Tag Archive: Bonaire cruising


The Kuna Yala (San Blas) are my favorite place on earth – a true tropical paradise.  Reefs and lightning keep most sane people out.  Luckily, we aren’t sane.

Advertisements

Santa Marta, Colombia

COLOMBIA

     We arrived to the marina in Santa Marta, Colombia after a brutal 26-hours of travel.  Our bags were strapped to the smallest taxi ever and

There is one piece of twine holding all our bags for the 4-hour taxi ride

we had traveled four hours in this Romancing the Stone-esque car (the one that Danny Davito hid in when they were looking for the stone).  The kids poured themselves out of the taxi, having been woken up every hour or so as the taxi pulled into a random-open-all-night gas station to put a couple pesos worth of propane in his car.  Every time he filled up, we all had to pile out of the car.  It is now four-o’clock in the morning and we are beyond exhausted.  We get all of the bags out of the car and traipse down to our boat.  She looks beautiful, the kids run around yelling, happy to be back, exhaustion apparently forgotten in the light of old, familiar toys.  It is already hot, Brad tries out the air-conditioning, since we are still attached to the dock and can use electricity, it works, wonderful.  We all finally decide that old toys will be just as cool after a few hours of sleep.

Coffee at Juan Valdez on the main square

After a couple hours of sleep, we get up, unpack, and see our boat in the sunlight; it is nearly black with dirt.  Caked on, sooty, literally….black.  Too exhausted to even deal with that, I concentrate on the inside.  It seems less intimidating.  After a couple of hours of Pinesol, she’s smelling like a Colorado Pine tree Forest….perfect (the less charred part).  We decide to take a nap and I look for my book…..Where is my book?  Uh-oh.  I left it in the taxi from Cartagena….including the kids’ favorite snuggly toys, Brad’s snoopy from childhood that has now become Turtle’s favorite snuggly toy, my wallet, my favorite skirt that the wallet was in, and probably ten more things I am forgetting.  The full magnitude hits us and we start frantically calling the credit card company.  No new purchases but now what do we do for money?  We don’t know if we can stay past another 48 hours so we can’t have them

Fun in the city

send another one.  Brad has a different card but it keeps declining because: we “didn’t tell them we were traveling.”  After Brad explained that we had been traveling for a year and he told them that then, at which point the worker said he’s only been working for three months, great.  Can you make a memo please?  He said it should be working in 2 minutes.  Meanwhile

Ella performing in front of the machine gun toting guards. Glad she’s good because they won’t be throwing rotten tomatoes if she’s not.

we are standing in a packed grocery store with 785,000 pesos worth of food (meat, ice cream, other various really-painful-to-you-foods-if they-spoil) surrounding us and people wondering who the obvious foreigner-freaks are that are holding up the line.  They put us in the “other line” and Brad tries again with the card after the designated “2-minutes” (it has really been about 15) it declines again.  We return to the telephone salesman and ask to use the phone again.  This time Brad is

not so pleasant as he pleads our case.  A new customer service representative doesn’t know why it won’t work and explains that “99% of the credit card purchases in Santa Marta, Colombia are fraudulent” Great….Did I only have one card in my wallet or was the other one in there too and now we have $??,??? charged on our accounts….I start panicking.  Brad gets the ok to try the card again, it works.

 

We go home, put the food away and await our “agent” to see if we can stay in Colombia for longer than a few more hours.  I talk to the

our Cowgirl turning 7

home school program that was supposed to send Ella her curriculum in Colorado but there was a mix-up at the main warehouse and we didn’t get it, then they said they could send it to Colombia, but turns out they don’t think they can after all…..great.  Ella just got a continuance on her summer for another four months.  We wash the outside of the boat, put everything out and get ready to sail.  We hear from our agent (after Brad sat in Customs for four hours) that we can stay for another three months if we would like.  Good.  That out of the way we turn to properly provisioning the boat, slowly.  After we leave

Fresh fruits

Colombia, we will be in the beautiful San Blas Islands of Panama.  Brad has been talking about them since I met him so I am excited to see them.  The only downside is we have to have all of our food and drink on board; Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts and drinks for two plus months.  Provisioning is difficult as Chase and Ella sometimes eat a lot…..sometimes not so much, and what do you get that you will want to eat for snacks, dessert etc. two months from now??  The problem is daunting but we are now taking it slowly and buying a little bit each day.  Ella is tired of going to the store every day but it is a necessary evil.

