Wednesday, December 20, 2006


We've arrived in Bonaire after a couple of downwind day passages where we got full use out of our spinnaker -- a rare event in recent years.

Since leaving Margarita, we spent a couple days at Isla Las Tortugas waiting for a strong northerly swell to die down. It had prevented us from anchoring at the west end of Margarita and caused us to make an unscheduled overnight passage to Las Tortugas. There, in a well protected anchorage at Caya Herrandos (Horseshoe Key) we waited for the swell to settle so that it wouldn't give us a problem on passage to Los Roques.

Our passage to Los Roques was overnight December 4th. We entered behind the fringing reef in the southeast and motored 12 miles to the main town on El Gran Roque in the northeast of the islands. We checked in with the Gardacosta and, to our surprise, we were informed that boats in 'transito' (already cleared out) could stay only 48 hours. Since no one checked us during our stay we would have been better off not checking in and pleading ignorance.

We spent 48 hours in the anchorage of Francisquis, near El Gran Roque, and did three dives at nearby islands. We then travelled to the west of the group and snuck in a couple more days and two more dives.

We sailed on west to the Aves group where there are two small atolls about 12 miles apart. We spent three nights at Aves de Barlovento (Windward) and then one more at Aves de Sotovento (Leeward). On December 14th we sailed in Bonaire.

We were looking forward to getting to Bonaire -- an island we visited nine years ago and which is world-renowned for its diving. It also represented civilization after more than two weeks in largely uninhabited places.

Bonaire takes such care over its reef that no anchoring is permitted. They provide 40 moorings off the town and arriving boats must use these. We were concerned in case they were all occupied but we were reassured when in VHF range to hear than there were plenty available. The moorings cost $10 per night and we're planning to stay through New Year so it's expensive. We also have to pay $25 for a scuba permit for the National Park.

Since arriving, we've eaten out, been grocery shopping, visited Budget Marine, and made four dives. We hope to fit a good many more dives in before we leave. The Christmas lights are up so we are all set.

A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to all.