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Diving Bonaire: Don's Annieke, a delightful story about ZeeBad
Bonaire Talk: Diving Bonaire: Archives: Archives 2006: Archives - 2006-05-01 to 2006-08-01: Don's Annieke, a delightful story about ZeeBad
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Captain Don (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #201) on Thursday, June 29, 2006 - 6:11 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Zee Bad, or Sea Bath, a place where we chased the Germans out and built a hotel from the remnant's of their camp. Annieke Is one of the most warmest stories I have ever written.

Laugh, smile and enjoy places you possibility have walked...heard about or seen. It is about a wonderful lady and an island finding her karma.



Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jerry Gauron (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #990) on Thursday, June 29, 2006 - 6:40 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Is it the Divi?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Carole B. (Supreme BonaireTalker - Post #5674) on Thursday, June 29, 2006 - 11:38 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Hi, Captain Don! My money is on the Divi, too...the back gate spells it all out for us! I loved hearing the whole history of the Divi's origins when we first visited Bonaire, too. Fascinating!

Love and enjoy your posts immensely! Ayo. Carole


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Captain Don (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #204) on Friday, June 30, 2006 - 6:25 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Greeting you questioning readers.

One =. Sorry that the first installment didn't hit the wire to day. Living got in the way..Annieke is a story closing at about 20+000 words I don't often write true. however in this case it is 100% as it was.. I was the 13th manager. at Flamingo Beach. It was just 5 years into the hotel operation. Started 1952 as Zee Bad Sea Bath 1957 Flamingo Beach Club. I think it went Divi with Wally Wiggons in1975.

That was the same year that Perer Huges entered the picture. with Ray Morrow's Teach Tour . I was the only dive operation for 12 years. In these years most of every thing you find to day was invented, or established during this time. I have many stories covering this period also.

My history is Flamingo 63/72 ,,Hotel Bonaire 72/80 and started building Habitat in 1976.

I'll try to start the series to-morrow. the 30th

Stay with Sea Trauma and Living the script. they are both good stories. I still have 5 more novels in holding. Further the fun with Fairytales I have some hundreds left to share.

No one has ever asked me way i'm doing this when they say to PUBLISH Ha! that is a story in its self. I do however wish to publish the 40 reef window storys. about 400 pages 150 Photos. Yes this one I wish to see in print. beause it damned good.

I have just turned 81 and am in good health. but it ain't gonna last. A writer writes to be read. You see, money and fame is no longer importaint.

Ha! Yes it is Divi.

Captain don/


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Captain Don (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #205) on Saturday, July 1, 2006 - 3:10 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Phinizys Report

From an article published in the Skindiver Magazine from the story called the Happy fisherman of Coles Phinizy. At a DEMA show in 1992 Paul Tamoulis gave me full rights to use this article as best thought. There were also many photos with is article, . don/

I felt an introduction to the story of Annieke have some ground work to assist the understanding of any provocative tone found hidden in some of the chapters of Annieke. . Most of you BT readers are Bonaire Alumnis with a keen interest in the early stories of a developing Bonaire..

(for information on the Bonaire Alumni find it at <>. Further it will explain the role of Bonaire in its exciting new venture. The Accolade.)

This article, which I call the Phinizy Reportr, has been gathering dust in my dossier for years and now thought it to be a fine opening for the story of Annieke.

Wds. 3728 part 1 of 2

1964 The happy fisherman
The little sun-blessed island of Bonaire that drifts timelessly off the Venezuelan coast offers a variety of exotic attractions. The seas washing the steep shoulders of Bonaire are full of spangled fish, large and small. On the land there are goats and iguanas and lesser lizards everywhere.

Frigate birds ride the trade winds on constant shore patrol, and green parrots flit among the cactus tops. In odd corners of the island, flamingos hang out-- ungainly beauties that insist on laying their eggs in the naked, sizzling sun. The tourist who prefers a more sophisticated diversion than fish-watching or flamingo-watching has a rare opportunity on Bonaire. It is the only island in the whole Caribbean where a visitor can be fleeced twice on the same day by the same man, for the barber of Bonaire doubles at night as a blackjack dealer in the local casino.

Of all the unusual birds, fish, beasts, and men hanging out around Bonaire, without a doubt the most entertaining is Capt'n Don, an expatriate Californian who serves, more or less, as manager of a small hotel called the Flamingo Beach Club. The Flamingo Club is billed as an informal seaside pension where city-worn folk can find utter relaxation, but as long as Capt'n Don is loose on the premises, it is not likely to live up to this billing. In most resort hotels, the manager serves as a sort of diplomatic sponge, absorbing the guests complaints while convincing them with a bland smile that they are vacationing in the best of all possible worlds. Not Capt'n Don. Don keeps his guests happily on edge, catering to their whims by flattering them one moment and the next, insulting them and goading them into taking up adventures that they had every intention of foregoing.

When you arrive at the Flamingo Beach Club, you may have no plans for shell-hunting, water-skiing, snorkeling, sail-boating, scuba diving by moonlight, or helping to scrape the bottom of a boat, but the only way you can guarantee that you will not do such things is to run and hide under your bed whenever Capt'n Don shows up. Even when the fires of day are out and guests are sitting around the hotel lounge peaceably peeling skin from their sunburned noses, The Capt'n will suddenly move among them like an unexploded time bomb. "I feel a party coming on," he will say, and when he says it, the evening lasts into the next day.

In the interest of posterity, someone should shoot Capt'n Don and have him stuffed and donate him to the American Museum of Natural History. Although somewhat scarred externally and internally, Don is one of the few good specimens remaining of a rare, vanishing breed, the Yankee jack-of-all-trades. If you need a scuba regulator cleaned, a refrigerator repaired, a hotel built, or a boat designed, Capt'n Don can do it for you. If you want to know how to dance the Crab, how to catch small tropical fish, how to call groupers out of the deep by making grunting noises in your regulator, if you want to know how to placate an irritable iguana, if you need to know how to play "Waltzing Matilda" by hammering with a spoon on six goblets, or if you want to know how to make green bananas taste like egg foo young, Capt'n Don can show you. If he does not have the answer to your problem, he will find it. One new guest, a cripple who could no longer help herself in and out of an ordinary brassiere, left the Flamingo Club with a new brassiere designed by Capt'n Don to open easily in front.

When a guest shows up at the Flamingo Club, frequently Capt'n Don is at the desk to sign him in. At dinner that evening the guest may find himself seated at the table with the Capt'n. If there is a leak in the plumbing of one of the bathrooms, its Don who comes into the guest cottage with a wrench. When a guest goes into the club lounge for a nightcap, he frequently finds Capt'n Don bartending, needling both newcomers and local habitus with equal fervor. When singing starts in the club lounge, there, in the middle of it, is Capt'n Don whanging away on a banjo or guitar. "You people are not giving me the support I need," he cries out. "You sound like sick parrots." When guests go water-skiing in the morning, there is Capt'n Don at the wheel of the ski boat. When the clubs floating dock capsizes under an overload of cavorting kids, there is Capt'n Don down on the bottom, scuba tank on back, making things right again. Most guests develop great affection for the Capt'n -- and considerable respect. Anyone who stays a week or more gets the feeling that if Capt'n Don ever left, the hotel would certainly collapse and the whole island might sink back into the sea.

There are a few arts that Capt'n Don has never mastered. Spelling is one. He relies on phonetics to the point where, in one letter, when he meant to say "for all intents and purposes," he wrote "for all intentive porpoises." Though deficient with a pen, he speaks English with the skill of a sharpshooter, and he is failrly luent in Papiamento, the local patois that, when spoken properly, sounds like someone arguing with himself in four languages.

Superficially Capt'n Don does look like a hotel manager. He is rather good looking and wears a thin, neat mustache and a fairly constant smile. Although he bears some resemblance to the late actor Zachary Scott, in his eyes there is often a penetrating leer of the sort that served John Barrymore well in his heavier roles. Scant hours after she had registered into the Flamingo Beach Club, a lady from Montreal said to Manager Don, "I cant stand your eyes." A close friend has observed, "Looking into Capt'n Dons eyes is like looking into some mysterious part of the sea. Personally I dont think theyre his real eyes. They look more to me like transplants from some kind of small whale."

Capt'n Don ordinarily does not exude charm in large doses, but he is a charmer, nonetheless, primarily because he has a knack for sizing up guests in a trice and because he always takes into account the different personalities of his guests in his dealings with them. Capt'n Don would never, for example, waken a grandmother who comes from a quiet midwestern American town as he once woke Hal Underhill, a live-wire representative of a hotcha New York public relations firm. To wrest Underhill from his slumber, Capt'n Don set off a large firecracker under the bed. Since Capt'n Don is a man of considerable engineering skill, he had calculated the effect of the firecracker rather well. Most of the blast was absorbed by the mattress, so that the slumbering guest, Underhill, was lifted only about an inch in the air. Capt'n Don, however, did misjudge the force of the concussion wave, which blew out two windows in the room.

This past summer, when a honeymoon couple of modest means showed up for a week at the Flamingo Beach Club, Capt'n Don kindly pointed out to them that, although they had plunked down all their money in advance, if Bonaire was not what they expected, any day the balance would be refunded so they could move on and try another island. When a well-traveled visitor, accustomed to the flossy decor of big, Hiltonesque hotels, remarked that the Flamingo Beach Club was quite a different place, Capt'n Don replied, "Of course. The Flamingo is not a hotel. It is a frame of mind."

A while back when a loud, cigar-chewing, casino-type of guest complained stridently, and at length, about his lodging and the weather and the local movie theater and so forth and so on, Capt'n Don absorbed the whole harangue with politeness and then said, "Sixty-eight, seventeen - Twelve, eight."

"What do you mean by that?" the complainer asked.

"That is the longitude and the latitude of this island, "Capt'n Don answered, "and if you do not care for it, we can get you on a plane to some place else."

End part 1 of 2


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Captain Don (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #208) on Tuesday, July 4, 2006 - 1:52 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Number 02 Don the Happy Fisherman
wds 2193

Capt'n Don is president of the Bonaire chapter of the Audubon Society and also president of the local chapter of the American Littoral Society. "I am not only president of both," he admits proudly, "but also the only member. I can tell a little bird called a kibi kibi from another little bird called a kibi kibi geo, and, of course, I know a flamingo when I see one.

There is some kind of a yellow-headed parrot on the island, but to be honest, I wouldn’t recognize it if it flew in here and bit my nose."

How does a man, in a mere 37 years, get to be manager of a hotel as well as its plumber and its electrician and accountant and substitute water-ski instructor and minnesinger and social director and scuba guide and part-time bartender et cetera?

