Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hurricane Dean headed this way and BeBe's 6th birthday

August 14, 2007  Tuesday

The kids left very early this morning.   Hope the two six-year-olds travel all day towards home as well as they traveled on the way down here.  They will have only 3 flights to reach home vs. the 4 flights on the way down, but it is still an all-day ordeal.  A tropical storm or possible low-category hurricane is expected to pass through Puerto Rico area on Thursday night or Friday.  At least they will be in and out of Puerto Rico today and will avoid that mess.   Hope Lynn and BeBe don’t get sick along the way.  Zachary, Aaron and Sebastian were sick with fever, headache and vomiting for several days during their visit with us.  Obviously this illness is contagious and appears to have several days incubation period, so I do hope they make it home before anyone else exhibits symptoms.   I know the entire family will be glad to be back in the land of air-conditioning and unlimited electrical and water consumption. 

Thanks very much to Aaron & Lynn for bringing the stuff down to us, especially the new laptop.  It is great to have another spare computer onboard.  And also thanks to John for buying the two suitcases from Goodwill and packing them with all kinds of goodies from Sam’s Club.  It was like Christmas in August when we unpacked all the surprises.  One of the things they brought us was our mail for the past months.  This included a complimentary copy of SAIL magazine from some business.  We had canceled our subscription to SAIL several years ago.  Now that we have perused this latest copy, we wonder why in the world we every subscribed to this magazine in the first place.  SAIL reads like a sailor wantabe rag.  There is nothing of any interest in that magazine to an experienced sailor and definitely no interest for a cruiser.  It seems to be written for people who want to envision themselves sailors.

Elisabeth (BeBe) celebrated her sixth birthday on Sunday.  Zachary will not turn seven until 5 October, so for the next seven weeks or so they are both aged six.  Zachary is ten months older than BeBe and never lets her forget it.  He is also more than twice her weight and about a head taller than her.  She is such a girly girl.  But for the next seven weeks BeBe doesn’t have to accept his teasing about how he is “older” because they are both six.  They are such total opposites.  He has an “anything goes” attitude and she is quite high maintenance.  Maybe that is a good thing because she won’t settle for less than she thinks she deserves.

Bill and I looked at several stores trying to find something to give her for a birthday gift.  Toys are not to be found on this island.  Only thing we found was a small stuffed animal, so that is all she received from her grandparents for her birthday (and she already has at least a hundred stuffed animals at home so it was the last thing she needed or wanted).  Zachary brought a birthday gift from Houston—a transformer truck---and that was exactly what she wanted.  For such a girly girl it seems odd that she enjoys cars and trucks so much.  Her mom gave her some Tinkerbelle sunglasses and a very pretty hair clip from Paris.  I baked a birthday cake for her and Lynn decorated it; and we put balloons around the boat.  The kids had fun playing with the balloons in the cabins.  Elisabeth will have another small birthday celebration on Friday at her Montessori school. 

BeBe only got into the sea once during this vacation.  She got a bit of salt water into her mouth and hated it, so that was the end of her attempts to swim or snorkel.  But she did enjoy being paddled about in the kayak, giving orders as to the direction to go.  Zachary doesn’t swim all that well yet, so he wore swimming aids of various sorts; but he loves the water and enjoyed snorkeling a few times.  He loved jumping off the deck of the boat into the water.  This is about a five-foot drop at the location of our swim ladder.  We had him wear his snorkel mask and told him to hold it tight to his face, but the mask still came off a few times.  Not a big deal but the salt water burned his eyes and he wasn’t accustomed to that experience.  But he is a boy and believes he can do anything anyone else can.

Sebastian learned to drive the dinghy and did a great job.  Zachary also learned to drive the dinghy and did as well as could be expected for a six-year-old.  His shorter arm length prevented him from having firm control in some maneuvering positions.  But we think he drove the dinghy just fine.  He managed to place us back at the stern of the swinging boat most of the time, and managed to cut the engine at the right times to drift the dinghy up to a dock with good accuracy. 

I have nine loads of laundry to wash today, clean the heads and clean all the fans with alcohol and Q-tips.  Those fans get grimy/dusty very quickly and they haven’t been cleaned in over two weeks.  Bill is helping with the vacuuming.  And my final job will be to wipe down every wall or cabinet surface because there are little fingerprints and dust everywhere inside this boat.  While I am doing those chores Bill will start cleaning up the topsides and getting all the little footprints washed away.  The carburetor rebuild-kit for the outboard motor arrived yesterday and that work is being performed today.  Perfect timing. 

Bill deflated the sea kayak and stored it away first thing this morning.  We won’t be using it again until probably the San Blas Islands so it might as well be stored away properly now.  Lynn and Aaron helped us fold and flake our forward ballooner sail yesterday.  That sail is used only for direct downwind conditions and I doubt we will have the need to use it again for some time.  So we were glad to get that big sail folded and stored away again.  We had used it between Cubagua and Tortuga, VZ, and had just stuffed it down into a sail locker when finished with it that day.  It really is difficult to properly stow away a sail on a moving boat since the sails are longer than the boat.  Makes folding a challenge.

