4th June 2022
Kralendijk, Bonaire – Kralendijk, Bonaire via Klien Bonaire, Bonaire
Life is based around cycles. Corporate man goes through, eat, sleep, work, repeat; politicians have a cycle of lie, deny, then take a bribe; and the IMOCA* skipper’s mantra is powerup, powerstack, powernap. Being in beautiful Bonaire Ruffian has developed a mantra along the lines of divining (dowsing), discover, dive and duplicate.
Scaling the mast Iain didn’t have a set of divining rods in his hands, instead he clasped a multi-meter to track down a problem 20 meters above the water. The anchor light was resolutely refusing to light up and as he probed the fittings, waggled the wires and cleaned connections the multi-meter proved to be about as useful as a set of divining rods.
Descending to the deck he was truly defeated but now the work could begin inside and Ruffian was slowly taken to bits. Headlining was removed, connectors deconstructed and Iain slowly traced wires back to the switching panel. At the switch panel the fun really began as the jumbled mess of cables connected through busbars, switches and crimps.
Systematically connections were cleaned, corrosion removed and resistance tested and then magically, just like divining, the light sprang into life. Once again Iain then found himself at the top of the mast and as he plugged the blub into its housing it glowed like the star of Bethlehem.
As an opulent reward for this dowsing, we headed out to Klien Bonaire, Bonaire’s little sister island, to discover a new underwater world and this also proved to be a good excuse to empty our holding tank. With land disappearing into the distance the switch to the holding tank pump was flicked and it sprung into life. At this point the divining rods would have been useful, as the tank remained resolutely full. Trying to track the problem down Iain opened the tanks lid only to be confronted by the brown sludgy contents gently sloshing from side to side. The pump was pumping but no pumping was happening.
Unable to resolve the problem, but now at our destination, Klien Bonaire’s beaches stretched out in front of us. We were truly alone and as we donned our dive gear we felt far from safety, far from support but close to a whole new world. Jumping off the back of Ruffian fish scattered and we descended, all alone into the deep and once again taking a safety-first approach, with air at the right level we returned triumphant to Ruffian. Never have we had such an opulent day where we took out own luxury private yacht to a deserted island where we could enter an unexplored world covered in first world technologies.
Over the next few days, with our mantra in full swing, we once again got out the divining rods and fixed the pump, and time and again took to the deep and with more diving we were discovering our new limits. As our courage and confidence grew, we set out (under the expert eye of Ross from Blue Mist) to dive down to a destination.
Plunging into the water the coral wall disappeared below us and we readied ourselves for sinking. As we sunk the wall, teeming with fish, passed by our eyes and instantly the vertical coral changed to horizontal sand. This was out marker to head north to where our quarry lay.
With natures wonder on our right with all its chaotic shapes, darting activity and vivid colours, man’s destruction came into view on our left. The sharp edges and unnatural outline of an upturned boat were in stark contrast to everything else around. Thankfully no lives were lost in the sinking and now the wreck was giving life to creatures of every size and shape. Huge marauding tarpon wafted around it, while skittery lobsters hid under it, and those fish brave enough to leave the reef found sustenance going on every surface.
Returning to the wall we continued our exploration and as air was growing short, we ascended to shallower water, turned around and navigated our way home. After swimming over schools Damselfish, past groupers the size of islands and uncountable fish of every colour size and shape the shadows of our dinghies marked the end of our excursion. Here we could once again luxuriate in limitless air, a warming sun and the blanket of glory that marked another successful dive.
While our mantra is proving to be a good code to live by, in the coming days diving is going to be replaced by driving, swimming will be replaced by sightseeing and aquatic antics will be replaced by ancient artifacts.
* Our thoughts are with the IMOCA fleet and one skipper in particular as they blast their way around Iceland. #piphareoceanracing #vendeearctic
** Photo credit to Blue Mist @sailingbluemist.
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