Literally, Don Capt'n Don came to the Flamingo Beach Club out of the sea. Last year, he sailed into Bonaire on his schooner ducking coastal pirates. Don was a diver and an experienced tropical fish collector.of small marine tropical fish that are cherished by aquarium faddists. Many freshwater tropical species are quite durable and relatively easy to handle, but the perverse little sea jewels such as Don sought usually need more loving care than most men are willing to give their ailing mothers. Even in an aquarium where the salinity, oxygenation and water density are controlled precisely, a saltwater tropical fish is susceptible to freakish ills. In the best regulated tank, a saltwater specimen can contract tail rot, belly rot or Lord knows what rot. As Dr. Herbert Axelrod, America’s tropical fish genius, puts it, "An aquarium of saltwater tropicals is prone to catastrophe. Drop a cigarette ash in the tank and you can wipe out the lot."

The underwater collector who is not steeped in the queer ways of each saltwater species and its particular physiological and social requirements -- and who does not have fancy gear to cope with the problems usually ends up with few fish to sell.

The journey to market alone takes a fierce toll. If some clod at an airport puts a shipment of fish on the wrong plane, or leaves it sitting in the sun for a few hours, well sir, by the time the shipment gets to the North American or European market, all the precious little captives are floating belly up and are worth their weight in cat food.

Although there were plenty of bad connections between Capt'n Don and his fish markets far across the sea, he succeeded largely because -- as in so many of his undertakings -- he did not spend much time sitting around believing he would fail. His first holding tanks were whiskey crates lined with plastic table cloths. His aerator was fashioned from the discarded guts of a refrigerator.

Before shipping fish to market, Capt'n Don would take each plastic bagful to an auto shop and give it a refreshing blast of pure oxygen from the welding tank. Having done as much as he possibly could for his little captives, Capt'n Don would take them to the airport and pray that they would soon be flown to Amsterdam or Germany without going by way of Auckland.

It so happened that at the time Capt'n Don was starting in the fish business, the Bonaire chapter of the International Lions Club had 5,000 guilders (about $3,000U.S.) in their treasury. The Bonaire Lions -- boosters all -- were planning to use the money to import two real, live, roaring African lions to the island, God knows why. Capt'n Don persuaded the local Lions that, rather than buying two out-sized African cats that would consume about a cubic yard of raw meat a day, they should use the money to promote Bonaire’s, finest tourist asset.:The wondrous profusion of colorful fish that live in the bright waters around the island.

Between the reefs that decorate the outskirts of most Caribbean islands there are vast submarine wastelands. There are extensive shallows where the water is frequently roiled by storm swells, thus stifling any reef coral that might otherwise get a foothold. Near many islands there are also barren deeps behind barrier reefs and submarine ridges that do not admit enough clean, oceanic water to support the complicated ecology of a coral reef.

In contrast, the 70-mile coastline of Bonaire is virtually an unbroken chain of beauty. There are few wide shallows where silt can accumulate; there are no barriers to induce stagnation.

On the lee side of the island, the 100-fathom line -- the edge of never-never land -- lies only a half mile offshore. There is an easy interchange of water between the benthos and the littoral, so that to contaminate the shallows of Bonaire you would virtually have to contaminate the whole Caribbean.

At almost any point on the lee shore of Bonaire a novice diver can prowl through coral gardens within 100 feet of land. "Where else, "Capt'n Don asks, "can you stand in front of the post office, take a dozen steps to the left and fall into a sea of beautiful fish."fter listening to Capt'n Don, the Bonaire Lions Club shelved their plan to buy two real lions and invested instead in an aquarium where home-grown beauties of the sea could be displayed.

The Bonaire Aquarium is a modest one, but unrivaled in one respect. It is there and only there that a man can gaze upon a small, lavender-and-orange, striped, black-fringed fish that was discovered six years ago at a depth of 120 feet by Don’s and his diving partner. Percy Sweetnam. Capt'n Don gave the little fish the name "mardi gras" because of its extravagant colors.

The mardi gras fish has since been examined and officially described by Ichthyologist Jack Randall of Hawaii’s Bishop Museum as a new species carmabi of the genus Chorististium . A half dozen other men at most have ever seen the mardi gras fish underwater, and Capt'n Don is the only man who has brought it back alive. (A second mardi gras specimen that Capt'n Don brought back alive used to be the prize display item at the Rotterdam aquarium in Holland, but, alas, someone put incompatible species in the tank with the mardi gras and it was killed).

Since finding the mardi gras fish,Capt'n Don has discovered two more new species which, until properly classified by a trained ichthyologist, have been dubbed by Capt'n Don "the stranger" and "the tiger."
There are for sure many odd creatures below that man has not yet seen. Capt'n Don's discoveries are not, in themselves, exceptional, but it is remarkable that he has done so much with so little.

Capt'n Don is a double anachronism. In an age when most experts diving deep carry about as much instrumentation as the dashboard of a Ferrari, Capt'n Don travels light. He sometimes uses an underwater watch, but rarely trusts it. Today when hunting fish below 120 feet, where minutes are precious, he depends on his own built-in sense of time. In an age when most fish experts are armed with two or three college degrees and an extensive library, on his distant outpost Bonaire ,

Capt'n Don must rely on the simpler assets of old-style naturalists.

He has an exceptional power of observation and the sort of uncanny intuition that served Charles Darwin when he roamed the world establishing revolutionary truths out of seemingly unrelated fragments. Although he was well aware of the decompression problem as it applied to man, for example, Capt'n Don had no literature to guide him in the matter of bringing fish up from depths. Before bringing them straight up, he learned to observe them carefully at different depths, noting the distension of their gut and their swimming behavior.

Based on what he observes, he brings some all the way up from as deep as 120 feet, others must be left for 12 or 24 hours, or more, at a depth of around 35 feet, undergoing a stage decompression.

When all his merits and demerits are balanced out, Capt'n Don's success underwater can be explained in the same way as his success as a hotel manager on land. From the outset, without benefit of books, he recognized that each species of fish, like each guest above, has a particular character. When hunting the pygmy angelfish, for example, Capt'n Don uses an explosive technique -- akin, you might say, to rousing a hotel guest from his bed with a firecracker.

The pygmy angelfish flourishes in the loose tangle of coral detritus. To catch the pygmy, Capt'n Don stirs up the loose coral, and the pygmy, addled because his world has suddenly been turned topsy-turvy, does not know which way to go. With a swoop of his net Capt'n Don takes his prize -- sometimes.
In contrast, the purple and gold jewel known as the royal gramma -- very abundant around Bonaire -- habitually swims upside down under living coral ledges.

To take it, a violent approach simply will not do. Instead. Capt'n Don first looks for a small hole that seems to have only one entrance. Then, by advancing, slowly moving an arm here and his net there, Capt'n Don gently persuades the royal gramma that the hole is a good refuge. Once the gramma has withdrawn into it, Capt'n Don inserts a slim prod into the hole and gently persuades the gramma that it really is not a safe retreat. Other species might dart out in any direction: straight forward, up, down, or to the side. From experience, Capt'n Don knows the gramma will always swim out diagonally down to the left or right. By shielding one route with an arm and placing a net across the other, Capt'n Don gets his gramma -- sometimes.

On sandy flats where most divers see nothing but discarded beer cans and other offal, Capt'n Don hunts the jawfish, a pop-eyed, big mouthed clown that seems constantly mad. To spot a jawfish, Capt'n Don lies flat on the bottom, so flat that the mouthpiece of his regulator is sometimes half buried. If he is lucky, in a minute or so in the distance he will see a jawfish dancing in the water an inch or so above his hole.

Capt'n Don does not close in until he sees a second jawfish hanging over a hole nearby. Sociologically jawfish are years ahead of homo sapiens, thinking man. Boy jawfish and girl jawfish get together and mate, but they dwell apart, thus sparing themselves a great deal of the petty grief that makes domesticity such a burden for the human race.
Capt'n Don has learned that the easiest way to catch a jawfish is to be sure that it is a male and that it has a paramour nearby. Once he has determined this, Capt'n Don advances. When he does so, both the male and the female jawfish return to their holes, but they never go deep down in the holes for they are curious as well as fearful. After approaching within three feet, Capt'n Don reaches out and slips the broad blade of a small pick in the soft bottom, transecting the tunnel of the male jawfish and preventing him from going deeper.
At this point Capt'n Don might put his net over the hole and by twisting the pick violently, flush the jawfish out. In the flurry of rubble he could easily lose the fish or injure it. Instead, after inserting the pick, Capt'n Don places the net a few feet away, in direct line between the abode of the jawfish and that of his lady love. Capt'n Don almost always gets his prize that way because, from experience, he has learned that the jawfish male, when evicted from his own diggings, usually heads straight for his girl friend's place
While Capt'n Don was eking out a happy, meager living as a fish hunter, the proprietor of the Flamingo Beach Club -- an American-Venezuelan-Nova Scotian named John Bogart -- asked him to lay an anchor rode that would take care of all the hotel's boats. When Capt'n Don finished that job, there were boats that needed mending, and after that Bogart wondered if Capt'n Don -- who seemed able to do anything -- would care to start a plant nursery to help the landscaping of the club. Thus it was, jack-of-all-trading, that Capt'n Don, like some silurian throwback, slowly emerged from the weightless sea on flippered feet a

In the busy tourist season, Capt'n Don rarely gets a chance to slip back underwater to chase the little fish that first attracted him to Bonaire. "But I am always comforted in knowing, "Capt'n Don says, "that whenever I feel as if my brains are coming out the top of my skull, all I have to do is throw a scuba bottle on my back and fall off the end of the dock.

Life is a series of compromises. I’ve got my defects, and this island has its limitations, so we get along fine together
Fin ,02

edited bij Linda √


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Captain Don (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #212) on Wednesday, July 5, 2006 - 6:48 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Annieke’s Introduction

July 4th 2006 Well! Now that we have heard from Coles and have a fairly accurate navigational aid of where my story is going, or should I say, has been. The allegory of Annieke, the wonderful lady who has consumed better than half my life and often has influence me in matters most critical

I was chatting with her just the other day and she whole hardly agreed that the time has come to tell of her involvement in matters that are responsible for your participation with Bonaire talk to-day, or even perhaps why Bonaire Talk came to exist in the first place. Computers by the way, hadn’t been invented yet. For that matter neither had telephones or, or even electricity for that matter, Annieke has seen it all. She even recalls the first day you tourist began arriving in Bonaire. After all she is one hundred and fifty five years old and still with exalts memory.

