Once we had the formalities completed and Jackster on a mooring we could start diving. David brought out the 15hp outboard to give us extra oomph carrying gear and for faster travelling to and from the sites. We don't use this often preferring the lighter and more efficient 10hp for day-to-day use. Now with the extra oomph we'd be able to put the laden dinghy on a plane as we zip up and down the coast and across to Klein Bonaire. But, before could don kit and submerge we needed to purchase our dive tags. All water surrounding Bonaire to a depth of 60m is a protected park. To finance the maintenance and keep the reef healthy with mooring balls, clean ups and wardens we all pay; $10 a night for a mooring ball, $25 for an annual dive tag and $10 a year for snorkellers, swimmers and other water users. I think it represents very good value and hasn't increased in price for at least fifteen years. I first came to Bonaire on a dive holiday in 2003 and paid $25 to dive.
I would rate the diving here as easy and rewarding. The water is 27c, visibility 30m and current negligible with plenty of sea life to observe; healthy hard and soft corals, eels, scorpion fish, the usual suspects, anemones, shrimp, and we're told, seahorses and frog fish. We didn't see the last two.
|spotted anemone shrimp|
I have to admit I didn't take any of these underwater photos. I've lifted them from www.reeffishes.org. All pics were taken here though. When I first met David he used a state of the art video camera and I had a stills camera. We loved documenting what we saw and then my camera died and the interest in using the video camera waned until we now dive to look at fish rather than dive to look at fish through a lens. I think we see more and are better divers for not having the diversion. Deciding whether to replace the UW camera I had to ask myself why take photos when professionals do a far better job? My end use was to post in the blog. We have talked about replacing the expensive kit with a compact GoPro. Perhaps one day.
In the meantime I've borrowed to illustrate what we found in two weeks' diving. Down at 30m we were mobbed by huge silver tarpons cruising the reef, followed by darting tuna and trevally. There were a couple of boat hulls to peer in to. Coming up to the mid range we paused to watch shrimp in anemones and discover Scorpion fish lying inert on the sand and at the top of the reef were snake heels hunting under rocks, big eyed porcupine fish pretending to be invisible and lots and lots of nooks where a seahorse might lurk or a piece of coral crying out for a frogfish to rest on. No seahorses. No frogfish.
If you're coming to Bonaire on a yacht and want a site close to the mooring field, leap off the back of your boat and go exploring, or south of the entrance to the marina is a buoy marked 'Something Special'. I read a glowing report of what was seen in one dive, shrugged it off thinking not so close to all the boat traffic and relegated it to a quick late afternoon dip. What a surprise we had! Variety of species, health of the coral. It was good enough to go back for two more dives.
We would have liked to do a lot more diving but David was suffering with sciatica, a leftover from the haulout and hauling heavy scaffolding planks around, causing him too much pain in his leg to enjoy the swimming. Lugging heavy tanks and kit in and out of the dinghy wasn't helping him to recover so we've opted to suspended our underwater breathing until Aruba – the island after Curacao and about two weeks time.