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Strikesystems
08-19-2011, 04:27 PM
We are typical vacation divers that have always boat dived, and then snorkelled / freedived from shore. Now we are considering some shore diving as well. Since we are new to shorediving, and new to Bonaire I was hoping for some clarification (I hope this doesn't sound like a series of stupid questions but here goes:confused:)

Here is my questions:
What is the boat traffic like around bonaire? By the way, we will be staying at Bellevue, right near Belmar, so answers will especially apply to the reef/area near our condo. When you guys do a shore dive do you always tow a float (sometimes? if so when/where)? When you snorkel/freedive from shore do you tow a float?

Lastly, when we dive a night dive we will be with a divemaster guide for sure. But if we wanted to go on a night shore snorkel (assuming calm and ideal conditions - no current) I will plan to tow a float and have locator lights on the float and each person, and of course we'd have our primary and backup lights. Are there any other considerations we should be mindful of on a night snorkel?

Thanks in advance. Arriving Sunday night! :)

DiverVince
08-19-2011, 06:14 PM
SS..Well I've made many dives off of Bellevue (I guess you knew that) and Belmar. To respond..It is a marine park law that any boats cruising the waters around the island should remain in the deep blue water. So you should not have any problems. The drop off in front of Bellevue is about 150 yards out. Nevertheless, it is always prudent to keep an eye out for the boater who disregards the laws or in the street vernacular is just a plain idiot.
As far as towing a float I NEVER do. Personally I see no need for it. Additionally I've never even seen other divers to it either.

With respect to night snorkeling, there is really no need for an UW strobe as Bellevue is well lit up at night. Do yourself a favor & forget the float or locator lights on a float. Be sure to wear at least a skin or a 1 mm suit to protect yourself against any possible stinging organisms which may be present after the full moon.

With respect to night diving, you may want to check out going with a dive master at Belmar right in front if you're uncomfortable with going on your own. Watch out for Charlie the tarpon!! ;>)

If you're a morning person, try doing a pre dawn dive, going in around 06:00. You then get the best of both worlds to experience the UW "changing of the guard"..

Enjoy your trip, I'm sure you both will have a great time! :)

astrid
08-19-2011, 06:20 PM
Hey,
Well, with shorediving on the westcoast of Bonaire you cannot really go wrong.

In town, between Klein Bonaire and Kralendijk, there is a fair amount of boat traffic - although most will stay either in deeper water or near the two main docks. Near Belnem (the village were you will be staying) is hardly any other boattraffic besides the dive boats. And they are supposed to look out for divers, and not go in the shallow areas except when they're docking. So towing a float is not nessecary, keeping your ears and eyes open however is a very good idea. With a night snorkel it would be a good to have some marker lights - either on a float or on the snorkler himself.

The water is usually very clear, and bad currents will hardly ever occur. You'll see going out for a nightdive or snorkel, that navigation is easy, even when a light fails. Nice thing to try when the moon is full: tell everyone to switch off their lights for at least 5 min. You'll be amazed at what you'll see.

A divemaster with the dives will save you the trouble of having to navigate yourself, and can point out the sites specialties. But here on Bonaire, we usually take divemasters for fun and convenience, not for safety.

Enjoy Bonaire's diving freedom!

Strikesystems
08-19-2011, 06:46 PM
Sounds great. I am really looking forward to this, that is some great info from both of you guys. We are sooooooooooo excited. Looking forward to the 6 a.m. experience as well!

Cheers,
Peter

Lori
08-19-2011, 10:15 PM
Here's a great navigation tip for night diving that we use when shore diving in Bonaire: Take an extra 1-2 pound weight and an extra small emergency strobe or tank marker light on your dive. After you descend, just before the drop off, tie the emergency strobe or tank marker light to the weight, turn the light on, and place it in the sand and note your depth. Continue your dive north or south noting your time, turn around at half tank, and start an extremely gradual ascent while returning in the direction of your your entry/exit point. When you are about 5-10 minutes away from where you think you entered, ascend to the depth where you left your weight with the marker light and you should see your marker light and your exit point. It's like runway lights for diving!

My first night dive was started at around 6:30 p.m. so it was just becomming dusk. This was a great way to adjust to the darkness and lessened the "learning curve" for night diving.

Have fun!

handben
08-21-2011, 01:22 PM
I beg to differ with respect to the OP's question. A couple of years ago while at Belmar, I snorkeled out with my 10 year old son from their docks toward the blue. We were on the surface but watching a diver along the bottom. We got out around the buoy which was around 35 feet depth. I heard the ominous buzz of an outboard and looked up to see a speed boat coming straight at me wide open throttle. I grabbed my son and pulled him by the arm out of the way at the last moment. The boat missed his head by inches. I yelled and did get the boat driver's attention. He appeared drunk as he gave me a quizzical look and sped off south never slowing down.

The dive master at the shop thought that the boat was probably a rental based on my description (party-type boat with a dark blue bimini). But there really wasn't much he or I could do. Since that incident, I've watched many fishing boats come through the same area at Belmar between the buoy and the shore at cruising speed (~20 mph). I've decided that it is much safer to be at depth than hanging around at the surface. I won't snorkel out to the reef due to boat traffic. This is another good reason to swim out on the bottom versus on the surface to the drop off. Most boaters watch what they're doing but some don't.

alaskadiver
09-13-2011, 06:48 PM
I beg to differ with respect to the OP's question. A couple of years ago while at Belmar, I snorkeled out with my 10 year old son from their docks toward the blue. We were on the surface but watching a diver along the bottom. We got out around the buoy which was around 35 feet depth. I heard the ominous buzz of an outboard and looked up to see a speed boat coming straight at me wide open throttle. I grabbed my son and pulled him by the arm out of the way at the last moment. The boat missed his head by inches. I yelled and did get the boat driver's attention. He appeared drunk as he gave me a quizzical look and sped off south never slowing down.

The dive master at the shop thought that the boat was probably a rental based on my description (party-type boat with a dark blue bimini). But there really wasn't much he or I could do. Since that incident, I've watched many fishing boats come through the same area at Belmar between the buoy and the shore at cruising speed (~20 mph). I've decided that it is much safer to be at depth than hanging around at the surface. I won't snorkel out to the reef due to boat traffic. This is another good reason to swim out on the bottom versus on the surface to the drop off. Most boaters watch what they're doing but some don't.

It's been a couple years since our trip to Bonaire but our experience was the same. We never snorkeled to the buoys (we don't carry snorkels). We just drop down and go along the bottom on an azimuth to the buoy. Stay for an hour and swim back along the bottom until we reach the exit point (within 25 feet of shore). If there was a lot of boat traffic or kite surfers, we shot an SMB from depth on our way out. But that was more to practice drills than for safety in most cases.

Strikesystems
09-15-2011, 01:49 AM
It's a shame to hear of drunken boaters, but it is a possibility anywhere in the world, and always worth careful consideration. After getting to each location, we felt like we had feel for the area and the waters (especially from our Condominium in Belnem down to the sites to the south). We didn't feel a float was necessary, and didn't have any encounters with boat traffic at all. We heard the motors a few times while scuba diving, but never close, and never spotted the vessels from below. And snorkeling, which we did quite a bit of too, we didn't have any issues.

I guess we were lucky. But towing a float is always going to help put the odds of a safer experience on your side.

Enjoy the waters, Bonaire is really amazing,
Peter