April 22, 2015 dawned bright and clear–the perfect backdrop for a day at Flamingo Airport, to learn all about the Hurricane Hunter aircraft and their crew–the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron from Keesler Air Force base, a part of the U.S. Air Force Reserve Command. View images of the day’s events below.
The event was officially opened by Bonaire’s Lt. Governor, the Honorable Edison Rijna. He welcomed the crew captain and representative from the National Hurricane Center in Miami by “pinning” them as official Friends of Bonaire. He, in turn, received a “penny” from the plane’s crew captain–a coin that no crew member leaves without on a mission. Not only are they a lucky talisman, but each “penny” indicates another mission completed. One crew member on board for this event has flown into the eye of over 125 hurricanes, dating back to 1985. Others proudly wear the badge that signifies they have over 5000 hours in hurricane flight missions.
Declaring the event open, the Lt. Governor and press boarded the aircraft for an informative session and tour. On all storm flights, there is a minimum of five crew, three up front in the cockpit, and two in the cabin. The cockpit holds a pilot and co-pilot and the navigator, while the meteorologist and loadmaster (dropsonde operator) work in the cabin. The meteorologist explained about the two types of drops that can be used during a storm mission. The first provides information from the plane’s elevation down to sea level, including pressure and wind speed. This drop shorts out upon hitting the water. The second type of drop is larger and will provide information about sea conditions. Data is received instantaneously and then just as quickly passed via satellite transmissions to NOAA and The National Hurricane Center. There, storm predictors assess the data and can then make their best judgment as to where the storm is headed. This information is vital to those who live in the paths of oncoming hurricanes, so they can adequately prepare to weather the storm.
A storm mission can last up to 14 hours and the plane will criss-cross the storm’s eye and outlaying areas. Up to 80 drops can be made in one mission (drops are not recoverable). The plane’s speed might come down to as low as 200 miles per hour when within the storm. One pilot assured this reporter that no matter what the storm throws at them, at 200 miles per hour, the wings will stay on! That’s a good thing! There are ten of the hurricane hunters available for missions, each one costs a mere $70 million. During particularly bad storms, it is not uncommon to have one plane on its way back from a 14-hour mission, and a second plane is on its way out. Planes might stage from anywhere–in the Caribbean region, St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands is a common staging area. However, St. Croix itself can be in the path of hurricanes, and should that be the case, the planes and crew then relocate to Curacao, right next to Bonaire.
After exiting the hurricane hunter, everyone had an opportunity to board a Dutch Air Force helicopter as well. This chopper is outfitted for search and rescue, as well as drug interdiction, so an explanation of some of the weapons on board was given as well.
The day’s events were due to a massive collaboration by the entire crew at Bonaire International Airport, the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, Koninklijke Luchtmacht (Royal Netherlands Air Force), the Coast Guard, The National Hurricane Center, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Consulate General of the United States Curacao, and Meteorological Department Curacao. Bonaire thanks you for a fun and educational experience! (Source: Bonaire Insider Reporter)
Brazilian Freediver Karol Meyer is returning to Buddy Dive Resort in Bonaire to host a freediving event April 26th – May 1st, 2015.
During this time, Karol will host a number of different events around freediving, including teaching clinics, meditation sessions, breathing master classes, and practical stretching techniques. On April 30th, there will be a mini-Freediving competition for interested students as well. Clinics during this event start at USD $175 and can be booked directly with Buddy Dive.
For more information, visit Buddy Dive’s website by clicking here. (Source: Buddy Dive Resort)
The bi-monthly Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire on the “Sea Turtles of Bonaire” will be held at CIEE this week and will be held on April 22nd, 2015 from 8:00 PM until 9:15 PM.
The presentation is free and open to the public. It will be held at the CIEE headquarters on Kaya Gobernador N. Debrot #26 in Kralendijk. Everyone is welcome! (Source: CIEE Bonaire)
On Saturday, April 11, 2015, 117 volunteer divers gathered at Dive Friends Bonaire @ Dive Inn for the famous quarterly clean up dive. Many STINAPA Junior Rangers and Sea Turtle Conservation volunteers were in attendance, as well as local and visiting divers. The dive site being targeted for a “spring cleaning” was the South Pier. South Pier is frequently in need of a clean-up dive because it is a popular area for fishermen as well as being the main pier used for cargo deliveries and cruise ships.
