10 June 2004
Bonaire N12.0957 W068.1694
This week Rene returned to the US with several purposes in mind. First was to visit with our son Judson and his wife Jamie and our two grandchildren, Taylor and Trevyn. Judson only recently returned from Iraq and is now stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. And second to pick up our other granddaughter ZoŽ, who will be living on the boat with us for the next year. We are excited about the prospect of providing ZoŽ with a life changing experience or her providing us with one. This part of the trip also gave Renť the opportunity to visit with her family in North Carolina. And lastly to pick up some small boat parts and conduct a little business while stateside.
I, on the other hand, am staying on Shiraz. The mooring facilities in Bonaire are the most substantial I have seen but you cannot leave your boat unattended. Bonaire sits below the hurricane zone outlined by most insurance policies and although we are several months from the season the wind does reverse occasionally and you can find your stern too close to shore. In fact, the first row of moorings can be very close to shore and the local coast guard will alert these boats to move should they receive word from Curacao of a wind reversal headed our way. Anyway, this leaves plenty of time to do boat jobs and there are no end to the things that need to be looked at, repaired, changed, polished, fixed, made, altered, improved, measured, recorded, filled, cleaned, and just maintained. If you look at the maintenance log you will see only the highlighted items where the boats primary systems are replaced rebuilt or maintained. Everyday there are many little jobs that keep one busy and challenged.
Take for example, just the other day the bilge pumps didn't seem to be very efficient and so I tore them apart and looked at every pump, strainer and blew through every line, a dirty task leaving you washing your face and brushing your teeth for a long time afterwards. There was dirt in the strainers and something was blocking the hose and it took all my breath to clear the obstruction. A few days later the sink stopped up and I had just disassembled that particular sink before leaving PLC. After a little work with one of those new style plungers and the sink was running free again. Then suddenly the generator overheats after running two hour this morning. What's going on here? I checked the strainer, checked the coolant level, checked the oil which I had only recently changed twice. ( I did it twice because the oil was too black after running it and checking for leaks. I found that the suction hose I used to drain the oil with was partially blocked and after correcting this all the oil was removed the second time.) Why would the generator stop? I had just checked all five strainers and the water was clear. What could it be?
It had to be the heat exchanger. I could not blow into the heat exchanger from the inflow end but could from the out flow end. It was a one way stoppage so to speak. The heat exchanger sits below the engine and in order to remove it and take it to the local radiator shop to be boiled out you need to lift the generator from the locker that it is in, a task accomplished once with a mechanic and a chain hoist and one I didn't want to undertake. The answer was to reverse the hoses so that the inflow became the out flow. Okay so it works and the generator runs but what could be stopping up the heat exchanger. When I disassembled the water terminal block that also acts as sacrificial anode for the generator the gasket material was non existent. I remember when I last put it on there was a sufficient amount. Upon careful reading of the manual I discovered that the material should not be silicone bases and I suspect that it may have deteriorated and plugged up the heat exchanger. Well for the third time I now had to tear apart the coolant box and make a new gasket using 3M 5200 quick set a material that the manufacturer uses. So we will see if that works. Whew, I don't want bore you with any more of the details but I am sitting here on the boat alone.
High aloft the neighboring Camperdown you can see Shiraz affixed to Bonaire's' unique double mooring system. Maybe from the color of the water you can see where the reef is at the stern of the boat where the water depth starts to fall off to ninety feet by mid channel.
The camera work done for many of the most recent logs has been complements of Cindy and Al O'Neil aboard Camperdown. We have been traveling with Camperdown most of the time since Antigua in March of 2003. Their new digital camera has provided us with an array of wonderful pictures, mostly thanks to Cindy. The above photo was courtesy of Al when he was up the mast to install a new antenna for his VHF radio.
During our most recent sail to Bonaire we decided to drag out the asymmetrical spinnaker we have onboard. We have not used it before and this was the perfect opportunity since we were headed downwind and it would fly in front of the boat with at least two hundred square feet of sail more than our typical jib. I had practiced hauling the sail while at the dock in Puerto La Cruz and thought I had it figured out. We left the anchorage early giving us plenty of time. The wind was 10-15 knots and the seas from 3-5 ideal for this sail. I hoisted the red and blue sail made of light weight material and rigged the lines and it went up as planned. It billowed in front of the boat and looked beautiful and for the most part it worked as planned. The problem was that with the mainsail still up it would smother the spinnaker making it collapse on occasion. If I had put a reef in the main or taken it down altogether everything would have been okay but I was greedy and wanted as much canvas out as possible. Finally the spinnaker became entangled in the spreaders. Well this will ruin a good day for sure. I conclude that if I let the spinnaker down a little I could untangle it and roll it up for the day. I loosened the halyard and eased it down a few feet when it became apparent that I also needed to loosen the sheet to get it off the spreaders. So foolishly I let go momentarily to loosen the sheets and whoosh half the sail is in the water and under the boat before I can get back to the halyard to stop this pending catastrophe. Shiraz lost about four knots dragging the sail but fortunately nothing got caught up in the running gear. After a lot of heavy lifting (damn sails are heavy when wet) we got the sail back onboard and back in the bag. But you know I cant' wait to try it again. This is a trip of discovery and I just discovered that down wind sailing is a lot different. Well the point of the story is that the sail tore off the radar reflector which was put up by cable ties that had no doubt been in the sun too long. This gave Rene an opportunity to go up the mast and put the new one on. Rene gets this opportunity because I am able to hoist her but she is unable to crank the wench to lift me up.
