Aruba, Hello, Again…..And, Good Bye!

December 21-29, 2017

This time, the check-in with Customs and Immigration went without a hitch.  It almost looked like we knew what we were doing!

This is just a quick stop.  Until the weather changes and we have a better angle of wind and waves to head further West.

 

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A Charlie Brown Christmas Basil Plant

Provisioning, a few boat repairs, and trying to play catch – up with the blog with very intermittent internet service are on the To Do List.  We are back in the land of having to take the dinghy to town to do anything useful on the computer.

Angie spent 4 days sorting, resizing and uploading blog pics.   The blog text and most pictures for Bonaire got uploaded at the last minute. Aruba posts will have to wait until we have wifi again.  It could be a month.

We are planning to head to the San Blas Islands off of Panama with maybe a day or two stop in Columbia if the winds and waves start kicking us, but hoping to go straight through.  We shall see!!

 

Bonaire, Good Bye

 

Dec 20, 2017

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Another great departure gift that will help keep us on track!

Well, it is time to say good bye to Bonaire.  It is so bittersweet.  We are excited about continuing on, but sad to leave the people, the place, and the diving.  We look forward to returning when we complete our circumnavigation and see who is still here and see what has changed since this visit. Until then,  Ayo, ku Dios ke!

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A very tattered Bonaire Flag

 

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Good Bye Bonaire Friends!

 

 

Bonaire, Last Minute Departure Prep

 

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Sharon from Kokomo Kat organized a Tuna Tuesday  (Fresh tuna, four ways for $15) trip to Hillside Village Bar and Grill.  We met up with Barb and Chuck from Tussen Tak II,  Bruce, Yolanda, Iris and Tunitsia (Bruce has been helping Sharon get her autopilot functioning), and Kate and Ian.   We had a fabulous last meal out on Bonaire.  We are really going to miss this place and all of the people we have met.  The Hillside Village Bar and Grill is another place we have had many Friday Night happy hours and dinner with more Bonairian friends: Kate, Ian, Peter, Chi, Cami and Brian.  We met these people first at a wine tasting at Le Garage, and then continued to see them off and on over the months as well.  Such good memories!  The Hillside has wonderful sunset and hillside views at night with the houses all lit up!

Sharon gave us many pointers for our trip through the San Blas Islands.  She spent 6 months there.  We are thinking of bypassing Columbia and head straight for the islands to get as much time in, as possible.  Sharon also let us torture Tom2, her feral boat kitty.  She so much reminds us of our Mean Kitty. Gotta love the cattitude!!

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Our Leg and Arm inflatable Immobilizers for our Medical Kit

It seems like we have been on Bonaire forever and had all of this free time.  Now, when we are getting ready to depart, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to get everything done that is needed.  We finally went to the Wednesday night Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire presentation at Yellow Submarine dive shop and the TerraMar Museum.

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We thoroughly enjoyed learning about the turtles around Bonaire, and in general. We also enjoyed the museum.  Angie especially enjoyed the coral reclamation display.

Underwater coral reef reclamation, SS2 Underwater coral reef reclamation 3, SS2 Underwater coral reef reclamation 2, SS2 Staghorn coral restoration project, RPW Staghorn coral restoration project 2, RPW Staghorn coral colony, RPW

These are pictures we have taken while diving of  coral “gardens” and reef reclamation projects we encountered.

We are impressed with the groups on Bonaire and their desire to help preserve  and conserve the underwater and marine environment, something that is very near and dear to our hearts.

Bonaire, Budget Marine Walk, Run, Triathlon, Regatta

 

Dec 15-17, 2017

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A Clipper Ship Came to Town!

 

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Tug boats filling the pool back up

We had a final farewell, going away pizza party Friday night with our Kanti Awa friends.  We are really going to miss this group of people who have taken us in.  They are the first Bonairians we started hanging out with, and they made us feel welcome. We were introduced in September and have been meeting up with them almost weekly ever since.  Marilee and Noel have the Antillean Wine Tastings every second Saturday of every month at their shop, Le Garage.  It is a fun way to taste different wines and meet new people! What a fantastic place to pick up kitchen necessities (It is like a mini IKEA!)

