Friday, 28 April 2017

Money Play and The Easter Roady

How cool is this Cuban flavoured bar?!

Show me the money!
Rolled out of bed 6.30ish this morning, being woken earlier to the familiar sound of pitter patter feet across the deck above us, followed soon after by the tinkle on the ground below. Silence and no return.
Conversations could be heard from Lelle's office, down at the workshop. I eventually caught up with Eden, dressed in his "work clothes," getting Lelle to organize his work!
Last week Lelle had given Eden some pants handed down from Luca. The hard-wearing pants were a gift from the Sweedish grandmother with special pockets on the outside that you can put tools and nails in.
Eden was so stoked with his new pants, they seemed to have given him a new sense of motivation and drive. So much so, he'd done a similar disappearing act yesterday. I looked all around their war zone area where two forts have been erected, bucket loads of stone and rock munitions piled on each side. No sign of him there. Walked back through the workshop to the boat where Eli had been doing sanding work. Sure enough, there was a scratch, scratch here, and a scratch scratch there. Climbing up the ladder to take a better look I found him sitting on a cockpit seat, legs crossed lazily, like he was out at sea. The paper mask covered most of his face, pushing his cheeks up so his eyes were partially forced closed. He was covered head to toe in a greyish dust, but still chirpily greeted me with, "Hi Mum, I'm working!"
Lelle with much amusement filled me in later: Eden had rocked up to him first thing in the morning, before breakfast, work clothes on asking for a job!!

I suspect this may have been fuelled somewhat, observing Eli's most recent payment for the hours of work he's put in over the last few weeks. Nothing like the sight of a fistful of cold hard cash in big brother's hands to drive him!
Have to say we're pretty impressed with our seven year old being highly motivated to go out and organize himself his first paying job - long may that last!
Must note we're very proud of Eli also, putting in some long hours in 28- 31 degrees Celsius, after his school work, sweating it out in full overalls and face mask, sanding the inside of a boat - tough job.

Eden and Salem also earnt themselves $2 each swimming out to rescue some mats used as padding for a boat trailer that was about to haul out a boat.
Salem has quickly cottoned onto the exchange rate.  I asked him to do a job for me, even offering to pay him. He negotiated, "Is that in U.S dollars?!" Knowing full well that it's worth more than the kiwi dollar!
Salem and Eden metal detecting at nearby Coco beach.
Nothing found but Salem did find a quarter without
the metal detector!

Easter roady.
With no sign of our long overdue rigging parts and the prospect of spending Easter in the boatyard, I decided it was time to brave up and take on a new challenge: attempting to drive on the right (wrong!) side of the road so we could have a look around.  After replacing the fuel filter, Lelle made the manual transmission ute available.  It was still running rough, most of the road was gravel, only one lane and there was alot more traffic about due to the long weekend, which meant dropping off the side of the road to get past each other! But hey, we made it over two days without one scratch or temporary memory loss over which side I should be on!
Day 1, going South.

The salt pyramids and ponds. The salt harvesting has
been going for over 350 years, a grim beginning
was the use of slaves.
Background is conveyer belt for the solar salt mines,
running atop of the road to the salt mountains. 
The slave huts built in 1850 to serve as sleeping quarters for the slaves working the salt mines.

Every weekend, the workers reportedly walked 7 hours
back to their homes and families in Rincon, making the return trip Sunday.

Definitely not the most
spacious of dwellings.
Very excited to see our first flamingos in the wild.

Where's the surf ?!

Windsurf city, alot of major championships are held

Day 2, heading North.
Bit more greenery.

Looking back down the coast
toward Kralendijk.
Checking out an old plantation.

The tiles look you be made of coral!
Unfortunately, the infamous Washington Slaagbai national park had closed from too much rain.  The roads are predominantly dirt tracks, so I guess it was to preserve them. So we did a little round trip to Rincon, the original settlement.
Rincon was the capital, but with the opening of the
port and all the trading going on there, Kralendijk
took over as the capital.

This well, some say, the water comes
all the way underground from the
Andes Mountains!

Goto Meer salt lake:


Easter camping, not as we know it. 

Thanks for image, "we share Bonaire".
Every Easter the island opens up for camping.  It's my understanding you can go anywhere.  For weeks in advance, people collect up pallets, bits of timber, etc, take them to their preferred site and create dwellings to camp in.  Some have wooden structures on trailers, others have tents under wooden structures, and some have tents!

