We checked the weather forecasts and the sea state and it looked safe to return to Bonaire. This required easting, but the wind was supposed to be light. What would we see when we returned to Bonaire? How did Stu and Lesley make out on Sula? How long until we could get back in the water for diving?
We were full of questions and decided to go for it. Motor sailing wouldn’t be bad if the waves weren’t bad. As we set out, we found that the swells were coming from the north and the wind had not settled into a particular direction. But it was light enough that we could motor without crashing into big waves. All in all it wasn’t a bad trip back. But we were surprised by what we found when we arrived. Our friends were listening in on the VHF and called out to us. Bev on Aseka said that a westerly swell and blow was expected that night and no one wanted to be on the moorings. Wade and Hodges from Coco de Mer called us and said that they took a dive mooring on the northeast side of Klein Bonaire in an attempt to hide from the westerly swell. It appeared we left a day too early. We still couldn’t get into the marina to seek refuge. If the weather came from the west, the moorings were wide open to the wind, waves, and swell. All of which conspire to throw boats onto the shore if the mooring lines break. Damn!
As we rounded the northern end of Klein Bonaire, we indeed saw Coco de Mer (who left Curacao a day before us) off Klein. But we also saw HUGE waves pounding the north shore of Klein. Hurricane Matthew was still really screwing with us, leaving the wind and water unsettled. Aseka was also on a mooring at Klein, leaving only two moorings left nearer to the shore. The shore that was currently being pounded like crazy. Peter and Sally on Milly were ahead of us, checked out the Klein mooring situation and said no way! They were going to check the city side moorings and see what they looked like. We tended to agree and passed by Klein. For the moment things were calm on the city moorings, so Milly took one and we took one a couple spots behind them. Then Steve on Slow Flight took another one behind us. We didn’t have many options and no one wanted to sail all the way back to Curacao for one night. We decided to stay, take our chances on the mooring, and head out to sea if the weather got too rough. If nothing else, we could leave the engines on and remove some of the load off the moorings. Where there’s a will there’s a way.
Meanwhile, it was great to be back in Bonaire. The water was calm here but Hurricane Matthew left it stirred up and cloudy. We hoped it would settle soon, so we could resume diving. We heard that Sula and Aseka did great in the marina, as Matthew was passed Bonaire when he became a hurricane. This was great to hear. Everyone we knew came through with flying colors. Nice! First day back was spent resting up from the trip and preparing for a rough night. Dave dove in to tie a third line on an additional concrete block.
Dave’s been working on his free diving, so I videoed him going down to tie the line on all while holding his breath. Not bad, but he wasn’t impressed when I showed him. “I can hold it longer!” Ready, all we could do was wait. Bev chickened out and left the mooring at Klein Bonaire, returning Aseka to her space in the marina she vacated earlier in the day. This left only Coco de Mer on the moorings by Klein. Stu and Lesley on Sula left the marina to join us on the moorings. We would ride it out together.
Bing the “cool Americans” we are (haha), we casually joined everyone onboard Sula for sundowners. Wade and Hodges were already there and had quite a head start on us on the cocktail front. It was great to be all together again! We enjoyed a great evening of overindulging; not smart if the Westerly showed up! By the time we returned to our respective boats, the Westerly was overdue, but we sure weren’t complaining. In fact, we slept well that night and the ugly beast never reared its head. Hallelujah!
However, we received a call early in the morning that Coco de Mer‘s dinghy was missing! Wade was convinced he tied it on well, so they were certain it was stolen. Oh man! They were the only ones out there last night. If only they had moved back into the neighborhood, too! Well, having experienced an errant dinghy going walkabout in St Maarten, I knew things can happen. So we all decided to go for a day sail downwind just in case she bucked her ties. Dave and Steve had immediately jumped into action, taking off in our dinghy to start a search. Stu picked me up and brought me to Sula and we motored along the coast to see if it might have washed ashore. Peter and Sally on Milly took off towards Klein to go further out in case the night’s current took it out a different direction. Sula caught up to the guys on the dinghy and we brought them aboard and kept going. Just as we passed the loading dock for the cargo ships and started around the point, Coco de Mer called and said they found the dinghy floating out to sea and were in the process of rescuing it. Yes!!!! That was the best news ever! This was a new dinghy with a center console and a lot of horsepower, not your standard beat up cruiser dinghy. Not that any of us can afford to lose our family ‘car.’ Celebrations were in order. Oh wait, that’s what got them in trouble in the first place. Wade admitted he needed to take a ‘drunk dinghy tying’ class. Hahaha!
It didn’t take long for us to continue our boat diving tradition. This time we took Livin’ Life to the Helma Hooker ship wreck. The Hooker is a deep dive between 60 and 100 feet. The ship is remarkably intact laying on its side on the sea floor. We picked up a mooring at the site and used the mooring line to descend to the wreck. This is a great way to keep the group together and do a slow and controlled descent for anyone with trouble equalizing. Unfortunately, the water was still stirred up from Matthew, so the visibility wasn’t great. I also found it difficult to photograph the wreck since it was so big. I could get a clear picture of a single porthole up close, but to move away and try to get more in the picture lost the clarity.
I did try to do a brief video to show more than one picture at a time, but again it was too big to hold still and shoot. I would have to try to shoot the video while I swam around it. I am not good enough for that yet. Maybe someday.