Margot and Matthew, Anske, Artie, Evie and Larry, (Evie has the Daily Delicious Cafe in town with wonderful quiche, fresh sushi and sandwiches), Pam (Budget Marine), Jeynaba (when we first met, she had worked on painting the Old Fishing Boats for the 50th Regatta with Yopi).  Angie still forgets Kanti Awa’s owners name…Will have to work on that. It starts with a G, and she always wants to call him “Garcon,” which is wrong.(Need to work on those memory skills…..) Hanging out with this group of friends is what made us want to learn Papiamento and to find out more about the Dutch history of Indonesia.

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We found that you can have food delivered for $3.50 from downtown to this bar just across from our mooring site.  We ordered two pizzas from Rumba, and they were delicious.  Actually, the best pizza we have had since St Augustine’s Carmelo’s>   Although, for some reason, anchovies showed up on them (Andy Keenan would be pleased!)

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The delivery company was taking Friday off, so Mark hopped in the dinghy and became a pizza delivery driver, once again, just like the good old summertime college part-time job days, after working all day at GE.

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Saturday evening, we signed up to do a 5k walk/run.  We were surprised at the amount of cruisers that showed up for support.  It was fun walking and talking with everyone (Mostly Artie !)

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Two of us did the run. Two of us did the walk.

 

Angie thought the route was going to be much shorter than it turned out to be, but all was good.  Most of the cruisers headed to town for dinner.  We stayed at Canti Awa with Matthew, enjoying a beer.  Rob and Kate on Addagio  showed up as well and we enjoyed the rest of the evening talking smack and testing out Matthew’s bug spray (Au natural, made on Bonaire with Neem oil and Lemongrass.)

Sunday morning came EARLY on Uno Mas.  We volunteered to help Pam from Budget Marine with the Triathlon.   We were a motorized chase boat for the short leg of the swim event and also a corner flagger for the run and bicycle short and long routes.  We were supposed to keep count of how many times the participants went by and then direct them to the finish line on their last pass.  However, when a group of athletes would go by at the same time, and not have their numbers all displayed in the same area, Angie could not catch them all.  All of a sudden, the anxiety started rising.  It was reminding her of timing for the Vipers. MUST-CATCH-EVERY -SINGLE-ONE.

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We were supposed to keep traffic from going down the street the participants were using and stop traffic  for them to cross the main road, if needed. Most people were friendly and just motored on to the next turn off.  However, we had a few people get rather irate and blasted through anyways.  We do not know enough Papiamento to understand exactly what they were yelling, but the hand gestures and escalation of voice gave us a pretty good idea. Thankfully, no one got ran over or hit by a car. (That we know of)

The fishing boats came out to race again for the Regatta!  This time, the crew on Arantsa is Mike and Carlos – New Bonairians we met Friday night at Canti Awa.

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Bonaire, Where It is Good to be at the Top of the Food Chain

 

Dec 13, 2017

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The initial swarms

 

A boat left the mooring in front of us.  Just after it headed out, we started seeing multiple small swarms of fish “boiling” between us and Windancer 4. At first, we thought the boat had dumped their holding tanks prematurely, to be able to attract that many fish.  All of a sudden, the schools formed into two huge bait balls and split themselves between the two catamarans.  It was crazy to watch as the masses moved underneath the boats.  The two inch long minnows were pushed up in a wave onto the back sugar scoops.

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We decided to don our snorkel gear and jump in the water to watch the show.  The minnows  further split themselves between the two hulls.   Then, we saw what was chasing them, another huge swarm of 8 inch long Bigeye Scad.

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We watched as both masses danced back and forth, one being the predator and one being the prey.  It didn’t take long for the scad to start annihilating  the thousands of minnows, leaving tiny fish scales falling like confetti in the water.  Everywhere you looked, there were silver sparkles, tinkling down to the reef fish below. (And, of course, causing all kinds of particulate spots in the pictures.)  Funny, we noticed that the schools of Sergeant Majors and Creole Wrasses that normally hang out under our boat, were nowhere to be seen.

