Sunday, June 29, 2014

Curacao Break

We’ve been in Curacao for two weeks now. About time I posted a pic. This is the entrance to Willemstad Harbor. We are passing through the open pontoon bridge that separates the two sides of the colorful city. We had to sit outside in the rolly swell for about a half hour waiting for a large tanker to exit the harbor. When small boats like ours come through they just move the pontoon bridge about 20 feet open. For the tankers it has to be brought all the way to the far side. This is a major refining port, where oil from Maracaibo in Venezuela flows in and out and the gas flares of refineries shine at night.
Bonaire is the easy, cruisers island to hang at. Curacao is more the cruisers place to do work on the boat and for hurricane season storage. It is located south of 12*30 N – which is considered out of the hurricane belt. Although there has been hurricane related damage here over the years, it is typically due to heavy rains and large swells. This will be the first time in 4 years of cruising that we put the boat on the hard for storage. We’ll be gone for a little over two months. A month up in Washington to make sure that Meghan goes through with her wedding plans and Tyler behaves. A month down in Southern Cal visiting Chris’ relatives and then a quick stop in Florida to see my Dad. 
curacaoDSCN1057 The big tractor cometh.
We got hauled at Curacao Marine. This yard has a good reputation for service and security in their storage yard. Two large Doberman Pinchers work the storage yard. Yachtie relatives of junk-yard dogs.
curacaoDSCN1062 Georgia getting her bottom cleaned off
   While still on the trailer, I dropped the rudder. When we are going downwind in heavy seas there’s always a little squeak that you can hear from the upper end of the rudder post. Since rudders are handy things to have on a boat while at sea, I wanted to inspect the upper bearing. Here I’m re-installing it. This time with 3M 4000 white bedding. Prior to this it only had 6 bolts securing it in that would continually work themselves loose. We’ll see on our passage out of Curacao if the squeak has quieted down.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Colonel

Chris’ dad, Colonel Hunter passed away last week. He’s going to be missed by a lot of friends, co-workers and most of all family. For me, he wasn’t an easy guy to get to know. He held his United States Marine Corps military career adventures close, only letting out a few stories of his times in Korea, Vietnam and the Pentagon. You could tell he always had a deep respect for the military and those he served with and strong feelings about the country he lived in. The feelings were strong enough that I wasn’t allowed to talk politics with him.
He raised 3 kids along with his wife Barbara – the Colonel and 4 women. I’m pretty sure that was one of his toughest challenges.
col2 He held onto that look even in retirement.
col5 Promotion time
Going to work
To a life well lived and to man you had to respect!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Eel Spotting

Bonaire is truly a diver’s paradise. The entire island’s coastline is national park. There is no anchoring allowed – only moorings. There are probably 15 dive shops. We’ve snorkeled every day, except the days we did  a refresher course for scuba and a two-tank boat dive out to Klein Bonaire. This is the flat island 3/4 mile off the mainland that is surrounded by dive sites. This post is just a collection of gratuitous underwater porn shots.
bonaireDSCN1013  This is a spotted moray eel. He’s buddies with the green moray in the pic above. They live under ledges in about 6 feet of water just in front of the mooring our boat is on.
bonaireDSCN0875 Jumping off the back of the boat for an afternoon snorkel.
Staghorn Coral with some fishies.
A little trrunk fish hiding under the coral ledges. These little guys hover and swim like helicopters.
Part of the aquarium.
Dress blues- a surgeon fish.
Chris communing with one of the big French Angel Fish that are common here.
Chris heading deeper
A comfy spot for the afternoon for this little porcupine (puffer) fish.
A big guy passing by at 40 foot depth
These 4 feet tall tube sponges were lavender in the filtered deep water. I tried to correct colors in Photoshop – didn’t come too close.
bonaireDSCN0942  The cement block that makes up the dive moorings. This thing probably weighs a thousand pounds. It took a lot to roll it on its side.
bonaireDSCN0944 My dive buddy letting me know all was OK. Ears cleared, mask not fogged, plenty of air left in the tank and the underwater experience a feast for the eyes.
bonaireDSCN0948  A spiny, spiny shrimp hanging at about 50 feet.
We dove Carl’s Hill on Klein Bonaire. It is a steep cliff that goes to be about 100 feet. We ran along it at about 60-70 feet. This diver was in paradise and wants more.
If you look close at this pic you can see that this watch is good for 330 feet depth of water. If you look closer you can see the water under the crystal from diving at 60 feet. Argh, another watch down the drain.
Back to snorkeling…
This gal would not stay still long enough for me to get a pic in focus, but the glowing blue is still impressive.
Another Trunk Fish, just trunking around.
Its a little hard to see this guy in the pic – and in the water. A fairly large octopus, in about 15 feet of water, tentacles on the left and eyes upper, right, center. Well camouflaged.
bonaireDSCN0994 A ‘cuda patrolling his acreage.
A bouquet of filter tube worms.
Lion fish hiding among the rocks- bad guys here in the Caribbean.
Back to the eel theme- a tiny sharp tailed eel.
Spotted moray eel coming out for a late afternoon snack.
Another moray- I’m not sure how they back into these little cave holes.
Another moray, showing off his teeth for the camera- really just breathing. Leave me alone!
A big French Angel fish ignoring a little Lion fish.
Colors found in nature- a beautiful anemone.
A peacock halibut well camouflaged in the sand.
Check his two eyes on the top side!
Nobody seems to know which way to go…

