This is the last part of a series of 3 guest posts written by my friend Catharina, who spent a week with us in Bonaire. Enjoy!
“Stargazer Stargazer. Any objections to using this channel for Cruiser’s Net?”
“Stargazer Stargazer. Grab a coffee, Cruiser’s Net will start in a few minutes.”
And off she goes, Suzy from Stargazer, who has been sailing solo for many years and has seen pretty much everything in sailing life, connecting all boats within receiving distance through the Cruiser’s Net.
And here I thought sailing around the world would be lonely. It can be, if you try hard enough. But Joline explained it to me, showing how much she had studied the subject beforehand and how much she had picked up on the way.
The ocean streams and weather dictate a rhythm to sailing life. Nearly everyone who wishes to cross the Atlantic, sails from the west coast of Africa to South America in November-December. Those who wish to return to Europe, sail north in the Caribbean Sea in springtime and cross back over before hurricane season. Those who wish to pass through the Panama Canal, spend the summer in the Caribbean outside of the “hurricane belt”, like in Bonaire. They pass through between November and February. (This year more boats may shoot for November-December as the prices for Panama Passage are rumoured to double per January 1, 2020.) Once on the other side, the Great Pacific has its own logic to contend with if you wish to cross in one piece and with relative safety.
So how does that work?
“We’ll see when we get there, that’s a year from now.”
I am literally out of my depth here, with my shallow twenty-year-old knowledge of sweet-water non-tidal non-ocean sailing, sat between tanned cruisers discussing rigging, tech, ports, marinas and the best places to go fishing. And I am landsick. After five nights on the boat, I haven’t had a moment of seasickness. Not when passing dinghies make Blue Pearl lurch, not when the wind picks up to 36 knots, not when a ridiculously large cruiseship enterns Bonaire’s harbour and sends out waves for nearly an hour. But now, having stepped on land, the whole world sways around me. I can’t hold still, I have trouble keeping my food down and I don’t want to even smell alcohol, let alone share in the available beer and wine.
Wildlife spotted this week:
– Cowfish and boxfish, spotted and honeycomb. I swear I saw one changing colour from light to dark when I approached it.
– Sergeant major, big schools
– Foureye Butterflyfish
– Great tern
– Chibi chibi
– Tanned brown sailors with bleached white hair, messing around with ropes in the glaring sunlight