We are starting to plan our route to head West again. After over three months of being here, we are starting to get antsy to move on. We have thoroughly enjoyed our visit back to Bonaire and have met many wonderful people, both on shore and on the water. We have met many boats that we will see along the way when we cross the Pacific Ocean.
We have picked up a quick tutorial booklet from Addos Bookstore to help us speak Papiamento, the locals’ language. Dutch and English are also spoken, but we thought we would have better luck with something that is closer to Spanish, even though we do not know that either. We plan to “swing by” Bonaire again when we finish our circumnavigation in 3-4-5 years.
We have also been granted true Bonairian Cruiser status by having a two- three inch long flying cockroach land on our boat. The wings were large. It flew far. We had heard horror stories of them hitting people in the back of their heads as they were sitting out at night during light winds. Ours landed in our lines. The movement startled Angie at first. She helped it along and swatted it into the water, hoping to quickly feed a fish. Squishing it would have made a mess. Then, she got distraught as it tried swimming back to Uno Mas and also tried to exit the water via our dinghy painters. It would take a nice sized jack to gulp that thing down. Mark came to the rescue. He jumped into the tender, let it get on the lines, pinched its head off and tossed it back in the water. Hopefully, some fish will appreciate the effort. We need to leave before we have any more try to hitch hike to Panama. Having a bug infestation is Angie’s worst nightmare on Uno Mas. (Well, one of them.)
We REALLY want to find seahorses! The dive site Rockpile on Klein Bonaire is supposed to have them. We looked. Rumor had it that Keepsake on Klein Bonaire also had ONE. “At the base of the mooring buoy, turn around, look towards shore. It will be on your right in the soft coral.” NOPE. There were 6 of us looking. The dive site West of Rockpile now is supposed to have some. We shall see. Back in 2006 and 2009, we found some off of Oil Slick Leap and Karpata. We may have to go back to those, just in case. Highly doubtful they are still hanging around. Sarah and Bob on Rhapsody found a seahorse clinging to the rubble at the base of the mooring of the boat next to us, in the sandy area. He is no longer there. We are bummed!
Bob and Sarah called up to Uno Mas yesterday while they were swimming through the moorings. A MANTA RAY was cruising down the middle of the boats! Mark was quick and got to experience the show. He even witnessed the 7 ft wing span take off, over the little Eagle Ray that has been hanging around lately. A two for one, once in a lifetime experience! Angie, who was working on blog pictures at the time, took too long to get geared up and in the water to see anything. ((Bathing suit, rash guard, mask, (now, where is the snorkel?)) Mark jumped in the water in his underwear. Quick to react. No fins. Angie is bummed. It was mentioned that it would have been worth it, even if one had to jump in the water naked, in front of everyone. Angie is still weighing that. We are hoping to attract it again with the underwater light which draws the plankton to the back of Uno Mas at night. Now THAT would be a cool experience to see on a night dive. It would make up for the Manta Ray night dive we paid for in Kona, Hawaii, many years ago and did not see A ONE. (We asked for a refund. No luck with that, either!)
Other amazing sights we have only heard about and did not actually experience while here on Bonaire were a whale shark and hammerheads cruising between us and Klein Bonaire. We have been known, (when we see fish jumping out of the water, in a frenzy to get away from something BIG chasing them in the deeps behind the boat) to jump in the dinghy, speed out to the turbulent area, Angie with her mask on, sticking her head in the water, hiney up in the air, and look for the infamous whale shark. So far, nothing. Not even a regular shark. We missed the hammerheads too.
The infamous Rockpile. Famous for seahorses. We looked. Angie looked twice. Upside down, and all around. We were in the water for 76 minutes. Nope. Not a single seahorse. However, Mark did get some photos of fish we rarely see, and some of ones we see often. We must say, Rockpile has the best soft coral, sea fans and plumes we have seen so far. Perfect habitat for seahorses….
Here are a few things that do not require refrigeration that we have found at the grocery stores:
Surprisingly, our digestive systems have not revolted!
The locals are really friendly here. The local fishermen always wave hello. Even when on Klein Bonaire, the dive boats will stop and ask if we need help. (Just being friendly…. Probably because we usually stay down on a dive for 70-90 minutes at a time.) The red glass bottomed submarine drives by our stern almost daily, showing the people inside, the reef along the edge of the island by the harbor. Mark waves to this guy and talks to him all of the time.