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Flamingo Spotting

Bonaire is a divers paradise. There are hundreds of marked dive sites all around the island. So I figured the first blog would be full of underwater photos. Turns out the island has great bird bird watching and an interesting rugged and dry interior. The northern 1/3  portion of the island is a park, the Washington-Slagbaai National Park. The place is filled with cactus and harsh rock formations. Except for the bird species, you would think you were somewhere in the southwestern deserts of the US.
bonaireIMG_5353 You need a truck or four-wheel drive to travel the park’s roads.  Maurice, from the boat Cattiva, rented this beauty of a Nissan. US$25 a day. No seat belts, no radio, the ignition key falls out on each bump. Once we got over the truck’s various sounds, it turned into a reliable pony.
bonaireIMG_5319The Bonaire brown-throated parakeets, locally called prikitchi, like to snack on the cactus blossoms. 
bnaireIMG_5322 On the windward side of the island they generate something like 40% of the island’s electricity needs via wind turbines.
bonaireIMG_5323  The windward side is a pretty rugged place.
bonaireIMG_5346 If you look close at the picture you can see a mooring ball in the center. Maybe sometime in the summer the winds back off enough to actually use it for diving. This time of year it would be a death sentence.
We asked one of the rangers the name of this lizard. He said it was “some other kinda lizard”.
bonaireIMG_5313 A medium sized iguana who had ejected his tail in some previous escape episode.
Maria, please don’t feed the iguanas!
Pre-historic monster enjoying a tasty piece of cucumber.
A Trupial (we think). It looks like a northern song bird, not a desert island inhabitant. This is a dry place. All the drinking water for humans comes from RO (reverse osmosis) plants.
Need fencing material? You grab what’s abundant – cactus.
boanireIMG_5511 A pretty bird. This is the endangered Yellow-Shouldered parrot, locally called a Lora. They’re poached  because they have good vocal skills and will imitate the human voice. They’re protected here on Bonaire, but apparently are still being taken even here. The park rangers have a hard time keeping people from raiding nests for the ├žaged bird trade’ and estimate that there are more in captivity on the island than in the wild.
Not every bird here thinks they need to dress up in garish colors. A Tropical mockingbird, or chuchubi, who has a pretty song.
You do have to watch for the attack lizards.
There are a lot of goats running free. These guys have no problem eating most of the cacti, including the Prickly Pear. Sometimes the Prickly Pear wins. This piece is sticking out of the poor goats neck.
bonaireIMG_5363But, not only goats get hooked up with a wayward Prickly Pear.
The other critter you see roaming around is the donkey. We spotted this pair is standing near the entrance of a high end housing development.
The donkeys even find things to munch on in the beach ruble.
The south end of the island has large salt drying ponds. The ponds turn reddish as they concentrate. On the right side of the photo are the mining trucks and salt mounds.
IbonaireMG_5479  Ever wonder where all that salt they put on the roads for a northern winter comes from?
These are some big trucks.
Down this end of the island they use windmills to move water into the drying ponds. How Dutch.
In the colonial times, the salt mining was done with government slave labor. These are small slave huts used to house the workers along the beach.
bonaireIMG_5488 Along the beach there are these colored obelisks. The different colors represented different grades of salt. Based on what was on the a ships manifest, the captain would know to anchor off the correct colored obelisk to pick up the grade of salt that they were transporting.
 bonaireIMG_5429 Now back to Flamingo spotting. These guys are practicing their coordinated marching.
Now, everybody’s getting air borne.
Old grump watching the flamingos.
Nature’s art.
We drove the trusty Nissan on a dirt road for mile or so to see these cave paintings. They are most likely night sky images made by a local pre-Colombian astronomer.
bonaireIMG_5499We did a stop at the Cadusky Distillery in the oldest town on the island, Rincon. They make cactus based liqueur. Chris and Marie testing the green stuff. Yum!
IboanireMG_5500 That’s the one and only still in the back ground.
The distillery was located on the site of an old movie theater. They had a number of these projectors just sitting around. Not rusty, but almost as good as seeing rusty stuff.