BVI’s to Bonaire… Donkeys and Shit Shirt Sundays

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So we found ourselves in the British Virgin Islands, or better known as the BVI’S. This territory of Britain could better be described as a US state. As soon as we cleared in, it was off to the airport to pick up Bren 98, who had just flown in from Brisbane to join us for a few weeks of cruising.

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Straight to a deserted beach for a kite session. Probably the only deserted beach in the BVIs… possibly because we weren’t supposed to be there as its next to the runway. The kite session turned out to be more effort than it was worth, so we packed it in and got moving…

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We put the rags up and started sailing across the bay to Virgin Gorda. Right on cue, a huge squall rolled on through and hammered us.

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Brendan loving the driving rain and 35 knots. From now on, Brendan P will be known as “Damo” for the duration of this Blog… and hopefully forever. Anyone who has seen Darren and Damo on YouTube knows exactly why.

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The clouds buggered off and out came the sun as we moored up at The Baths on Virgin Gorda

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The trail to Devils Bay takes you through a series of caves formed from Volcanic lava leftover from when T Rex lived here.

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You could imagine the seriousness of this conversation. World politics probably…

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Showertime on the back deck

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The spinnaker took a walk to the sail maker to get repaired after we tore it in half on the way to the BVI’s. It wasn’t pretty.

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Next day we headed north to The Bitter End on Virgin Gorda. Damo bringing us into the anchorage.

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Sure enough the wind was up, and the yacht club was stupid enough to lend us one of their Hobies. “Look after it will you” “Yeah yeah sure mate, like it’s one of my own”

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So we cruised back and forth behind the boat taking turns.

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Ollie on the trapeze as we bury the bow. We managed to keep it upright and in one piece.

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Meanwhile Bucko had been out honing her skills

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The result of taking wallets in the dinghy while kitesurfing. When will the stupid Americans realise that paper money is from the stone age… never

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These big Tarpon swim around the Saba Rock restaurant waiting for the 5PM feeding session

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These fish look a little like Barramundi. But are full of bones making them shit for eating. Hence why they are still here.

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Captain 98 did the honours of taking us on a nice 12nm sail up to the Island of Anegada. The low laying island can only been seen from a few miles out. Being surrounded by reefs, it has claimed 100s of ships over the years.

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Hamburgers on the Weber.

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Gamminos M.C. Anegada chapter. We took our Harleys around the island, and being an island of no traffic, meant we had the roads to ourselves…

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…to do stupid shit.

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Quick snorkel and a game of fris up in Loblolly bay

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The Beachcomber…

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We cruised down to Norman Island. Where the infamous Willy T’s is anchored.

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Trev standing by while we snorkel.

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We parked the boat right next to Willy T’s. The bar shot to fame when they started handing out free T-shirts to every chick that jumped naked off the top. They stopped doing it after they handed out some 20,000 T-Shirts within a year. This fresh load of drunk chicks arriving for the afternoon session.

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This photo is during daylight hours…

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Somehow it ended up at this…

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And this…

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We met this crew of 6 from the Goldy/Brisbane area. One of the guys had just purchased a 47 foot cat and was sailing it back to Australia. On board he had a sailmaker, rigger, boat builder etc. Basically an all star crew for the trip. On board I have several drunks and a yellow kayak named Trev…and a hot blonde.

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Laundry day in Cane Garden Bay

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98 showcasing his style

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Next stop was the island of Jose Van Dyke. Foxy’s bar for afternoon beers.

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Bucko chatting with the owner.

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It was time to leave the BVI’s. We packed the boat up and set off on the 450nm journey to Bonaire. I told the crew we should be there in 2.5 days…. The wind however didn’t deliver, so it was kite up to make the most of what wind we had.

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The spinnaker was looking good after being stitched back together. The grey GT racing stripe at the top is the new addition. How much you ask?.. $1200.

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Dolphin

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Forget GoPro. This is GaffPro. A birds eye view into how fish gets turned into Sashimi on board Cowabunga.

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Gotcha…

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Nice size skipjack tuna

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I have told everyone that its tradition to eat the still beating heart of the fish, bringing good luck to all. No one has taken the bait…

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Until now…

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Haha looks dericious. 98 did swallow the lot.

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The actual edible stuff

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The end to another glorious day on the water.

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The wind kicked in for the final day and we are off cruising along doing 8-9s. We picked up a mooring in Bonaire, just shy of 3 days after we left. With an average speed of 6.5 knots for the trip. Not bad considering we spent day 2 drifting around waiting for wind.

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I don’t even know how these things happen… Just an average afternoon on the back deck of Cowabunga playing cards.

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We managed to arrive the last night of Carnaval for the grand parade. How convenient..

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We are certain that it’s in the American constitution, that not only do they have the right to bear arms, they also have the right to wear shithouse shirts. We took it upon ourselves to give us, that same right.

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At the end of the parade they burn some man symbolising something we have no idea about. But that didn’t stop me and 98 from helping them get it up on the platform.

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The main reason for coming to Bonaire is for the diving. It’s up there with some of the best in the world. So 98, Bucko and Damo all undertook their advanced open water course. Ollie planned to do his Open Water course, but he popped his eardrum back in the BVI’s, leaving him shore bound for a few weeks.