Well I’m not that old but do recall the day I became involved with the fist computer on Bonaire. No one believed it had value. It was still too new. Not proven. But I knew better, and with my little Apple II and a hundred floppy disc’s ventured in to a world where monkeys with little skill could write fun stories and even a novel or two which lay hidden beneath all those shinny keys.

Today I introduce to you the allegory of Annieke. [30,000 wds]. My most favorite lady. A friend that has stood alongside of me over these last forty plus years.

Now that Coles has revealed hidden secrets that even my therapist didn’t know. I should empathize that in my first days with the magic of computers, where good spell and such things didn’t exist. Many of my recollections were written in those early days and should account for the numerous errors discovered in my text.

But then what the hell. It’s the story that counts, How it is told, not how it is written. This attitude has prevailed ever since my English teacher, Mrs. Mosgrove expelled me from her class in 1937. Dyslexia hadn’t been discovered yet, So I must have been the inventor of that too.

So for you English buffs. Forget the grammar. Periods and stuff like that and lets get on with the story. . . .



Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Captain Don (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #213) on Wednesday, July 5, 2006 - 6:50 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Annieke no. 3
A lady going home.
July 1962

It had was a hot, humid morning with the sun promising another blistering day. There had already been a lot of hard swimming, and if our luck in fishing continued o be poor, there was going to be a lot more. I hadn’t been feeling too well following the deep tank dives. Breathing our oil-tainted air, I would find myself nauseated and beset by fits of shaking.
Last night had been bad, and I was vomiting up what little food I had eaten. The sores on my legs weren’t healing and the infection on my shin where the whore had bitten me was still very painful. There was never enough food, proper food that is never enough.

Percy, my partner in all matter of things wet, and I had been in the water for what seemed hours. We would roll off the side of the boat just a little after dawn, always hunting for the big grouper that never seemed to materialize. Percy, the better diver, had shot a few fish that we sold at the early morning market for enough florins to buy some bread and a can of butter for our breakfast
On board the Queen there was enough maple syrup to last a few years. Percy hated the stuff, but I found energy in every spoonful. With some bread and butter, why, it was a feast. A little store in town owned by L.D. Gerharts had become a favorite hangout for both of us. By big city standards, it wasn’t much, but by ours, it was great.

L.D., as the locals called him, was the fellow who had bought the 63 U.S. cents from me at the full rate of 1.75 florin. I had never met this L.D., but I was certainly indebted to him. You know, Percy never could understand how I could be the owner of such a fine ship as the Valerie Queen and still be constantly dead broke. He just never could understand that it was just simply the way things were.

The Queen lay on anchor just offshore in calm water in front of a house owned by a fellow called Jules Hietkoning. His property was a cluster of old buildings consisting of a store, a workshop for the making of tortoise shell jewelry, and a massive darkroom loaded with antique cameras and equipment. He was a fine photographer, black and white, of course, as color was still some years away. All of this in one manner or another was attached to his home which lay centered in this array of buildings.

Just across the street from this complex was the open sea and a good anchorage for visiting ships. Island and sea were separated only by a wall, which was hardly more than a gathering of coral rubble cemented loosely together. This kept the road in place as well as the sea from entering his house.

It was here that Jules had a series of small rooms in which he had his passport photo studio. He was an extremely compassionate man who loved animals and strange people alike. His proudest possession was a dog-eared Life magazine that featured him with his feathered friends, the flamingos. It was not a zoo that Jules maintained but rather a temporary sanctuary for some of his down-on-their-luck friends. A broken wing here, a fish hook in the beak there, or worse, a spear gun wound in the back of a giant sea turtle.

The passport photo business being what it was on an island with only 4000 inhabitants left these rooms empty most of the year and had allowed Percy and me to use them for a holding station for our aquariums, which in truth were nothing more than wooden whisky boxes lined with cheap plastic table cloths. These aquarium boxes were what we used to hold and maintain the small marine tropical fish that we daily collected from the reefs.

This was the main objective of our diving. Spear fishing and sport diving were considered fringe benefits. We had several accounts in Europe that were clambering for these small fish. The aquarium business was big in both Holland and Germany and there were never enough fish to supply the demand. The waters around Bonaire had eighty percent of the species required to fill their needs, the balance being in the far off Pacific.

It was a very risky business at best and demanded not only skill but a huge range of luck. A cold snap in Sciphold, a plane layover in Paramaribo, a freight handler breaking a container, all of which would invariably occur, could ruin a tropical fish exporter, which it invariably did. It was an insane business, requiring far more expertise and equipment than Percy and I could afford.

Spear fishing had became our way of life, our mainstay. The sport diving market was still years away and waiting to be developed.

This morning found an unusual amount of activity around the town wharf where a gray Dutch destroyer, a frigate I was later told, had slipped into the harbor during the dark of night and lay secured to the head of the new town pier. I thought I had heard it was the Rotterdam. The event in itself was of no importance to us. However, later on we noted that the crew had organized a parade of sorts and was marching through town carrying a wooden doll. I recognized it as a figurehead from an old sailing ship, and I couldn’t help but wonder why the lady was so revered

The figurehead appeared to be very heavy as it took two hefty men to carry it. Fascinated, I followed the little procession around the main part of town and then to the place they called Zeebad It was fun. Sailors from any nationality couldn’t march. It was just not in their training. So the small group loped along with a drummer in the lead. His rhythm was like a clock winding down and it was lucky that the marchers ever got to the Hotel/

I came to understand that the Zeebad had at one time been an internment camp for German nationals during the war. In any event, it now seemed pretty rustic and worn, as though it had been old before it had been built. It wasn’t that the buildings were old, but that the materials had all come from the remnants of the camp. It smelled old and rummy and reminded me of some of the wonderful old wooden ships that I had been on where the tainted smell of dry rot and old bilge’s became infectious.

There was a friendly atmosphere about this place and I felt perfectly at home, despite being the new stranger in town. When looking at the folks present, I somehow got the feeling that this place was the Town Hall, the center of all island-related things. I knew it was nothing but a bar and a few sleeping shacks, but somehow it was more than that.

I put my attention to the bar and the smiling faces that occupied every stool. Looking more closely at the bar itself, I saw that it had been built in the shape of a small boat. At the bow was a broad unpainted stem timber that appeared to be naked and waiting for what I assumed was the figurehead that I had been following through town.

To the crowd it was as if royalty were climbing the front steps. As the wooden lady passed, I pushed myself into a corner where I could observe, yet be out of the way. I was still the stranger here and further pressed back while several self-styled mechanics scurried about the head of the bar like spiders. Orders were given, wrenches twisted, and finally the crowd broke out in applause as the Lady took station at the head of the bar. Although I didn’t know the history, I somehow got the feeling that she belonged there.

"Oh, there you are," said a voice. "I have just been talking about you. Come over here. There is someone who wants to meet you." Jules took me by the elbow and guided me over to the edge of the small gathering. It was L.D., I assumed, who was the center of the group of Dutchmen standing around the figurehead. "Come over here."

"How do you do?" I said to the man who was large by comparison to myself and I am no midget. At close range I found him big, not fat, well-proportioned, and just plain big.

"L.D., this is the American that you have been hearing about," Jules said. "Captain Don is the owner of the big sailing boat in front of my place."

I smiled at Jules and said, "Schooner."

"Oh!" he said, I didn’t know."

I broadened my smile and turned my attention to L.D. "Well, Mener Gerharts, you’re certainly no stranger to me," I said. "I’m rather surprised that we haven’t met before now. I have a lot to thank you for: your people have been most helpful to a young wayward sailor. Thank you."

He looked directly into my eyes and was silent for a moment, before saying, "Yes!" He paused and I felt that he had slipped away for the moment and was somewhere in the past. It was only a fleeting thought, mind you, and I waited. "Yes, when we are new someplace, it is nice to have a little help. Maybe from someone that has been there himself.

Jules continued. "Ah, do you know every one?" he continued. "Our governor, Mr. van Hestren; Mr. Walters; our good friend Walter Booi; and over there Police Inspector Baker." In turn each smiled and nodded acknowledgment.

The governor said, "Yes we have met," and gave me a toothy smile. "Yes, gentlemen, Mr. Stewart and I have made an agreement." His head came down and he looked at me from under shaded brows. Then as quickly, he turned his attention to the fuss being made over the figurehead.

Jules took instant charge and steered me over to meet an extreme]y lovely young woman. "This, Captain, is Sonia. Booi, Sonia is the captain here and is totally responsible for all of this. She is the manager."

I enjoyed their hospitality, drank some beers and ate a small sandwich (which was the highlight of the day). When the crowd began to thin, each of the guests politely offered a kind word. I was continually awestruck by the fluency of their English. Then when the bar was quiet, I moved over to stand before the Gulden Verader. Who’s true name was Annieke as it had been discovered as she had come from a ship of that name. A brigantine sailing out of Holland with a bunker full of coal with a parcel for the Aloe vats here on Bonaire. The balance of its cargo for the coal bunkers of Curacao. I was standing squarely in front of her and couldn’t see her face entirely as her head was turned slightly to her right. I readjusted my position so as to face her directly and as I studied her, my eyes came to rest on hers.

In that moment I knew a strangeness, the drinking of my soul. For the briefest of moments, I allowed this and then snapped my head away as though I had a experienced a tic. I quickly took a step backwards as though escaping an assault. From across the room I eyed her warily, not fully understanding what had taken place. Then I blamed bad diet and hunger for any delusion that I might have had. I bid Sonia and the remaining dignitaries good-by and took my leave.

I had no way of knowing at that time as I departed from Zeebad how my future was to be shaped from that fleeting glance I had received that day in 1962 from Annieke, some times called the Goulden Verrader, a name which she positively hated.

End 03


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Captain Don (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #214) on Thursday, July 6, 2006 - 5:19 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Wds 1858
Meeting Captain Bogart
It was late January 1963, the hurricane season was over, and we had come thorough another year with no serious storms. Bonaire was well below the hurricane belt so the weather was never of any great concern. It was hot, it was muggy, and it was clammy like a steam bath. It had been raining for the last several days which in itself was very unusual for this region. We were more accustomed to torrential blasts of rain followed by a blazing shaft of meridian sun that would set puddles along the road way to boil. But here was a new game, and it continued to pour without let up.

The thought of Somerset Maugham’s novel Rain kept coming to mind as I looked over at our bar which was just on the other side of a raised planter box divider. I honestly was expecting to see Sadie Thompson astride the green linoleum bar top, but all I saw was Larry intently gazing down into his drink while the bartender Ebo methodically polished his glasses. Indifferent, Annieke gazed off into the distant in some anamnesis of other days and other bars along the wooden docks of Rotterdam when she had watched sailors of all colors and nationalities finding their cups. They like Larry attentive to their earthen mugs of cheap Caribbean Rhum.

