October 3-11, 2010 -- Bonaire Regatta & 10/10/10

Click on the thumbnail for a map during this time period

Bonaire Regatta

It has been anything but a quiet week here in Lake Woe-Bonaire, our (temporary) home island.  The 43rd Bonaire sailing regatta ran from Oct. 3 through Oct. 9, and it was an interesting event, although the weather didn't really cooperate, since there was a lot of rain and a lack of wind.  There were lots of events that had little or nothing to do with sailing.  There was a walkathon.  The 10th annual swim to Klein Bonaire.  Kayak race around Klein.  An "All Nations Flag Parade" with flags from 18 different countries.  Mr. and Ms. Teen Regatta contest.  Lotsa bands and dance groups performing at night.  Many booths set up in the park area near customs -- some with food, some with adult beverages, some with trinkets and jewelry, and a surprising number with a kind of bingo/slot-machine-type game for prizes such as toilet paper (wrapped in ribbons) or several boxes of breakfast cereal or laundry soap.  In general, the park area was filled with locals of all ages partaking in the "country fair" atmosphere.  The gambling was interesting.  Participants purchased one or more cards.  Each card had three pictures on it, running horizontally.  Along with cards, each participant got a suitable number of clothes pins.  The director of the contest, when everyone was ready, shuffled a special deck of cards, had someone cut, and then began peeling off the cards one by one, announcing the contents of each card.  "Six carrots", maybe, but said in Spanish and/or Papiamento.  Anyone with a picture of six carrots put a clothes pin on the picture.  First person to completely fill in a card with pins won the prize.  The old local ladies loved it.

We got up early to go see the swim to Klein.  Took the dinghy down to Eden beach, and ended up volunteering to be one of the safety boats that stood by to rescue folks who had overestimated their ability to swim that far.  (We were issued bologna sandwiches and T-shirts as official members of the safety squad.)  There were lots of rescues, because a nearby squall kicked up the waves and made the contest pretty miserable for the contestants.  We had pictured just a few extremely fit individuals in the contest, but it turned out that the affair was -- like many of the events of the week -- quite, um, informal.  Many had fins and/or masks and/or snorkels.  There were out-of-shape middle-aged ladies from the cruise ship that was docked at Kralendijk, who, apparently on a whim, and presumably well-aware of the opportunity for rescue, discovered early that they needed help.  There were pre-teen kids out with parents that needed rescue.  There were young men to who made it all the way out and then got cramps on the way back.  One of the dive shop employees -- a young fit man -- told Barb later that he was the last to sign up -- number 461 -- and the last one to finish.  No mask, fins, or snorkel.  Over and back, and very nearly drowned in all the waves.

We had a couple of great meals at the booths.  A Dutch resident helped us order at an Indonesian booth where everything had a strange name.  In addition to explaining the foods, he mentioned that there are a number of Indonesians living on the island as a consequence of history.  When slavery was abolished, the Dutch turned to their Indonesian colonies for indentured servants to work in the Salt Works.  They have been part of the culture of Bonaire ever since.

Walkathon went right past our mooring

Barb grabbed a few pics of the Flag Parade as they passed

Here is Bonaire ...

... Canada ...

... Norway -- Er han virkelig en typisk nordmann? ...

... Swedes (behind the Norwegians, of course :-) ) ...

... USA ...

... Venezuela (with a large Carnival-bedecked group)

Regatta Royalty

Ready to photograph (and rescue at the Klein Swim)

Warm-ups just before the "race"

Look at the number of youngsters!

They are off!

Not all were in a hurry to begin...

Pack on the way to Klein

Turn-around boat at Klein got pretty crowded

Finish line for the sailboat races was near our boat

Part of the Regatta-related sense of holiday

Sid and Manuela (Paradise) flew back in from Curacao in order to crew for Randy and Laurae on their multihull.  They totally dominated their class in each of their races, and won first prize in the category.  We went to the wrap-up ceremony to cheer their award, and also photographed the Ms/Mr Teen Regatta winners and a couple of the musical entertainers.

Entertainers ...

... before the award ceremony

Barb w/ Mr. Teen Regatta

Ms. Teen Regatta

The Multi-hull winners!

