Bonaire trip 3/13 - 3/27

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Jersey

Contributor
Messages
1,114
Reaction score
269
Location
SE PA/ Southern NJ
# of dives
200 - 499
My observations only, your experiences may differ. Uneventful Delta flights from PHL – ATL – BON. The 767-300 ATL - BON included inseat entertainment of games and movies. Arrival at Buddy Dive with all gear accounted for and unbroken! Pre-arrival completion of documents for check in, car rental and diving forms (available online) ensures rapid check in, truck, marine tags and lead in hand by 3:30. Truck w/ bags does not appear until almost 6:00 pm. We did not realize this week was Spring Break and are surprised by the number of small children around.

Unit 707, Lions Dive section had no major problems. Fully air conditioned, one decent sized bedroom, run down bath, limited kitchen – no oven, leaky fridge seals and overloaded circuits - and living room on the north side with ocean and pool view. A set of stairs provided access to the ocean and fresh water rinse on the landing. Few people wander to this corner of the resort granting us a lot of privacy. Fit our needs just fine!

Diving - 26 dives over two weeks – 11 shore/15 boat - 4 night dives and 2 drift dives. Strong winds the second week (25+ knots) added some wave action to Northern sites. (We had a rough winter/spring and felt no compunction to be the first out the door or push to get in as many dives as physically possible.)

I love to meet people and this trip was great - twins Peggy and Peter, 83 years young, still dive (and snow ski) and Peter’s wife Gail the youngster at 79. I can only hope I’m diving and skiing at 80! I admit, I’m not kid friendly, but some of the kids/teenagers were interesting and their enthusiasm inquiring about what we saw on each dive was contagious and their dive skills impressive – no reef kickers or fish petters (this week). Ran into divers we hadn’t seen in 2 years, plus made a couple new friends including Frank (a relatively new diver traveling solo whom we had the pleasure of introducing to his first night dive). His comment at the end was it was 100 times better then he thought it would be. Met Elaine and Shawn from Chicago at Karpata working on a busted BC hose. Referred them to the great gear fixer on Bonaire (Bruce Bowker) who hooked them up, and we met up with them later at the bar. Dutch couple Jan und Jeannette with whom we had 2 weeks and a lot of fun diving with.

Did the 3 tank Slagbaai Park trip on the new Diver boat at Buddy - 42 foot yacht cat, getting beat up already. Deck cracks (from dropped tanks) and cracks to the stern hull (from crashing against docks) are showing. Boat has plenty of space, roomy upper lounge area and forward sun pad. Highly recommend it - 17 divers plus 3 crew on our trip. Did Playa Benji with a stiff current and we are 2 of 5 who make it back on the boat. The other 12 make it a drift dive and we pick them up. Carels Vision and I don’t know what Carel was smoking, but I can see where he had visions – hard corals look like thickly napped green velvet, and large stands of intact purple tube sponges. You want to reach out and stroke them. Lunch is supplied – either ham and cheese sandwich or chicken wraps. TaylorMade to Candyland is the 3rd site and done as a drift dive. Current was ripping by this time. Northern sites are a bit steeper, had a bit more current and different terrain. Had one diver put her hand down and an eel took a nice bite. Ooops - don't do that.

Made the Salt Pier night dive with Buddy. Cluster trip! We were one of 5 groups of 7 divers (yep – 35 divers) making the same trek around the pier. We are the first group in and nice when we had the place to ourselves, but when the groups crossed, havoc ensued. Twice divers from other groups crossed over and their DM had to grab them and reorient them to the proper group. We dove with a family of 4 (mom, dad, son, daughter) and son inadvertently messed with his regulator adjustment (I’m guessing some kind of venturi??) mid-dive, causing him to think he was OOA, started air sharing and all 4 started a controlled ascent until DM grabbed them, looked at gauges, tested reg, re-adjusted and got everyone back down. Little too much excitement for me. I’m sure all the activity drove off any interesting fish life. I did see large basket stars and the resident tarpon.