It had nearly become an fascination with me that every time I looked at the bar I sought her before counting the stools on the bottles on the shelf recalling it was only last years when I had first come to meet the elegant lady holding station on the head of the bar. Thinking to my self that one day I would see to it that she received a proper and dignified make up. Her cosmetics being hurriedly applied in the chain locker of some Dutch war ship making for Bonaire and would return the kidnapped lady never had occurred to these Dutch sailors, so far from being artist. Annieke royalty deserved a quality of cosmetics far from any thing that cold be administered from a, chain locker, The type which she surly most have know from her past. Needless, this beautiful lady warranted the best of the best.

This on going rain, perhaps, had something to do with the global warming everyone was talking about. Maybe it’s was an Arctic iceberg that was in the process of recycling.

I had accepted the job of managing this one time German internment camp which had gone commercial. Originally. In 1952 it had been called Zee Bad (Sea Bath) by its founder, Mr. L.D. Gerharts, a Dutch man who had great expectations for the island’s first hotel.

The current owner, John Bogart, an expatriate American living in Venezuela had actually drafted me off the street for the job. He had touched a nerve when he promised food. I explained to him that I had never been in a hotel in my entire life nor had I slept in a bed in the last eight years. What would I ever know about running a hotel? But I think he sensed that I ran a tight ship and he settled for that. I had been a depression kid, a salvage mechanic, and some seventh sense must have convinced him that I was perfect for the job

Gerharts, in 1952 had an exciting idea of building a desperately needed hotel. At that time only a few pension houses were available for visiting guests to the island. Extraordinarily dexterous this man used every plank of wood that the termites had spared to erect his dream. Any friend who owned a hammer had ripped a apart and put to-gether this place they proudly called Zee Bad, a cluster of thirteen cottages and a main building which had been the camp’s hospital.

It was after 1957 that a John Bogart had bought the place for a song, or so I was told. He, being a Yankee and not speaking Dutch, did not view the name of Zee Bad commercial enough for his intended North American clientele and renamed the place "Flamingo Beach," then made it a "Club."

The bar might have been the sole drawing to Bogart as he sat at the head of the bar next to Annieke with an arm loosely draped across the neck of Annieke often after some hours had been heard talking to her. I didn’t find any thing strange about that as latter I came to discover. As I often found my self in the same situation sharing secrets with the lady from Groningen Makkum Holland

It was a one hundred percent Dutch establishment, Staffed by locals. All the clientele were Dutch, and several Dutch men, a Dutch lady, and finally a young American had previously managed it with his extremely beautiful wife. His term of employment ended when he had been beaten up by a bunch of drunken Venezuelans one New Year’s Eve. Something about a firecracker, I understand. Had I known the story earlier, you can be sure that I would never have attempted to fill his slot. I think Bogart was desperate or simply admired my ship, or perhaps thought me somehow able to attract tourists just because I captained an ocean going sailing schooner.

The rain still pounding, and I was extremely grateful there was no wind to make a real storm. Every opening in the entire hotel was only closed with cheesecloth. The only glass in the place was on the bar. A real wind driven rain could be disastrous. Some of the windows had shutters, but it still left all the doors and toilet vents open to the weather. Every thing and every place leaked, and I resorted to tricks I used in keeping my old schooner afloat. I caulked the roof as I might have a leaking seam. I used tar, thick paint and watered down cement in every crack or crevice found on a roof and or a wall, as well as around windows on the weather side of the cottages. I pounded five-gallon lard cans flat and held them in place with large stones on the roof.

The floors were raw planks with ample cracks which easily discharged any water that found its way into the cottage, or main building for that matter. The kitchen was the only place with concrete walls. I often thought the kitchen the best place for security in case of a bad hurricane. All in all, however, being a sailor accustomed to the elements, I accepted the rain in my stride.

From the onset, Bogart had emphasized that finding a way to attract the tourist was my responsibility. He had no qualms to the type that I might attract just as long as they bought rooms and food and drink at the bar. While chatting about tourism with the Governor one day, I had told him that his island was a rock. I asked him to "Please tell me just what it is you are thinking of selling. Surely not jungles, white water river trips, or touring Maya Indian ruins. Huh?" He looked sad saying that it was the Queen’s wish that Bonaire might be able to stand on her own, so to speak, and make a little money for a change.

I had feverish hoped that the Governor had some inside clue, Possibility from Holland just what might be the secret drawing card to get his tourism thing launched. My mind continued to race searching for that magic attraction.

Fishing, ha! I was making lazy attempts in that direction however Bonaire was a mountain top sticking up from a bottomless sea and offered no continental shelf to attract the sport of game fishing. It was a well known fact that all the best fishing was just off the coast of Venezuela about sixty some miles to our south and of no value to Bonaire as Venezuela took a dim view of outsiders trolling their waters. So that left bird watching

Research showed that we had one hundred and twenty seven species of feathered friends, give or take a few during the season. Even the flamingos of which we were supposed to have millions were not reliable. I was thinking myself into deep water. When sailing aboard the Queen deep water made sense, but when seeking a theme to attract thousands of tourist a year to an island that didn’t have diddly squat to sell, I was going to drown in bad ideas.

However, for some insane reason, for what ever ends, I zeroed in on the bird watching. I not only joined the Audubon Society, but became president of the Bonaire Chapter, and the only member. I spent pennies that we had saved for advertising. I found books. Birds of the Caribbean, Birds of South America, Peterson’s Field Guide to the Birds, and finally a winner, de Vogels van de Netherland Antillen by Dr. K.H. Voous of Amsterdam, Holland. With this one of a kind library, I set out to become the Bird Watchers Capital of the Southern Caribbean. Oh boy! Little did I understand.

Indeed we did have one hundred twenty seven species, whereas on Tobago island the average back yard had that many. Flocking at their bird bath. One hundred twenty seven was nothing. Just nothing… And my job was to make that nothing in to something that would arouse people to travel thousands of miles to a far away island to vacation on an arid rock and live in a camp that still had sometimes electricity and brackish water for washing. Where cactus grew in such abundance, it leaves one wonder why distilling Tequila wasn’t a major industry.

My schooner the Valerie Queen was on a special mooring that I had contrived just out front of the "Club." Her majestic appearance lighted up the waterfront. I had fabricated her mooring in a field of rich corals the likes I had never seen. When beneath the surface, I left this arid rock behind and swam in a productive world that could only be thought of as Eden. Here I was at the threshold of Genesis. After a dive while putting my gear away, amid thoughts of quitting this ungainly island, I would gaze out to sea at my wonderful Queen, and recall the realm of wonders in which she floated.

I wondered about why the island was called a desert when it received twenty two inches of rain a year. Like now, it felt like far more, and I thought of planting a jungle just to see what might happen. A story which often passed through my head was of the Texan who said to his friend, "I’ll pour a beer on your grave, but I’ll drink it first." A thought? Why couldn’t I use the water from the cess pool for my little jungle? A seed planted. I could see it all so clearly: a pump, hoses that leaked, and goat pellets for fertilizer. My god, there was no shortage of goats and the rain still continued to plummet down.
End 04


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Susan (Extraordinary BonaireTalker - Post #1576) on Friday, July 7, 2006 - 8:36 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Captain Don, I have been enjoying this bit of your autobiography too - thank you.

I've heard you tell some bits of these stories at your weekly talks at the Habitat, and it's nice seeing them written down and available to all here, for posterity.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Captain Don (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #217) on Friday, July 7, 2006 - 2:40 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post


Wds 2007

Mrs. Lowbrowski & the Queens death.

Breakfast finished, followed by a fine dive There was a hotel to run and office work which I hated. I busied mij self with the papers on my desk, all of which were sticking together because of the moisture. I was prying some apart when Mrs. Lowbrowski, a visiting birder, she clamed, stomped up the several wooden steps into the main building and took station in front of my bamboo reception counter.

She was warring an old frayed blue one piece bathing suit which fit her like a sack. She stood dripping profusely on my bamboo reception counter which happened to be the residence of some of our largest roaches. As Mrs. Lowbrowski’s rivulets of water found their nest, they sought higher ground which, of course was the top of the counter. Having been around a while, of course I took little notice.

I looked up from my papers. "Good morning, Mrs. Lowbrowski. I trust you slept well last night." I could feel her brows coming down and sensed her storm flag was flying. From my year in the hobo camp I had learned caution so nothing ever startled or surprised me. But right now, Mrs. Lobowski’s appearance caused me concern. I quickly stood up, not wishing to be caught in a defenseless position.

I recalled her yellowish hair always neatly coiled atop of her head in a hay stack fashion. A cool white blouse with an ample halter, which did what big ample halters, were designed to do. Not a pretty lady, but a good-looking woman. I found her friendly and extremely knowledgeable about birds.

"It’s raining," she said as if it was a matter of fact.

"Yes, it is Mrs. Lowbrowski. It is raining," I confirmed. Hair below her shoulders, yellow till it reached the top of her head, then black, like the trails of mascara that leaked from under her eyes. The shoulder straps on the bathing suit strained like old Mexican hammocks retaining Mrs. Lobowski’s ample gourds.

I mentally reached out to the poor woman. Then I glanced down at the counter and noted the first of the refugees fleeing the flood. Mrs. Lowbrowski’s quick eye also saw the two-inch roach that had just freed itself from a crack as it struggled up for air.

She said as a matter of fact, Blatta Orientalis, a strain of Orthoptera, and returned her attention to me.

"Cacalaca," I said. "Papiamentu." Then watching her overflow continue down onto my desk, I whispered, "Excuse me. Mrs. Lowbrowski." Louder, "Excuse me... You’re dripping water all over my papers." I watched. "Mrs. Lowbrowski, why don’t we go the bar and ask Ebo to fix us a friendly Bloody Mary or something and I will introduce you to Annieke Holland’s most extraordinary lady and you can tell me all about it."

Her teeth were grinding together like a worn out gears Then, surprise, a smile, and she said, "Okay" and started for the bar. Larry was there sitting on his usual stool in the far left corner of the bar. The bar, as I hadn’t mentioned earlier, was built like the bow of a boat with the figure of Annieke at the head. So that put Larry on the starboard side.

I winked at Annieke as we came up to the bar and stood next to her. Wishing all ladies cold have her temperament. Absently patted her then looked a Larry saying.. "Hey there, Larry, found you’re self a dry place, huh?"