On Sunday a catamaran full of Venezuelans arrived and got on the mooring next to us.  There were 8 adults and a whole bunch of kids, including an infant that looked to be about 8 months old.  Yesterday morning they loaded up the dinghy and took the first group ashore, leaving 3 adults and the infant onboard waiting for the second dinghy trip ashore.  Right after the first dinghy departure I noticed the baby crawling up into the seat of the cockpit.  Then he crawled right out onto the deck.  There were no adults watching this baby at all.  We watched the baby crawl over to the life lines and pull himself up.  This catamaran had the normal flimsy wire lifelines and the baby was holding on very unsteadily.  Scared the beejesus out of us!  Our dinghy was up on the davits so we couldn’t get over to that boat if that baby fell into the sea.  I grabbed our air horn can and Bill blasted away towards the catamaran.  After the third series of blasts an adult finally came outside to see what the commotion was all about.  That is when he learned that his infant son was now crawling around on the foredeck!  I cannot imagine what 3 adults were doing inside that made them forget that they had a baby aboard.  They are extremely lucky that the baby didn’t drown.

Yesterday afternoon soon after we had all climbed aboard from snorkeling we noticed a large fish feeding only 30 to 50 feet from our stern.  Couldn’t identify what kind of fish it was, but it was definitely a large one – looked to be approximately 4 to 4 ½ feet long.  We thought it might be a mahi-mahi (dorado or dolphin fish), but we could not see any of the bright green/blue of a live mahi-mahi.  This fish was brown on the tail and dark colored on its back with a brilliant white or silver belly.  Whatever it was, I wish we could have caught it.  Would have provided a month’s worth of fantastic fish dinners.

A small tropical disturbance is predicted to pass well north of Bonaire today.  If that happens, then it is possible that Bonaire will sustain wind-reversal for several hours.  If the wind starts coming from the south or west then all boats must vacate the moorings until the wind returns to normal easterly direction.  There is a very, very deep underwater shelf on the leeward side of Bonaire where the moorings are placed.  If the wind changes to the south or west then the waves are driven over this underwater shelf and large waves will pound into this area.  One boat that has endured these conditions twice told us that once they had to literally cut their mooring lines free because there was so much pressure that it was impossible to release the lines.  When a wind-reversal happens (once or twice per year) then all boats must vacate this area and go meander back and forth behind the little island of Klein Bonaire until conditions re-settle.  We have the boat ready to let loose the mooring lines and head out to sea at a moments notice – except for the laundry hanging topsides!  Hoping the winds don’t cause any problems today because I really would like to finish laundry and cleaning.

Should be lots of photos associated with this posting (if we get another internet connection—the one we have been using for the past month is no longer working).  I will not attempt to describe any activities here; you can read the captions and descriptions with each photo for any explanations of what we have been doing while the kids were visiting for the past two weeks.

3:00 p.m. update
A few hours ago we received an email from the weather guy, Chris Parker.  Seems that Tropical Storm Dean (#4) is becoming more difficult to predict.  This is the storm that was supposed to develop into a low-category hurricane and pass through Puerto Rico on Thursday night or Friday.  Now the predictions cover everywhere from Trinidad to Bahamas.  They have no idea which direction this storm is going to go.  But most of the computer models are now taking the storm on a straight westerly path.  From its current position, that path would take the storm directly over the ABCs!  Guess you could say that the kids really did leave at the right time!  It is too soon for any accurate forecasting of the path of this storm so we will have to watch it carefully for the next 36 hours.  If it truly is headed straight towards the ABCs then we will have to hurry down to Venezuela.  There is a great hurricane hole area in Venezuela that is just within the geographic limits for our insurance coverage.  It is only about 80 miles away and should take us approximately 14 hours max to get within insurance coverage zone.  What a time for the internet to quick working; right when we need it the most in order to stay up-to-the-minute on this storm movement.

August 15, 2007  Wednesday 8:00 p.m.

We just returned from eating the worst meal either of us can remember in our lifetimes.  I was craving Chinese food and there is one Chinese restaurant nearby, so we gave it a try.  It was horrible!  Neither of us could eat it.  But at least I definitely won’t want any more Chinese food for awhile.

The marina is filled now with boats that have moved from moorings to inside the marina.  All in anticipation of bad weather within the next few days.   Tropical Storm Dean is expected to be upgraded to a hurricane on Friday.  The computer models indicate that at least the outer bands should affect Bonaire.  With the circulation pattern of hurricane winds, that means Bonaire should experience those nasty westerly winds it is so famous for.  I have plotted a route to the hurricane hole on mainland Venezuela that we chose as our best option in case the predicted bad weather comes any closer to Bonaire.  It would be about 90 miles, so we would want to leave Bonaire sometime tomorrow night so that we could arrive during bright daylight of early afternoon Friday.  We are watching this storm closely.  Look for our decision to be posted tomorrow night.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comment will be posted after we confirm that you are not a cyber stalker.