Week 2 fewer kids and folks in general. Saw a lot of stuff that really makes me nuts – lateness, forgetting gear, harassing the marine life, ignoring directions (what about “get on, sit down” is unclear??) Lost count of the times a boat left and turned around 2 minutes later because someone forgot something. Almost every boat dive the staff had to call a room to remind folks the boat was leaving. Here’s an idea – be at the dock 15 minutes early, have tanks tested and labeled (date, initials, mix, mod if diving Nitrox) and have all gear stored neatly in bag. Let the staff load the tanks and gear. Listen for any instructions. When indicated, promptly board the boat and get out of the way (sit down). We also had some fish-harassers the second week – touching, fanning, chasing, kicking coral – that kind of stuff makes me crazy. And if you don’t know the difference between a scorpion fish and a frog fish you shouldn’t be poking it in an attempt to get it to move. Do scorpion fish bite? I wished one father/son team would have had a finger taken off for poking the scorpion fish…rant over…

One dive incident the second week, 10:30 boat dive to Klein, second dive of the day for most (not us, we slept in). Group of 17 plus 1 dive mistress, 42 minutes into dive, group has turned, most around 30 – 35 foot, buddy (the Curmudgeon) and I are rear of group at 52 foot. Two divers separate from the group and head down the reef deep. I watch, keeping one eye on them as they go until all I can make out is a bit of the neon yellow do-rag the guy was wearing. I catch the Curmudgeons eye to alert him we have 2 divers down and the DM bullets toward the pair. By now I can’t see them or any bubbles. I motion to the DM's buddy (Frank) stay with me as he is unsure what is happening, almost wants to follow her. Quick note on my slate to explain the situation. The group stops perplexed. At this point I’m wondering if this is a recovery, but after a bit all 3 appear. Later when we grab a beer DM tells me they were deep probably 125 – 135 when she finally got their attention, she was at 110 and wasn’t going below that on Nitrox. The DM did not say anything to them topside and they acted as if it were just another dive. To my knowledge they had no clue about the risk they took or situation they placed others in.

Dive highlights – larger fish - anyone else noticing this? Nice size grouper at lots of sites, 2 different grouper species residing under LaMachaca, nice bar jacks. Big basket stars on night dives. A soft coral we nicknamed the Trumpet Tree as 20 or so would congregate in it at night flashing various colors. Frog fish, seahorse, turtles, lots of eels (a 6:30 pm dive yielding 12 split tails out and about). Couple spotted eagle rays. Lots of scorpion fish. Big schools of blue tang. Neon yellow porcupine fish (have to post a critter pic to figure out exactly what it is). The resident tarpon. Big lobsters 8,9 pounds – especially on the Slagbaii trip. Lots of varieties of crab and tiny shrimp. Crossed over to the second reef at Alice in Wonderland and discovered we lacked proper gear and gas to get down to the reef, just gives me something to plan for our next trip… No sharks. Spent a lot of time working on my photo skills to discover it is not my skills, but my camera. Again, something else to invest in and plan for next trip!

Eats – Breakfast at Buddy’s every morning. Lions Den was good, our perpetual favs Capt Don’s (Boka Stoba), Mona Lisa (for my birthday dinner), and Casablanca for the huge mixed grill (the leftovers created 2 additional dinners and 2 lunches) did not disappoint. Two new restaurants this trip Sense and Wills Tropical Grill. Sense - across from the Plaza main entrance - sleek, great menu, even better execution. The Curmudgeon had smoked marlin carpaccio and a wahoo main while I opted for Thai soup and tuna dredged in sesame w/ noodles and stir fry veggies (4 Bombay Sapphire and tonics, 2 appetizers, 2 main, 2 desserts and less then $100 US. See sense | eat drink dance - bonaire | sense | bonaire | restaurant | drinking | modern | taste | dancing | holiday). Will’s Tropical Grill, too many fruity drinks, I forget what I ate… Spent about $135 on groceries and adult beverages at Cultimara and the Warehouse as we did cook and eat in quite a bit supplementing the groceries with leftovers. Many walks over to Lovers for ice cream. A run to KFC cause fried chicken is yummy, though I miss the downtown location. Actually entertained as the Curmudgeon invited one of the DM’s over for dinner. Sad to see Salsa closed.

MAKE RESERVATIONS for great seating. Doesn’t matter if every table is open, if you want a great table on the water, as I do, make reservations. Make them 15 minutes in advance, just make them. Can’t tell you how many folks tried to get a waterside table only to be rebuffed with ‘Do you have a reservation??? No, well THAT table is reserved.’ It became a running joke for us.