"Not so dry, Captain Don." remarked Ebo while he was looking for the tomato Juice. Then he turned toward the rows of bottles that adorned the back wall of the bar and pointed to a bottle of Purple Parfait. Larry liked his booze, and I knew he was working his way through at least seven other bottles to have gotten to the Parfait. Maybe before noon he might get serious and found his way to the Cognac.

"Larry!" and I poked him not to gently on the shoulder to get his attention. "Larry, this is Mrs. Lowbrowski from Illinois, and she is a bird watcher."

Larry jerked up straight on his stool as if pulled by a string and sat erect looking at this woman in front of him. Then he suddenly jumped up. "Delighted," he said, hidden manners surfacing. "What a delightful surprise to find my self in the company of another observer of our small feathered friends. How welcome you are, Mrs. Dumbrowski."

"Low,,, Larry,,, Lowbrowski. From Illinois," I coached him.

"Shadyville. That’s an hour and a half north west of
Chicago," she said with a smattering of pride. Now that was news to me. An hour and a half. And I wondered just how far that might be. Walking, by auto, or flying, or even ice skating if the weather permitted. I looked up at Ebo who smiled his tourist smile and set two bloody Mary’s on the bar in front of me. I thanked him and pushed them both in front of Larry who had finally regained his stool and offered the stool to his right to Mrs. Lowbrowski.

"Mrs. Joebrowsky ,,, May I share a morning delight with you," and he handed Mrs. Lowbrowski a bloody Mary and brought the other bloody Mary up to his lips. Ebo’s smile became a grin, and I slipped out of the building just remembering I had promised myself a second morning dive.

Time slipped by. Mrs. Lowbrowski and Larry became fast friends, and I came to discover that she had secret compassion’s other than bird watching. Larry had an inexhaustible thirst as well as the bank roll to support it and kept Ebo on his toes between the two of them. However bird watching was still a very real thing for me. I was running several trips weekly up into our interior and learning my birds with the aid of well meaning watchers. We at the Flamingo were attracting a limited group of tourists but quite frankly birding had been a weak idea and just wasn’t worth the effort.

The ongoing building and maintenance of the camp was enormous. I, never short of new ideas, was improving the place daily, and I actually was becoming a part of it all. The sorry part of it was time. The more time I spent at the Flamingo, the less time I had for my boat. I still did collect a few fish with Percy and tried to maintain the aquarium in town. I came to discover that I was good at giving parties, and set aside some Saturdays after the islanders were paid to help with the Flamingo’s pay roll. Not big parties, but demanding.

The tourists were beginning to dribble in, most from the New York area as that is where I had aimed our small but chatty ads. But it never was a surprise to me when checking in new arrival in that their first words were, "When is the next plane out?" I told them that Madado the airport manager was a friend, and I would see what I could do for them. Then I informed them I could get them deck space on a schooner going to Curacao with a load of goats for five dollars. Or with luck hire a private plane from Curacao for fifty. The best was a fellow I recalled who, annoyed, turned to his son, maybe twelve, handed him a hundred dollar bill, and told him to go to town and look around while he sorted this tragic mess out with the Captain here. I think it was maybe the third one hundred dollar bill I had ever seen in my life, and anything larger than five in town was a joke.

For entertainment more than any thing else, Percy and I started teaching a few tourists to dive. By now snorkeling trips had become a daily routine, and spear fishing was still very macho, but I came to discover something of interest. Those I spent time with in the water never wanted to leave, never could get enough wet time. Then the penny dropped and I saw it all so clearly. It wasn’t the rock that I was selling, but what grew around it.

The tourist office looking for visitor had come up with the idea of having world champions spear-fishing event. Being the likely Flamingo Beach Club was chosen to be the headquarters of this folly. I had been given several weeks to prepare for this event. The spear fishing was no big deal as every one brought their own weapons. Diving was not in vogue so tanks were not need as free diving was the thyme.

I invented as never before. Under water games. Which required all sorts of gimmicks and few prizes., then the cruel fact that this type of tourist never spent a shrew. Pup tents on the beach. The Hotel public toilets became their baths. Brack water for their showers and our small supply of rain water to make their coffee which was made on their own camp stoves. It occurred to me that a hotel was not needed but a good sandy beach and a tank of free water.

Anything for a tourist. This spear-fishing thing wasn’t such a good idea. It attracted free divers from all over the Caribbean. They stayed for a week. Spent money on beer and killed our fish to a near point of extinction. There was no refrigeration other than a single icemaker the government owned but was mostly down for repairs. So what was not eaten was left in piles to rot.

My ship moored just off shore was always a great attraction. There was the story of Ralph who was buried deep in the Queens concrete ballast probably had no basis at all; there was a story. That Ralph Enncus, a friend of the ships owner was murdered on board the boat while visiting the island of Catalina off the coast of California. That was the summer of 1923. William Randall, Marion, and a lady called Louella and of course, poor Ralph, who was thought to have become a permanent member of my ships ballast.

It was a sad day. The death of my dear ship when it settled to the bottom on the morning of August 13th 1963 which was to be the opening day of the tournament. I was sleeping ashore. Then when waking ready to start the fishing tournament I discover the Queen sinking. The water had reached her deck level. I panicked. Called the fire department for assistance with their pumps. Then knowing if I could get her keel hard aground I might be able to stop the sinking. I attached our water ski boat to the Queens stern and tried to drag her into the shallows. She had a ten foot draft.

Of course she was still attached to her mooring. Fate settled that argument and she went down in thirteen feet of water. I salvaged what I could. Cut her mast. Stripped her of all her rigging and left her for the wood eating torredo’s worms to devour her. In two years there was nothing left of my wonderful ship excepting her concrete ballast with only a few ribs protruding from the mass.

The story of Ralph became ingrained and with his body encased in concrete lying just off .

There is more to the story as the years preceding this event spun by? As there was an early lesson to be learned. From this. It was pretty obvious that the spear-fishing tournament was a bad idea from the beginning. Another contest like this for tourism would have become a genocide.

My ship was gone. My bridges burned. And I knew the true expression of the stranded sailor. Bogart my only source of exist had made it very clear. Find tourist or be on your way. Captain don/ I watched the sea as I have know a million miles of it. I knew it only as water. I was totally ignorant of the life it contained. I knew nothing of environmentalism. Then I saw what was floating my ship.

Now things had changed

End 05


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Captain Don (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #220) on Saturday, July 8, 2006 - 4:10 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post



A New York Lady

1964 My Flamingo Beach Club was a constant theater of surprises. For example, the Johns ( toilets) in every cottage, were the same. L D Gearharts was a man who’s abilities for acquiring the impossible was almost beyond comprehension. Never forgetting just where we were, On an island that was just arriving into the 4th world country. For example he was able to procure as big three-cylinder generator for Suriname so I was to understand to get about putting a few lights around town. Further he came to an idea of processing lime. The secrets of that I completely never quite understood, but the remittance of rails and dump wagons rusting away down on the south end of the island.proved that an attempt had been made. Every idea and venture didn’t always have to succeed. But at least an idea had been tested and some day one of them was going to succeed.

I was now on the threshold of another budding creation of Mr. LD Gearharts. The Zee Bad hotel, and though I didn’t fully comprehend fully his undertaking fate had put me at the helm and G,,d Damn it I was going to make it work.

Awww! I’m slipping way from the subject. I was speaking of the toilets in the hotel all seemingly to have coming from the same mold. The reservoir’s were heavy, and they were cast iron of some fifty pounds or more which were secured to the wall high above the toilet bowl, which was a funnel like thing of porcelain, though more closely resembling a pot with a hole in the bottom, The tank was attached to the pot with a long thin steel tube. So that when a chain. Which was attached to a long rocker arm, was pulled, the lead trap door in the bottom of the tank would open, followed by a loud roar which proved the chain had been pulled. There was something lacking in the design of this thing because the donor had to be quick with a stick to shove the stuff down into the neck of the funnel or it would never leave and cling to the porcelain forever.
All of the cottages, in not the entire hotel fastooned with dry rot and worsened as time went on. The braces holding the overhead iron tanks had in the past been known, due to their weight to simply to dislodge from the wall, as the one in cottage thirteen did one early morning. The golden silence was suddenly pierced by a scream, the likes I had never heard before. I grabbed my Little Red Rider air rifle, cocking it as I ran seeking the source. I discovered some tourists gathered around in front of cottage thirteen; Then came the scream again. A frightening noise. I motioned the guests back, then tested the door and found it bolted. " Miss Gilmore." Louder, " Miss Gilmore, are you okay?" knowing that anybody who would scream like that couldn’t possibly be.

"Christ no, you schmuck," came a female’s voice richly tainted with panic. "Come get me out of here."

"Get you out of where?" I hollered back.

"Get me out of this damned John!"

That was some pretty rough language coming out of a nice New York lady like Miss Gilmore.. "Miss Gilmore, Miss Gilmore, the door is bolted, would you please open it?"

"You crazy, dumb Captain. I can’t open the door. I’m held captive by this damned iron John of yours! I don’t care how you get the door open. Just get me the hell out of here!"

"Watch your language, Miss Gilmore. I’ve got children out here," and I turned to the parent of one young child, motioning for her and the kid to return to the main building. Then I turned back to the door, drew my hip knife and neatly sliced a rent in the cheesecloth large enough for my hand to slip into and pull back the bolt. I hated doing that because I was maintenance and would have to repair the damage myself.

For a fellow who thought he had seen everything, I was frankly shocked as I looked into the narrow toilet stall and saw a naked Miss Gilmore sitting on the porcelain bowl. Her body had been forcibly doubled forward. She was held firmly in place by the steel flush pipe which was still attached to the cast iron reservoir which had torn loose from the wall. The iron tank had fallen forward, smashing into the opposite wall which was only several feet in front of her knees. The thin copper water tube had snapped and was spewing a formidable spray of brackish water over the entire back of the cottage.

"Will you stop staring at me you pervert, and get me the hell out of here!" The panic now gone and had turned to pure fury. She’s worried about the naked display of her breast. My God, if she still had any, they were buried deep in that crushed mass of flesh. "Don’t move," I told her and ran to the front of the cottage. where I sought out Richard, my driver, and barked, "In." Then to Maximera, the housemother who stood staring with big eyes, I said, "Phone for the ambulance," and wondered to myself just what the police might send.

Richard, not easily given to panic, stood terrified, looking at the tangle of the iron reservoir, its pipe across Gilmore’s shoulder and a ball of white flesh with a pinched face matted with long wet hair staring at him.

"Turn the water off ,be careful, don’t hurt her." Richard stood transfixed. "The water, Richard, get that friggin’ water off before she drowns." It was fortunate that he was small because he had to squeeze behind her to get an arm in to reach the valve.