THIS guy, however, hit our boat while towing the sea trikes. He NOW knows, that we know, that he knows we know…. Bonaire is Dutch and is not a litigious society. Something that is hard to comprehend. (People not willing to sue someone over absolutely everything.)
Maintenance on our boat tends to be quite a significant portion (at least 2 days) of every week. This includes normal maintenance as well as repair of breakage. For example, this week had me changing the zincs on the props, engines and checking the saildrive and central boat zincs for wear. Propulsion engine needle zincs were gone. We waited too long to change them (8 months). The gen-set needle zinc was changed, just in time, along with the prop zincs. Notes were made in the maintenance log.
The next issue was the inaccurate reading of the brand new ultrasonic Blue Sea water tank sending unit installed 8 months ago. Apparently, they are not compatible with salt water and air environments. I bought a spare ultrasonic depth sender when originally installing the system, just in case this happened. All is working again. I have added another layer of liquid electrical tape to the top, thinking it will help extend the time before another replacement. Wires were rotted from the inside due to improper factory seal at the head.
It should be under warranty, but like every new component that has failed on Uno Mas, once you leave the States, you are on your own. Manufacturers will state all over that their warranties are solid. Sure, if you can ship it back and wait for rebuilt parts to be shipped out. ( A 3 month turn around time if you are lucky). Even with Spectra watermakers (on our friend’s boat), apparently, Bahamas is not covered in the manufacturer “world wide” 100% labor and material lifetime warranty. We went with Ecotech out of Trinadad for our watermaker, and ironically, have been extremely pleased. The off the shelf filters and fancy RO membrane have gone down in price and increased in availability over the past 3 years. The watermaker pre-filters, screens and house water carbon filters were replaced (sourced from Walmart). They worked fine, but over 6 months have passed and time, not usage, dictated they be changed.
A list of other repairs performed this past month:
Next Gen Gen-set. We’ve noticed the amps and voltage have been pulsing until a large load (water heater or heat gun) is added, and the preload pulsing voltage was between 109-118 v and 6 to 11 amp. The gen-set capacitor failed and voltage output stopped. After replacing, the pulsing continued. After reading the generator manual (only available on line), it was determined that the potentiometer needed to be adjusted and engine run speed compensated for the adjustment. You just need to locate the engine throttle adjustment screw, which is not listed in any manual or pic. I guessed the engine stop solenoid may have something to do with it, since there isn’t any exterior adjustment of the governor or idle. The engine stop was lubricated last week with wd40 due to it sticking and not allowing the engine to start. So, a ¼ turn of the stop bar noticeably increased the engine speed and miraculously eliminated the pulsing and increased the voltage output to an even 118 to 120v. No messing around with the generator potentiometer was needed. Notes were made in the maintenance log book, in case the generator starts to pulse voltage and amperage again. The gen-set’s oil needed to also be changed due to another 100 hrs of run time.
Maxair scuba tank fill air compressor. The water/oil separator plug split where the safety electric solenoid was screwed too tightly into the threads from the factory. This happened after 10 hours of run time (break-in) and a failure rendering the unit useless, unless you like to fill you Scuba tanks with 300 lbs instead of 3200 lbs of air. I was able to order the replacement plug along with more supply air carbon filters. Originally, I tried to have the manufacturer warranty the plug, but after 2 weeks and numerus emails, I could see that they were going to draw this out to the “just send in the failed part and we’ll have our engineers evaluate it and get back to you with the assessment. We are leaving Bonaire in 1 month, so…… I paid for a new plug. It is just easier. In the meantime, I was able to tap and thread the bottom of the plug and install a bolt with some Loc-tite. The safety solenoid is still connected, but not screwed into anything. We are now back to filing tanks. There is still a safety pressure relief and manual gauge for safety. We are still waiting for the parts to arrive. We have a tracking number, so maybe two weeks? We have also decided to fill the tanks at a local scuba shop instead of using up our remaining filters. More filters are due to arrive with the shipment as well.