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After a bit, smaller swarms of Bar Jacks and Yellow Snappers came along, interrupting the Bigeyes’ feeding frenzy.  The Bigeyes were then schooling and getting out of the way of the larger fish. After about 20 minutes of watching the dance to the death, four foot long Tarpons showed up.

P1080357 P1080384 At one point, we had 12 of them.  These guys at first, swam slowly around and around, checking out the action and calculating the best approach.   All of a sudden, they would shoot like arrows into the swarms, gulping up mouthfuls of minnows.  They started circling faster and faster.  You could hear their snouts and bodies thumping against our hulls, getting too close, for maximum effect.

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If the minnows were freaked out before, they were now even more frantic.  We could feel them brushing against us as they split and reformed schools all around us and Uno Mas, trying to evade the predators.  It was an amazing sight to watch.  After 30-45 minutes of watching the show, Angie started feeling bad for the minnows.  By the end, there were few left.

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At a later point, underneath our dinghy, still hanging off the davits on the back of Uno Mas, the water was still churning with the Tarpons’ bodies barely breaking the water’s surface, still scooping away.  At that point, we thought it was good for us to be seen as the next biggest fish in the sea, as long as nothing else came out of the deep dark blue water from behind us.  After dwelling on this thought for a bit, we decided to exit the water and see if we got any good photo shots that could depict what we just witnessed.  No need to part of the natural selection cycle going on underneath us.

Friends snorkeled by to watch.  We offered them beers and free admission to the show.

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On a side note, if we see something like this again, we need to immediately shut off our generator, if it is running.  We had a few minnows/guts get sucked up into our intake.  Thankfully, Mark heard the change in pitch in the generator and quickly shut it down.  It did not overheat, which is a very good thing!

Also, for a few days afterwards, we had fish remains in our toilet intake line.  It stunk like death. No amount of lemongrass oil could cover the stench. The smell would make Angie nauseous as she had to stand there and pump the head 20 times, each time she used the bathroom.  She found it best to stick her head in her armpit to breathe while waiting for the toilet water to go down. (She is thankful for deodorant!) Windancer solved their smell problem with back flushing with fresh water and vinegar. We were gearing up to head to the hardware store, in order to install a back flush system for the intake lines as well.  Somehow, we think we may need this again in the future.  However, the smell corrected itself, just as we were getting organized to head to town.  Angie had to use the head “one last time” before the half hour walk.  We must have flushed enough to get all of the carnage out.  Smell problem resolved.  We will work on that back flush system another time.

On a final note, all of the fish bumping up against our hulls cleaned the growth off of the bottom of the boat in most areas.  Angie’s job of cleaning the upper parts of the hulls was postponed until the next time!

 

Party On, Uno Mas!

Dec 12, 2017

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Do you think all of the groceries will fit? This is a Twizy!

 

Since our boat finally got cleaned up a bit for having people on board, we decided to reciprocate all of the boat invites we have had with our friends around us in the mooring field.  We had 9 people on Uno Mas for drinks and apps.

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The apps turned into Greek night with Spanikopita pastry shells, handmade stuffed grape leaves (which, unfortunately, tasted so much better the next day),  tzatziki and olive tapenade,  Texas caviar with chips, hummus and veggies, prosciutto cheese wraps, and key lime pie parfait cups.

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We have never had this many people on board at one time.  However, everyone had a great time socializing.  At times like this, Angie thinks we could use a bigger boat with a larger exterior seating area.  However, that thought quickly goes away when it gets back to just the two of us, which is 99.9% of the time.  Uno Mas is just fine!

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We were gifted with wine and our own Uno Mas dive site Bonaire marker rock from Windancer IV!  We love it!!  Angie thinks it will be showing up in photos as we are diving around the world!

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Alas, our friends on Wild Bird, along with Pip and Gem, departed before our party. We absolutely adored watching the pups manage the paddleboard and jump on and off the dinghy!  It makes us miss our furry family.  May they have fair winds and a wonderful visit to Cuba!

