Down Island Chum

08JulyBon 190Another Island Note

Worldkid is finally back on dushi Bonaire after some grand vagabonding through England, Belgium and Amsterdam. Tall tales, stories and lies coming soon about these ports abroad.  But first, how about a little island chum?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines CHUM, a noun: animal or vegetable matter thrown overboard to attract fish.  Here on Bonaire, we have that plus a different kind of chum—small bits of island lore, gossip and half-truths that land sharks, like you Island Notes readers, love to devour.  And so without delay, here is the recent menu…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI ran into the Moogie Man the other day at Sunset Beach.  He’s a local musician who started as a Captain Don dive instructor 20 years ago and never left the island.  Moogie was telling me how he was jamming with two musician friends in Kansas just that morning.  Ah, the power of the Internet.  He went on to say that in the middle of their cyber session, a Kansas tornado went sweeping by.  His friends in the heartland we’re safely tucked away in their basement studio and just jammed on, monster storm be damned.  I told Moogie, “Give me a hurricane over a tornado any day.”  We laughed knowing well that both storms are bad ass and could turn any nice day into a nightmare.  The hurricane season started June 1st.  Cheers.

Sometimes when I dive, I go deep soon after getting into the water—90, 100 feet or more—just to see what is down there.  I was diving Bari’s Reef and spotted a plaque way deep.  I leveled at 113-feet to read it.  On the left half of the plaque was a sculpted relief of a beer bottle.  To the right was the text, James Brando 1954-19—I couldn’t read the rest. So while I’m down here, I start to think, Who was this guy?  A cross between James Dean and Marlon Brando?  Did he have a drinking problem?  Did he die at this very spot at 113-feet?  Just about this time a shadow from above covers me. 11JanBON 36 I roll and look up.  Directly above is a 6-foot long tarpon—slivery, unsmiling, hovering.  The fish’s presence reminds me to check my clock.  Time to ascend to more reasonable depths.  Good bye, James Brando.

I am out solo sailing last week in 20-24 knot winds, a bit more than the comfort zone for my boat. Kontentu.  It is fresh and gusty, the kind of day where I never let the mainsheet out of my hand.  It’s the boat’s brake for avoiding a capsize.  But I’m not too absorbed to see a Buddy Dive Resort dive boat speeding back to port.  I don’t think much of it.  After all, it’s approaching noon and the skipper probably has a boat full of hungry divers clamoring for lunch.

I sail down to Te Amo (I Love You) Beach and head on a beam reach home.  As I pass by the city dock, there is the Buddy Dive boat—a strange place for it to stop.  Then I notice the ambulance, the police and a body laid out on the dock with a crisp white sheet covering the corpse.  Not a good day for under the water.  The dive crew from Buddy looks crushed, shattered.  I head home thinking about death and diving.  I later found out the deceased was a lawyer from New York.  They were diving the Hilma Hooker, a deep wreck dive, when the attorney had a heart attack.  Diving is a high-risk sport, no doubt.  But if you do it safely with backups, maintained equipment and a dive buddy, it is as easy as swimming.  I hear of diving deaths almost monthly on Bonaire.  Most are from out-of-shape divers, anxiety heart attack victims or people not following the rules.  That is a big price to pay for a look down under.  I was only trying to make the right mistake. –Robbie Robertson.

I am always amazed about the people who I meet on the island.  I discover that my new friend, Val, represented Canada in the 1972 Olympics when he skated with his sister in partners competition.  And the there is Walter, a 30-something Dutch guy who, with his girlfriend, Deborah, own a $15 million freighter.  It’s a non-stop business with that kind of capital tied up.  It makes North Atlantic and Great Lakes winter voyages a necessity.  The young sea gypsies are thawing out down island after a long, cold winter at sea.08NovAru 17


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