Deck light. The deck light that seems to need replacement every year, is now being replace with 2 LED units. Each unit has the same lums as the original light, so over 2x the light, at a fraction of the amps used. We installed a remote controlled deck light 3 years ago in addition to the now failed factory setup. Of course, it is 20 ft up the mast and requires soldered electrical connections. This is always fun with the winds typically blowing out whatever lighter you use. We have not found one yet that works well.
Side note, soldered electrical connections. It was mentioned to me that the “official boating (lots of letters behind their names) commission recommends that all electrical connections be crimped.” This is beyond BS. (I now feel like an old sailor with a beard and flip-flops here, with tales of yester years.) Since most boaters don’t know how to properly solder, they decided it would be easier to not educate people on proper soldering technique. They would rather make an inferior connection now be the accepted norm. The majority of failed crimped connections I have replaced on Uno Mas were from the factory. ZERO of my soldered connections have failed in 8 years of owning Uno Mas.
Z-Spar goose neck boom connection at the mast. We replaced half of the unit 3 years ago, and now it has become loose again. This time, I redrilled the entire assembly so a larger stainless bolt can be used. One end of the assembly needed a bushing due to the wobble at the worn out end. A brass bushing was sourced at the local hardware store by way of a plumbing fitting. After cutting and filing, we are back in action with the boom remounted to the mast.
Brutons Autoprop bearings loose. In order to replace the bearings, we removed one of the two props (only one side was loose) and installed our aluminum backup prop, all underwater. Of course, to remove and tighten the bearings, two special tools, costing around $300 were required. We installed the backup prop incase a wind came through and we needed to move quickly. Once the prop was out, I was able to adjust the bearings and eliminate the play. We now have two full sets of replacement bearings for our two props. Hopefully, like insurance, we will never need them. The prop got regreased and reinstalled. The other side will be closely inspected when we haul out for new bottom paint in a few months.
Micron 66 bottom paint. We should be able to go three seasons (2, most definitely) with the 3 coats of paint on Uno Mas. After only 3 months of Uno Mas in the water, it is gone. Not just spotty, but all worn off. We now clean the bottom every 2 weeks, breaking off barnacles and lightly scrubbing off the green fuzzy growth. This paint IS NOT cheap. 3 coats require 6 gallons. Each gallon is about $300. That’s $1,800 just in paint. Haul out, storage, and US yards requiring the paint to be applied by their employees, is all additional. The St Augustine Marine Center, where we were hauled out last year, doesn’t allow owners to paint their hulls. There goes even more money for the additional labor.
So, where does that leave us? Panama has a boat yard, Shelter Bay, that will allow owners to do their own bottom work. We’ve been warned not to use any of the yard’s contractors due to billing not matching quoted prices for work performed. (3x as much as originally quoted, was what our friends found last month.) Again, never trust anybody to do work on your boat unless you can stand over them all of the time, which kind of negates hiring labor. Don’t you think?) Anyway, we purchased all of the paint, epoxy barrier coat (because, of course, we need to raise our water line, yet again), and miscellaneous materials while in Bonaire. Why? Well, one would expect that Panama, being a trade-free zone, we could purchase everything there for 8% less (due to no import tax). One would be correct, assuming big savings, but would they have the paint available? Or, would it be multiple $20 taxi rides into town with a promise that next month’s cargo ship will have the balance of the order? As we’ve learned before, don’t trust people to perform or have what you need. So, for an extra $200 and we are ready to sand, prime and paint as soon as Uno Mas is on the hard, doing it all ourselves.
SeaHawk Island 44 Plus is our new bottom paint. A lot of people have strong opinions on bottom paint. Here is ours: Micron 66 worked great for the last 6 years while only sailing in Florida and the Bahamas. We only had the boat in the water for 5 months at a time. It didn’t wash off (that ,I could tell) while on the hard, and it never required additional cleaning. ….. Until we did a serious 7 day crossing in 20 ft seas that pounded the bow. After that, it was gone (at 3 months). And yes, it was meticulously installed according to manufacturer installation instructions. I used Micron 66 because of multiple reviews and tests. It is available for use in the USA. Island 44 Plus is not available in the States, and if you show up with it, the coast guard can test your hull. You can be required to repaint within a month, or leave US waters. In 8 years, we have never met anyone who has had their bottom paint tested. One of our friends has it on his bottom. After 5 years, he is repainting. Not because of failure, but they thought it must be time. Bonaire’s Budget Marine has it in stock (ordered weekly as it doesn’t stay on the shelves).They used to also carry Micron 66, but nobody purchased it. Now it’s not being restocked. This also reaffirms my decision.
