Sailing – Sept. 8, 2012

Saturday morning, Joanna and I decided to go sailing together on a little Sunfish sailboat.  After dropping off the Sea Monitor reader at the Yellow Submarine Dive Shop, we went a couple blocks further down the coastal road to the Bonaire Sailing School.  The place was full of activity, with the examination of the last crop of students.

(Photos included with Sept. 9 photos)

This club is run by some Dutch people in co-operation with a sailing association in Holland.  They offer certificates and various training in sailing.  The owner was actually a very friendly, easygoing fellow, who used to be a nuclear weapons expert in Holland.  Talk about a change of pace.

The cost was $25 for one hour, which was not bad.  Our boat was about 15 feet long.  Joanna was a bit anxious as she only knew how to sail a windsurfer, but I correctly assumed that between the two of us, we would figure it out.  Just in case we got stranded down wind, though, I brought my cell phone along with me in a waterproof case.

We rolled the Sunfish across the road and into the ocean, where we erected the sails, and inserted the keel.  The owner’s advice was to sail upwind to begin with, towards the airport, as there would be no problem coming back with the wind.

We got along quite well, and were able to tack back and forth into the wind, and made reasonable progress.  The cockpit was a little bit cramped with the two of us, but Joanna concentrated on the tiller, while I concentrated on hauling on the ropes to keep the sails taut.

I found it a bit like swimming, as you got soaking wet, with the waves splashing only inches away from you.  When the wind picked up, the sailboat would tip, and we would have to lean out the opposite side, which was a lot of fun.  We actually got going quite fast, which added to the excitement.

After about 45 minutes, we decided to head back to port, and at first had difficulty recognizing where exactly on the coastline the sailing school was located.  We then discovered that the class was completing their drills right in front of where we planned to dock, so we delayed somewhat.

Then as we started to tack back and forth again, suddenly the boat leaned the wrong way, and I rolled over backwards into the water.  But since I love to swim anyway, I just simply swam back to the boat where Joanna had let the wind out of the sails, and was waiting for me.  I clambered back aboard, and we carried on as if nothing had happened.

By the end of our hour, Joanna was tired from having to steer from behind her back.  We were both very happy with the untested ability we had managed to discover.  We will definitely be going sailing again before we leave.  It was an awesome experience!

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In the afternoon, I asked Joanna where she wanted to go scuba diving, and she said she wanted to go fairly far south.

Dive:  White Beach (formerly known as Far Beach)

The entry wasn’t too bad, but the drop-off was quite a distance from the shore.

We saw two hawksbill sea turtles, which were the first ones Joanna has ever seen.  The first turtle had a tag on its right fin, which would have been put there by the Sea Turtle Conservation Society.  We also saw the second turtle, slightly smaller, a bit later in the dive.  Joanna said that was the highlight of her day.  When we used to lived on Bonaire, you were lucky to ever spot a turtle.

We also discovered that some of the porcupine fish were not shy at all.  In fact, when we returned, going the other direction toward our exit, the same porcupine fish was hovering above the coral head in exactly the same spot as he had been almost an hour ago.  We also noticed there were quite a lot of soft corals in this location.

The only problem was that my camera batteries gave out halfway through the dive.

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Joanna wanted to go out for supper, and asked if I had ever been to the Plaza Resort down the end of our road.  I said yes, but we would have to try the other restaurant as the first one had extremely slow service.  We walked about five minutes down the road and then out to the far end of the resort to an absolutely beautiful restaurant right on the seashore.  Joanna commented how unusual it was to actually have the waves lapping at the base of the wall not two feet from where we were sitting.  Apparently this restaurant had been constructed before any of the building restrictions were in place.  The food was delicious!

After supper, we walked further out on the remnants of the old coastal highway to the dead end where Port Bonaire is now cut into the island.  Joanna found it strange that this entire point of land was abandoned, with leftover building materials scattered about.  Apparently it must not belong to the resort, or they would have cleaned it up, and put out deck chairs.

And so ends another day of fun in the sun!

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