2nd July 2022
Kralendijk, Bonaire – Kralendijk, Bonaire via Harbour Village Marina, Bonaire & Klien Bonaire
When you have a petulant child to deal with you simply tell it to ‘Behave’ and if the worst comes to the worst you simply put in on the naughty step.* If the weather were to be compared with a naughty child then we’d be yelling ‘Behave’ daily and looking for a really big naughty step to put it on.
Every 6 hours we were glued to the new forecasts as they became public. We hoped time after time that they’d tell us with certainty where the petulant PTC-2** was heading and if PTC-2 was going to deepen and turn into Hurricane ‘Bonnie’, the second Atlantic hurricane of the season. With each forecast our options changed. Sometimes the safest option would be to go to sea, then we could simply stay put, other times we could shelter behind Bonaire and sometimes the only option available was to get battered and broken. No option seemed good and with every forecast our safety was compromised in some way. PTC-2 needed putting on that naughty step.
As certainty was increasing and our options were running out, we made the difficult decision to head into Bonaire’s only marina with protection. If the worst forecasts were to be believed then we’d find ourselves in a washing machine as rain water would exit the salt flats and hit 70 knots of westerly winds, but this was better than all the other options available.
Knowing that there might be 45 other boats looking at the same difficult decision we awoke hours before dawn and in true British form created a queue of 2 outside the office. An hour later, still in our queue of just 2, the doors were unlocked and within moments the amazing Marvis had reserved us a spot but advised us to move into the berth straight away.
With speed as a priority, we motored Ruffian into her new found home and passed dinghy after dinghy whose passengers were looking at the same options as us. As we tied up relief flowed over us and we felt like the naughty child wasn’t quite so naughty any more.
Now fixed in our decision we could prepare for our first tropical cyclone. Ruffian was tied into a cats cradle of rope with lines running from every cleat to every available strong point. Anything that could come loose was tied down and anything that could fill with rainwater was covered. Around us the decks of 50ft catamarans gave us shelter from the wind and their masts offered protection from lightening. All we could do now was wait.
We started seeing videos of friends being battered in Grenada and knew that in time we’d be getting the same treatment. Satellite images updated in near real time showed it barrelling towards us and we prepared for a direct hit. The eye was going to be to the south of Bonaire, leaving us in its northern quadrant. The quadrant that all books say is to be avoided at all costs.
A wall of water then enveloped Ruffian, washing the decks clean and deafening us. We now knew the wind wasn’t far behind. We braced for the impact, but nothing came, the rain then abated and sunshine started peaking through the angry clouds. Bonnie, the petulant naughty child wasn’t difficult at all. The threat of the naughty step had been enough (with a lot of luck and worry).
As Bonnie really started to develop and the western Caribbean started to prepare for its arrival, we once again found ourselves sitting in translucent water and under blue skies, but now the problem wasn’t too much wind, it was not enough.
Bonnie had sucked all the wind from the area and without the constant trades boats pointed in every direction and we feared that as Ruffian swung around we would end up hitting her mooring ball or crashing in the coral that sat just inshore of us. The weather was still not behaving and we headed off to find depth and a shoreline that would be more welcoming.
Finding a long beach and stunning water Ruffian stopped on Bonaire’s little sister, Klien Bonaire and we were not the only boat to have the same idea. Blue Mist settled next to us while other boats circumnavigated the island or found their own private dive sites. This wasn’t so much an exercise in hiding from the weather, more of an exercise in finding amazing snorkelling, more friendly fishies and views to die for.
After the windy scare of Bonnie and then the worry about a lack of wind in Bonaire the weather here hasn’t been the well-behaved child that we have grown used to over the previous months. We have however once again prevailed without having to resort to shouting ‘Behave’ or deploying the naughty step.
* This comes from Iain & Fiona’s extensive experience with children having had none and only having the ‘fun’ bits with nieces, nephews and anyone under the age of 5.
** PTC is the weatherman’s acronym for “Potential Tropical Cyclone”, i.e. what they label weather phenomena they think is likely to become a cyclone, or hurricane.
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