Asko Zuidam of Dive Friends Bonaire provided a safety briefing to address what items should be collected and explained that anything with coral growing on it or creatures living inside of it should be left behind. He also gave an explanation about how to carefully remove fishing line so as not to damage delicate sponges or corals. After the briefing, the divers entered the water in front of Dive Inn and swam the short distance over to the South Pier. When their bags were filled with marine debris, they brought the bags to the surface and handed them over to the Dive Friends crew who were working as shore support. Volunteers checked once again to be sure that no marine creatures had been inadvertently included. Then, everything was counted, tallied for Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris program, and disposed of responsibly.
Volunteers collected 164 glass beverage bottles, 17 cans, 96 pieces of dangerous fishing line, 1 cruise ship pass, 141 plastic fragments, 15 cardboard fragments, 5 shoes, 16 pieces of rope, 1 fishing net, 1 hammer, 4 tires, 1 cheese grater, 1 toothbrush, 26 items of clothing (including one pair of Superman underpants!) and much more. A total of 987 items were removed from the marine environment.
All participants and their families were welcomed back for a sunset BBQ and raffle at Dive Friends Bonaire @ Hamlet Oasis. Dive Friends Bonaire and sponsors provided drinks and main courses, while participants supplied the pot luck side dishes. In keeping with the spirit of “reduce, reuse, recycle,” Dive Friends Bonaire does not use disposable plates and cutlery, so the instructors and dive masters also spent a lot of extra time cleaning up after the clean-up. Sponsors for the event include: Beachcomber Villas, Bonaire East Coast Diving, Pasa Bon Pizza, Van Den Tweel, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire, STINAPA Junior Rangers, Selibon, Deep Blue Gear, Reef, SubGear, Mares, Trident Dive, Esko Diveworld and Intova.
The next quarterly Dive Friends Bonaire underwater cleanup is scheduled for Saturday, July 18th, 2015. Additional information about the cleanups is available at by clicking here. All are welcome to join in. (Source: Dive Friends Bonaire)
Next Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015, there is a special treat for all those on Bonaire to enjoy an educational and informative visit to an actual Hurricane Hunter aircraft at Bonaire’s Flamingo Airport.
Hurricane Hunters are special aircraft that fly directly into a tropical storm or hurricane in order that they may collect data about the storm, such as its intensity and wind speed, and send them through to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. This information is vital to keep safe all those who might be in the path of an impending storm.
Here on Bonaire, the Hurricane Hunter will arrive on Tuesday, April 21 and depart on Thursday morning. On Wednesday, April 22nd, the crew will be welcomed in the morning by Lt. Governor Rijna. From 11:00 AM until 4:00 PM, the plane will be open to the public. This visit is part of the “Awareness Tour of the Hurricane Hunters,” in which different countries and islands in the Caribbean are visited. (Source: Island Government)
The RCN has just completed compiling tourism statistics for the island of Bonaire, and all aspects of the island’s tourism were stable in 2014.
In 2014, an average of 11,000 tourists per month traveled to Bonaire by air; for the entire year of 2014, the number was approximately 130,000, around the same number as in 2013. Fewer tourists arrived by plane in June and July than in the same period in previous years, but this was compensated by more tourists arriving in other months of 2014. In 2014, most tourists arriving by air had the Dutch or American (including Puerto Rican) nationality. The share of Dutch tourists has decreased over the last three years.
Day trippers accounted for 13,400 of the approximately 130,000 tourists who flew to Bonaire in 2014 with more than half of the remainder staying for at least one night, the remainder spent seven nights or less on the island, with the highest peak for seven nights. The average number of nights spent by this group of tourists was 9.1. This is similar to the 9.2 nights in 2013. The average length of stay for all tourists arriving by air, including day trippers, was 8.2 nights, both in 2013 and in 2014.
Just as in previous years, in 2014 more tourists arrived on Bonaire by ship than by air. Most–156,000–were cruise passengers. In 2012 and 2013, 158,000 and 142,000 cruise passengers respectively visited the island. In 2014 the average number of passengers per cruise ship was 1,200. Due to small changes in the composition of the cruise ships docking at Bonaire, this average is lower than the 1,500 per ship in 2013. If only comparable cruise ships are taken into account, the average number of passengers per ship in 2014 was similar to that in 2013. More cruise passengers arrived in November and fewer in December than in the same months in 2013. It is not known how many cruise passengers went ashore. The graph below clearly shows that the cruise industry is very seasonal: hardly any cruise ships come to Bonaire in the summer months because of hurricanes. The economic significance of the cruise industry is clearly smaller for Bonaire than that of tourists staying on the island. For example, most cruise ships only stay in Bonaire for one day. In addition, cruise passengers do not use accommodations on the island.
