Friday was our last day in Bonaire — Sadly, since it has to be one of our favorite (if not, the favorite) islands we’ve visited. But, we made the best of it. We left the boat early in Dalí for a snorkeling trip. Our intention was to snorkel Klein Bonaire, a small island in the lee of the main island. We dinghied over, but the wind had already whipped up the surf and it was just a little too rough. So, we made the mile and a half journey back over to the mainland and snorkeled an area near the airport. Dive/Snorkeling buoys line the west coast of the island and virtually any spot would provide a superb snorkeling experience. Initially, we beached our dinghy, but was quickly instructed that doing so was not allowed due to the beach being a turtle nesting ground. So, we tied up to the dive buoy and snorkeled from there. We enjoyed an hour of the most relaxed snorkeling imaginable. We first worked our way into the current northward along the coastline and then had a relaxing drift snorkel back to Dalí.
When we returned, we went into town to visit customs and immigration to clear out of the country. Along the way we did a little more shopping and afterwards we enjoyed our last visit to the Creperie. Their savory crepes are the best. This, of course, was topped off with Gelato from Gio’s.
We were given a last-evening-in-Bonaire dinner by Zim and Kim aboard Someday. Kim is a New Orleans native, which means we had the absolute best Jambalaya. Mmmm! We’ve so much enjoyed hanging out with them for the last week or so. Before too late, however, we returned to Beatitude to get a good night’s sleep in preparation for an early start on Saturday. But, alas, our plans were put to nought. Loud music blared from the shore until about 1 a.m., all but assuring a restless night of poor quality sleep.
Our wake-up alarms sounded all-too-early around 5:25. We pried ourselves from the mattress and began preparing Beatitude for our daysail to Curacao. By 5:55, we had raised the mainsail with one reef in, released the mooring lines, and began our journey westward. It was a glorious sail under sunny skies with winds of 16-20 knots off our port quarter and following waves of around four feet. Thirty-nine nautical miles later we were ready to drop anchor. However (I sometimes hate that word), it was not to be. As we neared our anchorage in the protected bay of Spanish Waters, Cindy tested the windlass and nothing happened. We checked the breaker and I quickly checked a couple of connections, but still nothing. So, we scrambled for alternatives. We checked with the Kima Kalki Marina, but they had no slips. We then called the Seru Boca Marina. Thankfully, they had room for us. It’s a quite nice marina with new floating docks, but it is also more expensive. And, it is far removed from civilization. There’s nothing nearby. But, for the time being, we were just happy to have a place to park the boat. It was a long ride into town to clear customs and immigration, but thankfully the marina provides transportation to do so. The driver even stopped at Burger King on the way back to the marina at our request.
Two significant events occurred en route to Curacao. First of all (although second chronologically), we were boarded by the Dutch Coast Guard. Zim had mentioned to us the night before that his friends were boarded on their way into the country. As we were nearing the narrow entrance into Spanish Waters, the Coast Guard boat hailed us and asked permission to board. Of course, permission was granted. Two very friendly officers proceeded aboard (while we were still underway) and checked our passports and ship’s papers. They found everything to be to their satisfaction and were quickly back aboard their own vessel. Since we had never been into the somewhat tricky entrance to the bay, they even offered to lead the way in. How nice!
The other exciting occurrence took place around 7:45 a.m. We heard the loud clicking of our new Penn rail-mounted reel which caused us to spring into action. We’re getting a little better at this fire-drill of having a fish on the line. We slowed the forward progress of the sailboat, Cindy reeled in the other line, we prepared the net, the gaff, and the rum (for anesthetizing the fish once aboard. What a way to go!) Immediately after I began to reel it in, our catch made two majestic leaps into the air. From then on, it was a fight between the creature of the sea and us two sailors. Cindy and I took turns at the reel. We’d make some progress, and then the fish would take it all back as he made another valiant effort to escape. When all was said and done, I couldn’t believe my eyes. We didn’t know what we had caught until we had him just behind the boat. Once I gaffed him and brought him aboard, we realized we had an over 7-foot long sailfish! Unbelievable! I never expected that! Honestly, I wasn’t sure if he was a sailfish, a swordfish, or a marlin upon first landing him. I don’t think he would’ve survived if we had attempted to release him, so we filleted him for future meals. Swordfish is great eating, but sailfish and marlin are not so highly coveted as food. We’ll try it, though. As I stood posing with my sailfish, I couldn’t help but think of Hemingway and about this old man and the sea.