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With thinking of moving on to the next place, it is bittersweet.  We thoroughly enjoying meeting new people and making friends that will last a lifetime, as well as finding people on the same path around the world.  It is sad to leave places where we have met so many wonderful people, both on shore and out on the water.  You never know when you will see people again, but it always feels like it won’t be the last.  At least, we hope not.  Bonaire still remains to be a very special place for us.

Taking Uno Mas to Klein Bonaire

 

Dec 3, 2017

Uno Mas has been sitting for three months now.  It is time to do a trial run, blow out the engines, shake out the sails, get us used to boat movement of a good kind, again.  We took friends to Klein Bonaire for some diving, lunch, more diving/snorkeling and a nice cruise back to the mooring field.

Spotted Drum, intermediate, 2, MH Green moray, MH Sponge view, MH Azure vase sponge 4, MH

Angie was nervous with all of the mooring ball, dive marker hook ups that needed to be done (6. She is usually good for 3 strenuous events in a day).  You never know what is going to happen with picking up or discarding the lines. She has to hang over the front aluminum spreader between the two hulls, on her stomach, upside down, and try to connect our two bridle lines to a rope loop attached to the dive markers, with an extended boat hook.  All the while, trying to give Mark directions on how to steer the boat and make it look easy for our guests.  We have used our two way radio headsets in the past for this.  While they work great, Angie usually has to pull her headset off because it gets tangled in the rigging or  she is at risk of having it flip off her head and into the water.  We opted to not use the headsets this time.  Needless to say, the upside down communication hand gestures were not working so well.

The first dive marker “pick up” at Forest was a  complete fiasco.  The make-shift bridle set up didn’t work as planned and the lines got twisted around our genoa furler and code zero rigging.  The strain from the wind blowing us away from the marker buoy  ended up pulling the rivets out of our code zero safety line attachment before everything could get untangled. After a few tries, and reconfiguring, Angie was able to finally get it settled; However, she didn’t like the way Uno Mas was aimed due to the wind and waves. Our aft was too close to the rocky, coral shore for her comfort. She decided to stay on the boat, prep for lunch, and closely watch what was going on with the boat movement.  The dive marker buoy at Forest was only a screw hold into the sand, and not attached to big concrete mooring blocks.  The worse case scenarios running through her head were not good.  She was getting seasick with having to hang upside down, with the boat moving up and down, during the loop pick up. Thankfully,  the  Bonine worked and she didn’t take it too late!

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Kate and Ian

After the divers got back onto Uno Mas, it was quickly decided to move the boat around the corner of the island to Monk’s Haven, our second dive site for the day.  The land at this point, was protecting us from the wind and waves. Our aft was aimed out to sea, instead of shore.  The second dive marker pick up went without a hitch.  (Now that’s the way it should be!)

Yellowhead wrasse with red, FOR Smooth Trunkfish, Juvenile, FOR Trumpetfish, yellow phase, FOR Queen Angelfish 2, FOR  Instead of diving, after lunch, Angie and Kate went snorkeling to shore on Klein Bonaire.  We were able to see the interior “lake” that looks like a big salt flat.  (Angie was hoping to see flamingos. Nope.)  Angie was able to get her dime bag of Klein Bonaire sand, and Ian and Mark got their second dive in.  After the dessert course of chocolate chia seed pudding parfaits, the autopilot did its job and took us back to our mooring.

It turned out to be a wonderful day with great friends, good food, and we got Uno Mas moving out on the water again!

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Bonaire, More Boat Projects

 

Our access stairs (sugar scoops) on the back of Uno Mas’ two hulls leak. A LOT.  (It could stem from us peeling all of the caulking out of the seams, undoing all of the screws and trying to pry the stair treads up, hoping we could turn the stairways into hinged storage areas when we first bought Uno Mas, like we have seen on other Lagoons.)  They have leaked  since 2009.  Angie usually has to peel and recaulk them every 4 months.  We have tried multiple types of caulk.  The UV resistant kind still seems to crack, craze, disintegrate and stain.  It is a constant eye sore, every time we enter and exit the boat.   Mark caulked the sugar scoops the last time, while we were in the Bahamas in March/April.  They are now in need of another round.  Mark’s idea this time, is to peel out all of the old caulk and two part epoxy the seams, making a permanent seal.  Then, if that does not crack with the hull flexing while in passage, we will put a nice layer of white gel coat over the yellow epoxy, and hopefully, be done with this constant thorn in our side.  We have other areas in need of fiberglass and gel coat repair, so this is the start of THAT huge “To Do” list.  Keeping our fingers crossed!