The rigging saga continues.
Hassling Lelle again this week on the whereabouts of the rigging terminals, he finally got an email reply.. I won't bore you with the details but suffice to say, there were a series of random unfortunate events and miscommunications that occurred. So bizarre, I was glad to have some faith in the Big Guy, knowing He's got our backs and trusting there's a reason for why we're here much longer than we'd planned. Next couple of days were tough though, our faith was definitely being tested, with a number of minor issues. Especially since the freight company was UPS, our previous experience with them and the dodgy one month delay on our last item we'd shipped from Europe.
Things are looking more hopeful, we received a tracking number, as of yesterday morning it had left Puerto Rico (via two stops in Germany, one stop England, one stop U.S!). As opposed to the direct flight we wete promised. Theoretically, it should be in Curacao, our neighbouring island but like Bonaire, still having ties to Holland and not wanting to give up any holidays, they are celebrating "King's Day". Hopefully we will receive the package tomorrow (Friday) because Sunday is another round of all day and night celebrations. Although Monday is not an official holiday, most employers have given up on expecting their employees to turn up anyway!
So, once again, as has been every week for the last 6 weeks or so, we hope that next week will be the big splash.
Even though today Friday is not a holiday, customs were closed so we still are unsure if our goods are on the island. Monday's holiday means nothing will happen till Tuesday.  This gives us three days till our visa runs out which they are currently not wanting to budge regarding any further extensions. Gonna be an interesting week ahead!
Suuz and Eli modelling the
bizarre "Dive man"
contraption left on board!

Thanks for reading. 😊

Thursday, 13 April 2017

3R's: Rigging, Rudder and Removal.

Rigging.. it has arrived! ..Now we're just waiting for the terminals😨.
The one month-or-so delay has in fact been a blessing in disguise, Dave has managed to get a lot more jobs sorted than we expected. On land is usually, much easier than in a roly anchorage and having the resources made available by Lelle has been invaluable.
Also, the wind was real strong last week, we wouldn't have wanted to be heading out into the Caribbean Sea in that.  We also need to do a day sail over to Curacao and spend a few days sorting out some more jobs ie fill gas bottles for cooking!  It seems to always be windier there and anchoring in those winds would not have been pleasant.
During that windy week, our white mosquito net quickly turned a lovely rust-brown colour.  This week's free newspaper revealed the reason being that sands from the Sahara Desert have been getting blown across the Atlantic! Apparently it happens every now and then.
The Saharan flavoured mosquito net!

With three weeks left on our visa, and the terminals still another 1-1&1/2 weeks away, we are trying our upmost not to panic and focus on the jobs we can get done!
Rudder.. the brain drain since we bought the boat 3 years ago: what to do with that gaping hole?

Dave whipped up a design, showed it to Lelle who said we could utilize some bits of stainless steel to cut from, get it all ready, then he could do the welding for us.

The curved stainless part Dave found and was allowed to cut up.

The six curved pieces required for the job.

Welding almost done.

The finished piece,attached to
the tiller arm.

We are massively relieved to find that his design fits well, not affecting movement at all and should minimize any water intake by following seas.  Another job well done by Dave!

The completed work of art.

Removal... with the prospect of the Panama Canal transit looming, we needed to do a test run on the removal of our bowsprit. Removing and stowing it on deck will take the length of our boat down to 43'.  Getting the length under 50'  will then save us US$500!!  That's two weeks of living/eating!

It's out, finally, now to swing it round without
smashing into the boat!
Posing while awaiting
Stowed successfully on deck.

Our challenge was to do it all without leaving the boat because we need to know we can do it at anchor.
If we'd been at anchor on our practice run, we would have given to the sea:
2 spanners
Some pins
1 phone!!
Assessing the situation. 
With Easter here and not on the water yet, I decided to take up Lelle on his earlier offer of borrowing the ute.  So we are going to do a bit of tiki-touring!
Apparently, the island Easter tradition is open camping..but not as we know it.  More on that next time.

Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, 1 April 2017

The Wonderful World of Transport

Apparently speed bumps here are called "donkey kicks"
or, "sleeping policeman." So I'm not sure if this sign is
referring to the upcoming speedbump, or donkey crossing for the random
donkeys that cruise about the island.
Boys out with Lelle and Luca, finding random donkeys.
along the way. 

