “dinghy-bummed” (when water splashes on you in the dinghy)! After that there was an adult Halloween party that some of us older kids were allowed to join in for the dance party. It was the best time ever dancing the night away!

We haven't really mastered the technique of graciously parking many dinghies!

After all the social Halloween parties, on the 31st, we just celebrated Halloween as a family. We got these really good Halloween food recipes off the internet and agreed on a good Halloween movie to watch: The Nightmare Before Christmas. Overall, it was a pretty good Halloween!

Now, the rest of the blog will be pictures! Until next time!

School pictures at Prickly Bay

Our neighbour!
Lunar eclipse right above the hill at 5am!

Disability sports day at St. George's University
Look who got to light and carry her brother's birthday cake!