again, the Danish weather forces me to travel.
My friends plan
about going to New Zealand was changed,
and after a short meeting, we decided on Bonaire. Morten and I were there in
2006, and the excellent diving, weather and strange nature draws us back, once
again, and it was easy to lure Jesper and Amira along.
This time, the planning is much more extensive. Not that we bother to read any books, but we actually book a car and a apartment from home. I even buy a diving computer and camera! A few facts: Bonaire is part of the Dutch Antilles, known as the ABC Islands. It is 285 square kilometres, have a population of 13.000, and besides from being a holiday centre with diving, not much else is going on.
The official langue is Dutch, but the most spoken is Papiamento, a mix of Spanish, Dutch, English, French and a bit of Portuguese with a hint of Indian and African, and so are the population. The religion is mainly Catholic, but not as strong as most catholic countries. The currency is Netherlands Antilles Guilder (NAf), 1€ equals 2,50 NAf. 1 US$ equals 1,50 NAf.
The island has been occupied by the Spaniels, British and latest; Dutch. It started as a trading station, then seawater has been condensed into salt and now, divers make the big income for the island. Washington-Slagbaai National Park takes up 20% of the island while Bonaire Marine Park covers the sea from the high-water mark to 60 meters debt, all the way around the island.
8. Delayed one hour from CPH, due to the new tower. Three minutes to gates open in Shiphool. Smooth night flight; I kind of sleep from it all, except the meals. Arrival at 4.15 am; Hertz closed, but Jesper have prepared a taxi to the apartment, in the fare end of town. Couple of hours sleep, but eventure draws Morten and I out in the beautiful, perfect weather. Not a cloud and 28C.
Walk in to Yellow Sub - the favourite dive operator. Book free Nitrox and find some used dive equipment for me. Buy used: 325 US$ Rent for 2x6 days: 420 US$. Let me think... Of cause, I end up spending more, replacing used stuff with new, but only up to 374US$: Idon't extend the 420US$ limit. Nice to have my own: I can alter it like I always have wanted to.
9. No chance getting a cap to the airport, and Morten's phone don't seems to like the local operators. Can't mant the phonebuth work, and even when we get the emploies at Yellow Sub to call, no one pick up the phone. Walks into centre, and pop by the dive shop to get some new dive shoos while Morten flag down a cap.
Even though Jesper have booked a four door pick-up, we can only get a small toy-car for the day. Well, it surely beets walking back to the apartment! Pick up Amira and Jesper, who still looks like they could do with some sleep! Drive back to Yellow Sub to get the Nitrox, and makes a test dive in Yellow Sub's House Reef, right in front of Yellow Sub. The used BCD I found turns up to be too large, but it is the only used they have for sale.
Amira and Jesper have a bit difficulties getting their 7 mm double long suits drawn down in the heavy salty waters, and find two used 3 mm shoorties.
Amira signs up for a Nitrox course, and while the brothers go for an other dive, I swap the car in the airport. This time I get the double cabin Chevy Pickup which is perfect for diving. Back to pick up the others and then on a hunt for a used BCD. The other operators have sold their used as well, but find one by one of Buddy Dives employs for 100 US$. Bit too steep, I think.
Back by the supermarket to buy coffee, breakfast and alike. Home to have a shower and then in to town to find a good supper. Real short evening, when we get back to the apartment!
10. Get up a bit early: I have forgotten my new shoos at Yellow Sub, and drives by Buddy Dive, and offers 100 NAf (65$) for the good looking BCD. He agrees without hesitating, and even points out it have been renovated recently. The rest of the gang look almost alive when I get home, and we drive out to Oil Sleek Leap for an easy dive. Short stop at home for some fresh fruits, and we head for Alice in Wonderland.
Back for coffee and surgery on my dive computer. It haven't figured we have started divining yet. Finish the day at Oil Sleak, Leap testing Jesper's extreme lighting for his camcorder. Success! Here are, as on the other dives; plenty of small fish - up to 40 centimetres and some morels, eels, sea porcupines and other amusing and interesting animals between the many soft- and hard corals. Even my computer finally figures we are diving!
On the way back, we passes an ATM. I try three times, and them my Visa is closed. Climes I used the wrong pin-code, which I didn't. Morten experience almost the same, and we all wrote for Jesper as sponsor. Back to have a shower and clean the equipment. Then down at the Argentine Restaurant: Mixed Grill to you tilt! Some of us survive long enough to write this, look at today's photos and do a bit of tampering with the gear.
11. A slow start on the day, and when we finally reach the first dive site, two octopus' are missing. Eventually we plunges at Windsock , just south of town. Plenty of corals and small fish like on most of Bonaire dive sites and on top of that: Big schools of larger fish around the colons for the fuel-loading-pier for the airport. A huge barracuda glides off, down into the deeps.