We can also relax and enjoy being in Santa Marta again.  It is a bustling little metropolis; the marina has many more cruisers in it compared to when we left.  We have met a lot of other people stocking up before moving on to San Blas.  When we were here in May, we had met

Hazards of walking include open manhole covers leading to the sewers below

another cruiser family on a catamaran, Freda and Jean-Noel.  They had two girls slightly older than Ella and Turtle.  We had a great time with them in a short amount of time; I find that I miss them a lot.  We have met another French boat with two little girls, 1.5 and 4 years old.  The kids ran endlessly up and down the dock, until after dark, Chase was “tagged” into the dark water.  With Ella screaming: “Mommy, Daddy!  Chase went into the water!!! Chase went into the water!!!  Brad was over the side, completely clothed including sunglasses, and propped him back up onto the dock.  He was not happy and that was the end of freeze tag with an “I get to be the tagger next, mommy.”  Salt water was dripping off of him everywhere.  The kids played a couple more days until it was time for their boat to move on to Cartagena.

We have turned our efforts to exploring the city, finding markets and cold beers in little corner bars, museums and beaches.  The water is really polluted here so our little water babies have been land monkeys for the time being, they are definitely ready to return to the sea.  We talked with the Bartlett’s yesterday and made the final plans, as much as we could guess, for Evan and his wife, Olivia to meet us in Panama.  Looking forward to some good times with them and perhaps a new credit card)  Brad and Ella have just left to buy a paddle from a local fisherman, and Chase and I are “chillaxn” (Chase’s word, not mine) together finding new apps to fill the iPad for the long months ahead without internet.  We are looking forward to the quietness of the islands and the adventure of the next couple of months…. Enjoy the cold weather wherever you are…….it is HOT here!!

Ella Modesitt

By Ella Modesitt

In Bonaire, I went SCUBA diving with my dad.  It was fun.  We went under two boats – the dinghy and

I’m a Mermaid!

Rivers2Seas.  I saw so many fish, there must have been 100 of them.  I liked it because we could be under the water together.  My dad and I shared the same tank.  I felt totally like a mermaid.  I moved my legs like a mermaid too.

We saw a parade.  There were people with really pretty dresses.  One little girl gave me and my brother a piece of candy.  They were dancing in their fancy dresses.  The music was really loud so that everyone could hear.  I think a little too loud.

I liked the colorful buildings

We sailed to Curacao.  Daddy went to customs all day long.  I played with a little French girl on our boat.  We played hide and seek with Chase.  I did not understand a single word she said.  She didn’t want to go home.  Chase and I played on the best park yet.  It wasn’t broken or torn or rusted.  Chase and I got ice cream.  We went to customs and looked at all the houses.  They were all sorts of colors.

On the passage to Santa Marta, Colombia in the night there was lots and lots and lots of lightning.  We all had to go down into one room so if the mast was hit by lightning we wouldn’t be killed or injured.  We put on wetsuits that were really hot and read some books.  Chase was throwing up.  There was lots of rain.  I did not see any cats and dogs.   I didn’t really sleep – it was too hard.

We were close to land but before we got there lightning came again.  We read some more of my Mermaid book.

Rivers2Seas is now tied up at a dock in Santa Marta Colombia.  I have sailed a super duper long way.  I have been to 21 countries so far.  My favorite country was Bonaire or maybe Saba or…all of them.

St. Lucia to Bonaire

Right now I am exhausted.  Bone tired.  I haven’t done much during this passage from St. Lucia to Bonaire.  Not much except worry.  The sailing is great, easy even.  A large following sea gives us a nice push in the exact direction we want to go.  The wind is directly behind us pushing on the jib and genaker giving us an average of over 6 knots towards our goal that was originally 450 miles away.  We now have about 150 to go after sailing for the last 48 hours.  Yep, the sailing is going great.

The crew is doing well.  Our newest member, Worm (or Gunner or Damian depending on which ski patrol you know him from), has been a real asset.  Lindsey Worm and I take 3-hour watches, which gives us six hours off.  Well, it could.  An hour before my shift started last night Worm woke me up about a ship that was close and not moving.  We couldn’t tell if it was a tanker or two separate fishing ships.  An hour after it was first sighted, all of a sudden it took off fast and did a semicircle around the boat at 12 miles perfectly.  I wouldn’t know this if I couldn’t track him on radar.   It is a weird track, but he’s probably just fishing.  Later, after my shift was over Lindsey woke me from a deep sleep to say another ship was coming right at us.  It was coming fast, but the worry made it seem to take forever.  It was just another fishing boat.  All sleep had to be abandoned for the day.  Time to wrestle with the kids and read books together.Leaving our home in St. Lucia

Why am I so worried?  Pirates.  Not the ones my kids are pretending to be right now.  I can handle the foam swords just fine, even when I get that full smack across the face.  It’s the AK-47 wielding pirates that would board, kill me, rape my wife and sell my kids that has me worried.  I would gladly take the killing if the other two wouldn’t happen.  But really, I’d rather none of this to take place.

The Venezuelan coast has become so notorious that our insurance company won’t allow us to travel to the country.  Too bad, when I was there to bicycle south to Chile in 1994 it was a fantastic country with some really friendly and giving people.  Drug runners now control the coasts and hijackings and murders are a real possibility.  The AIS (automatic information system) is turned off.  We don’t want the pirates to see a 41-foot by 24-foot private sailing vessel out here, unprotected and easy picking.  There is certainly no need to give them a road map to where we are.  Our navigation lights are still on at night, so if they get close, they could find us.  This is why I worry.

