|CrystalblueoceanSailing and Diving Around the World|
sailing and diving around the world
Ok, Bonaire isn't the most beautiful place in the world, I give you that. There are lots of you probably thinking that the most beautiful place in the world to be, on a yacht, is the British Virgin Islands, Bocas Del Toro, or somewhere in French Polynesia. But, still, Bonaire isn't downtown Detroit, either. In fact, one of the most beautiful things about Bonaire is the the fact that you don't have to go diving to see lots of tropical fish. Simply jump over the side of the boat and they'll be swarming around you.
I'm adding this story, as I sit here in Chesapeake Harbor Marina, because I've been meaning to for a while. Unfortunately I only started this website fairly recently, and regret not starting it on the first boat I crewed on. There are lots of funny stories, and a few unpleasant ones. Well, this is one of the unpleasant ones. It came back to me when I was being asked, by some folks here at the marina, about what it's like to take yachts all over the world. I told them it was most fantastic, and sometimes a little dodgy. Well, of course, they want to know about the dodgy stories, too, so here is one of them.
In 2013, I was on a sailboat, out of Grenada, and bound for Bonaire. It took us a few days to get to Bonaire, and when we finally saw a tiny bit of it in the distance, it was a very welcome sight. You can't anchor anywhere in Bonaire, so we motored up and down the mooring field until we found one that was suitable, and tied up to it. I had been to Bonaire before, and it was nice to be back to familiar sights.
After a few days, of being moored in an isolated spot, with no boats close to us, on either side, a big sailboat arrived and moored right beside us. Actually, the morning the other boat arrived, we were ashore. As we dinghied back to the boat, after brunch, the owner and I, simultaneously said, why would someone put such a large boat so close to another boat? Why didn't they pick any one of the other free moorings. Anyway, I kept a close watch throughout the day, to make sure there wasn't any potential for collision. Well, sure enough, part way through the day, I noticed that the other boat was a lot closer, and collision was imminent. I called out to the other boat and when the owner came up on deck he noticed how close we were and went up to his bow, adjusted the lines, and we now had sufficient space between us. This happened 3 times that day, each time the owner going forward to adjust his lines. So, clearly, the problem was with the other boat. Not sure why this was happening. The mooring lines are attached to concrete blocks that are sitting on the ocean floor and they usually weigh a ton, or so.
That night, the owner's wife wanted to go dancing, but he didn't feel like going, so I went with her. By the time we got back to the boat, it was around 1;30 am. We hit the sack, and I fell into a nice deep sleep. Sleep didn't last long, because I was abruptly woken when the other boat's lines loosened again, and made a huge noise when it collided with us. I rushed up on deck to see the other boat's stern crashing into our bow. Just as I was rushing up to our bow, I saw the female owner of the other boat go rushing up to their bow, By the time I reached our bow, the male owner appeared. By the way, they were both stark naked. The man immediately said, "we hit you guys, yeah?" I said, "yes sir, it looks like you did." He said, "yeah? well go f%@K yourself!" That's when the fun started.
Now, picture this.... the other boat is bigger and it's crashing into us, its got davits that are sticking way out, long enough to reach out and over onto our bow, the seas are rocky, the other boat owners are totally naked and ready for a fight, I'm still a little foggy, from partying, earlier, and now comes the female owner of my boat, also ready to fight back. Also, the other boat is from France, and the boat I'm on has a German flag. That's like throwing gasoline onto a burning building. The female owner of my boat, Sue, starts throwing back the insults and the fight is on. Now let me tell you, that Sue is a master verbal fighter. She knows exactly what to say in order to make you lose your mind. I mean, she could make the father of the The Brady Bunch foam at the mouth. Well, the other guy was yelling, "I'm going to kill you! You're just upset that you lost the war! Heil Hitler! On and on. By the way, Sue isn't a nazi, and she made no reference at all to the war, ethnicity, nationality, etc. The other people simply didn't like Germans, I guess. And they were, seemingly, deranged. Just a reminder, the boats are rocking up and down, and still crashing into each other, at 2:30am, and I'm trying to keep Sue from getting impaled by the other boat's davits. All the while, I'm calling out to the other boat's owners to stay calm and "let's try to find a solution!" I'm in the middle of this crazy situation, desperately trying to think of a way to bring everybody to sanity again.
As I mentioned, the other couple was stark naked. So Sue switched her focus to the guy's penis. He had been screaming, moments ago, about what he was going to do to her with it, so now sue wanted more info. "Really, what are you going to do with a tiny thing like that!!" Well, that was all it took. The other guy turned into a raving madman and ran back into his boat. First of all, Sue had a point. I mean, I'm not going to stare at another man's junk, but it was hard to notice that it was the size on an acorn. Anyway, I'm thinking, "oh god, he's going to get a gun!" I braced myself for whatever was about to happen, all the while still trying to keep Sue from getting run through by the davits. I yelled at her to please go below. All I got from her was a blurry-eyed stare.
The other guy returned from inside his boat and, thankfully, he wasn't carrying a gun. But he did have one of those retractable, metal police batons in his hand. The boats were so close that all he had to do was step with one foot into his dingy, which was tied up to his stern, and grab our bowsprit, and, if he wanted to, pull himself up onto our boat with the other leg. I yelled out, "sir! they're just words!!" That made him pause for a moment, long enough for his idea to attack to wear off a bit. However, Sue was still hammering with insults, but now in German, which he couldn't understand. Thank God for small mercies because there is no doubt in my mind that she was still going on about his penis.
Next thing I hear, is our dingy fire up. I'm thinking, now what?! Just as I get halfway back towards our stern, I see the male owner, Bob, go flying past in the dinghy, on his way to the offending boat. I called out to him, "Bob! that's not a good idea!" He had it in mind to go over and try to talk to the lunatic, to try to resolve the problem. Well, sure enough, when I got back up to the bow, Bob was standing in the dinghy, looking way up at the other guy, both of them going up and down with the waves. Then the guy took a step back and came in with a giant kick right to Bob's chest and ribs, which knocked Bob back into the bottom of the dinghy. Bob drove back to the stern of our boat and I walked back to meet him to see if he was ok. When I was satisfied he was still in one piece, I quickly went back up to the bow, just in time to the woman from the other boat smashing Sue across the forearm, with a giant mag-lite flashlight, growling the words, "don't...touch...my...boat," with each strike. The other boat was right on top of us, so it was easier for Sue to hang on to parts of the other boat, to keep her balance, and she had also been hanging on to the other boat in a feeble attempt to keep the other boat from crashing into us. That would be like trying to step in front of a car, that's in neutral, and pushing against it, to try and stop it from rolling down a hill. I finally got Sue to come back with me to the stern, where we found Bob talking to the Coast Guard, on the VHF radio.
Apparently, there is one Coast Guard station for both, Bonaire, and Curacao. They happened to be in Curacao at the time. They asked if there was imminent danger and Bob said no. In the meantime, the other boat had shaken off their mooring lines and had left, but not before cruising past us, shouting a bunch of threats, in some pretty creative language. So, the next day, we spent 8 hours waiting, between the hospital and police station waiting rooms. We all gave testimony.
Turns out the other boat left Bonaire without officially clearing out. I guess they realized the seriousness when they crossed the line from yelling insults, to actual physical assault.
Yet another example of how things can go from a deep and blissful sleep, to total chaos.