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Painting Lessons. Another Sundowner.

We had a fairly slow morning rising due to the night before. The coconut telegraph at 8am was the final reason for getting up. To our delight we heard that Inspiration Lady and Jackster had both arrived in Bonaire. They had bypassed the Aves on the strength of a forecast of little or no wind the following day. As it was they had had to motor a lot of the way from Los Roques. We soon had contact on the VHF and agreed to meet up for sundowners in the evening – the second in a row for us.

Next we had a trip into town for some provisioning. We also swung by the Budget Marine to see if the dive map had arrived. It hadn’t. They suggested coming back today. We’ll see.

Then it was down to some serious hammock lying and reading until lunch. After lunch, Teri from Sea Otter came over to give Helen a water colour painting lesson. Teri spent 2½ hours with Helen showing her the basics and some different techniques for achieving different effects. The result, we all thought, was pretty good. A combination of good teaching and talented student perhaps.

Sea Otter are heading out today. They will make their way to St Thomas where Teri will paint some more and sell her paintings to the tourists. She makes enough money this way to feed them for the following year. Teri kindly left Helen some of her old paints to keep going.

By the time all was packed up it was time to have the Jacksters (Jackie and Dave) and the Inspiration Ladies (Jackie and Gary) aboard for a fine evening of conversation, nibbles and the odd beverage. We all have rough plans of making it to NZ by the end of next year. It was good to catch up with them and learn of their travels and recent experiences.

Winches, diving and company in Bonaire

Obtaining a working windlass was the priority task for the day. In the morning, Britt from Sea Otter passed by and I used the opportunity to discuss the project. He offered some good thoughts regarding weatherproofing the wood support. On his advice we started applying acetone to the wood keeping it covered from the rain which was falling sporadically.

I made a trip to Budget Marine to see if they had the map we needed yet. They didn’t but the lady was out to get it so it’s possible we could get our hands on it today. Next stop was the dive school to check on our tanks. I learned that we won’t get them until Friday but the manager said I could use their tanks until then using the fill rate applicable to owned tanks. That was nice.

Back on the boat Helen and I made plans for an afternoon dive with the tanks off of the back of Dignity where we were. Note – we have moved a little north since the last dive off of the boat. After lunch and another application of acetone to the wood base to the windlass we splashed. This was our first dive on the tanks for some time and Helen was a little nervous of the depth. Our plan was to descend in stages checking buoyancy and equipment at each stage. We leveled off at 76 feet and did the usual parallel runs of the reef ascending on each turn. Overall the dive lasted 47 minutes. The reef was pretty much identical to the last two dives on the hookah. The marine life was significantly more abundant on this dive.

After the dive it was back to work on the windlass. I applied fiberglass resin to the exposed woodwork to seal it off from the elements. We then seated the new windlass on it’s gasket applying a polyurethane seal to both sides (another suggestion from Britt). I then attached the new gearbox and motor from below (I hate working in the anchor chain locker). The first test seemed fine. I then discovered the windlass wouldn’t take any load. It kept slipping. This is when I discovered I had forgotten to insert the key into the groove on the spindle. To remedy this I had to get back into the anchor chain locker, remove the motor and gear box, put the key into the groove and reassemble everything. After that everything was fine.

After all this it was cleanup time. We had invited Britt and Terri over from Sea Otter along with Dennis and Allayne from Audrey Paige, who we’d last met in Grenada, over for sun downers. The boat was a mess with all the dive gear out and all the tools and old windlass parts lying around. We managed it.

We had a great evening. Everyone showed up at 6pm and only left for home at 11:30pm. Terri left us with some prints of artwork she produced which was extremely generous.

The Sea Otters are planning to head east today although they had a few possible excuses to stay an extra day. If they do, Terri will be around today to give Helen a water colour lesson.

As for the rest of the day, no idea at present. We may do another dive, we may not. I fancy a rest from boat work but often boredom can stimulate activity. Who knows?

Loving the tuna & a rainbow at night

Monday morning we took the dinghy out on a few stops.  First stop was to visit Budget Marine to pick up a Bonaire flag.  There we realized we already had a Netherlands Antilles flag which I think extends enough courtesy.  We did pick up some cleaning solutions though and noticed a rather nice map and summary of all the dive sites.  The assistant didn’t know the cost but believed we could get hold of a copy today (Tuesday).  Hopefully it’s a decent price and reflects the situation post Omar (the hurricane that came close to Dignity last year) which changed a lot of reefs round here.

We then headed off to Harbour Marina to drop of trash and see if we could find a chart of the entrance to Cartegena.  It’s the one chart we’re missing in any detail and need this before heading off.  No luck there.

We then headed for the dive shop to see if our tanks had been returned.  On the way we stopped by “Sea Otter” to say hello.  They had helped us out on the net once and this was enough to open the conversation with a thank you.  We realized we had a few things to help each other out with.  They pointed out their neighbour had just returned from Cartegena and may be able to help with charts and or guidance.

The dive store hadn’t received the tanks yet nor did the guy there have any idea when.  We’d like them soon but we do have things to do in the meantime.

I did go for a snorkel around Dignity in the morning.  A few days ago I spotted what I was sure was a crusted divers knife out of the bathroom port.  I didn’t pay enough attention to the boat orientation at the time so it gives me something to search for.  Two searches gone and still I haven’t found it.  I’m beginning to think it might have been an illusion – a couple of pieces of dead coral just lying right.

Middle of the day was the usual doing not a lot.  In the afternoon I decided to take yet another look at the windlass.  Helen has the feeling it isn’t working as well as it used to.  I had recently noticed that mud was dripping from the bottom of the shaft connecting the gearbox to the windlass.  This suggested that mud had made it’s way between the two and could be causing issues.

I tried to remove the gearbox.  It was encrusted with salt and grime (due to our poor care and maintenance no doubt).  Eventually I managed to remove the gearbox.  The gap between the gearbox and windlass above was jammed full of grease, grime and encrusted salt – a real mess.  Prior to removing the gearbox I did test it’s ability to turn.  It wasn’t bad but the crud probably wasn’t helping.

In banging around to remove it all some bearings have come loose (or perhaps they were always loose but I doubt that).  We now have it all apart but possibly damaged.  We do have the new windlass which we were going to use to put in a second windlass.  It looks like I’m going to have to cobble together good parts from both to get a decent one.  Once it’s all working we’re going to have to take a lot more care to remove all mud before it reaches the windlass and to regularly wash down with fresh water.  Lessons learned – more of them.

The evening meal was tuna steaks and stir fried veg.  This is rapidly becoming my favourite meal.  The lateral tissues of the tuna we caught have rather too much blood in them so we avoid eating the blood filled meat.  The rest is divine.  In the evening I reread my book on preparing tuna so I can do a better job of bleeding the next one.  I am confident there will be more.

While enjoying the evening in the salon we saw something we never knew possible – a rainbow at night.  The moon was low down and almost full in a clear patch of sky while light rain fell upon us.  To our amazement this created a faint rainbow in the sky complete with ghostly colours.  A very nice surprise.