Did the Buddy Friday night buffet with Moogie on our last night. Plenty of food for $20/pp. Unpleasant incident marred our evening as I was approached, hit upon and groped by a local Moogie hanger-on while the Curmudgeon was at the bar getting drinks. I did nothing to encourage this incident, so ladies be extremely careful. We had finished dinner, I was sitting at our table, man came over, sat down at the table, attempted to strike up a conversation. I speak no Spanish or Papiamentu, he spoke little English. He commented on my looks, asked me to leave to which I replied ‘Mi hombre est getting cerveza’ (my weak attempt at ‘my man is getting us beers’) and pointed at the bar. He again stated I was pretty and grabbed a body part I shall leave unmentioned. I got up and jumped over the 2 foot cinderblock wall next to me, grabbed the Curmudgeon, explained what happened and we left.

We had no problems the entire trip, never locked the truck, never left anything in the truck. Did leave gear in the locker room between dives, but never regs/computers or lights. Never left anything unattended. Never left any money sitting around, never left the safe open, even if we were in the living room or kitchen. Way too easy to slip in the back door unnoticed and into the bedroom where the safe is located. Did leave exposure suits out on 1st floor patio to dry overnight, but if you saw (or smelled) our suits and booties you would understand why no one would want them. March was very dry this year and the mosquitoes were not too bad, though more signs warn of Dengue. I keep the bug spray in my handbag so we are never caught lacking...

Bit of a snafu on the return trip – Delta had scheduled a 767-300 for the BON – ATL flight but sent a 757 instead resulting in much confusion and folks not being able to find their seat because it didn’t exist! (Can someone explain how you do that???) Eventually they got everyone loaded and enroute. Movies, games and snacks kept New Friend Frank, the Curmudgeon and I entertained during the four hour flight. Our ATL to PHL flight was then delayed almost 2 hours and when we finally arrived well after midnight, my bag failed to arrive. I filled out the requisite forms and Delta kindly dropped it on my step at midnight the following night, scaring me half to death. (Must be me, third time this year my bags have gone visiting without me!)

Overall, great trip, two weeks still not enough, but far more relaxing then one week. Not happy with the influx of pods. I fully understand the financial implications of cruise ships on the local economy, but I don’t have to like them. Still hope to have enough Ducats to buy a little place and spend a lot more time on Bonaire!
 

keithdiver

Contributor
Messages
1,578
Reaction score
5
Location
Upstate NY
# of dives
200 - 499
My observations only, your experiences may differ. Uneventful Delta flights from PHL – ATL – BON. The 767-300 ATL - BON included inseat entertainment of games and movies. Arrival at Buddy Dive with all gear accounted for and unbroken! Pre-arrival completion of documents for check in, car rental and diving forms (available online) ensures rapid check in, truck, marine tags and lead in hand by 3:30. Truck w/ bags does not appear until almost 6:00 pm. We did not realize this week was Spring Break and are surprised by the number of small children around.

Unit 707, Lions Dive section had no major problems. Fully air conditioned, one decent sized bedroom, run down bath, limited kitchen – no oven, leaky fridge seals and overloaded circuits - and living room on the north side with ocean and pool view. A set of stairs provided access to the ocean and fresh water rinse on the landing. Few people wander to this corner of the resort granting us a lot of privacy. Fit our needs just fine!

Diving - 26 dives over two weeks – 11 shore/15 boat - 4 night dives and 2 drift dives. Strong winds the second week (25+ knots) added some wave action to Northern sites. (We had a rough winter/spring and felt no compunction to be the first out the door or push to get in as many dives as physically possible.)

I love to meet people and this trip was great - twins Peggy and Peter, 83 years young, still dive (and snow ski) and Peter’s wife Gail the youngster at 79. I can only hope I’m diving and skiing at 80! I admit, I’m not kid friendly, but some of the kids/teenagers were interesting and their enthusiasm inquiring about what we saw on each dive was contagious and their dive skills impressive – no reef kickers or fish petters (this week). Ran into divers we hadn’t seen in 2 years, plus made a couple new friends including Frank (a relatively new diver traveling solo whom we had the pleasure of introducing to his first night dive). His comment at the end was it was 100 times better then he thought it would be. Met Elaine and Shawn from Chicago at Karpata working on a busted BC hose. Referred them to the great gear fixer on Bonaire (Bruce Bowker) who hooked them up, and we met up with them later at the bar. Dutch couple Jan und Jeannette with whom we had 2 weeks and a lot of fun diving with.