The number of non-cruise ships–motor boats, yachts and other small vessels–that called at Bonaire in 2014 was relatively small: 850, with an average of 3.1 passengers per boat. These boats stayed for 12.7 nights on average. This relatively long length of stay is partly due to the fact that Bonaire has two well-protected harbors: the Harbour Village Marina and the smaller harbor at Plaza Resort. About 50 percent of these smaller vessels stayed in Bonaire for 10 days at the most. (Source: RCN)
Carib Inn has long been one of Bonaire’s most popular small, full-service resorts, offering differing lodging options, boat and shore diving, and PADI instruction. The inn has just recently launched a new web site, which can be viewed at www.caribinn.com.
Although all the same great information is available, such as Bruce’s Page, Last Minute Openings, and of course, Friends Over The Years, the new website offers a fully responsive layout, which means that it can be fully viewed on any and all devices–phones, tablets, laptops, or desktops. The site will re-size itself to whatever device the user views it upon, offering clear, easy-to-read text and images.
The Last Minute Openings page provides the chance for those making their Bonaire vacation plans on short notice to take advantage of lower rates, due to cancellations or other seasonal openings. And of course, there’s information on accommodations, diving, instruction, and the retail store.
A new area to the website is the Latest News section, which provides glimpses into the every-day happenings at the Carib Inn. Now, fans of the inn can follow the latest news on either Facebook, or the inn’s own web site. Take a few moments and check out Carib Inn’s new website! (Source: Carib Inn)
On Saturday, April 11th, 2015, Dive Friends Bonaire will host another quarterly Clean Up Dive. They would like to invite everyone to come by and help keep Bonaire blue and beautiful!
Check in for volunteers will begin at 9:45 AM at the Dive Friends @ Dive Inn location, with a briefing for all volunteers at 10 AM. Please don’t forget your certification cards (if they are not already on file with Dive Friends). The plan for this event is to clean around Bonaire’s South Pier. Please insure that you also bring your dive tag with you, as required. Lionfish hunters are welcome to bring their ELFs! There will also be an effort to collect as much fishing line as possible, so please bring along a dive knife or shears.
Those who do not dive are always welcome as well to assist with a shoreline clean-up and to log the items removed from the water for PADI Project AWARE. It’s always fun for the whole family.
At 6:00 PM, there will be a potluck BBQ for all the volunteers at the Dive Friends @ Hamlet Oasis location. It’s a potluck, so please bring a snack, side-dish, or dessert to share and Dive Friends will provide the main course and one beverage. For additional information, telephone 717-2929. (Source: Dive Friends Bonaire)
Only the speediest of skywatchers will have a chance to see the total lunar eclipse rising Saturday: NASA predicts that the total phase of the lunar eclipse will only last about 5 minutes, making it the shortest lunar eclipse of the century.
Early-rising observers on Bonaire should be able to see at least the partial phases of the April 4 lunar eclipse just before the sun rises, if weather permits. NASA this week unveiled a video detailing the total lunar eclipse, and dubbed the event the shortest lunar eclipse of the century in an announcement on March 30.
This lunar eclipse will be the third of four eclipses in a lunar eclipse tetrad. The first occurred in April 2014, with the second rising in September 2014. The final lunar eclipse in the tetrad will happen on Sept. 28, according to NASA, and will be totally visible on Bonaire. Lunar eclipses occur when the moon dips into Earth’s shadow, casting an occasionally spooky glow on the natural satellite. A partial phase of an eclipse happens when the moon passes through the outer part of Earth’s shadow, but total lunar eclipses happen only when the darkest part of the planet’s shadow falls across the lunar surface.
“During the eclipse, the moon often looks reddish because sunlight has passed through Earth’s atmosphere, which filters out most of its blue light,” NASA officials said in a statement. “This eerie, harmless effect has earned the tongue-in-cheek nickname ‘blood moon.’”
For those on Bonaire, the eclipse will begin at 6:16 AM on April 4th and end at 10:59 AM, with totality at 8:01 AM. Unfortunately, the moon will set at 6:29 AM, giving 13 minutes of the eclipse to Bonaire skywatchers. (Source: Mother Nature Network, Blood Moon image by Susan Davis)