On our way to shore, we meets with a huge octopus on the sandy shallow waters. It only slowly gives way, and I hope for some great shots along with the other 300+ photos of today.
After a short surf time, we heads for Jeff Davis Memorial, quite similar to Windsock, just a bit more south. Besides for the plentiful corals and fishes, nothing real new appears, and after an hour, we heads back for some lunch and coffee. It is getting late, and Amira and Jesper stays put, while Morten and I head for the north. Had planed Repela, but misses, and reach the awesome Karpata.
It is slowly getting darker, but we still find a lot of great sights. Morten even find a sleeping hogsbilled turtle. When we emerges, the temperature have dropped to freezing 24C, and the 26C water feels warm. We head back for a cold shower along with the gear, and then into town for some well deserved supper.
Even though it is getting late, we still have some stitching, photo- and video looking to do, along with writing. Boy; it is hard to be on vacation!
12. Get up early, to do some serious diving. Drive down to The Lake; a double reef with some interesting features and to day: 60 meters sight. Morten morns about a bit of damp in his camera diving house. Mean while, mine fills up. Even though I rush up to wash it in sweet water, it never works again. Well, I did have it for four dives, and I only spend a weeks pay (@#¤%&@£$!!!!).
After having washed and dried it at home, we try the local bank. Their ATM claims I have tried the wrong pin-code three times, and it have closed my Visa. When Morten tries his, it claims it have no coverage. Bit annoying, when you don't have a stack of dollars. The bank can't help - they only disables your card.
Seems like it is just one of those days, and we figure we might just start some serious diving. Drives up to the amassing Karpata. Once again, I have to say; this is my favourite site. Nothing particular, but just plenty of all. I drive the others back home, and continues into town: I need money and a new camera!
The only shop selling cameras think I might get one like the drown one, on one of the other islands. Would like a replacement just alike; fitting the diving house. After all; the house is more expensive than the camera! More luck at an ATM; my bank have re-opened my Visa, and I can redraw some US$. All prices are in both NAf (Dutch Antilles guildes) and US$, but they haven't adjusted the rate since the dollar actually was something worth. We save 7% or more, if we pay in US$.
Back to pickup Morten, and out to La Machata, just out of the town. Nice, but nothing new. Back for cold shower - not that I needed it cold - and into town to find some nice supper. As usually, we are toast after the meal. I just have to try to fit my other camera into the diving house - and try if it is tight now - without camera! It do, but the camera doesn't fit.
13. After a solid breakfast, we all head for 1000 Steps, north of town. The 63 step stairs feels like 1000 when you climb them after the dive! Morten bails out, feeling a bit cooled, and he stays back to watch the guys sandblasting the huge radio masts. We have an amassing dive; lots to see, and an awesome sight; around 60 meters or more!
Next plunged is down at Bachelors Beach. Morten and Amira stays back while Jesper and I have a nice dive. I borrows Morten's camera, and get a few but excellent shoots. Back home for a coffee brake, and I cut the way too long strips from my fines. Every time they touch my ankles, I think I have hit the reef or an other diver.
After lunch, Morten and I head up to La Dania's Leap. Good site with a large, flat area filled with corals on a sandy seabed, not more than four to six meters down. I have lost half of my lead weight (a 2 Kg weight stayed at the car), but it works any how. I always empty my BCD completely in the beginning of a dive, but this BCD have to be emptied from time to time due to a small leak in the valve. Haven't annoyed me before, but with only two kilos in the pocked, it does.
I drop Morten off at home, and heads for the dive shop, where I bought the BCD from an employed. The will fix it; I can pick it up after half an hour. I head for the shop next door, to find some rubber straps. I try to build my BCD and other gear as tight and streamlined as possible. Have been freezing a bit lately: My used short suit are only two millimetres and real used, and the suit I have borrowed from Amira does not fit perfectly. Here I find a three millimetre shorty for 80 cheep US$.
Drive pass Yellow Sub to return the thin suit I now haven't bough, but rented. While I am there, I find these short, light fins I have seen before. Gota give them a try! So much easier to take on and off, not to mention the benefits when travelling with them.
Back to pick up Morten for the last dive of the day: Ol Blue. We had hoped to swim to the Salt Pier, but Morten's ears are not in shape, and we have to be satisfy with a sand seabed dive. That it interesting as well; new animals we haven't seen before. My new suit fit perfectly, and I only starts to freeze when we head the beach and strong winds. The fins feel a bit loose, but works fine. I'm going to swap them with the long, heavy ones - I cut the straps off this morning....
Supper at the great restaurant we find the the day, and I try the Grilled Cheesecake with ice and whipped crème. Delicious and huge! Got to have more weights on to morrow, but it is worth it! Home to do a bit of stitching on the BCD, and then I faint...
Continues in Diary 2