Cliff’s hits.

Treasure of the deep.

17th June 2022

Kralendijk, Bonaire – Kralendijk, Bonaire via Kalli’s Reef, Bonaire

Cliff Richard is a wise man. Not for singing about Mistletoe and wine, or for teaming up with Vivian and Rick in the legendary Young Ones, but for his musings about Summer Holidays. In Bonaire if feels like we’ve been on holiday ‘for a week or two’, where ‘sun shines brightly and sea is blue’ and there have been ‘no worries for me or you’.

Every activity in Bonaire seems to involve the sun shining brightly and us diving into a sea that is blue, and the principal activity has been the high-faff*, high-reward activity of diving. Time and again we loaded tanks, BCD’s, weights, snorkels and all sorts of other high-faff paraphernalia into Brock and zoomed off to far flung corners of the island.

Diving off the old ambassador’s house at 19 Palm we descended into the deep surrounded by Elkhorn Coral that touched the water’s surface and quickly changed to soft corals that wafted in the gentle current. As the water robbed the light of its red and turned everything blue, hard corals covered every surface growing into dislocated unworldly shapes showing us that we really were in anther world.

The sea was not only alive with life but also with curiosity. Tarpon the size of islands eyed us as we swam past and fish constantly swam around us either looking for sustenance of shelter. All this life attracted more life as turtles snacked on either unsuspecting jellyfish or feasted on grass that nestled around the corals. The faff was high but so was the reward.

Even with a holiday feeling, ‘work’ or Ruffian was still unrelenting. We thought that we’d worked out all the niggles after our trip to Bonaire but we were wrong. Antifreeze from the engine had magically disappeared which now needed monitoring and the boat computer was treated to a new power supply. After diving, boat work felt like a low-faff exercise as only lockers needed emptying and only every tool in the whole boat was used for every job. But at least the tools stayed on the boat and they didn’t need rinsing!

With the engine wanting/needing some monitoring we headed off in Ruffian to dive sites that were out of range of Brock and in the company of friends. Ruffian was fully loaded with a quiver of tanks and a wardrobe of BCD’s all ready for use by ‘Altimate’ and ‘Blue Mist’. All in line the divers (excluding Iain) stepped off the back of Ruffian and bobbed in the swell before descending into the calm. The only sign of the presence while underwater was a line of bubbles breaking the surface, but once they came up it was a different story as they yelped with joy in everything below. Yelps of both joy and confusion were also heard when we returned home as Quite where it went remains a mystery as the coolant level remained resolutely stable, the engine oil lovely and clear, the hot water is hot and engine temperature consistent.

Continuing the holiday feel, Bonaire was turning into a social whirlwind. As the sun started to set on Wednesday night every boat flocked to a seafront bar who offered bargain basement beer and BBQ waiting to be filled with meat. Like neanderthal man all the menfolk swarmed around the BBQ showing their hunting and gathering prowess and brandishing tongs like lethal weapons. Larry joined them intrigued by the reams of meat and drawn to the testosterone that was oozing everywhere.

The social whirlwind continued with a much more civilised affair as Fiona organised a gathering of all the OCC members. This was similar to every other OCC event we had attended where we were humbled by the adventures that others had been on, amazed at the miles people have sailed and impressed by the font of knowledge that the OCC is. It was in the backdrop that we discussed what a collective noun for OCCers should be (answers on a postcard please).

With another holiday day dawning we were about to take the faff of diving to a whole new level as Bluemist** had a car and invited us to sample a shore dive at the aptly named ‘Salt Pier’ which was, indeed, a pier for salt. After loading Brock, unloading Brock, loading a car, unloading a car we were at the dive site and started waddling our way in through the surf.

Above us towered the pillars or the pier that holds ships stationary and secure (the salt pans are still in use today); as we evacuated the air that held us afloat we could follow them all the way to the seabed. Nature had slowly been colonising this man-made intrusion and provided shelter or sanctuary from the predators of the deep. This underwater world felt the aquatic version of flying though a forest as we could effortlessly explore the depths, return to the light and play hide and seek around the trunks. With air running low we now just had to reverse the uber faff, but all this uber faff made for an uber dive.

Like all great holidays, there has to be an end. As we have dived, socialised and played (and of course given Ruffian some love) we can see an end coming to all this limitless fun. The Caribbean sea is heating up, and from the looks of things the Hurricane season is starting up

* For the non English (and Iain) speakers. Faff = a great deal of ineffectual activity.

** Massive thanks to Ross & Louise from Blue Mist for including us in their epic adventure.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

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