Changing Times Down Island

Another Island NoteChikituWorldkid has been posting for nearly 7 years since he move down island.  This site has had over 32,ooo hits during that period. Much has been written about the wonderful life here on the Caribbean island of Bonaire.

For example, look at the photo above.  I stand between two young men, Nat and Paul, both in the prime of their lives.  The three of us (they were so accommodating to include an old guy like me) dived Playa Chikitu (Little Beach) 2 weeks ago, a dangerous place as the signs attest.  But when we arrived, the waves were smaller than the usual 5-6+ feet.  But it is the rip tide here that is the other impending danger.  We decided to press on and test the waters so to speak.  After slowly going out we chose to take the plunge.

Balistes vetula, Queen triggerfish (Balistidae), Glover's Reef, Belize, Belize-3155That was a good decision.  We were rewarded with a rare site on Bonaire, a 6-foot reef shark as we dropped down to 80 feet.  Then we encountered my favorite beauty fish of all, the multi-colored queen triggerfish.  I have only seen them on the Wild Side of the island, the east coast where Playa Chikitu is located, and only one or two at a time.  But on this fine day under water, I counted a dozen.  And they were in our masked faces, curious to see divers perhaps for the first time since few scuba here.  Plus, there were countless Black Durgeon propelling themselves at obscure angles, oblivious to gravity and flashing their dark forms outlined by vivid neon blue stripes.  It was simply awesome.  Plus, the young hunters killed 15 lionfish–an invasive species that devours local reef fish. Well done.COD05 Stormvogel Sept. 2013But I digress.  This post is about the future, not the past.  Well, sort of.  Through a series of events that have re-aligned with the planets, at least down island, I find myself involved with a temptress of the sea.  Her name is Stormvogel (Storm Bird), the last of the wooden sailing cargo boats that used to ply the southern Caribbean.  This 45-foot Bonaire-built vessel was one of a hodgepodge of boats that were essential for export, hauling loads of salt, goatskins, aloe vera and charcoal. The vessels also delivered scarce goods to Bonaire like clothing, food and rum. But perhaps more importantly, these reliable craft united families and friends by transporting people, packages and post (mail) to the islands in the southern Caribbean. Stormvogel and other sailing boats like her were essential to Bonaire’s culture, economy and well-being.

Now the press is on  to save the last vestige of this historic era. And that is my new calling.  My efforts and time writing will be used to save Stormvogel rather than create new Island Notes.  The plan is to transform the storied cutter into a historical maritime center, perhaps a floating one, where school kids, residents and visitors will learn about the rich nautical heritage of ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao).  Most importantly, the boat will serve as a cultural touchstone for the community, a platform to learn about this colorful era of island history.  Stormvogel is the last chance to tell this important story. Other than a handful of old photographs, this old boat is all that remains.

DSC_2259But don’t worry.  Worldkid will still post adventures from abroad on this blog.  A trans Atlantic voyage aboard Coral, a wooden schooner built in 1903 is slated for April next year.  It will be my first across ‘the pond’.  I will continue to write for magazines and those updates will be posted in the “New from Patrick Holian Media” tab as will the occasional “pic of the month”.  But Island Notes, the backbone of this island rant and revelry will be, for now, discontinued.  Even with the heavenly luxury of time, I only have so many waking hours to make Stormvogel a reality for future generations.  Those activities will be posted on Project Stormvogel, a new web site currently under development. The link will be posted here soon if you are eager to follow.

Coral carving up the sea at the 2014 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta.

Coral carving up the sea at the 2014 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta.

So in closing,  don’t worry, be happy.  I still plan to hug a palm tree, kiss a chameleon and caress a frosty glass of freshly poured rum now and then.  But life is a jambalaya.  What we make out of the gumbo is what really matters.  I say no regrets. Game on.DSC_1101