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November 2008

The pictures this month are mostly underwater pictures since most of November was spent underwater.  We were in the water almost every day enjoying the beauty of underwater life and filling our freezer with speared fish and gathered conch.

In early November we were in the Venezuelan islands of Los Roques with beautiful clear water and white sand beaches.  On the 34 mile sail from the Roques to Los Aves, Venezuela (islands of the birds) a school of about 20 dolphin of all sizes gave us an acrobatic show alongside the boat for over an hour.  The anchorage in Los Aves at Isla Sur is surrounded by huge mangrove trees where ocean frigate birds and boobies nest.  The island is uninhabited and undeveloped.  The quiet of the afternoon is occasionally interrupted by bird squawks and tiny bait fish as they jump from the water.  There are about 20 reefs within a ten minute dinghy ride and we enjoy snorkeling on a different reef every day while John improves his spear fishing skills.

Isla Sur momentos

 

As we explore the flat coral island of Isla Sur, we find an area where cruisers have documented their presence on the island.   Boat names and the dates of their visits are recorded on old pieces of driftwood, large pieces of washed up dead coral, and large fishing floats.  It is fun to look over the boat names to see how many boats we know.  We found a large piece of driftwood and John “carved” our name and the date with the help of his Dremel tool.  We had done a similar thing in the Bahamas when we first started cruising (see April 2006).  It was fun to document our presence again many miles south of the Bahamas just north of the South American coast.

 

Livin the Dream was here!

reef fish

 

We could have stayed in the Aves for several more weeks, but we needed to get to Bonaire to prepare for guests arriving in mid-November.   Bonaire is a Dutch island surrounded by reef.  The entire shore and coastal waters are a national park.  There is no anchoring in Bonaire, so you must attach to a mooring buoy maintained by the park.  Scuba diving is a big tourist business.  The island is safe, clean and the people are very helpful and friendly.  Tropical storms and hurricanes don’t usually visit Bonaire, but hurricane Omar paid them a visit this year and many docks and sidewalks were being rebuilt. 

 

 

File fish in Bonaire

A crowd of snapper

snapper crowdThe motorized winch, the windlass, that assists us in pulling up our 75 pound anchor and 600 pound chain stopped working while we were in Los Roques.  The anchor and chain had to be pulled up by hand while the windlass was not working.  The windlass was rebuilt while we were in Bonaire and we now have a very quiet and better working windlass than before.

Our friend Pete from Atlanta arrived on November 15 and brought along his friend Ron from Florida to spend a week scuba diving on Bonaire.  There are more than 85 dive sites around the island.  We dove from the dinghy a couple of times and one night the guys went on a night dive from the back of our boat where they see beautiful cleaner shrimp and octopus.  One day the guys went on two dives on the Eastern side of the island with a dive master.  We rented a car for a few days and drove around to several dive sites that we can enter from the shore.  The reefs are full of beautiful tropical fish and colorful coral reefs.  Pete and Ron enjoyed 11 dives during their one-week stay. The highlight of their trip was a dive to 175 feet.


Octopus on night divebutterfly fish

 




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Butterfly fish

Octopus on night dive

moray eelPete and Ron were very gracious with their gifts and one was an underwater camera that we used to take these pictures.  We also enjoyed several delicious dinners onshore at some great Bonaire restaurants.

Bonaire is a very dry island.  It gets an average of 22 inches of rain each year but at least half of that amount fell during the week that Pete and Ron were visiting.  Luckily, the rain did not interfere with the diving, but we were all wet most of the time and had very little time to dry out.  We tried to visit Washington National Park, which is the northern third of the island, but the park was closed since many of the roads were washed out as a result of the heavy and constant rains.  In our driving around the island, we were lucky to see wild flamingoes feeding in the shallow lakes throughout the island.

Eel in Bonaire

Bonaire flamingoes

 

 

 

 

We sent Pete and Ron home with wet and smelly clothes and prepared to leave Bonaire.  We made a quick trip to Curacao where we did some last minute shopping for boat parts and groceries and on the last day of November, we sailed off for Cartagena, Columbia.  The trip to Cartagena is almost 450 miles.  We will break the trip into four legs, but the first is a long 307 miles which will be our longest single trip without stopping since we have been cruising.

 

 

 

Bonaire flamingoes



Diver PeteDiver Ron

 

Diver Ron


Diver Pete