An American tourist named Spencer materialized alongside me, analyzed the whole thing in a glance and said, " I’ll reach over the shower wall and lift the tank. You pull her out. Take it easy; she could have a broken neck."

"Get me the f… out a here!"

Spencer looked at me with a mused look and cocked an eyebrow.

" Truck driver, New York City," I casually said and motioned for him to start lifting. I was glad for Spencer’s presence as Richard proved to be useless, but he did get the water turned off, making the scene a little less bizarre. When Spencer got the tank raised a few feet, I was able to extract Miss Gilmore as I might have done with a ball of raw dough from an oven; Navy style, I stretched her out on the wooden floor. As it turned out, Miss Gilmore did not have a broken neck, as I was covering her with a blanket and was tucking her in, I couldn’t help but to notice her chest and wonder at her concern; her chest was as flat as mine.

I joined Spencer at the bar for a morning beer, and listened to his report on the state of health of his friend Adam, his traveling buddy. Adam, as most once a year sailors had rented one of our sailfishes and had set a course directly down wind with no ability of altering course to any other direction.

From the Flamingo Bach Club down wind was directly across the narrow channel to Klein Bonaire which was a small island to our west. There was a little beach that I called, Nearest Point. About a quarter of a mile away. It seemed a magnet, and that is where Adams aimed for. With our swift trade winds he literally flew across the channel and up into the shallow reefs, which were not only solid with coral, but the home of literally hundreds of big black long spined sea urchins.

The keel board of he sunfish rammed into the coal, the boat became unstable, and of course flipped over on its side, and the Captain, well Newton's law prevailed and the skipper simply slid off the deck of the sunfish and into the reef, and its mass of waiting urchins.

It was Teddy the boatman who's job it was to keep an eye on visiting sailors who called the alarm. He had the small Boston whaler tied to the dock, engine running, waiting for Ebo the bar tender and my self to jump in, city cloths and all with rope and snorkel gear.

The rescue had been practiced as we had done it before, but never on that beach. Adam was hurt, where every moment of struggle forced him deeper into the nest of urchin’s. We hurriedly unfastened the mast and sail dumping them onto the reef. Then righted the board and struggled Adams up and back onto the narrow deck of the Sunfish. Stretched him out on his back with his rump shoved down into the small cockpit. God he was a mess. Black dots every where as if someone had sprinkled him with pepper. His eyes rolled up into his head in pain.

It wasn't an easy thing for Ebo and myself. As we took a dozen spines our selves. Many in my ankles and I hated that. If I had to have them I would prefer in an area with more meat. And it would take forever to dissolve them. Ankles were all bone. Poor mister Adam had them every where. I had never seen worse. Teddy who was holding station with some difficulty against the short bay chop was just out side the drop off in deeper water. He hollered and tossed me a half a flask of Jack Daniel. I grabbed it as it floated by. Opened it and took a swallow. Then poured a bit into Adams mouth that was open in pain. I received a shallow smile and shoved the bottle into his hand. And thus we started the long trip back to the Flamingo. Ebo had joined Teddy in the whaler while handling the towline and giving orders to Teddy about his speed trying to convince him that it wasn't water skis that he was towing.

I clung on to the back of the Sunfish making sure Adam stayed put and didn't let the bottle slip away. He was gripping the bottle so hard it was leaving finger pints. There was a mean chop making, which kept Adam and Sunfish awash. My job was to keep Adam on the board, and keep him from drowning. Keeping him on the board was simple; I simply kept his butt shoved into the cockpit. Then I gave him my mask and stuck my snorkel into his mouth. I could see that he was in incredible pain, and encouraged him to kill the bottle of Jack Daniel which was to be the first step in what was to be a horrible week of misery.

As I was being drug slowly along behind the Sunfish I thought about an area that I had just seen blow the surface for the first time. Before donating my mask to Adam I did have a moment of thrill viewing not only broken urchins but also an absolutely perfect and pristine reef the shelf couldn’t have been more than two feet deep. And only yards way was the drop off.

I marveled at its splendor. It fell off the earth like a cloth hanging from a table. Not exactly down. But easily 60-degree fasts slope. As I had said I never dove here before and l put my mind to do it some day soon. It was deep and looked spooky. As I had mentioned had always referred to this place as our nearest point, and it was just that. Yeah! Some day when I had a tank with a decent fill I was going to do this fellow. But then, there was still so many new reefs that I had yet to b e explored. The entire island was in fact was still waiting.

Spencer reported that Adam was still sedated with a belly sloshing with Mister Jack. No doctor or hospital in the world could help him. The hundreds of spines had been driven deep and there was no sane way of removing them. I had simply reverted to the fisherman’s cure. Get him drunk and keep that way. Heat the area of penetration. The fishermen used flaming newspapers. They played the flame's over the injured area then simply spank the hell out of the spines with a flat plank, breaking them up and bringing blood to the damaged area. Then keep hot towels or hot flat rocks from the fire on all the little black dots to lessen the pain. Seemed a little barbaric but it worked.

The team of Spencer, Adam and spouses had vacationed with me the previous November when St. Nicholas made his call. Playful children, in their excitement of tossing lit cherry bombs about, shot one off next to Adam’s thigh. He didn’t bleed but his leg was shell shocked for the balance of his vacation. On their arrival, when pouring a glass of iced water from the Thermos in his room, Adam had found the liquid to be pure stagnant urine. A previous guest, an urge, a busy john, and a maid, who must have been new and didn’t think to check the Thermos, had combined for a bad start to Adam’s vacation. It didn’t seem as though things were improving much for him either. Still, this was a vacation that none of his friends would ever forget.

End 06


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Captain Don (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #222) on Sunday, July 9, 2006 - 6:45 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post


Annieke lives
Wds 1317

October 5th 1965
The last glass had been emptied and the barn-like room grew still as the autos cranked up outside and friends called out their final farewells in a cacophony of languages. Always at closing time at the bar, my mind drifted back to a time so many years ago when I would feel that same stillness descend along the quay. Barkeeps blowing out lanterns in the taverns, a brace of drunken sailors weaving down the plank wharf, and the tune of a badly sung sea shanty lost among the sounds of barking dogs. Then a gentle swell would creep around the jetty giving my ship an easy twart motion that caused the tall mast to gyrate smoothly across the early morning sky.

I could almost hear the thumping of a block against the heart of the tall mast, a call from high in the trestles of a chafing block, the groaning of a strained timber deep beneath a ceiling , all the comfortable sounds of a healthy ship.

As I settled into my familiar reverie, I heard the click of a key in the lock of the front door. I was not facing that direction so I had no way of seeing who might be there. A fear rippled through me at the thought of the marines returning. I heard the door swing open and the sound of bare feet shuffling slowly across the floor. Another click and the room filled with the soft light of the desk lamp. Papers shuffled and a ring of keys dropped to a counter. I sensed someone moving up the single wooden step and crossing the short distance in my direction. I heard an ice chest opening and ice falling into a glass, the unmistakable smell of whisky and the sound of water pouring from a pitcher into a glass.

"Christ, what a day," said an American voice, edged with fatigue.

It was with much relief that I recognized the voice of my Captain, Don. "Well old gal, what kind of day have you had?"

I felt his hand on my shoulder and heard him sip his watered down whisky. "Toots, you're in need of some cosmetics," he said as he came around to face me. In the dim light of the office, I found him handsome and, in his way, gentle.

He set his drink on the counter and placed both hands on my shoulders, caressing me, a soft kneading almost. Then both hands cupped my face and his eyes found mine. "God, you're beautiful," he said as he paused before tenderly placing a sweet kiss on my mouth. "To know you would be the door to a hundred years of history." He paused, fetched his glass and took another sip. "Someday you and I are going to have a talk."

He turned, placing his shoulder against me, my head nestling into the crook of his neck. He took a deep draw of his drink. "Toots, we lost a diver today." He fell into a sad silence for a moment. "No fault of ours, a novice, his first dive, didn't know a bean about what he was doing." He was quiet again and I heard him empty his glass. He left me and returned to the bar pouring another. I waited, heard the bottle filling the glass. There was no water, no ice, and I knew there was to be some serious drinking.

He moved around to the front of the bar and took a stool just under my quarter, his voice noticeably slurring as he spoke. "I can't help but feel responsible; it was my gear. I didn't know the diver I loaned it to was dumb enough to give it to a visiting missionary who couldn’t even snorkel. Goddamn." He swallowed hard. "I can't let this happen again."

The glass was empty and he pressed against me draping an arm loosely over my shoulder. I wanted to cry but I couldn't. I didn't know how. There had been other times when I was just as sad. Captain van den Berg had been my best captain until now. He had been young like Don and he too had hated to see men needlessly killed. Then one day, while repelling a raid, he himself was killed by a musket ball to the side of the head. I had felt like crying then, too.

Oh, we beat them off aright or I wouldn't be here now, but losing the captain made me want to lash out. I sensed that Don had that same need for a storm, for a fast squall to the bows. Oh, to be slammed face down into the hissing mountain of water, to feel your fasting strain, to hear the rent of canvas overhead, to plunge again and again deep into the sea. Then at the height of my fury had come a soft lifting motion and the blunt prow sliced a clean sea with a dolphin holding station at the bow. It was a bright and wonderful morning. I had been cleansed by the sea and was glad to be alive. Don would know this grace when the time came.

My new captain poured himself another cup and returned to sit at my quarter. He was muttering to himself about the death of the young missionary. "So needless," he kept repeating. "So needless." Then I heard only soft breathing and saw his head resting on folded arms. I failed to comprehend his sorrow over the loss of a single man. How many dozens of good men have I lost?

I thought of what he had said: "Toots, one of these day we are going to have a talk." Why not have that talk now? I had come to understand seventeen languages and I could think easily in any one of them. I concentrated. I began to think of Friesland, my birthplace, and of my father, and then I let flow all these memories of my life into my sleeping captain who lay drunken at my quarter.

1851 had been a good year for the province of Groningen. Makkum was our port and that is where I was born. The province had just issued in a new mayor, twelve hundred hectors of new land had just been reclaimed from the sea, and Holland was prospering as trade in the Far East grew. The shipyards were receiving new long-grained tarred planks from the north to fill orders for the new ships of commerce for which they have become famous. This was a wonderful year. This was the year that I was born. Kess van der Wef was my father. A sensitive artist and sculptor, Kess's knives had lovingly shaped my very self.

His wife, a gentle loving person, posed for Kess so that I came to be the very image of her. Her love became my soul, her tenderness my compassion, as Kess's chisels made me in her likeness from black mahogany timber from the Surinam forest far across the Atlantic.

