Saturday, November 11, 2006

Bonaire; ordered new batteries from Miami

November 8, 2006       to Nov 11

Well, let’s see; what did we do all week?  Bill spent a great deal of time ordering batteries which should arrive on Tuesday (we hope).  This was not a simple task.  Our batteries are 4 years old (this boat was built November 2002 and delivered across the Atlantic in January-February 2003), so we knew that the batteries would need to be replaced soon.  We didn’t realize that when they decided to weaken that it would happen so quickly.  We have 13 batteries--1 starting battery and 12 batteries wired into one 24volt house bank.  The old batteries are Delphi Freedom GRP31, which are sealed lead acid.  We very much wanted to replace with identical batteries which we understand are available in the US at Interstate.  But we could not locate any to be shipped down here; so we bought AGM batteries instead.  This caused a lot of headaches.

Bill researched and got very annoyed with dropped phone calls and non-working Skype and people who did not answer emails in a timely manner.  Our 175 amp alternator has a built-in regulator.  Bill now must take it apart and disable/remove that regulator and replace it with another type regulator, which we also had to order and hope will arrive next week.  We really, really hope that there won’t be a delay in Bonaire Customs. 

As everyone knows, batteries are heavy.   This is something that we would happily pay someone else to do.  The old batteries must be removed from beneath the hallway passage berth and brought upstairs and onto the marina dock.  Then the 13 new batteries must be moved from the dock, over the liferail, into the cockpit, down the companionway, around the steps and down the hallway, and then installed beneath the passage berth.  Each battery weighs about 70 pounds; you can do the math.  Our old backs will be hurting if we must do this all by ourselves.  So we truly hope that the marina harbormaster can find someone for us to hire for this job.

On Sunday we played Mexican Train dominoes at the marina restaurant; Judy managed third place this time.  It was a good way to meet many of the cruisers here in Bonaire.  We went out to dinner to a Brazilian restaurant that served what was supposed to be beef fajitas and chicken enchiladas.  One tip to anyone from Texas who visits Bonaire:  don’t try the local fajitas or enchiladas.  Taste okay, but don’t remotely resemble real fajitas or enchiladas.

Monday Judy walked into a dentist office and they agreed to see her that afternoon.  A porcelain filling had started to deteriorate several weeks ago; the tooth didn’t hurt but she didn’t want to chance having it start hurting is a more remote location.  Turns out that there were actually two porcelain fillings which had broken.  The dentist repaired both porcelain fillings, checked all the teeth, and did x-rays; all for only $192 USD.  That is a fraction of what our dentist in Houston would have charged.  Judy also went into a local pharmacy and learned that she could purchase her Premarin and thyroid hormones without having to go to a local doctor for a script.  They just wanted to see the prescription bottles from the US to confirm the dosage.  Judy bought a one-year supply of both drugs for less than what she paid for a 90-day supply back in Houston.  So now she is set on her scripts for another year.

Tuesday was a banner day – we found 4 pieces of yellow squash at the supermarket!  First time we have seen summer squash since St. Thomas.  A taste of home.  Also found plain tortilla chips (like Doritos).  YUMMMM!  Haven’t been able to buy these for many months.  There were 3 large bags on the store shelf, so Judy bought all of them.  Only people who have not been able to buy “normal” foods can understand how happy these 2 simple foods made us that day.  Tuesday night was the cruisers’ pot luck dinner.  Met more nice people.  One couple from Holland are moving to New Zealand with their 2 small children.  They sailed here from The Netherlands and had planned to sail all the way to New Zealand, but their children are extremely active and they have decided that a long Pacific passage would be terrible with the kids.  So now they plan to sell their boat in Curacao and fly to New Zealand.  They do not have jobs in NZ yet; but he is a physician and she is a veterinarian, so that gives them plenty of points for immigration.  Brave young couple to move their family to an unknown country, sight unseen.  They hated the crowded conditions in Europe and want to live in a more sparsely populated area.  New Zealand should be perfect for them.

Wednesday was the day for queen sightings.  Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands visited Bonaire this week.  We were in town to visit the post office, which was closed because the queen was in town.  So we walked over to the area where she was to greet the local people.  She arrived in a bus accompanied by an entourage and another bus load of media.  She was wearing the typical queen hat – bright yellow and big.  The local elementary children sang a few songs for her.  She was shaking hands with the locals when we walked away.  Later that night we went back to town and were sitting on the seawall eating ice cream cones when the bus drove by again – with the queen sitting directly behind the bus driver.  Two queen sightings in one day. 

There were also some warships patrolling around Bonaire; probably because of the queen’s visit.  The locals said that Chavez has made some statements implying that Bonaire really belongs to Venezuela; so maybe this visit and the warships were Netherlands’ way of saying that Chavez might want to shut up.

On Thursday we went to the Immigration office to request that our visa be extended another 2 weeks.  As our luck would have it, the Immigration office was closed on Thursday afternoons.  So we went back to the Police station where we cleared in last Saturday.  The police officer said that he would send Immigration a note that we won’t be leaving until as late as November 25.  We hope that this won’t cause us a problem we try to clear out of Bonaire.  Our paperwork says that we are supposed to leave here on November 14, but now we must wait for delivery and installation of our batteries and regulator.  The sailing guides say that the officials here in Bonaire are very understanding and nice.  Sure hope that holds true when it is time to clear out.

We walked around a lot on Thursday.  Budget Marine didn’t have much in stock, but we did finally find some 5-gallon jerry cans for diesel.  We have been looking for these for several months.  Would never have thought that something so common would be so difficult to find down here.  The cans we bought are supposed to be for kerosene, but they will work fine for diesel and are the right size to fit down in our port side deck locker. 

We snorkeled off our boat this afternoon.  There is a small reef nearby and it was lovely.  There was a large variety of colorful fish and actually living coral.  We forgot to bring the underwater camera. 

On Friday Bill was still working on getting our battery and regulator ordering problems sorted out.  He finally obtained enough information to know what regulator we needed to order, and was able to order it online to be shipped direct to Bonaire via FedEx Priority.  They said they would ship it today, so we hope to receive it one day next week.

Saw a turtle next to our boat this morning!  This is the first turtle that we have seen since moving aboard May 1st.  We used to see turtles frequently up in the BVI, but haven’t seen any in more than 6 months.  The turtle population is reduced greatly throughout the entire Caribbean.

Late Friday afternoon at least a dozen small kids sailed by our boat.  Some of these kids looked to be as young as 5 years old; the oldest appeared to be maybe 9 years old.   They are learning the right way – alone in small boats with no engines.  They all seemed to handle their boats quite well. 

Today Bill helped fix a computer for another cruiser.  We again walked around town and ate KFC for lunch.  We have done a lot of walking since arriving in Bonaire.  Pretty much a quiet day. 

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