We left Grenada on Monday 1st July later in the day than intended as the immigration was not on seat on Monday morning .This actually proved to be to our advantage as we arrived in Bonaire at dawn and if we had left earlier we would have arrived in the dark .The voyage is about 380 nm and once out of the lee of Grenada the wind was behind us at around 25 kts .The waves were small compared to the Atlantic but I think most would be …I would certainly not like to see any larger ones . We had already rigged the spinnaker pole to sail downwind with the big jenny which had been repaired in St Lucia and had been out of action for most of the Atlantic crossing .We tried goosewinging it with the small jenny but it did not work so for the first 36 hours we sailed with the big jenny alone making good speeds most of the time .The sunsets and dawns were disappointingly drab and colourless but conditions remained steady .
We had to make a more northerly course to avoid Venezuela and its outlying islands so on Wednesday when the wind was slightly more form the south east we hoisted the main and had a day of pleasant reaching rather than the downwind roll .The wind direction and our course changed again and we managed to goosewing the main and the big jenny successfully for a pleasant and surprisingly stable downwind run . This sadly all ended that night when the wind picked up and we had to go on jenny alone again but we could see the loom of Bonaire now and rounded the south east corner of the island at dawn with dolphins playing around the bow to greet us . The less appreciated welcome was a squall as we were rounding the SE tip but luckily it was only short lived .
The south east of Bonaire is very flat and so the protection form wind and waves is slow to start but we entered the large bay in front of the town and picked up a mooring in flat sea but strong wind .
We have stayed in Bonaire for 10 days and found it very interesting and varied .There are very few tourists and the islanders are an interesting mixture of European mainly Dutch ,Carribean and South American . With Baringo safely on a mooring in front of the town we felt free to roam .
To start our island exploration we hired a motor bike and headed south to the salt flats which brought to mind lake Magadi in Kenya with the same smell and pink colour in the evaporating salt pans .There were relics of the old slave workers days of the early salt trading industry .We visited the donkey sanctuary which cares for nearly 500 donkeys .The donkeys were brought here by the Spaniards as workers but were made redundant by the combustion engine and are now wild and roam the island unfortunately getting hit by cars and sometimes illtreated so the sanctuary is a real necessity .All the males in the sanctuary are castrated so the population there is only increased by newcomers .There is an intensive care unit for those that need special attention .
We then hired a jeep and went north to the Washington Slagbaai national park which used to be a plantation for charcoal ,salt and lime but the land was given to the island when the plantation closed and is now pretty wild on land and on the coast . Swimming snorkeling and diving are possible in the places where nature allows access but luckily it is largely unspoilt and untouched and you need to be self sufficient for the trip .
We also hired bicycles for completeness sake and it is a dutch island so with these we explored the industrial estate in search of a boatyard and a carpenter and found these plus an isolated outpost of Ikea ! We also discovered the Sorobon beach resort on an amazing turquoise lagoon with a quiet beach , restaurant and bar and most important a good internet connection !
So to conclude a very enjoyable sojourn here so lets hope there are a few more in store on this leg .
The next stop is Curacao about 40 nm away and Sarah Shelton is coming to join us there for some R&R from London .