The regatta included optimist and sunfish races as well as larger sailboats.  It also included "micro" sailboats:  model sailboats of two types -- with remote control and with lines attached.  And wind surfing races for many different age groups.  And strangest of all, wind surfing stunt competition.  Strange, because there wasn't nearly enough wind, but the contest was held anyway.  How, you may wonder.  A wave runner was employed to tow the competitors past the judges' stand.  The competitor let loose of the tow line just as he was being whipped along on the outside of a curve, and then did his trick.  Noble experiment.  Wonder if they'll ever try it again.  The judge's stand was just down the mooring field from us, and I caught a few pictures of the silliness.  With no wave to jump and no wind to keep the contestant afloat and moving after the "trick", the results were pretty pitiful.  Here is one sequence, edited for brevity:

First they head out away from the judges...

... and then swing back around and when right in front the jet ski swings to the left in order to "hurl" the contestant

... who has no wave to jump nor wind to help ...

... but he does a minor dipsy-doodle ..

... and then ...

... falls ...

... down. Whoopty-Do!


October 10, 20010 was a red-letter day for the Netherland Antilles, for that was the official day of its dissolution.  The union is no more.  Of the five countries, Sint Maarten and Curacao became separate countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which means they have considerably more independence than before, while Bonaire, Saba, and St. Eustatius (Statia) became special Dutch municipalities, which means they are much more closely tied to Holland than before.  The changes will be sweeping, but the details are still being worked out, even though the change has been five years in coming.  As it stands right now (but may well change), duties and sales taxes will be eliminated, but will be replaced by a 30+% income tax and a use tax.  Bonaire will switch from Guilders to American dollars as their official currency, beginning in Jan., 2011.  Curacao residents who have been freely coming the 35 miles to Bonaire to visit and/or fish in Bonaire waters will now have to go through customs and immigration for each visit.  There is talk of a considerable increase in spending on such things as education and medical facilities and basic infrastructure, but many of the locals remain skeptical.  All former Government employees were "let go", including lots of Bonaire locals, and talk has it that they are being mostly replaced by Dutch folks.  During the Regatta, when presumably lots of boats needed to be checked-in, the Customs Office was only open for a few hours a day because most officials were in Holland for special training. 

By the way, we changed the courtesy flag on Tusen Takk II and this web page is also headed by the new Bonaire flag.  The old flag had five stars.  Guess what they stood for!

In violation of strict no-anchor laws, zillions of vessels rafted up on Oct. 9 in order to be near the celebration of 10/10/10 which began at midnight with a massive fireworks display.

Raft-up for the 10/10/10 celebration

Other News

The seal on the water pump for the generator failed, and so I had to replace the pump.  (Will order the appropriate seals while in the States and eventually rebuild).

All of the schlepping of scuba tanks up and down the high dock at Yellow Sub Dive Shop irritated my shoulders, and I have ended up with a severe case of bursitis on both sides.  I saw a doctor and a physical therapist and took a prescription anti-inflammation drug for 10 days.  That helped, but I wasn't supposed to take any pain medication at the same time, and my shoulders were killing me at night.  So when the  prescription ran out instead of renewing I just switched to Ibuprofen.  And stopped lifting scuba tanks, or much of anything else.  So Barb takes the tanks up to the dock and gets shop employees to schlep the tanks.  And Barb is now the official "cranker" of the hand winch that we use each night to lift the dinghy out of the water and up to the rub rail.  Thank goodness we got a two-speed winch.  I used to crank the dinghy into position with 30 cranks; it takes Barb 90 cranks of the lower-geared direction, but of course that direction doesn't require as much force.  Barb is getting positively "hard body" from her new duties, and I, meanwhile, in pitiful attempt to compensate, have taken over dish-washing duties.

 My shoulders got so sore that I could not pull myself into the dinghy after a dive.  Fortunately, a "neighbor" -- Tom and Bonnie (Toujours) -- had a neat "boarding ladder" and have loaned it to us for the duration of our stay in Bonaire.  Something else for us to purchase when we are in the States.

My right knee has also been bothering a lot lately, and so one of the first things that will happen when we hit the States is to see the doctor who fixed my left knee last year.  This year he gets to consider three of my aging parts:  two shoulders and a knee.  I am hopeful that the knee can be fixed and the shoulders can be coaxed back into "normality" with the appropriate anti-inflammation drugs and/or physical therapy.  Stay tuned.

Moving the drive gear from the bad pump to the good

"Sea-Step" boarding strap by C-Level. Works great!



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