The Annieke was my first ship and the world became my trading grounds under numerous Dutch Captains. Then forty- six years after my birth, my owners conspired with the north and my final master at sea, Captain Wolf Herring. Though he claimed to be Dutch, I thought this was doubtful. He was a hard and cruel man who drove his crew, the ship and himself with venom.

The Annieke was not the ship of choice to begin his new career. By this time, she was terribly old, leaking, dry rot running freely, and audibly moaning at her mistreatment. She had been reduced to a lowly coal bunkering bark. Herring’s first voyage was to deliver a cargo of Pocahontas coal for the aloe pots on the island of Bonaire, the easternmost island of the Dutch Colonies in the Southern Caribbean.

End 07


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Captain Don (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #223) on Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - 3:50 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

by Captain don/
Fighting for her life
Wds 1402
The plantation of Jatu Baku was to receive one fifth of the cargo, while the balance was destined for S.E.L. Maduro's coal bunkering docks at Curaçao which lay forty-three miles downwind to the West. As capital of all six Dutch islands in the Caribbean, Curaçao was a thriving port that had served as the distribution point for everything from slaves to wheat since the 1500s.

It was a bad omen from the beginning with Captain Wolf Herring. The crew's morale was at its ebb. Annieke was shipping more sea in her bilge’s than a day's pumping could match. A rating had been swept overboard and lost during a mid-Atlantic squall, and it was an ill wind that sealed our fate on the reefs of a desolate place off the coast of Venezuela, a place that the navigator thought was the Island of Avis. It was on the morning of September 12th, 1897, that my dear Annieke fetched the shallows of that wretched place, and there, broke up.

The weather had been reasonable. Some squall lines had flushed our decks during the night but in no way had been responsible for this deed. It was the captain himself that placed Annieke on this death course. The navigator had overruled him when he had called for making to the north to fetch more sea room, for the now wallowing Annieke who's belly was filled with sea, had become unbearably difficult to steer.

The moderate sea was not only responsible for driving the ship hard areef but for saving the lives of the crew as no soul was lost. In that early morning light, there had been no haste and the crew went about methodically preparing the little longboats, stepping the stubby mast, unfurling sail and loading with maximum goods fine. The sun was making in the east and no time was to be lost as the captain had no desire to make landfall on a strange coast after dark.

As the captain gained his boats in readiness to depart for the island of Bonaire, he turned to take a last look at his command. The seas, though moderate, lifted poor Annieke and then dropped her thudding on the reef again and again and he knew it wouldn't be long before black coal spilled from her hull. Then at a moment's thought, he ordered the crew back to scavenge me from the bows.

There was low mumbling amongst the crew as they went about the laborious task of shearing my fasting. They all knew well that the timing of this trip was crucial. The navigator had clearly said, "Ten hours for the crossing, not a minute less." Hadn't they just lost poor Annieke due to darkness? As for me, this had to been the worst thing that had ever happened to me. The sloshing bilge water of the little longboat surely was the foulest since the sewers of Paris, and I felt the paint starting to loosen on my body.

It was the mate's longboat that I had been dropped into and I landed hard on my port quarter which allowed me to see the action that was on the little boat. The mate, a kindly older man came over to look down at me. I was ashamed at my condition. "Well my little Annieke at least the crew is still together, and I thank God you are safe." I had known him from other days and ports when he stood on the quay looking up at me.

"Little Annieke ," he would say, "You're the loveliest of them all."
"Make port, Jon Wellem, quickly!" called the navigator who was intently studding the shadow which lay ahead. He strained to hear the crashing of the breakers on the high coral cliff which lay dead ahead. Jon Wellem leaned on the tiller and the longboat bow swung to left. A sea slapped the stern, the longboat swung quickly to port forcing it into the trough.

"Trim the sail," hollered the captain, never wishing to relinquish his command. He cupped his hands to his mouth, his shout near a scream, "Make around. Breakers ahead." The mate, Dirk, swore and shoved his helm down, the longboat performing badly. Slop poured over the gunnel rushing into the already filling bilge. "Bail, me hartys. Bail for your lives." In the darkness I heard the banging of small pails, some even striking me as the crew bailed. "It is she," someone said. I felt a hard kick delivered to my side and hands reaching around my neck. "Over the side with the witch, I say." Hands tugged at me.

"Damn you! Take your foul hands off Annieke " I heard a thud as a belaying pin struck and a body crumpled atop me. That was the end of that and the men went about making course away from the sound of the crashing breakers and sure doom to all to stand off to safely await the sunrise.

Though he had never been here before, the navigator recalled a flat calm lee that lay just about this end of the island with more than enough water beneath us. Soon we met the end of the island without incident. It had been a miserable trip, but all was well except the sailor who had been struck with the pin. But Annieke was well astern and they all looked forward to the adventure of this new island of Bonaire.

As the charts promised, the sea made calm and the little fleet jibing sails swung to the north and found us over a shallow shelf of translucent water. Then, as a path to haven, we moved quickly toward the township of Kralendijk on Bonaire.

As we sped by the coastline, the navigator, with much authority, reported the history of the colored obelisks which marked the salt flats. The captain had hoped that one of the three would have a ship in attendance, but alas, there was nothing to see but flat barren beaches that seemed to go on forever.

As they rounded Punt Vierkant they hardened their sails putting a bone the teeth of the little lugger and made straight for the fort of Kralendijk. A small ship of some 200 tons or so rode comfortably a mooring tank directly in front of the customs house where stood a small pier. It was to the customs, then the church, the captain and crew went. Jatu Batu could wait until morning. I, a forgotten thing left submerged in that swill with my paint peeling, wondered if this should be the last of me.

The Longboat’s bilge was just about more than I could bear The water worsened by the hour and it seemed days that I lay in that place. Then a voice from above on the dock called down: "Little Annieke, did you think I had forgotten you?" I felt a ripple of joy; it was Dirk. He had come for me at last as I knew he would.

He clambered down into the boat cooing at me. His strong hands lifted me from the swill laying me on the edge of he dock. "Well now, we are in need of a good bath, maybe with a little soap and scent to make my lady smell good."

Dirk had been true to his word. I was bathed and rubbed me with a spice smelling cologne. Though my skin was peeling and I felt ugly, I was clean and ready for my new life on this island of Bonaire. Just as my spirits began to lift, tragedy overcame me. After Dirk had said his good-byes someone placed me in an old trunk and closed the lid. It was here that I was to lay hidden beneath the stairs of the plantation of Jatu Batu for the next thirty-five years. People were living in the great house: I could hear babies being born and old people dying and the sounds of a new language to learn, but I was alone.

It was a dreary place and I missed the freshness of an oncoming sea, the talk and songs of the sailors, and the chill of Dutch winters. Most of all I missed Dirk. Thirty-five years wasn't long for me as I knew that someday the trunk would be opened and perhaps someone would take me to sea again.
End 08


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Captain Don (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #232) on Friday, July 14, 2006 - 1:01 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

a story by Captain don/

wds 1594

I don’t know the year (time meant little to me) but later I heard that the family had moved, leaving only a caretaker, his six children and some dogs living in a small house on the grounds.

Sometime later, years I guess, the familiar sounds of music, bad singing and clinking glasses tickled my ears. I heard laughter, then a voice, a happy Dutch voice, said, "Hey L.D., come take a look at this." An authoritative voice answered,

"What have you there, Jules?"

I heard some shuffling and felt the trunk being dragged about. A moment later the lid popped open. "Hello there. What's this?" "Let me see," it was the voice of L.D. A lantern held high shone directly in my eyes. "Why, Jules. It's a wonderful little lady. Look how beautiful she is." "Well," grunted Jules. "She is nice but in dire need of cleaning up. Never mind. Get her some rum and she will be just fine."

Jules had been running his sensitive fingers over my face when L.D. barked, "Rum indeed, for all of us!" He reached in to the trunk and lifted me out as if I were a feather. "Take us to the music," he said gaily. "This lady and I are going to waltz."

Never before had any one danced with me. I knew I weighed a great deal but he whisked me about on the little patio as if I were a small doll. The crank twirled on the music box and the waltz was wonderful. The bent little man turned the crank on the old music box while the tall skinny one scratched a tube of sorts and the third chimed a triangle with a little steel stick, and L.D. and I finished the dance.

"Ludwig, where ever did you find her? She's beautiful! And heavy too, my dear. It's time for some more rum. Come on, Jules. Let's toast our beautiful guest."

The organ selected another Curaçao waltz, but this one I had to sit out. L.D. was exhausted. The party was getting loud and boisterous and still there was more rum. It was very late when they laid me back into the trunk thanking me for the evening and wishing me a good night.

I had seen too many sailors in their cups not to see the signs. I smiled to myself at the wonderful evening I had just had and hoped that I wouldn't have to wait another thirty-five years for some more rum.

"Ludwig, what a wonderful idea you have for renovating this old internment camp into a hotel," said Piet Baker, a writer, fetching some news. Both he and Joe Spier had come to Bonaire just for the day to see what Ludwig (AKA L.D. ) was up to with this hotel idea of his that he called Zeebad. None of the cottages had been finished yet, but this was only '1952 and there was still plenty of time. However the restaurant was operational and had just prepared a plentiful rijstafel luncheon for about fifty people. And of course there was plenty of rum to wash it down.

It was Spier who got the conversation going about the old sailing ships in the Curaçao harbor, about the glory of it all.

"S.E.L. Maduro has an old figurehead locked up in the bank safe. They say she's from the Loden Verader. Had her secure in the safe, they thought but the marines had kidnapped her anyway. Hid her on a warship, took her to Holland, then many months later sent her back on another," Piet said. "They had given her a new paint job, rouged her lips fiery red and insisted on a horrendous party to welcome her home. The blokes were making a game of it."

L.D. leaned into the conversation saying to both Baker and Spier: "The Loden Verader — that's nothing — nothing at all compared to our Gulden Verader." L.D. seemed to have surprised himself at the mention of that name. Looking curiously at his glass, he silently mused that it must have come from the rum. Coming from L.D., the declaration carried weight, and Baker and Spier looked at one another. Spier thought for a moment and said, "Yeah, well, we want to see it."

It was getting late, but no matter. A challenge had been made. L.D. motioned to Jules and said, "Well?" Jules was no slouch when it came to a bit of excitement and he said, "We'll take my car." They left Piet and Joe with the others to enjoy some more rum and moved out across the island toward Jatu Batu. Got there about 1 o’clock in the morning and parked behind a divi divi tree some 100 meters from the house.

