Sunday, January 20, 2008

Bonaire Trip Report

Let me make this as simple as possible: Bonaire Rocks. Even without much wind.

The first two days of the trip, there wasn't any plane-able wind (of course, I had no interest in using anything bigger than an 8.0 sail). This turned out to be a good thing for the two beginners in our group. My girlfriend (foreground, nudist colony and windmill in the background) had a great time scooting around in the super-non-threatening Lac Bay area. On the 2nd day, we walked out to the reef at the top of the bay and snorkeled a bit too. This was actually really cool, and even on a light wind day, slightly challenging. All kinds of fish, I even managed to see a Hawksbill Turtle. We ended up snorkeling almost every day, and it was never disappointing.

I think the first planing happened on the 3rd day in the morning. I was probably on a 7.3 with a 130 liter RRD Spitfire. This light breeze was around for about an hour that day, then we were once again reduced to lightwind freestyle (I should be fair and mention that this was an abnormally un-windy few days, just bad luck from what I was told).

I rented from the Bonaire Windsurf Place, and was pretty happy with their selection of gear. The service there was also outstanding. My buddy rented from Jibe City. We switched gear a few times, and I gotta say those hifly boards are super user-friendly. Especially the twin fins. That said, I kinda prefer sailing gear that challenges me at this point.

The 4th and 5th day were decent but marginal. I rode a 7.3 and a 6.5, and a bunch of different boards. One of the few unfortunate things is that the water of Lac Bay can be shallow, so you can't ride a big fin out there. If it were possible to use formula gear, there would have been planing conditions every day.

Our last sailing day was outstanding. I was on a 6.0 all morning, all the way down to a 90 liter board (the smallest board I've ever got into the straps on to this day). I felt like a jibing whiz until this day... the smaller boards come around a lot faster, but you can't flub the footwork or sail transitions. If you're reading this blog, you probably already know all this. Anyway, it was still super fun to sail a tiny board. My windsurfing started in Florida, where you can get by with 150 liters on 99% of your sailing days.

Our approach to the trip was one to keep costs down. The plane ticket was about $500, we split an apartment 4 ways @$1000 total. We tried to cook a bit, but I also used a public forum to find cheap but good local food (http://www.bonairetalk.com.) The restaurants I recommend checking out are Maiky Snack, El Fogon, and Bobbejans. For $1000 we had travel, lodging, and board rental for a week. Not so bad. The only thing I would have done differently is to plan a longer trip, because there is a full day of travel on either end. We did find entertaining things to do on our long layovers in San Juan, however.

6 comments:

PeconicPuffin said...

Sounds like a good trip! You did pretty well for wind in January...it gets windier on average as winter approaches spring. Jibing smaller boards is great fun, but there's no time to think!

The next time you plan a trip to Bonaire, I encourage you to contact Ann Phelan, the windsurfing travel agent who specializes in Bonaire. Give her a budget and she'll get you prices on places to stay, to eat, the cheapest rental car etc if that's what you're looking for. She's at http://www.bonairecaribbean.com and she saves you money.

Also of course there are the ABK instructors who work out of Jibe City...was there a clinic going on while you were there?

Catapulting Aaron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Catapulting Aaron said...

I didn't know the wind wasn't great in January. The wind charts I've seen posted online were a little misleading. I'll definitely holler at Ann next time. We did notice the airfare went down a couple hundred bucks for a short period of time... live and learn!

Unfortunately Andy and the other guys were booked up the whole time we were there, but we would have loved to take lessons! I'm definitely going to do the Spring OBX camp this year.

PeconicPuffin said...

You had a good trip...that's what matters. Also, the wind trends don't guarantee wind. For example people have been skunked for a week in March (which is usually excellent). My wife and I went down last November, knowing that the wind trends were poor (we just wanted to celebrate our anniversary in the Carribean) and we ended up getting at least 16 knots every day.

We're heading to Aruba for a quick trip next month.

Whatever your next trip is, definately work with Ann.

James Douglass said...

Aaron- Looks like it was an awesome trip! I'm jealous. That perfect blue water is unbelievable.

moreforce4 said...

Looks great, what lovely water!

The BIG Question:

Was Girlfriend transformed into that most precious of partners: a windsurfing one?