Oct 11, 2017
Three times now we have happened upon small island regattas. One Cruisers’(expat) in Georgetown, Bahamas and two local in Aruba and Bonaire. The one in Bonaire was by far the best. Expats have imposed way too many rules, schedules and scripted talent shows (no local flavor, one could have been in any yacht club in the USA and not notice any difference). On the opposite side of the pendulum, Bonaire only posted a race schedule and what band is playing on the three stages, in no particular order. Everyone knows that the International Flag Parade is Wednesday night, model sailboat awards ceremony Thursday night, and the downtown party Saturday night with 40 local vendors selling art and food. Water trike races were Saturday. One gets the idea, everything happened perfectly “on schedule” (especially when there isn’t one) in island time.
Bonaire provided us with the best racing show so far in our travels. Big cruisers to Sunfish and small Optimist (which looked like the young kid group was 10 yr olds) to racing J boats, Windsurfers to Kite Hydrofoil surfers, with 11 classes in all. Our favorite hands down was the Old Fishing boat class. This class consisted of four fishing boats (one from the 1st Bonaire Regatta, 50 years ago). All boats were in need of rehabilitation and dug out of peoples’ back yards. Only two raced the first day as final touches were completed on the other two boats. Four raced the 2nd and 3rd day, some in need of being towed back. All four sailed and finished on the 3rd day. One was plagued by dryrot breakage on the rudder, another had rigging ripping out of the hull, another missing the sails (they were sure grandma had them in the shed, finally found in a neighbor’s).
We have watched over the past few weeks that we have been here, the hard work that everyone has done to try to resurrect these relics. Everyone is proud that they were able to get four of these old boats ready for this historic regatta. All had bail buckets operating for the races. All had a fresh coat of paint and lots of new fiberglass covering or fixing the rotted hulls. They always had a police or Bonaire Marine boat shadowing them for a tow, which were utilized, a lot, in the first races. However, they always made it back to shore and then diligently worked on and fixed to prepare for the next race. You can see the pride emanating from the people who helped make this memorable event happen.