The Best of Bonaire and Curacao …

Since returning to Pipistrelle in August in Curacao, we have enjoyed the diversity of the Dutch Antilles both above and below the water line.  Here are highlights of the last few weeks.

With Ian and Victoria who joined us in Curacao for 10 days on board Pipistrelle, we sailed to Bonaire and became landlubbers for a day when we hired a ‘truck’ to tour the island.

To the northwest is the Washington-Slagbaai National Park – seen here in the background of the photo above.

Flamingoes abound, feeding on tiny organisms.

Pretty Flamingoes on Gotomeer

The vast saltpans in the south of the island reopened after WWII and are as important as ever to Bonaire’s economy. Salt factories closed after the abolition of slavery in 19th century.  Thousands of slaves were imported to work in appalling conditions and live in cramped huts.

Bonaire – salt and saltpan

Bonaire – tiny slave huts

One of the three different coloured pyramids along the coast – flags matching the colour of the pyramid were flown to show ships where to drop anchor and load salt.

Bonaire – pyramids along coast

Here are more pictures of some of the marvellous marine life we have seen at one of the world’s top diving destinations…

Seahorse

Midnight Parrotfish

Goldentail Moray Eel (top right)

We slipped into a daily routine while in dive mode, getting boatie things, provisioning and laundry done in the morning, having an early lunch and then proceeding as a gang of three dinghies (ex. Nemo, Superted and Pipistrelle) to collect refilled cylinders from a nearby dive operator.

Though the snorkelling was fantastic, Elaine finally decided to take a diving course with ‘Wannadive’ so that she too could discover some of the mysteries of the deep.  Conditions were conducive to learning (see photos above!) and after 3.5 days, 4 open water dives and a lot of theory, she received her PADI qualification.  Hurrah and thanks Wannadive!   So, equipped with 2nd hand gear, we can now go diving together and have already been on 3 excursions.  To find out more about Wannadive, click here http://www.wannadive.com.

PADI course classroom!

Outside the hurricane belt, the Netherlands Antilles and surrounding area are nonetheless subject to heavy rainfall and thunderstorms during September and October.  At lunchtime one day lightning struck two or three tanks at the large oil depot near the National Park, one containing crude oil, the other containing naphtha which burned for about 72 hours before it was thankfully extinguished.  Flames rose to about 300 ft and smoke billowed, forming black cloud which then fell as rain and covered Pipistrelle and other moored yachts with oily smuts.

Blazing naphtha tank

While Bonaire has a holiday feel about it, Curacao is a busy commercial island with its capital Willemstad boasting a colonial Dutch heritage reflected in architecture, canals, bridges and museums.

Willemstad – Dutch Colonial Buildings on the Handels Kade

Willemstad – souvenirs at the Venezuelan market

Kura Hulanda Hotel Spa – Waterfall in foreground, Ian, Victoria and Bob in background

Spanish Water anchorage

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