Bonaire’s Moorings

The boats in Bonaire’s mooring field are lined up in rows. Since there’s no anchoring allowed here, there’s order instead. Well, loose order. We have roughly three rows of mooring buoys.

The first row are the shallow water moorings, in water 2-3 metres deep. These moorings are designed for smaller boats – but if you can lift your keel or draw a little like a catamaran, then they also work.

Wind reversals are hairy on them though. We were in about four reversals in the hurricane season, and the first row boats got real close to shore. Bonaire doesn’t get many hurricanes being so far south (with the odd close call) – but it does get these crazy storms generated off the coast of the South American mainland, which Caribbean islands further away dont get. It was an experience! Thankfully, now it’s January and wind reversals are done – until the next hurricane season.

The second line in the mooring field is the the row we’re in. Here, the boats are perched on the drop-off. So, Quest’s bow starts off in shallow, 4 metres of water, but her stern goes down to about 15 metres deep. This is a pretty exciting spot. They are considered the best moorings in Bonaire. We didn’t have to worry about depth in the reversals and when we dive off Quest now, we’re right on the reef. Win-win. Anyway, I write like I own this buoy. I don’t. Ignore the painted letters on the mooring block.

Then there’s the third, deep water moorings. You can’t even see the concrete block; the mooring lines reach down and disappear into the blue. The blocks are in about 35 metres, at the bottom of the reef. These moorings are new, put in last year to free up space in the marina. When Bonaire’s borders opened in June, after the first lockdown, a flood of boats came into the marina to quarantine. Patrice’s boat, Astra is on one of these moorings right now. He likes it. The deep water moorings are relatively spread out and quiet.

When swimming through the mooring field, I always swim on the inside of the field. Close to shore. You don’t have to, strictly speaking. Dinghies are pretty good here – most people know not to whiz around in the mooring field. In this way, it helps that everyone is lined up in rows. You can easily drive your dinghy on the outside, and slow down when you come through the boats. This is in contrast to anchorages which are downright scary – if you’re a swimmer. I’m looking at you, Falmouth Bay, Antigua. And Barbados actually. Though we learned to tow a swimmer’s float.

It’s also good to go shallow here, as it’s always interesting off the fisherman’s dock. They’re usually loads of fish chewing on the fish scraps thrown out by the fishermen. Amazing how fish like eating other fish. And a slightly sheepish sea turtle is guaranteed to be in there too.

Everyone thinks turtles only like sea grass and nibbling bits of coral? Well, dump the skin of a barracuda overboard and see what happens. A wahoo head. A dorado tail. Not so veggie now, are you Mr Turtle? What’s that? You never said you were? Well, fair enough.

One thought on “Bonaire’s Moorings

  1. I am so glad I found your blog! I have really enjoyed reading about your time in Bonaire. My wife and I are thinking of spending a good chunk of the next hurricane season there. The reefs just look amazing!

    How hard is it to get a mooring during the summer? Do boats end up at a marina for long periods because all the moorings are taken?


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