The Arrows Are Off

Woke up to a quiet, rainy Saturday. The first thing is that White Arrow let go of their lines – and left.

They are off to Curaçao this morning. The whole 35 nautical miles. It seems like an age away. Before Covid struck, we too would have seen Curaçao already – with the maximum 90 day visas granted in Bonaire. After 90 days, cruisers often leave Bonaire and head to Curaçao, spend a bit of time there, and come back here again – if they want to.

Covid stopped all that. With borders closed and difficulties travelling, cruisers have been appealing for extensions to stay in Bonaire. Up until now, it hasn’t been a problem, though it’s been a hot topic among the yachties.

Do you apply for an extension to stay here, or do you just keep your head down? This is because no one yet has received a straightforward, official answer. Still, the Bonaire coastguard do cruise around this mooring field. They could be working with Customs and Immigration and checking who is here and for how long. They could easily come and see us. They know where we are.

No one quite knows the right thing to do. We were given a six-month visa when we arrived – at the time I asked for it. ‘Just the longest visa possible,’ I said hopefully. The immigration officer, a Dutch God if I’ve ever seen one – and funnily, no one has seen him since, stamped us with a six-month visa.

We’re also hitting the same dilemma now – do we stay longer in Bonaire than we are officially entitled to be? Originally, we were going to head to Curaçao next month when our visa runs out, go to the well-stocked boatyard, do some work on Questie and come back. Not big stuff. Just enough to get Quest in tip-too shape to sail home.

Now, we’re not so sure. With Covid still running unpredictably rampant theough the Caribbean basin, moving between the islands needs to planed carefully. The feeling is to avoid going to places you don’t need to.

We’re chewing over a new plan. Get that enigmatic Bonaire extension, or not, and instead head to Curaçao mid-April. Do boat works, sail east in a good weather window to the Dutch island of Sint Maarten in the Eastern Caribbean. Wait for a window then. And sail home.

Lu’s exams are still a big question mark. We received another email from InterHigh yesterday that her exams are still going ahead. Not their decision, but the exam board, Pearson Edexcel’s. I don’t even want to write down what I think of the exam board. But maybe I don’t need to. The teachers have all been putting in summative assessments. Suddenly, Lu’s calendar is full. She had eight homeworks to submit yesterday. Eight! I’m with the teachers on this. Taking matters into their own hands.

And in this way, so are White Arrow. Sailing home to New Zealand one stop at a time. We’ll miss them.

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