In the environmental arena, is it better to paint 6 gallons every year for 3 years (18 gallons) of not as bad for the environment paint, or 6 gallons of the good stuff every 3 years? This does not even consider the costs incurred for haul out, locations (we are 24 ft wide and not able to haul out most places), and time lost. Sadly, the bottom paint with 0% copper and tin are being pushed in the States as the best alternative. Maybe it is for fresh water or a sailboat kept in the water for weekends, but not for serious sailors. Quick side note , regulations should focus on banning/adressing real threats to oceans such as sewage, fertilizer runoff, over fishing, plastic bottles and bags and temperature increases, not paint….SIGH. Yes, even with our choice of “recently banned” bottom paint, we consider ourselves environmentally conscious, knowing that our nieces and nephews will never see the coral reefs in their splendor that we have experienced. Even in Bonaire, we have seen a huge decline in coral and reef life. But, it is still better than the places we have seen the last few years.
There’s a bunch more maintenance going on, but that’s the list of “major” issues this month. (Angie has been fighting rust on the deck (STILL fallout from SAMC, and mold due to higher humidity days.) A lot of cruisers consider boat ownership to be “a series of repairs carried out in exotic locations”. I still enjoy the maintenance challenges along with the immediate gratification of all systems working as installed, and sometimes, even better.
We have been doing some dives that are typically shore dives. However, since we are out on a boat, we now take the dinghy and tie it up to the dive buoy marker to start the dive. Along the way, we pass the Fisherman’s Dock. Mark really enjoys seeing the local boats and especially likes the purple one, go figure!
Today, we met up with Sharon on Kokomo Kat and did two dives at Petries Pillar. A Whale Shark was spotted near here a few days ago, so we are out looking for those behemoths!!! What a sight to see, if we encounter one!
We have been trying to accomplish a lot of banking transactions on line. It has been very frustrating the last few weeks. However, we have been able to get a few days of diving in.
Here are some shots from our Oct dive at Something Special, just South of the Marina’s entrance.
AND, Angie’s favorites: TURTLES!!
******We are experimenting with consolidating the huge amounts of photos we have for each dive. We are trying to figure out how to do “Slideshows.” I have added slideshows under the Underwater page. AND, I am adding a slideshow on the blog post pages as well. Send us a comment about what works or doesn’t. Angie thinks the multiple slide shows in the Underwater page will make people’s computers bog down or make people sick when multiple slideshows are going at the same time. We have not been able to figure out how to make them stop automatically starting. We would like them to start when the viewer tells it to…..*****A Work in Progress*****
Mark made it to Friday night at Kanti Awa(local bar in front of the mooring field). Angie was down and out with an ear infection. (Go figure, the one time we didn’t put diluted vinegar in our ears after snorkeling up at Slagbaai, she gets an inner ear infection!) It was also time to celebrate the Full Moon. This is something new to us. At most places where there are a group of cruisers, there usually is a Full Moon party planned. We have not made it to any yet. We usually go to bed shortly after sunset and read for a bit. However, THIS Full Moon, a few of the sailing school boats adorned their rigging with Christmas lights and did an evening sail up and down the mooring field. Angie heard kids chatting really close to Uno Mas. Upon investigating, she was graced with a nice show of colors rounding the boat.
Four to five days after the full moon, the Ostracods put on a light show over the reefs. We decided to see what we could find off the back of Uno Mas. 45 minutes after sunset, the show will start and last for about 20 minutes, until the moon rise. Ostracods look like sparks lighting up the coral. Then, when two release and meet up, they float towards the surface, in a glob of bioluminescence. Sometimes large groups will meet up and create quite the spectacle. This of course, needs to happen in complete darkness. No dive lights, hanging out in about 30 feet of water.
In the dark. Angie was a bit apprehensive at first, not wanting to get separated from Mark while under water. However, our eyes adjusted well and we were able to communicate with hand signals up close while Angie held onto Mark’s BC. All of a sudden, we started seeing the sparks happening on the coral. It was a really amazing thing to witness, and we saw a few of the little Ostras pair up. Then, people moored next to us showed up with dive lights turned on, and pretty much killed the show. It looked like they were swimming under a boat.