I worry at watch.  I worry while I’m “sleeping”.  I worry constantly.  I don’t talk about it to anyone.  Why would I?  If they aren’t worried, then I should let them enjoy this really nice passage.  And anyway, the captain is always the first to be tossed overboard.

 

As I was checking out of St. Lucia the immigration officer questioned me about Ella.  “She’s crew?” she asked dubiously.  “Well, yes she is,” I replied.  I had almost written that she was more than crew and actually first mate.  That would have caused some trouble so I’m glad I just put crew.  She is actually crew, with responsibilities.  She helps run this ship.  “Yes maam, she’s six and does a great job aboard Rivers2Seas.”  When the woman next looked at Chase’s passport with “crew” marked, she just looked up at me with these eyes of disbelief.  I was ready to list his responsibilities like the anchor light, navigation lights, steaming light, repairman’s assistant and monitor of the fishing lines.  She didn’t ask.  Bummer.  I wanted to impress her with what a 4-year-old can do if given the opportunity.  It seems most kids these days have absolutely no responsibilities.  Ours do and it has made them far better people.

We had some people aboard who left the transom shower on all night.  It has one main on/off handle and another one

on top the mast again

on the showerhead to use so that water is conserved while moving the head around.  The head doesn’t really shut off.  Well, I told these adults about it and explained how to use it and they left it on.  We lost 70 gallons of water.  Some of the water went into the hull, but most just overboard.  I had to use the wet vac in all three bilges down the port hull to get it all out.  I was very nice when I mentioned that it was really important to turn things off.  The reply is what will stay with me forever.  “If it’s that important to you Brad, then maybe you should have checked it yourself.”  My 4-year-old can handle it, but not these 40-year-olds.  I just replied that I agreed.  Mistakes happen. Some people are sailors, some aren’t.  Are Chase and Ella crew on Rivers2Seas – you bet?  Certainly better behaved and more fun than people who on paper appear that they could be sailors.

The spare halyard just broke and sent the genakker flying into the sea.  The three adults managed to wrestle it back onboard without much issue.  I always wondered what would happen if one of the halyards broke.  Now I know.  I’m just glad it happened in light winds and during the day after my coffee.  The hard part will be winding a spare line through the mast when we hit port.

We make the 470-mile passage (a little more than the direct path from tacking) in 77 ½ hours.  Not bad, considering the wind was directly behind us, which is a poor point of sail and only at 15 knots.  A Mahi Mahi made for a nice fresh dinner en route.  A school of 400-pound tuna got us excited, but we didn’t catch any.  Watching the hundreds of fish leap out of the water covering a several hundred-yard space was truly amazing.

Rivers2Seas above with dinghy and fish below

Bonaire is described on all their literature as a diving paradise.  It is.  After tying up to a mooring ball, because you can’t anchor and damage reefs that way, we do a dive right off the back of Rivers2Seas.  Down 40 feet to the bottom and the reef cliff then plunges down to 114 feet.  I know the depth because I just had to go to see the bottom.  Two dives a day for two tanks adds up pretty fast, so we opted to get a package fill of our tanks – 21 fills for $107US.  Compared to the $100 per dive price, we have congratulated ourselves on the nice gear we purchased.  Nice, as in it works.  Most of it is falling apart, but the essential components work if just a little leaky.

SCUBA diving brings us to another world.  Every creature is simply weird.  Hundreds of fish from tiny yellow angelfish no bigger than the end of my pinky to large 6-foot tarpon patrol the water.  Odd shaped fish like flutes and puffer fish and boxfish swarm all around the tube coral.  Sharp-tongued eels slither around the bottom poking their heads into holes looking for food.  Shrimp and other spider looking guys run around the coral heads.  It’s simply amazing to witness.

The MAN – Turtle at his best

The kids have been having fun snorkeling but wanted to try the

A SCUBA diving family!

SCUBA.  Ella is now hooked and asks to go every day.  Thankfully, I can appease her and take her diving for a few minutes after my dive.  Hey, if I have to go diving to make my kids happy, that is what I will do.  Chase enjoys it too but would rather do cannonballs off the boat.

We arrived in Bonaire during the Queen’s day celebration and saw a brightly colored if super short parade.  The kids loved the dancing and colorful costumes.  The town has a slow pace and clean atmosphere.  The Dutch islands are the best taken care of in the Caribbean.  We will return to dive here and to Saba for sure.

Heaven?

The weather forecast for the difficult run to Cartagena, Columbia is looking really good.  Low winds mean small seas in this notorious spot.  Tomorrow we will leave for Curacao and then head off to the South American mainland the next day.  Woo Hoo.