July 14-19, 2011... Kralendijk, Bonaire

Hard to believe we've been here almost a week.  We walked through town, kayaked, and snorkeled the reefs.  To preserve the coral, there is no anchoring anywhere in Bonaire, so all cruising boats must either pick up one of the 42 moorings off town or go to a marina.  Boats do come and go, but many stay for months during hurricane season as the island is so far south.  We were glad a mooring was available for us.  There are still some -- seems there are about 30 cruising boats here on any day.  It is an international group.  Our neighbors are Dutch, German, and British.  Down the anchorage there are some American, French, Canadian, and even a Brazilian boat.  

Diving is big here, and many of the reef / wreck attractions are so deep, they are only for divers.  Snorkelers looking to find cool stuff must make a little more effort.  We’ve snorkeled three different locations so far -- one off the beach near the airport, and two off Klein Bonaire, a smaller island a half mile away.  All three were great, though the fish and coral are definitely better at Klein.  Not only are all the fish HUGE, but there are millions of them.  And the coral formations are really varied.  We’ve seen fish we haven’t seen anywhere else in the Caribbean like the white-spotted filefish (which is bright orange and brown) and the midnight parrotfish (had to be over two feet long).  We’ve also seen turtles (several swimming around our boat too) and French angelfish as well as the usual suspects that you’ll see on most reefs, like pufferfish, chromis, wrasses, parrotfish, trumpetfish, damselfish, butterflyfish, bar jacks, schoolmaster snappers, Spanish hogfish and sergeants major.  Its a bit overwhelming -- but after each outing, you can’t wait till the next one.  Good thing we have the time!

Kralendijk, Bonaire:  12d09.186’N  68d16.744’W

July 11-14, 2011... Passage to Bonaire

Monday morning leaving St Thomas was uneventful...the events started that afternoon as we met squalls moving towards Puerto Rico.  Then overnight into Tuesday morning, more squalls.  So we were wet and tired as we tried to get the boat stabilized in the 30+ knot winds.  Tuesday blossomed into a beautiful day and the sailing was pleasant and easy.  Same for Tuesday night and we were able to get some needed sleep.  The moon was full and the water was calm.  Wednesday we were pretty refreshed and continued on our way.  By this time we were 300 miles from St Thomas and had only seen one other boat the whole time.  The Caribbean can be a very empty sea.  The only life we saw were some sea birds and flying fish. 

It was pretty exciting to be closing in on our destination and Wednesday evening’s was a beautiful sunset.  We took longer watches that night and before dawn Thursday we had Bonaire in sight.  Just as the sun was coming up, we had ANOTHER squall.  This time it was a complete white-out so we just pointed the boat away from the island till it blew through.  Puttering into the mooring field, we had yet another rainstorm (this is the island where it never rains, supposedly...) so we circled till it stopped, and then picked up our mooring in front of Kralendijk.  We made it!!  420 miles.  The crew voted the most valuable player award to the autopilot, without which, the voyage would have been much more difficult and unpleasant.  First runner up was the chartplotter -- again, keeping track of where you are when there are no visual references can be pretty tricky, but so important when your destination is a small speck of land in a big sea.  

July 10, 2011... Leaving St. Thomas

Tomorrow is the day -- we have a weather window for the trip south to Bonaire. We expect the voyage to take between 3-4 days and are hopeful that it will be relaxing and a really special experience. This is the first time we will be at sea for more than 36 hours. We are both nervous, but the boat is ready, we've done laundry, and final provisioning. Keep your fingers crossed for us -- we'll blog again after we've arrived.

June 15-30, 2011... Anhinga Upgrade

Having returned to St Thomas to have new refrigeration installed, we had some time to wait before going into Crown Bay Marina where the work would get done.  We indulged in some of our favorite pastimes while here; veggie rotis at Jen’s, Saturday morning zumba class at Yacht Haven Grande, and toasting the departing megacruise ships (the Oasis and Allure) with banana daiquiris.  This time, we got some photos of Anhinga at the marina with Allure in the background.  Its always interesting to meet some of the ship passengers to see how they like the experience of being one of 5,000.  Its also one of the best people watching opportunities around.

Getting down to business, Reefco met us at the dock the morning we got to the marina, and work began ripping out the old engine-driven refrigeration.  That took more than a day.  Good thing John was on the job to help yank parts and wires out.  Patti did her bit by disappearing and shopping.  When installation began, John the apprentice was again responsible for contorting himself for hard to reach places and to wire the new systems.  (Patti’s little fingers helped out once with a difficult under-the-cabin sole-snaking job...)  Two-and-a-half days later, Anhinga boasted a spanking new DC refrigerator and freezer.

We spent a little more time in the marina to have some watermaker maintenance done, replace some sea strainer parts, work on the generator, and other assorted jobs.  Finally after 10 days there, we left the marina and headed back out to Long Bay, opposite Charlotte Amalie, to get ready for our journey south.