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Mark  has also been experimenting with trying to cool down our refrigerator and freezer components, hoping to make them more efficient, and not run as long.  His initial idea is to add two small fans that blow cabin air into the storage compartment, and then have it exit a louvered vent.  It seems to help.  HOWEVER, the two fans we had (initially for our generator exhaust, but the plastic melted) make a lot of noise.  They were interlocked to run when the components kicked on. They were annoying and quickly removed.  Mark next disconnected the heater-a/c vent at the top of the cavity, thinking heat rises, so will evacuate naturally.  This did help, however, being a mechanical engineer,  things always work better by adding a mechanical component.    Hence, we are now becoming accustomed to receiving Amazon shipments in to Bonaire.  (Sometimes it works great, and other times, not so much.  That is another blog post altogether.)  We now have two more fans that are extremely quiet. You cannot even tell they are running.  They run constantly, and the old heater-a/c duct is still removed from the vent.

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While checking the engines, the starboard side’s fresh water strainer cracked.  It is now two part epoxied together and on our next Amazon shipment wish list, to be delivered sometime in the very distant future, maybe while hauled out in Panama.

We also sprung a new leak at the pressure gauge after replacing the cracked oil separator on our Max Air dive compressor.  Max Air via DHL got us a new gauge. Expedited shipping, of course.

 

 

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We are always going back and forth on whether to install a shut off valve on our engine exhaust lines.  We have loops in the tubing and “air locks” installed already.  However, if we get water from a wave to bypass these, we could lose an engine.  One idea Mark had was to install stainless steel ball valves in line.  However, they could seize up and not function when we needed them.  It could be a pain to have to run downstairs, and go through an access panel in the sugar scoops to have to turn them off or on.  Something that could not happen quickly, if needed in an emergency.  So, Mark is not 100% about installing them.

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Another option that we see is installing exterior flappers on the exhaust ports .  However, a flapper could fail or most likely get ripped off.  Anyways, we bought the stainless steel two inch ball valves, just in case it was a definite “go.”   Well, since they are “stainless steel” we thought we should test them out in a salt water environment before installation.  Mark tied them to a string, and hung them off the back of Uno Mas in the salt water for a week, testing their corrosion factor.  The exterior did great; however, the valve stems, not so much.  We are not going to be installing these.

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Cheap Chinese stainless steel is our constant fight on Uno Mas.  Even our water bottles rusted.  We are always finding new rust spots on our fiberglass from something finally giving up its “stainless” properties.

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Angie had a wonderful “crafty” day with Sarah from Rhapsody and Jeynaba ( a newly relocated Bostonian to Bonaire) at Jeynaba’s condo.  It was good to get out the buried deep beads, jewelry making fun stuff,  work with sea glass and have some “girl” time.  Angie finally has her Bonaire anklet and has enjoyed playing with sea glass mosaics again.  Go figure, turtles seem to always show up in the glass and snowmen turn up whenever there are uncrushed sea urchins!

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Bonaire, Thanksgiving

 

There was a cruiser pot luck on shore at Brita’s early in the week!  We were both very excited at the invite.  We were not planning to make any type of Thanksgiving meal on Uno Mas.  It was a bit overwhelming just imagining trying to cook everything on our 3 burner, mini oven Force 10 unit.  People do it, but it just didn’t seem to be that important to us this year.  Besides, there are only 2 of us.  If only Van Den Tweel had Hungry Man TV dinners.  That would be perfect for us, AND reminiscent of our first Thanksgiving being married, back in 1992,  in a tiny, hole of an apartment,  in Golden, Colorado! Most of the people attending were Canadian, so their traditional and our traditional food seems to be quite different.  We brought the Green Bean Casserole. (It took 5 grocery stores/markets to find the French’s Fried Onions. We were going to use “Potato Stix” or “Funyons” as an alternative, but we FINALLY found the real stuff at a cheap, Chinese market, go figure!)  Angie is thankful she was forced into being sociable and had a great time meeting new cruisers from the mooring field!