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They did 5 dives over a few days. Including diving the Hilma Hooka, sunk here 30 years ago as a dive attraction

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Bucko scoping out the bow

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The open cargo holds

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The prop slowly being taken over by coral

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Afternoon beers with the boys. Jann, Andy, Ollie, Craig, 98 and Gabby. Me and Bucko met Craig here 3 years ago last time we came through on board Squander. He was keen for catching up over a few cold beers. After about 100 cold beers we called it a day. It’s something to do with Polar, the local beer. There is no better beer around.

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Scooter day had us tearing around the southern end of the Island.

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Lac Bay. Pretty much the ultimate kiteboarding location, but the stupid local windsurfing community banned them, forcing them to the other end of the Island. It’s only a matter of time before the dying sport of windsurfing caves, giving way to the kiters.

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They do have a pretty awesome setup. You can fly in from anywhere in the world, pick your board and sail each morning and off you go…

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and don’t forget your flip flops…

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The eastern side of the island sees the full force of the tradewinds.

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The lighthouse on the southern end of the Island which we rounded in the wee hours of the morning.

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Bonaire is a big exporter of Salt. Back in the day, Slaves used to provide the muscle. The old slave huts are still dotted along the coastline

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98 scoping a new clubhouse for Gamminos M.C. Bonaire chapter.

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The mobile kiteschool parked up on the beautiful white sand beach.

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As the kitebeach is on the western side of the island, it is dead offshore and has perfectly flat water making a sweet spot. Not as good as the windsurfers have it though.

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The piles of salt, ready to be exported. We wondered why the water in the salt pans is pink, thinking it is something they add to speed up evaporation. Turns out its some pink bacteria that loves super salty water…

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Flamingos love the salt bath aswell.

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Next stop the donkey sanctuary.

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You pay your $7 and this allows you to take your Harleys tearing through the reserve patting the donkeys that don’t run for cover.

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Amazingly, none of the males tried to hump the scooter, which was a little disappointing. Time to find the baby asses.

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Why hello there little fella…

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There were a dozen or so newly born donkeys running around. Just begging to be nuzzled.

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This guy pissing himself while Ollie cuddles him.

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Back scratcher being put to use

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Cuddlesss….

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and kisses….

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We talk a lot about getting a boat dog, just for fun. But maybe a boat donkey would be better. Who could say no to that face.

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Back on the boat it was one of 9 nights my birthday turned out to be celebrated.

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Chicken and ribs night.

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Now the boys went to a lot of trouble acquiring birthday presents for me. To name a few… a seed pod with Tortola written on it with paint pen. A broken cup with a peg on it and an old car stereo with Tortola written on it. The first two were actually bought, with money, from genuine souvenir stores in the BVI’s. The latter was found in a park, and then decorated to look like a souvenir bought from a souvenir store in the BVI. I have since planted the seed pod, drunk out of the leaking cup, and connected the stezza to some fully sick subs.

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We had a beer with the local Iron Order M.C. members in their clubhouse. With potential talks of merging with Gamminos M.C.

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With my birthday money I bought a new tender for the boat. I wished… Craig came by to take us fishing (drinking beers) for the afternoon.

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It was Sunday, so Shit Shirt Sunday rules were strictly enforced.

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Craig and Kathys Dog, Dingo, came along for the ride.

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We invited Craig and Kathy, as well as dive instructor Richard, and his wife Sue, for a sunset sail onboard Cowabunga

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Have a look at those shirts… Would make any American tourist proud. Richard, Craig, Randy, Donald, Buck and Mike. Our American alter egos.

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It was good to catch up with Craig and Kathy again. And I’m sure they’ll be hearing from us again next time we pass on through… If their livers allow it.

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Fish feeding time off the back of the boat

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Give me the camera

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Leatherback Turtle

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Cuttlefish claiming the mooring as its own.

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Barry, our resident Barracuda, lived underneath the boat for the week that we were on the mooring. However, he did a runner anytime the toilet was in operation

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Rave fish.

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With our time in Bonaire drawing to a close, it has been the first place of the whole trip where we were genuinely sad about moving on. It is probably the friendliest island around, and I think we have all made plans to visit again, if not live here someday…

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We said goodbye to Damo and 98. Both on planes back to Australia, and back to work. As you can see, it has been a pleasure having both on board. With those 2 gone, it was up to Me, Bucko and Ollie to sail the 650nm trip along the infamous Colombian coastline to the San Blas Islands.

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And this is just a taste of what we went through… We are now in the San Blas Islands kiting and relaxing. We are moving onto Colon, on the Panama mainland shortly. Where we will prepare ourselves for the Panama Canal, giving Cowabunga it’s first taste of the Pacific Ocean.

4 comments

  1. Cheryl Watson says:

    Great reading

  2. Aunty Leith says:

    I have not seen Brendan (Damo)like that since I wiped his crack at 12 months and it might have been with one of those shirts. I’m sure his mother is proud.

  3. Gav says:

    Solid blog entry – keep up the good work!!!

  4. Narelle Greenhalgh says:

    Andrew, another great read and fantastic photos. Thanks for sharing your great adventure. What a great life, rather surreal. As I read the blog it passed my mind that only Erin has her feet on Aussie soil with your parents travelling in Japan. By the end realised Brendan was back in Aus too. The Patrick family sure do get around. Wishing you continuing excitement with your seafaring adventures. Your Mum and Martin told me of your blog and I sat mesmerised for several hours one night reading and marvelling about your escapades – all 10 stories from Jan 2013 to Feb 2014 hence a very very late night. So many stories I had to keep a record so I did not miss any. Martin and Rachael having a great time in Central America and sorry they are not seeing you. Martin would have loved that experience. Take care and good luck.

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