Land based navigation.
When an American man heard from a newly acquired friend that we were at the yard, he decided to call by and introduce himself, as they were to be flying to NZ's South Island for a sight seeing holiday and were keen for any inside information. A week or so later, he and his wife turned up to take us for an afternoon grocery run. Reason being, they'd spent many years cruising the U.S coast, they would meet new people who'd offer the same kindness, and appreciated it so much they wanted to pay it forward, so to speak.  We stopped at two grocery stores, one new we weren't aware of. Tried to get as much bulky, heavy items as possible, that would normally be a mission carrying on my back while biking. Also checked out a new hardware store we were unaware of. 
Take a left here to go to budget marine!
Along the way, they pointed out landmarks to look for when needing to make turns down certain streets, to which I still hear in my head as I bike around the island! When I can only take a backpack of goods, every second day, or even daily for that matter, this trip was hugely invaluable.  
The 8 litre challenge and other two wheeled incidents.
One unfortunate drawback with translation occurred from the above mentioned grocery trip, though. Our google tranlation app wasn't working, so Dave asked a shop attendant if the cheap milk was indeed, milk! To which she replied, yes. Hours later back at home, exhausted from so much shopping, looking forward to a nice cup of tea, thought I'd try my rooibus tea I'd just discovered and was hanging out for. On the first gulp I thought, uh oh, it must be a fruit tea. However when Dave had his normal tea, he also made a similar remark. We tried the milk. Bit different. Had another go at my translation app...turns out we had just bought 9 litres of buttermilk!! Not sure if it's always sour, or because it was near the use-by date, but it was not enjoyable by any count. 
The milk lady is ready to ride!
Next day, motivation fuelled by the need for a decent cup of tea or coffee, I loaded up my backpack with eight 1 litre milk cartons and did the hard, hot, very heavy cycle into town. 
After spending a short amount of time in the air-conditioned supermarket waiting for my refund, I quickly deduced to give my back a break by only carting 5 bottles home as I was too stuffed to lug that amount again! Suffice to say, our cup of tea was far superior and I didn't do much more for the rest of the day!
The next incident ocurred between multiple errands. Almost at the supermarket, a peculiar noise arose from the bike and would not stop. Pulling over to investigate, a whimpering groan escaped from my lungs a little louder than anticipated, as the realisation sunk in: puncture = long walk home in midday sun. At least, I cheered myself, the puncture occurred before the supermarket, not after. Walking for over an hour or so is doable, not so much hauling a few kilos on my back. This probably sounds all a bit over the top, but it's amazing how the heat just zaps you. What would normally be average tasks suddenly become so much more challenging!
Look who I found on a bike ride home! He was frozen
there for a good 10 minutes..seemed like he was thinking, "busted, act dead and they'll carry on!" 
Freeze iguana! This is in one of the busier parts of town, lots of bars, restaurants and the moorings.

Hopefully, this will be the final in the string of unfortunate wheeled events..Lelle gave us an old foldable bike a cruiser left here years ago that was quickly deterriorating in the salt air. The frame, one brake and the carrier were about the only usable items.
The foldable bike in all its glory!
She's got good bones!
We have managed to source a seat, pedals, tyres, tubes, a gear cable, and a beer crate for a carrier..possibly making me look like a bit of a crusty sea dog bum with a drinking problem!! At least Eli was able to repair the bike to a very usable state. We are stoked that we now have a stowable bike for future use. 

As the picture foretells, my first grocery outing on it, was definitely a test for the bike and myself! Having been spoilt with the large 26" wheels and useable gears of the other bike we're currently borrowing, the 20" wheeled, no gears cycle was another workout altogether! Then, of course, I got carried away with unrealistic ideas of just how much I could carry. Turns out a box of 24 beers, 5 litres of milk, a pineapple, 1/2 kg of cornflakes, 2 cans of chk, a large can of fruit, a can of flyspray and a dozen wraps is probably pushing it.  Not to mention what I was carrying on my back, plus my weight, which we don't really need to divulge in any further! The poor tyres were not looking too flash, being squashed down to half their normal size and I ended up walking the last few blocks, feeling sorry for the bikes' first grocery outing - but we made it! Extremely overheated, but without punctures.