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Leftover Green Bean Casserole with Japanese Spice!

On Thanksgiving Day, we did our first 2 hour long dive at Joanne’ Sunchi on Klein Bonaire in the morning.  For some reason, we were not really using much air. (Maybe because we were staying shallower, above 50 feet due to not wanting the underwater camera to fail.)   The South – Southwest area of Klein Bonaire is starting to be our favorite spot to dive.  We are always in search of seahorses! The South side is known for many sightings.  Nope, we didn’t find any.  However, we saw a 3 ft long Porcupinefish.  He is OLD and looks like he has had a very rough life!  We are seeing more lionfish now on each dive.  The water has cooled off a bit, by a degree or two, and they are starting to go shallower.  Angie is starting to get chilled on the dives with just having a thin skin for protection. We saw garden eels for the first time, a southern stingray, a Greater Soapfish (they usually are more visible and active at night), a small green turtle, and finally, Black and White Bi-Color Coneys with fluorescent blue dots. (We have been seeing a lot of the brown/grey ones.)

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In the afternoon, Angie worked on making flags.  Columbia and Panama.  We really do not know which way we are going to go.  She also was working on mold patrol inside.  With the humidity rising inside the boat to over 80%, the mold starts showing up.  We had an Amazon order shipment arrive with the Mold Armour in it that seems to work.  We are hoping it will last the 3 months as advertised!

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Rum Runners Restaurant in the Captain Don’s Dive Resort  pulled off a great Thanksgiving Buffet dinner on Thanksgiving Day!  We went with our friend’s, Ian and Kate for the first seating.  Wouldn’t you know it, but half of the cruisers seemed to show up as well!    It is interesting being in a foreign country, where they try to be authentic with the American holidays.  We really enjoy experiencing the differences.  The cranberry sauce was a bit spicy, and not everything was made with pumpkin, as another restaurant’s menu had listed (Mark was thankful for that).  However, he actually did try the pumpkin bisque soup and thought it was “better than he expected.”  Still, no green bean casserole, but we took care of that earlier in the week. Angie now is thinking the traditional cranberry sauce may need a bit of a kick, if we make it in the future.  However, she is certain Mark would not go for her trying to do a savory pumpkin soup.

We also had a great view of the water, watching the huge Tarpon swim in and check for food.  There were also night divers in the water off of the restaurant.  It was fun to follow their  dive lights flashing back and forth, like light sabers out in the distance.

We were thoroughly stuffed, and claiming never to go to a buffet again (tongue in cheek).  We hope that everyone has a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving back home in the States!!!!

Where To Next?

 

We are not 100% sure at this point where we will land next.  With the weather openings, we may take a two day window  and stage and provision in Aruba.  Angie also needs to get 2017 to our CPA before the end of the year and pay taxes.  This needs to happen before continuing further West.  Did we mention Angie’s accounting computer gave up on the salt water environment we live in?  Yep, she needs to recreate 2017 manually.

Then, we move on towards either Columbia or the San Blas Islands, Panama with the next opportunity.  We are interested in doing a guided motorcycle tour of Columbia’s back country.  We are interested in the architecture of Santa Marta and Cartagena.  We are interested in touring the National Park outside of Santa Marta and a walking tour of Bogata.  However, we can also do this another time, when we do South America by land. Angie would like to be more fluent in Spanish.  We have been lacking in our Learning Spanish Flashcard schoolwork. Mark thinks his translator app on his phone will work just fine. We shall see.

Panama or Columbia??

The San Blas Islands of Panama are also calling our name.  From what we have gathered so far, they remind us of the remoter islands that we enjoyed so much in the Bahamas.  After being in civilization for so long (Since May), Angie is getting antsy for some serious down time.  Her boat projects seem to never get completed when there are too many other things to do.   There is always somewhere to go, people to see, blog posts to update, wifi to scab  etc.  It is tough on an introvert!