Angie turned on her dive light so the people and the boat operator would know that we were down there, hanging out in the dark. We decided to swim away from the group and boat and try to see more of the Ostracod show, further down the reef, with our lights off again. We saw a few more pairings, but missed the majority of the spectacle. ((Insert pilfered photo from the internet some time in the future))
We decided to finish the evening with a night dive then with our lights on, due to it being well after the 20 minutes and the moon had risen. We got a few underwater camera photos, but seeing the Ostracods and the amazing bioluminescence in the water from all of our hand and fin movement was the highlight of the evening. Angie is thinking of trying to do a dinghy night dive on the next Ostracod night, far away from the city. The water will really be dark then, and hopefully no one will show up with their lights on!
Bonaire, Off the Back of Uno Mas, Daytime Dive, Nov 4, 2017 Slideshow
Bonaire, Off the Back of Uno Mas, Night Dive, Nov 8, 2017 Slides
We were invited to a local Halloween Party on Bonaire and dressed up as dive site markers! A perfect costume for the island. Bright yellow rocks, with the dive site names written on them in black. We thought for certain, everyone would know what we were. Unfortunately, we had to explain. Oh Well! No Pics were taken. The bright yellow shirt and bright yellow t-shirt dress have already been cut up into boat rags. The sharpie marker’d “Hands Off” and “White Slave” sections have been discarded. No need to have black sharpie marker accidentally making its way into the laundry.
We decided to rent a vehicle again and go check out Washington-Slagbaai Park. Even though we had “planned” to get there in time to do the Long Loop, we ended up having to do the Short route again. Sometimes it is hard for Angie to get moving quickly in the mornings. However, we did have enough time to snorkel off of Slagbaai this time. There was not much to see as far as coral color, but there were still some good fish sightings. Right off the bat, we had 3 large tarpons greet us in the water. We saw eels, and a plethora of colorful fish and lots of small, juveniles. Unfortunately, we forgot our underwater camera! Angie was not very organized for the trip.
We also saw the Bonairian parakeets and the Caracara again. A few donkeys and goats helped us along the dirt roads, and we even were blessed with a nice rainbow!
Heading through Rincon again, we did not stop at the Cadushi Distillery for a tour and tasting. However, we did stop to do a drive-by photo. Maybe someday we will actually stop.
Since we had the vehicle, we also toured some real estate. The Caribbean Club has a nice dive site facility, restaurant, and pools. They are across from the Stinapa Marine Park headquarter building and are located just up the hill from Oil Slick Leap, a very nice dive off of the short cliffs at the start of the Northern dive site region.
We also checked out property in Sabadeco. They have tennis courts with probably the best view, ever.
We also took pics of our favorite house we have seen so far…. Purple with turquoise trim, go figure!
Unfortunately, Mark’s new drone steering skills (aka: trimming the herb garden) did not take into consideration it being carried off by a wind gust. No more drone 😦
About every 10 days or so, we have a Westerly wind reversal come through. This puts our aft facing concrete in the mooring field, and it makes us rather uncomfortable. Angie stayed up most of the night watching the catamarans, monohulls and fishing boats get tossed around and swinging every which way. A nice four foot swell also was ripping through the mooring area, causing the boat to feel like you were on a bucking bronco. The waves would hit the sea wall and escalate, as they carried down the concrete. Then, there would be a huge crash once the wave hit the jetty, covering the shore road with sea water. It was an impressive sight to watch throughout the night.
A group of locals got together and brought in one of the fishing boats that had broken its mooring. Uno Mas’ mooring lines held fast. One monohuller decided to leave the field and run over to Klein Bonaire, to pick up a dive site mooring in the lee of the island. (No anchoring is allowed around Bonaire due to it all being a Marine Park.) The dive site moorings are mostly screws going into sand at the bottom. We would not want to rely on something like that for Uno Mas in winds.
Along with the wind reversal, there was some pretty nice rain. Uno Mas finally has gotten a good washing. However, with the heavy rain, you can see the dirt from shore and the roads wash into the sea. This then coats the coral with debris. Thankfully, most of it seems to be contained to the area along the shoreline, and not going too far over the reefs.
Of course, after it is all said and done, we would have stunning sunsets!