May 1-18, 2011 -- Bonaire

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Farewell Bonaire

Alas, our allotted 90 days are exhausted, and we have to leave. Whimper. Sniffle. Sob.  Tusen Takk II is in a marina for the first time in three months -- we came in to equalize the batteries and to collect a partial refund of the payment we made on a "duty free" item as a "yacht in transit".  Strange system.  We had to pay nearly $200 dollars to get the package, and we only get $100 back as we depart.  Customs and the shipping company both come to the boat -- which must be in a marina -- in order to verify that we (a) have checked out of the country and (b) have indeed installed the part (as opposed to having sold it to someone on the island).  The "part" was a membrane for our watermaker.  Custom's paper work said it was a "pump".  So Mr. Customs agent and I went on down into the engine room and I showed him the watermaker and explained that the membrane had been installed into that long white pipe that was barely visible behind the rest of the unit.  Despite the inability to see the part, and despite the discrepancy in the descriptions, when we emerged back up to the cockpit the shipping company representative was authorized to hand me an envelope that contained a crisp new $100 bill.  (After 10/10/10 Bonaire adopted the US dollar as its official currency, so the island is suddenly awash with crisp new $100 dollar bills.  They may be objects of suspicion elsewhere, but they are very common here.  As are dollar coins, by the way.  Whereas  USA citizens have generally balked at using dollar coins, they are very common and very appreciated here, since they apparently roughly match one of the coins previously available in the Dutch Guilder system.)

Venezuelan fruitstand on the shore of Kralendijk

One of the many things we will miss about Bonaire is the opportunity for regular exercise.   We joined a health club on the first day we were on the island, and we exercised faithfully almost every morning.   First, cardio work on a bike or gentle stepper-machine, and then weights.   Barb would often move from weights to solo yoga when my lifting lasted longer than hers.   For the last several weeks there was a yoga instructor whose class Barb eagerly joined.

A few days after our arrival in Bonaire 90 days ago, Bill and Mary (Orion) arrived.  Stan and Maggie (Inner Wisdom) were already here.  Bill had a birthday on one of the first Sundays after their arrival, and we all got together on their boat to eat take-out and celebrate.  That was so much fun that we decided that every Sunday was someone's birthday, and so we should get together and have take-out.  We rotated host boats and between ribs, pizza and chinese.  We had our last get-together last Sunday, just before Orion's departure to points west.

Bill and Mary, returning from Customs after checking out of the island

Mary and Maggie aboard Orion

Stan and Maggie in the cockpit of Inner Wisdom

Inner Wisdom in the mooring field

You won't find a friendlier or more accommodating staff in the Caribbean than those at Harbour Village Marina.  Always pleasant, always bending over backwards to please, yet always professional.  Their latest "extra effort" involved our propane tanks.  A tank went empty shortly after we got in to the Marina.  When I finally went up to the fly bridge to change to the second tank, I discovered that it was also empty.  Clearly, we had arrived in the ABC's with an empty tank, and I had forgotten to fill it.  In between discovering the first empty and the second, Barb called the Marina and asked if there were any possibility to get the tank refilled that day.  She was told that it normally takes two days, and so Barb said thanks and hung up, thinking to herself that we would never exhaust the second tank before arriving in Grenada.  Then, when it turned out the second tank was also empty, she called back and asked if we could find out where the tanks are sent to be filled, since we had no propane and needed to get them filled that day or delay our departure.  They explained that they do the filling right at the Marina, and told her to bring the tanks over.  Shortly thereafter, the staff came walking down the dock, delivering our two (filled) tanks!

Landmark lighthouse at the Marina is being totally redone in order to become a residence and/or rental facility

Tusen Takk II at her berth in Harbour Village Marina

At one of our sessions at the Wednesday night bridge club, we met a friendly couple from the Netherlands who are here on a brief holiday.  They suggested that we get together again soon for an afternoon of bridge, and so we invited them to the boat on Saturday afternoon.  They brought along their bridge paraphernalia, which not only included the card holders and bidding cards, but also a special scoring sheet that, briefly, permits one to know if one has done better or worse than average for a given strength of hand, and which awards points accordingly.  It was an enjoyable afternoon, and we regret passing so quickly out of the lives of Wim and Dori.

New friends Wim and Dori and their duplicate bridge parphernalia

As we prepared to depart for the Venezuelan offshore islands, where no supplies are available, Barb did some power shopping with Maggie, who graciously offered to take her around in Inner Wisdom's rented auto.  They stopped in seven grocery stores to provision, and yet there were still many outstanding items on Barb's list, albeit an enhanced list supplemented by the "wish list" of  Pam and Don (Dorothy Ellen), who have already been in the Aves for a month.  Next day, Barb used a taxi to complete the shopping while Chuck attempted to clean up the mess on the boat caused by the many last-minute projects before departure.  What kind of projects?  Well, Chuck noticed that the raw water pump on the generator was leaking.  Removal of the front panel of the sound-insulation box revealed that the "fan" belt was also loose.  (And also that a portion of the insulating material was coming loose from the front panel -- so a "side task" was to re-glue the foam back to the panel.)  Removal of the pump revealed that a number (four!) of the wings on the impeller were missing.  (How did it ever do such a good job of keeping the genset cool???)  So that meant removing the top and the side of the box, in order to obtain access to the end of the cooling manifold, where little pieces of impeller like to  gather together to celebrate their freedom.  But the hoses cannot be removed from the manifold without first partially draining the anti-freeze mixture.  When all of that had been taken care of, it was time to deal with the loose belt.  Wrenches wouldn't fit -- the back panel had to be removed, and poor crippled old man with bad knee and bad shoulders had to crawl back behind the muffler in order to crouch down and loosen the bolts so that the alternator could be rotated to tighten the belt.  This latter task was so predictably uncomfortable, that I actually stalled by first rebuilding a couple of raw water pumps that had been set aside and labeled "leaking -- needs rebuilding".  Anyway, there were tools spread from one end of the boat to the other, and so there was plenty to keep me busy while Barb shopped.

The Cruise Ship Season, is over, and yet there is a cruise ship at the main dock.  What's the deal?  Turns out the ship is owned by the Scientology Cult, and that they make regular stops at Bonaire.  The entire passenger list is composed of Scientologists, who when making their relatively rare appearances on shore, tend to dress in all black.

Scientology Cruiseship "Freewinds"


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