[Guest post 3/3] Cruising

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.”

There is a potluck dinner in the marina every week – I get the strong impression Suzy has arranged this many times before, in many different marinas. There, my hosts from Blue Pearl meet fellow travelers, but it takes everyone a while to remember the exact circumstances in which they have met before.
“Where you in Surinam?”
“No, we passed over Surinam and sailed straight to the Caribbean.”
“Tobago? No wait – Marocco!”

“Yes, Marocco!’

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.

After the week on Blue Pearl, I was really sad to leave my friends – but quite happy to shower for a ridiculously long time in the hotel, before dancing around in the hotel room which was at least the size of the cabin. I look forward to seeing my friends again in another year’s time – picking up some of what they have learned then, and the places they have seen. Until then, I will try to remember how luxurious life on land can be – and how much beauty there is in the ocean.


Wildlife spotted this week:

– Parrotfish, both male (green/blue) and female (black/red/silver). I laughed when I found out this type of male is called Supermale.
– 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
– Banded Butterflyfish
– Reef Butterflyfish
– Palometa
– Sea urchins, both black spiky and grey fuzzy
– Tarpon
– Peacock Flounder
– Balloonfish
– Porcupine fish
– Nassau grouper
– Horse Eye Jack
– Yellow fin Jack
– Damselfish
– Garden Eel
– Angelfish (Rock Beauty, French, Grey, Blue, Queen)
– Surgeonfish Regal Blue Tang
– Blue Chromis
– Sand Diver
– Needlefish
– Brain coral, sea aneamones, tree coral, purple organ pipe coral
– Fregata minor
– Black-headed gull
– Great tern
– Flamingo
– Stint
– Chibi chibi
– Mocking Jay
– Parrots
– Pelican
– Tanned brown sailors with bleached white hair, messing around with ropes in the glaring sunlight

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