Social whirl.


6th August 2022

Kralendijk, Bonaire – Kralendijk, Bonaire via Jennies Glory & Angel City, Bonaire

In days gone by Debutants paraded around London in a social whirlwind where they were seen at all the must do events and strutted their stuff in search of a future partner*. As we have started to get ready to leave Bonaire we have been whisked along in a social whirlwind where even the creatures of the deep have wanted to bid us a fond farewell.

The first of the social engagements was the cruisers pot luck. Week by week the quality of the cruisers produce had been increasing and we now seemed to be at the level of a 6-star Michelin restaurant (but with better sized portions and a more palatable bill). Signature dishes from every continent adorned the tables with Chillies from South America, Bakabana from Suriname, Curries from Indonesia and Quiches from France. The goodbyes were as sad as the food was good.

In between social engagements we dived time and time again. Using our new found knowledge of finding our way around underwater and communicating with each other without talking, while always searching for the illusive seahorse that has evaded us, we were amazed at what we saw. There was fish and coral everywhere from the pristine reefs, to the manmade piers, to the chains and detritus that we occasionally found. Life was thriving everywhere.

With all this time underwater our kit was taking a pounding and like everything in the aquatic life needed some loving. Water had been finding its way into Fiona’s regulator and in a bid to stop her either being slowly water boarded or quickly drowned we probed its inner workings. Bit by bit, under Ross’s expert eye the whole contraption came to bits and where we should have only found air, we found water.

Knowing we had to seek out an ultrasonic machine to clean the sealing surfaces the regulator was taken to the dive shop and with the expert Hens @XPro in charge, our antique regulator had new life breathed into it. As he put the shining components back together, he laughed that the regulator must have done 10,000 dives on Bonaire before our ownership and was happy that it could easily do another 10,000.

For the next social event that loomed large we both got fully ‘poshed up’. Gone were Iain’s stained and threadbare shorts and old and sun-bleached T-shorts as they were replaced with a shirt with a proper collar and cuff and shorts that had barely seen the light of day. As you’d expect Fiona didn’t have to do much to ‘scrub up’ as her levels of personal hygiene and personal pride far outweigh Iain’s, but she was still fully ‘frocked up’ with brushed hair and jewellery. OCC drinks were once again happening.

Not wanting to feel left out of the action Larry formed a splinter group of mascots with Brian the sloth (UK), Lili the llama (NL), Lala the alpaca (MLT) and Skippy the Kangaroo (US). This proved that the OCC really is a club for all creatures from all backgrounds from all over the world.

As the goodbye socials were coming to an end the creatures of the deep also wanted to say goodbye. As we drift snorkelled along the coast of Kline Bonaire we were surrounded by the usual fishies and corals and could see far into the deep abyss in the crystal clear water. Out of this blue abyss a Spotted Eagle Ray powered its way into the shallows and swam nonchalantly around us. He occasionally foraged, occasionally swum, but was always majestic and startlingly beautiful. This was a parting gift we never could have planned or hoped for.

The following day Ruffian transported us to a dive and snorkelling site and it seemed as if we were going to be rewarded for our good behaviour from the previous day. We dived on a double reef where the wall plunged down to a sand pool and then plunged down further. In this feeding ground Parrot fish the size of small cars lived in harmony with tiny cleaning shrimp while every coral housed a colourful flamingo tongues. The big treat however would be saved until the snorkel.

Ditching our tanks, weights, BCD’s and regulators we felt free to be in just our flippers and snorkels and diving what we found made us feel all the freer. We were once again joined by an Eagle Ray who flew around the wafting coral and pulled steep turns at impossible angles. If seemed like knowledge of our stand off behaviour from the previous day had made its way around the ray community.

The social whirlwind of saying goodbye to Bonaire and the cruising community has been tough. Never have we stayed in one place for so long, felt so welcomed by a community or been inspired by the natural world. Bonaire has been brilliant; Bonaire will be missed.

* Thankfully Queenie abolished this institutionally sexist event where women were objectified and judged on their material beauty and not the quality of their minds.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

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