Bonaire – The Dusty Island


Cuba Compagnie restaurant

We had the luxury of a few unplanned days on Bonaire due to our re-routing. It turned out to be a really good move. We arrived on the island during some sort of holiday and everything was closed. And, I mean everything. The downtown looked like a ghost-town.  Then, the cruise ship arrived. Things came alive in a hurry. Then, another ship arrived and things really got lively. Markets sprung up in the town square and the streets where bustling with tourists.


Deserted downtown Kralendijk


We both really like the Dutch style architecture


Mark finds a comfortable chair while Cindy shops this huge gift-shop for souvenirs to take to our friends in the USA

We took a couple of days to explore the areas within walking distance of the boat, mostly downtown Kralendijk, and also did a little snorkeling. Our plans are to return to Bonaire for a least a month once we take care of a couple of items in the USA. With limited time here we didn’t get too far away from the boat.  We will fully explore the island when we return. The big surprise for us about Bonaire was how dusty it is.

Bonaire is a Dutch island. If Bonaire doesn’t translate to “dustbowl” then it should. The island is very flat and arid. During the rainiest month of the year which is November, it rains a whopping 4” the entire month. The wet season is Oct-Dec. The rest of the year it doesn’t rain more than an inch per month on average.   As we sat on our mooring buoy, we noticed every day the layer of brown dust on Cream Puff getting thicker. The trade winds blow constantly over Bonaire. The winds are almost always from the same direction and speed, east at 20-25 mph. We moor on the downwind side of the island to avoid waves.  Being downwind of course this is the dusty side. All the cruisers complain about the dust. It is everywhere in and on Cream Puff. One day it was a little cloudy and we hoped for some rain. It didn’t happen. The morning dew doesn’t help matters much as the dust turns to mud before drying an becoming hard caked to the boat.

We think the islands of Curacao and Aruba that lay to the west of Bonaire were formed by the dust blowing from Bonaire. We also think the island of Bonaire is slowly moving westward as the dust blows from the island into the ocean. It might be at a snail’s pace but with some time-lapse satellite photography over the next 10,000 years, I think we can prove our point.


Tarka the Otter – our neighbor on the moorings

Getting to know our neighbors, we met Bryan and Noustha. This turned out to be a very interesting anecdote. They sail on a 27 foot boat called Tarka the Otter. The boat was named by owners previous to Bryan and has already sail around the world. The name is based on a British series of books for children, and now also a movie.  Bryan had planned to sail solo around the globe giving Tarka another full circumnavigation. However, his plans might change now. This is not the first time we have crossed paths with Bryan. He was in Îles des Saintes  last year during the same time as us just after he purchased Tarka the Otter. We found we have common friends. The cruising world can sometimes seem very small. If you recall, there was only one mooring buoy available when we arrived in Bonaire. And, it was right next to Tarka the Otter. Bryan has been in Bonaire for about 5 months now. Why, because he met Noustha who is from Holland and was working in Bonaire. Their very different paths in life crossed and cupid shot an arrow in their direction. It will be interesting to see where they journey as a couple takes them. We plan to follow the blog for the next chapters of this American and Dutch couple.

Noustha is an extremely talented underwater photography artist. Take a few minutes to check out her work on her site: click on the portfolio tab. No, the pictures are not photo-shopped. She shoots people underwater and captures incredible effects. She is often hired to photograph people’s children underwater or sometimes people come up with their own concepts for the pictures. She has traveled the globe doing this unique underwater photography and is building a well deserved reputation for herself as an accomplished artist. Be sure to also check out the video about how the pictures are made and the team of people involved in the creation. It is interesting and very impressive.

Our friends Keith and Jeanie also arrived in Bonaire while we were there. They too know Bryan and also met Noustha for the first time. We first met Keith and Jeanie when we were in Turks and Caicos just over a year ago and have continued to run into each other since. For an unscheduled stop, this turned out to be great fun and an opportunity to catch up with friends.


Flamingo art is everywhere


More flamingo art

Flamingo mosaic in the sidewalk


We found non-refrigerated yogurt at the local store – we tried some and it was really good – Good for 180 days outside the fridge


Your guess is as good as mine



Categories: Bonaire, Caribbean, Sailing Blog

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