Bonaire has tightened up their practice only allowing 90 days in any 180 day rolling period. They have started asking for a Zarpe when arriving from Venezuela. So far they have accepted the Safety Inspection that you get at Las Aves Sotavento issued by the Guardia. You have to have a way to copy the safety report on board or furnish the Guardia carbon paper for your copy. As far as the boat, the practice is still six months in Bonaire with the possibility of one extension; otherwise you need to import the boat at high tax rates.
Curacao has tightened their practice of allowing only 90 days stay in a calendar year. You must have an anchor permit issued by the Harbor Master for USD 10 and it requires you to file a float plan upon check out – out of each anchorage you visit. As for the boat, you can get six months and a possible extension for another six months after which you must import the boat at a high tax rate. There is a special status granted to yachts in storage and any local Marina or Shipyard will have the details and fees associated with that. A few months ago they chained forty boats to the dock or the ground until their status could be sorted, and sent the Coast Guard to board all boats and check papers.
On some days in Curacao and in Bonaire the anchorages were visited and boardings conducted by the black rubber dink twice per day. On other days the frigate cruises by in Bonaire, or the helicopter hovers taking pictures of boats and the black rubber dink shows up a day or so later.
There are now daily fees for using the yacht moorings in Kralendijk in Bonaire. These are: NAf10 (US$5.65) for yachts smaller than 18 meters (60 feet) and NAf15 (US$8.47) for yachts larger than 18 meters (60 feet). Yachts currently pay no other fees to use Bonaire waters.
Anchoring is still permitted, but with all the moorings, the anchoring area has been further restricted. It is now: Between Karel’s Beach Bar and the northern town pier. You need permission from the Harbormaster to anchor. The collection of fees and maintenance of the moorings will be done by the Harbour Village Marina as agents of the Bonaire Marine Park
Those of us sailing S/V ¡Qué Bárbara! would like to update your Cruising Guide info for Kralendijk, Bonaire: The mooring balls off the shore are now on a first come first served basis only, with $10 US per night payment made in person at Harbour Village Marina. Availability can be obtained via email from Carlos Rodriguez, Marina Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org but is no guarantee. Hope to see the new info in your next edition–Captains Barbara Fleming and Bob Peyser
DIVI RESORTS (Divi Flamingo) had a dive shop attached to them, Dive Bonaire (also known as Divi Dive Bonaire), on vhf 72 (none of the other dive shops answered the vhf radio), email@example.com. this dive shop is attached to a resort so I was a little reluctant to try it (knowing from other resort dive shops around the world that they sometimes are cattle boats, filling up to the max and very little individualized service) – but had no choice. Had to find a dive shop in a hurry – tried them and boy was I pleasantly surprised.
VERY professional operation, insist on a proper orientation about diving and the reefs in Bonaire (some of the other dive shops were very lax on this), great individualized service – prices very good although the manager said they are probably a little higher than some of the dive shops on the island – but then you get what you pay for. VERY well set up for nitrox too, very well organized with lockers, used tanks in one spot, fresh tanks elsewhere, I got an instructor to go with me on my checkout dive (I haven’t dived in a while) for no extra cost and he took me on a full reef dive too afterwards, something he didn’t have to do. Made sure I was 100% happy in the water, very patient and professional. I could not recommend them more highly. Serge de Groote, the Manager, was a delight, very knowledgeable and willing to spend time talking and explaining about Bonaire – I highly recommend them.
CHECK IN AND OUT: Easy check in, no fees, just fill in some forms. If you have firearms or a flare gun, you will have to declare it and turn it in while you are in Bonaire, and collect it before you check out. Customs is right off a dinghy dock so very easily accessible.
DUTY: Bonaire does not accept packages for “vessels in transit” (which was a surprise to us). The duty has to be paid on the package and you can claim the money back later, which is a huge hassle. We had a sail shipped there and they wanted $500 from us and one of the cruisers on another boat told us “good luck getting that refunded to you.” – so we cut short our visit to Bonaire and managed to get it without paying the $500 (had to pay about $31 in fees) but I wouldn’t recommend it.
DINING: Bobbejan’s was great for cheap and cheerful bbq ribs/chicken/steak etc. Some nights there is a line out the door and you can wait an hour to get a seat. Fortunately when we went, it was a quieter night so no queuing up (even though we got there an hour early – we were the only ones on line!) but great food, good service, would recommend.
Great fuel dock (easily accessible, nice and wide so easy to get in and out) – fuel/diesel cheap (not as cheap as other places of course) and water cheap too.
MONEY: ATM’s offer you NAF (guilders) or US dollars.
INTERNET: you have to buy a prepaid card from Telbo for their “Surf It” internet (these cards come in various denominations). We were told by other cruisers that the internet had been down for a week, so we bought a one hour card to try it out – it worked like magic. We went back and bought a 15 hour card. COuld only get online one more time, then it went down (it was a Sunday so didn’t expect them to fix it). However, when we had bought the card, the help desk lady at the Telbo office assured us that there was Surf It also in Curacao (which was our next destination) so we thought hey, no problem, if it’s not working here then we’ll just use it in Curacao. Now we’re in Curacao and no sign of surf-it anywhere.
Phillip and Joanna