Thursday, March 27, 2014


This post is out of sequence, calendar-wise, but I wanted to make sure it is included on the blog.

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.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Callisto is out of the water (and we are too)

We miss the sea life already!!!  We left Callisto yesterday at Curacao Marina for the season.  This is the first time we have left the boat outside the hurricane zone, so our to-do list was a bit shorter than normal.   The yard manager is quite young, but has lots of years of experience and everyone at the yard is on the go, hustling onto the next job.

Our last sail from Bonaire was lovely, downwind, traveling at about 7 knots, including one knot of current.  About halfway to Curacao we saw three flamingos headed east.   We were both startled when we suddenly saw pink off the starboard side.   I surmised that they had gone to Carnival in Curacao and were headed home...  We were impressed to see them flying dead upwind, low to the water, like pelicans.  Bonaire is home to many flamingos, who feed on crustaceans in the big salt marshes on the island.

Now for the boat bits part...we ordered a new AB 9 ft aluminum dinghy and a new refrigeration unit from Budget Marine.  They will be delivered in time for our late fall 2014 launch.  We also bought a D400 wind generator today, also to be installed in the fall.  And then we had to go to Kooymans (like a Lowe's) (twice) to get the parts for the faucet I broke showing David how not to use the faucet!  She's a boat.

We went to dinner on Sunday night at Fort Nassau.  The Fort was commissioned in 1796 and now serves as the control tower for the harbor.  The old historic part of the fort has a restaurant which is quite fine. I had a lionfish served with head and mouth open, looking very ferocious. 

The meal was delicious with, of course, great views at sunset.  I think there was a Japanese "research vessel" next to the port authority office.  Dolphins and whales beware!

Last night we tried a neighborhood Surinamese restaurant recommended by the hotel owner/manager.  The young restauranteuse is a native Israeli and the food was indeed eclectic and well-prepared.  There are only three tables plus four chairs at the bar, with quite a bit of take out and locals enjoying an evening out.  Today we visited Kura Hulanda which we thought was "just" the slavery museum.  It is so much more.  The man who was responsible for the restauration of the buildings and associated hotel, also had a large well documented collection of artifacts from the cradle of civilization between the Tigris and Euphrates.  The exhibition on slavery pulled no punches and was the other side of the story we learned about in Ghana at El Amina.  The remaining part of the "triangle" for us is the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, England.   

Our next stop was the maritime museum, which is a bit unfocused, but does have a few unique displays.   

Tomorrow we will take a rental car and visit the national park.  There are supposed to be spectular blow holes and heiroglyphics from the indigenous people (who originally came from South America).

We leave Thursday am (7 am flight) for the US to visit children, and then soon after HOME!