Bonaire has a remarkable venue for windsurfing, called Lac Baai. This is an inlet on the windward side of the island. The winds are steady and strong there. The bay is protected by a reef, so the waves are small. The water is only 3 feet deep, which is great for beginners since the shallow water makes it easy to climb onto the board. You have to climb onto the board many times when you are a beginner. Once per fall.
Gretchen and I went for lessons, along with our friends Rod and Jill. Jill ended up chickening out, but she was a great videographer, recording the event. Rod had some recent windsurfing experience. Gretchen and I tried it out when we were first married (30 years ago!), but never made much progress. The technology has changed a lot -- for the better -- since then.
Anyway, the three of us signed up for a beginner's lesson. Our teacher clearly had a ton of experience with novices. We started out on a demo setup on land, and he quickly explained the basics of getting on the board, bringing up the sail, and starting to move. It is easier to gybe a windsurfer than to tack it, so he also explained that maneuver.
Then we were off to the water. The beginner's boards that they gave us were more like barges than surfboards -- almost 80 cm wide. This was great for us as we learned our balance. The sails were also quite small (3 square meters for me), which also helps to keep things manageable. So, while the experts were zooming back and forth, we were plodding along. But we did manage to get the boards moving, and to stay on top of them long enough to make some progress. Here is a video of one of my tries:
We had an hour with the instructor, and another hour to practice on our own. But we all tired out before the time was up. By the end of the time, I was able to gybe pretty consistently, and to sail upwind to a degree.
It is a truly beautiful spot, and we had tons of fun. I am sure we will take more lessons when we return to Bonaire next year.