30 June 2004
Bonaire N12.0957 W068.1694
Bonaire's primary industry is tourism and the main attraction is scuba diving. The island supports fourteen to sixteen different dive operations and a number of independent dive boats. Before you dive one of the more than 57 sites you must take an orientation class (cost $10) regarding the specific rules and regulations for diving in Bonaire. Restrictions include no gloves while diving (this discourages you from touching anything), no chemical lights, no feeding the fish, no spear fishing, no loud noises and a whole list of other no's all well intentioned to protect the reefs that surround the island.
During the weeks of June 5th and June 12th, Bonaire sponsored the 8th Annual Bonaire Dive Festival. A catchy title don't you think. The festival activities included a fish identification contest, a fashion show, a treasure hunt, the Taste of Bonaire, an underwater cleanup and was highlighted by a presentations by Philippe Cousteau, grandson of the famous Jacques Cousteau . No doubt these festivities are promulgated to attract off season tourist and encourage them to spend money. The registrants of the treasure hunt, which included cruisers Steve and Rene, received a free T-shirt. Tourists bureaus are run primarily by resort people who fail to see the values of the cruisers who visit the island since we don't stay in hotels and eat every meal out. We do however buy groceries, attend scuba schools, spend a fortune on freight forwarding, utilize the local machine shops and repair facilities, buy copious amounts of material from Budget Marine, rent cars and do lots of other touristy stuff.
Anyway the treasure hunt consisted of finding 11 underwater clues which had to be deciphered each time to find the next clue location. Since we (Camperdown and Shiraz) have our own dinghy, we were able to make it to all the sites were we snorkeled or dove to the underwater clue. Camperdown spent a great deal more time and effort in this endeavor then we aboard Shiraz due to the fact that Rene was back in the US for most of the two week contest period. With the amount of effort it took to solve the puzzle, there was no way a typical tourists could possibly win the contest. After collecting all the letters and numbers, we were stumped until we consulted local dive books and discovered the letters and numbers spelled out Maria Bahn 1912. This ship wreck is not mentioned in any of the maps or pamphlets passed out by the tourist bureaus or the dive shops. To top it off several of the references to this sunken boat were spelled differently in the text we checked. In the end, the four of us won four of the six prizes given that night, things such as 6 boat dives, a BCD, Yokelights, fish ID books, hats, free air and yes more T-shirts. It was almost embarrassing, well almost, but we did take home the gold and proved the old adage that hard work pays off. There was no complaint from the organizer who was just happy to have some correct answers in the box.
ZoŽ is pictured here with our friends Cindy and Al O'Neil from the boat Camperdown on the night of the festivities closing the dive festival and announcing the treasure hunt winners.
"Seaschool" is one of the classes we have during Shiraz home schooling. With ZoŽ now onboard we start each weekday morning with math, reading and seaschool. We are seeing allot of progress and Rene is an excellent teacher. ZoŽ is also learning to name the different parts of the boat, to tie knots, identify different types of boats, cleat a line, read a chart, identify several constellations, use a compass and many other useful skills that will make her a seasoned sailor by the time her stay is over. We enrolled ZoŽ into the Calvert School for the fall and are anxious to undertake this home schooling program. Everyday isn't work and school so I'll let the pictures do the storytelling about some of our recent outings.
As an ecotourists center the government has decided that the goats and the donkeys that roam the island must eventually go since they are not indigenous. They also present a driving hazard especially with the disregard that the local drivers show for speed limits, traffic signs and one way streets. Dedicated to saving the donkeys on the island is a lady named Mariana Melis. With a government grant of land, she and her crew of volunteers have established the Donkey Sanctuary . This donation run facility houses about half the island donkeys and at sometime in the future those not in this private reserve will be destroyed.
The fashion show held in conjunction with the Bonaire Dive Festival was a highlight for ZoŽ and here she is shmoozing with one of the stars.
Bonaire is noted for sail boarding and is the home of several world champions. Competitors from around the world come to Bonaire to practice because the conditions are perfects at Lac Bay on the eastern side of the island.
Snorkeling is a primary activity for ZoŽ and in a short time has become adept at using the equipment and identifying fish and other sea life.
Other attraction include the salt production facility. The high concentration of salt is a perfect breeding ground for the pink brine shrimp and this is an excellent food substance for the islands pink flamingos.
We promise not to turn the logs into ZoŽ's scrap book. Future logs will revert to the abstruse observation readers of slackadventure have come to enjoy?
More pictures of Bonair, just click on the arrow.