Yay for foldable bikes! 
Since this writing, I've had another epic walk home, this time with a heavy load and a seriously flat, punctured tyre! 
Punctures are a constant issue as the island is inundated with thorny bushes and trees that drop their gnarly thorns everywhere. The constant wind sends the thorns scattering and even when the bushes die, they send out tiny seedlings, their thorns leaving irreparable damage. It's like they're immortal almost; prolific, that's for sure. Actually, alot like the cruise ships..
Brace yourselves, here they come!

Cruise ship mania
Currently, there is one ship every second day (sometimes every day). At other times, two on the same day. One ship had 6000 passengers alone, not including staff on it while the "smaller" one moored on the North Pier, but essentially almost next door, had only 3000!

The islands' population is only 19.4, 000 (I pity the .4 person! - Got these stats off a website, I would assume they meant 19,400). So it's easy to tell when a ship or two are at the dock.
The island itself is only 113.5sq miles, only slightly bigger than NZ's Great Barrier island @110sq miles! (284.899sq kms).
What I can't understand is that the ship company, according to one local I spoke to, only has to pay this island US$3 pp to come ashore. As opposed to Alaska, where they have to pay US$50 pp. Surely they could help out these small islands a bit more.
Tourist ventures the small looking boat
between ship and van called the sea cow, painted
like a cow and has a very loud, amusing cow mooing
To make matters worse, in my mind a least, they use between 140-150 tonnes of "bunker" fuel per day.
The Club Med looks quite spectacular leaving port
with her sails out.
According to, bunker oil is less useful than other types of oil, contains relatively high amounts of pollutants, particularly sulfur; it is literally the botom of the barrel, the only thing denser than bunker oil is the residue which is mixed with tar for paving roads and sealing roofs. Bunker oil is not the only fuel they can use, it is used because it is dirt cheap. "Many oil spills have involved bunker oils, leading some environmental organizations to call for a ban on the substance. Because it is so dense, it is extremely difficult to clean up and it easily coats animals and shorelines."
How is it that cruise ships can get away with paying next to nothing to overtake an island's existence and be pumping out so much crude waste?
Spot the cruise ships from behind the buildings. I
suspect people on the top deck may be able to see to
the other side of the island. 
I think they should at least be held accountable to invest a regular contribution into the health, education and basic living necessities to these island communities they are so happy to visit.  
Hopefully their tourist ventures are helping the economy.
Cargo ship from Holland, while Venezuelan boat in
foreground brings hay! - They also do regular drop
offs for fruit, veg and palm trees.
As you might have noticed by the amount of photos I have, I am quite fascinated by all manner of ships in their different shapes, sizes and uses.  Same goes for cruise ships, I just have a bit of a love-hate thing for them!
Spot the cruise ship with sails (normally) coming into harbour. 
I suppose you're wondering if any work has been getting done while I've been skiving off on my bike photographing boats and views..well, I'm glad you asked! The rigging is still not here but the swage machine for doing the job is, so here's hoping next week. In the meantime, aside from a few cockpit finishing bits, the main focus has been our three newly acquired flexible water tanks. First were the repairs, then figuring a place to store them securely without them sloshing..I once read of a family sailing, the boat had heeled to one side and the pressure on the full water tank stowed under a settee, but not strapped down, had broken through and flooded their saloon. It's bad enough trying to keep water on the outside let alone losing most of your precious drinking water!
I digress, alot of gear was heaved out, and in need of new homes, including a tank we are now converting to a holding tank. Dave has been figuring out the plumbing plan and in the process of linking all the tanks (except the new holding tank, obviously!). The boys had another half day out as rescue team for the sailing regatta, getting to drive an IRB this time. They came back raving about how nice and comfy it is compared to our solid riding origami dinghy!
The 3 boys on the rescue job: a dog and a fishing line
wrapped around the competitors' feet after he'd
Boys were pretty stoked first time as rescue team to drive the green pirogue around! 
Lelle has been keeping the two big boys busy also, doing some jobs on a boat for some pocket money.  He also took the boys out for a fishing sail. Here's their photos of their recent escapades:

The sailing club.
Lelle, Eden and Luca.

Eli and Eden, cooling down with the bow waves. Klein Bonaire in front. 
Nice shot by Eli.

That's all from us for this week.
Pasa bon dia! (Have a nice day! )
P.s thanks for reading :)