Did the 3 tank Slagbaai Park trip on the new Diver boat at Buddy - 42 foot yacht cat, getting beat up already. Deck cracks (from dropped tanks) and cracks to the stern hull (from crashing against docks) are showing. Boat has plenty of space, roomy upper lounge area and forward sun pad. Highly recommend it - 17 divers plus 3 crew on our trip. Did Playa Benji with a stiff current and we are 2 of 5 who make it back on the boat. The other 12 make it a drift dive and we pick them up. Carels Vision and I don’t know what Carel was smoking, but I can see where he had visions – hard corals look like thickly napped green velvet, and large stands of intact purple tube sponges. You want to reach out and stroke them. Lunch is supplied – either ham and cheese sandwich or chicken wraps. TaylorMade to Candyland is the 3rd site and done as a drift dive. Current was ripping by this time. Northern sites are a bit steeper, had a bit more current and different terrain. Had one diver put her hand down and an eel took a nice bite. Ooops - don't do that.

Made the Salt Pier night dive with Buddy. Cluster trip! We were one of 5 groups of 7 divers (yep – 35 divers) making the same trek around the pier. We are the first group in and nice when we had the place to ourselves, but when the groups crossed, havoc ensued. Twice divers from other groups crossed over and their DM had to grab them and reorient them to the proper group. We dove with a family of 4 (mom, dad, son, daughter) and son inadvertently messed with his regulator adjustment (I’m guessing some kind of venturi??) mid-dive, causing him to think he was OOA, started air sharing and all 4 started a controlled ascent until DM grabbed them, looked at gauges, tested reg, re-adjusted and got everyone back down. Little too much excitement for me. I’m sure all the activity drove off any interesting fish life. I did see large basket stars and the resident tarpon.

Week 2 fewer kids and folks in general. Saw a lot of stuff that really makes me nuts – lateness, forgetting gear, harassing the marine life, ignoring directions (what about “get on, sit down” is unclear??) Lost count of the times a boat left and turned around 2 minutes later because someone forgot something. Almost every boat dive the staff had to call a room to remind folks the boat was leaving. Here’s an idea – be at the dock 15 minutes early, have tanks tested and labeled (date, initials, mix, mod if diving Nitrox) and have all gear stored neatly in bag. Let the staff load the tanks and gear. Listen for any instructions. When indicated, promptly board the boat and get out of the way (sit down). We also had some fish-harassers the second week – touching, fanning, chasing, kicking coral – that kind of stuff makes me crazy. And if you don’t know the difference between a scorpion fish and a frog fish you shouldn’t be poking it in an attempt to get it to move. Do scorpion fish bite? I wished one father/son team would have had a finger taken off for poking the scorpion fish…rant over…

One dive incident the second week, 10:30 boat dive to Klein, second dive of the day for most (not us, we slept in). Group of 17 plus 1 dive mistress, 42 minutes into dive, group has turned, most around 30 – 35 foot, buddy (the Curmudgeon) and I are rear of group at 52 foot. Two divers separate from the group and head down the reef deep. I watch, keeping one eye on them as they go until all I can make out is a bit of the neon yellow do-rag the guy was wearing. I catch the Curmudgeons eye to alert him we have 2 divers down and the DM bullets toward the pair. By now I can’t see them or any bubbles. I motion to the DM's buddy (Frank) stay with me as he is unsure what is happening, almost wants to follow her. Quick note on my slate to explain the situation. The group stops perplexed. At this point I’m wondering if this is a recovery, but after a bit all 3 appear. Later when we grab a beer DM tells me they were deep probably 125 – 135 when she finally got their attention, she was at 110 and wasn’t going below that on Nitrox. The DM did not say anything to them topside and they acted as if it were just another dive. To my knowledge they had no clue about the risk they took or situation they placed others in.

Dive highlights – larger fish - anyone else noticing this? Nice size grouper at lots of sites, 2 different grouper species residing under LaMachaca, nice bar jacks. Big basket stars on night dives. A soft coral we nicknamed the Trumpet Tree as 20 or so would congregate in it at night flashing various colors. Frog fish, seahorse, turtles, lots of eels (a 6:30 pm dive yielding 12 split tails out and about). Couple spotted eagle rays. Lots of scorpion fish. Big schools of blue tang. Neon yellow porcupine fish (have to post a critter pic to figure out exactly what it is). The resident tarpon. Big lobsters 8,9 pounds – especially on the Slagbaii trip. Lots of varieties of crab and tiny shrimp. Crossed over to the second reef at Alice in Wonderland and discovered we lacked proper gear and gas to get down to the reef, just gives me something to plan for our next trip… No sharks. Spent a lot of time working on my photo skills to discover it is not my skills, but my camera. Again, something else to invest in and plan for next trip!

