Saturday, September 1, 2018

Arriving in Bonaire - Flamingos and Mooring Balls

April 26th 2018
Land - ho!  We arrived just as the sun was coming up.  Perfect timing for a couple of reasons.  One, it was a beautiful way to make landfall.  Two, we always want to arrive in a new place during daylight hours.  Three, morning is the best time to pickup a just vacated mooring ball.

More flamingos

We were greeted by flamingos.  We weren't sure what they were.  Tom said "Look at all those red birds.  Do you think they are Scarlet Ibis like in Trinidad?"  We didn't know.  Turns out, the flamingo is sort of the symbol of Bonaire as they are plentiful.  We have only seen limited flamingos in zoos and never in the wild.  I am not even sure we knew they could fly.  It was SO very kewl to be greeted by not one but two flocks flying by as the sun came up and we rounded the southern tip of Bonaire.  Stunning! 

We did have a bit of a drag race into Bonaire.  Sv Blue Blaze was ahead of us and nearly in.  I spotted another yacht on AIS on a semi-parallel course, coming in from Los Roques.  Darn!  What if they got in first and got the last mooring ball?  I hailed Jason using DSC (digital selective calling) so the other vessel would not hear.  "Are you in?  How is is looking in terms of mooring balls?  There is another vessel out here and we have a bit of a drag race going on as to who comes in first of the two of us.  I am worried."  Jason said "We are not yet in so I don't know about the mooring ball situation.  So....just go faster.  Put the hammer down!"  So I did and we arrived before the other boat.  sv Blue Blaze and sv Celilo helped us with our mooring.  Nice after a 4 day passage.
The mooring field
The entire island is a marine park.  No anchoring anywhere and there is a limited number of balls.  If they are full, you have to go into the marina or sail on to Curacao (30 miles away).  The second option is not really what you want after sailing 4 days to get specifically to Bonaire.  The best shot at getting a mooring is early morning when those on a mooring may decide it is time to sail on to Curacao and take off.
The mooring field

I must say that the question of whether we would have a mooring when we arrived was a tad stressful in the weeks before as we were prepping in Martinique.  Those that have been to Bonaire before assured us "Don't worry.  You will get a mooring.  And if not, just go into the marina and then the next morning you will get one.  People come and go."  Okay.  Cruisers would inevitably post the question on the Bonaire Facebook page "We are headed that way, are there any moorings?  Can I reserve one?"  The answers were always No to reserving one and you just have to set sail and see.  We were lucky as five moorings opened up the morning we came in.  But all five were taken that day.  We did see turn over.  However, towards the end of our stay in Bonaire, there were more and more boats looking for moorings.  At one point 5 or 6 boats were stacked up along the seawall of the marina, waiting for moorings.  Fellow Caliber 40 friends sv Asseance took a local mooring after 4 days at sea, hoping to stay on until someone left.  The park ranger said no, so after a very short rest of an hour or so, they dropped the mooring and sailed for Curacao.

The mooring field at sunset
Hello Bonaire.

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