We’ve set a date to leave. Next Wednesday. Next Wednesday the Predictwind GRIB files show the wind is going to ease: 20 knot gusts instead of 30 knot gusts in the Caribbean Sea. Round it to 25 for fun. Still, 25 is easier than 30 if only for a mental trick. But for Questie too. 25 and you’re still in charge. 30 you’re working on slowing her down. Managing the elements rather than the boat.
So, in view of our leaving date, we’ve set up a calendar list of activities – from Sunday onwards. A final countdown. We have dinghy hull cleaning on Sunday – a scrubby job, but necessary since Edna will be overturned and strapped to Quest’s top deck. Better if she doesn’t ooze algae like a green monster. Then fresh produce shopping and hydrovane set-up on Monday. Final clean on Tuesday morning and customs and immigration check-out on Tuesday afternoon.
We’ve set aside the whole afternoon to check-out. This is because, like all the other boats (there were a lot of us) who overstayed their Bonaire visa because of lockdowns, and who checked out in the last month, we expect to be fined – for not having a visa extension. Apparently that’s the word now. If you don’t have an extension stamped in your passports, you get fined.
We asked for our visa extension in January. We never received a reply. The word then was the authorities simply weren’t giving them. Reason being there was no protocol in place to be able to do so. One boat in search of a visa extension even went to the custom’s offices in town and were told not to ask for an extension. Period. I did ask for one though – it seemed too cheeky not to.
The fine is hefty – $1200US an adult. There is an appeals procedure. We have already prepared documentation to appeal – upon checking out. You can do that. Personally, I’ve never been one for breaking these kinds of rules. Visas and staying or not staying somewhere give me the heebee jeebies. The world being one big, incredibly complicated border control.
Still, despite the potentially bitter-sweet end, we are super grateful to Bonaire. We have two laminated Covid vaccination cards, around 200 dives under our belts and school done and dusted. We’ve made friends here too, even in the lonely lockdowns. Now, Quest is in the marina and all is well. We’re making lists and carrying things from rental car to boat.
There are also mosquitoes. When the wind dies down at dusk, they rush inside. We’ve been swatting a dozen at night. Quest was spoilt out on the mooring buoy when only the diehard mozzies made it that far. In the marina the mozzies all squash red with different shades. Dark red: old blood. Bright red: just bitten.
We are securing hatch nets earlier – but even then they appear. Jack said he chased one which flew straight through the smallest hole in our mozzie net. It will be the mozzies which chase us out to sea in the end. Next Wednesday.