Eats – Breakfast at Buddy’s every morning. Lions Den was good, our perpetual favs Capt Don’s (Boka Stoba), Mona Lisa (for my birthday dinner), and Casablanca for the huge mixed grill (the leftovers created 2 additional dinners and 2 lunches) did not disappoint. Two new restaurants this trip Sense and Wills Tropical Grill. Sense - across from the Plaza main entrance - sleek, great menu, even better execution. The Curmudgeon had smoked marlin carpaccio and a wahoo main while I opted for Thai soup and tuna dredged in sesame w/ noodles and stir fry veggies (4 Bombay Sapphire and tonics, 2 appetizers, 2 main, 2 desserts and less then $100 US. See sense | eat drink dance - bonaire | sense | bonaire | restaurant | drinking | modern | taste | dancing | holiday). Will’s Tropical Grill, too many fruity drinks, I forget what I ate… Spent about $135 on groceries and adult beverages at Cultimara and the Warehouse as we did cook and eat in quite a bit supplementing the groceries with leftovers. Many walks over to Lovers for ice cream. A run to KFC cause fried chicken is yummy, though I miss the downtown location. Actually entertained as the Curmudgeon invited one of the DM’s over for dinner. Sad to see Salsa closed.

MAKE RESERVATIONS for great seating. Doesn’t matter if every table is open, if you want a great table on the water, as I do, make reservations. Make them 15 minutes in advance, just make them. Can’t tell you how many folks tried to get a waterside table only to be rebuffed with ‘Do you have a reservation??? No, well THAT table is reserved.’ It became a running joke for us.

Did the Buddy Friday night buffet with Moogie on our last night. Plenty of food for $20/pp. Unpleasant incident marred our evening as I was approached, hit upon and groped by a local Moogie hanger-on while the Curmudgeon was at the bar getting drinks. I did nothing to encourage this incident, so ladies be extremely careful. We had finished dinner, I was sitting at our table, man came over, sat down at the table, attempted to strike up a conversation. I speak no Spanish or Papiamentu, he spoke little English. He commented on my looks, asked me to leave to which I replied ‘Mi hombre est getting cerveza’ (my weak attempt at ‘my man is getting us beers’) and pointed at the bar. He again stated I was pretty and grabbed a body part I shall leave unmentioned. I got up and jumped over the 2 foot cinderblock wall next to me, grabbed the Curmudgeon, explained what happened and we left.

We had no problems the entire trip, never locked the truck, never left anything in the truck. Did leave gear in the locker room between dives, but never regs/computers or lights. Never left anything unattended. Never left any money sitting around, never left the safe open, even if we were in the living room or kitchen. Way too easy to slip in the back door unnoticed and into the bedroom where the safe is located. Did leave exposure suits out on 1st floor patio to dry overnight, but if you saw (or smelled) our suits and booties you would understand why no one would want them. March was very dry this year and the mosquitoes were not too bad, though more signs warn of Dengue. I keep the bug spray in my handbag so we are never caught lacking...

Bit of a snafu on the return trip – Delta had scheduled a 767-300 for the BON – ATL flight but sent a 757 instead resulting in much confusion and folks not being able to find their seat because it didn’t exist! (Can someone explain how you do that???) Eventually they got everyone loaded and enroute. Movies, games and snacks kept New Friend Frank, the Curmudgeon and I entertained during the four hour flight. Our ATL to PHL flight was then delayed almost 2 hours and when we finally arrived well after midnight, my bag failed to arrive. I filled out the requisite forms and Delta kindly dropped it on my step at midnight the following night, scaring me half to death. (Must be me, third time this year my bags have gone visiting without me!)

Overall, great trip, two weeks still not enough, but far more relaxing then one week. Not happy with the influx of pods. I fully understand the financial implications of cruise ships on the local economy, but I don’t have to like them. Still hope to have enough Ducats to buy a little place and spend a lot more time on Bonaire!

Great report:D We have a group trip coming up in 2011 DNY invades Bonaire, Please feel free to join us. look in the forum for more detailed info or p.m. me keith
 
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