Like thieves in the night (which there were about to become) the pair crept up to the house and, crouched behind a fence of sorts, and quietly watched. The watchman with his six children lived in a little cottage not far from the great house. The moon was at full and the night quite bright They were concerned about the big dogs which, although secured to posts by heavy chain, were putting up a terrible ruckus.

L.D. entertained serious thoughts of leaving, but Jules shook his head and motioned L.D. to sit still. In time the dogs settled down and the pair of rescuers sneaked into the house. Both knew exactly where to go. Apprehension was great as they approached the stairs and L.D.’s heart thumped in fear that someone had taken the trunk. It was Jules who threw the lid of the trunk back.

The suddenness of the dim light entering the chest startled me and in that moment I felt the aura of the man who had danced with me. My core tingled with excitement. It might have been love or perhaps the hope of a bit of rum after so long. There was no delay. L.D. swept me out of that trunk and into his arms in a single swift motion. For a moment he stood holding me tightly to his chest. It may have been love. Jules punched him in the shoulder and pointed to the door. Get out, he was silently saying. No time for niceties now.

Piet Baker pressed back in his chair, deep frowns finding his face. "Well," he said and took a sip of his iced rum. He stood up, moving around the table where I was laying, and looked closely down at me.

"Yes, you are more beautiful than the Loden Verader," he said. "Many times over." He raised his glass in a toast to me and then, as I had hoped, he leaned over and poured some of his rum over my lips. I could feel L.D.’s hand on my shoulder. It was warm and loving and I knew at that moment that I would never have to return to that dreary trunk again.

My arrival at Zeebad caused quite a fuss, and an endless line of women and children came to pay me a call. I felt very important at my new station. Then there was talk among the men that a new bar had to be built. In the shape of a boat it was to be and I was to be secured to its head which was only fitting.

The air was palpable with excitement as the island awaited a visit from Prince Bernard of the royal family of The Netherlands. He arrived aboard the warship Karel Dorman and attended a reception in his honor at the lieutenant governor’s house that evening.

The Prince had come with his own aircraft and was scheduled to depart for the capital, Curaçao, the following morning. A number of things were discussed over cocktails and then L.D. was drawn into a conversation about the Gulden Verader. Strange I thought, what is it with this Gulden Verader? I know they are talking about me, and I’m Annieke not the Gulden Verader, didn't they understand?

However, of no importance: my new home at the head of the bar in Zeebad was wonderful. Never a shortage of good-hearted friends or rum. It was the kind of ship that could sail with me forever.

At about 9:30 PM, L.D. received word that I had disappeared from the stem of the Zeebad bar. No man alive could have been angrier that L.D. at the news. He set about organizing a search party. They combed the island, invading the places the Dutch marines haunted including the warship. They looked everywhere for me but my assailants had hidden me well. In fact, I was in the toilet of Prince Bernard’s aircraft.

The following morning at the airport of Curaçao I was secretly placed on the floor of a limousine and transferred to the warship Karel Dorman. When the story finally came out, it appeared that it had been pilots from the Karel Dorman who done the actual kidnapping. In fact, one of the men had been caught in a window when it had accidentally slammed down on his hand.

I was surprised. L.D. and others openly accused the commander of the Karel Dorman of kidnapping a minor. What do you think of that? Calling me a minor, when actually I was 92 years old Of course I had no way of know ing what was going on as I was, you might say, a prisoner in the forepeak of the Karel Dorman's paint locker to be exact a smelly place.

End 09


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Captain Don (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #251) on Tuesday, August 1, 2006 - 3:20 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Becoming a game

Wds 1647

L.D. received a telegram from the commander of the Karel Dorman who said that the warship would return to Bonaire sometime in early 1954. I was to be returned by the ship’s helicopter, he said. I had been gone a long time and missed the bar at Zeebad very much. The hotel part still hadn't opened but my bar was afloat doing just fine.

When finally the ship did arrive L.D. took station by the telephone at Zeebad. It was on the porch where he could see both the wharf and the ship, which had anchored in front of the customs house. With binoculars he watched the ship, directing his attention to the little helicopter which seemed to be the center of the ship’s activity. Then he saw it: a fast speed boat darting from the ship to the wharf. A few moments later, as the story goes, the phone rang and L.D. answered it. "Hello, this is the captain of the Karel Dorman. I regret to say that our helicopter is defective, however, I have detailed a few men to deliver it. Just where does it go?"

When the story had been repeated within hearing distance, I cringed at the word "IT." L.D. answered crisply, "To the same place you stole IT from." The honor guard was to be twelve men and L.D. promised that he would have nice cold Amstel waiting for them. Then on a hunch he called his office in town and asked for someone to get down to the wharf to watch the goings-on. Some minutes later the call was returned and he was told that there were 134 marines and sailors plus a marching band all assembled on the wharf ready to return me home. I was affectionately placed in a hammock sort of affair which was to be carried by two strong marines who were to be escorted by twelve others, six in front and six in back.

L.D., in the mean time, was pulling his hair out trying to figure out how he could keep his promise to give each man a cold Amstel. Where on island could he find so many cold Amstel beers? Providence held, and friends delivered, but it cleaned out every bar in town. The story goes on. L.D. was delighted, mostly with the return of myself, and the good fortune of finding so many Amstels. However, Dutch as he was, he found it rather expensive.

I was returned to the head of the bar and found that my presence was truly appreciated and that my new ensemble set the girls to whisper. My dress a satin blue with bright golden trim and my new hair-do was in honey brown. The one slight fault found in my new visage was that perhaps my skin was just a little too white for the tropics.

The next four years were uneventful. I preened at the head of the bar, a true station of honor. The most dangerous occurrence was when a tourist, in his cups, poured a glass of rum over my head. I was the center of attention. Had Bonaire been a wheel, I would have been the hub. During this period, I attracted a truly great artist who fell madly in love with me. He adored me and over some weeks of hard work put me to splendor that would have pleased Kess van der Werf, my father.

These good times weren't to last. In 1958 we were to host another warship. Rumors flew about that there was to be another kidnap attempt. I heard it from every mouth that drank at the bar and from eyes that avoided mine. It greatly distressed me.

It was a Monday morning. Things were eerily quiet with only a few tourists hanging about. Then I noticed something strange: two of these tourists seemed to take a great deal of interest in me. Not so much in myself as much as how I was secured to the bar. They looked like tourists but acted like pilots. My heart gave a jump at the thought of being whisked away to The Netherlands again.

Thank God, L.D. had anticipated this and had secured me with a strong steel bolt that passed through me and into the bar stem timber. Two heavy nuts with the shaft bent over by a heavy hammer. At the time I thought it overly protective and giggled at L.D. as he sweated under the hot bar banging at that bolt so it would be impossible to ever remove the nuts.

The following morning promptly at 11:30, an employee of Zeebad came running into town screaming that the soldiers were landing at Zeebad by helicopter. "What shall I do?" cried the employee. "Call the police?" " No, no," said L.D. "I'll take care of it."

When he arrived two men were openly trying to take the nuts off the bent shaft. Never was that to happen. L.D. sat calmly at the far end of the bar watching. I didn't think that they were even aware of his presence. Huddled in that furnace-like cubby-hole beneath the bar, poking and prying at the nuts, the pair was sweating profusely. L.D. and the bar tender continued to watch.

"How about a nice cold Amstel, boys?" L.D. asked. As magic, the two fell from the hole under the bar. They didn't recognize L.D. as the owner and started complaining about the owner who had bent the bolt.

The helicopter had been holding station across the street over vacant property and now moved in over the promenade where it lowered a rope and began to lower a sling. The blades of the helicopter chopped noisily at the dusty air, sending sand and debris flying. Soon an orange-clad airman materialized in the sling and started for the ground. The boys inside gulped down the beer and attacked the bolt again. Naughty words came from behind me and I smiled at the thought of L.D. banging down the bolt. Then I became horrified. The shocking effect of being hoisted away under a running helicopter was one thing, but when L.D. offered the boys a hack saw I nearly fainted.

The whirlwinds caused by the helicopter churned up papers in the bar’s open office and cut visibility to nearly zero in the bar. The droning chopper dangled clumsily in the air, the boys sawed on, and I felt very much the pawn of a stupid game. Shortly, I was airborne, captured in the arms of the airman in the bright orange suit. I looked out over the roof of the bar, at the cottages being built, at the township which I had never really seen and sobbed.

The years just seemed to disappear. I never was aware of their coming nor of there departure. Time was just a factor which put rings in a tree. I knew homesick and I thought I knew love, but the one thing I knew for sure was that I missed that damned bar, its people and the taste of that good Caribbean rum. I had heard that it was now 1962 and though it meant nothing to me, it did to a lot of other people. L.D., for one. I had been gone for almost 4 years now and L.D. and the others were sick and tired of looking at a naked bar head, and further, they missed the "hell-out-a-me.

Minister Kartel of The Netherlands was visiting Bonaire and it would have been inconceivable for him not to stop by Zeebad to see the progress of the first hotel on island. As he entered the main building, he stopped and gawked at the bar, pointing at the naked head saying "Where is this wonderful Gulden Verader that I have been hearing so much about?" The story then came out. "Revolting!" he said, and mumbled that he would draft a telegram to the commander of the armed forces ordering him to see that I was returned immediately.

I have been told that L.D. said,. "Sir, that's not really right, the warship stole her, and the warship shall return her, and I shall buy them all a good cold Amstel. He thought about that for a moment, then added, "It's the game you know.!"

I was returned by the Rotterdam, a new and very swift ship, something that I could not comprehend. I knew that there was no place for me amongst all the steel, black smoke and guns.

The Rotterdam’s return ceremony was nowhere near the magnitude of the Karel Dorman’s, however, it was good enough, and better yet I was home again in Bonaire. I had a new paint job done by meaningful sailors in the paint locker, but somehow I felt a bit put down by the grade of workmanship. I had been spoiled you know, but what matter — I was home and that's all that mattered to me.

L.D. and friends were busy reattaching me to the bar. Many toasts had been offered and I had a small taste of rum during the excitement. I recalled many of the smiling faces, remembered the embraces of others, then at a moment I saw a new face that I had never seen before. He was a young tanned man who obviously had been to sea for a long time. I watched him as he watched me and, in that briefest of moments, I sensed he and I were to become inseparable in the very near future.

"Captain Don, this is Mr. L.D. Gerharts, the founder of Zeebad, which is now the Flamingo Beach Club. And this is our wonderful lady — the Gulden Verader just returning from an extended stay in Holland."

Jules Heitkonig placed an affectionate arm around my shoulder and I really knew that I was home
End 10


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Captain Don (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #238) on Tuesday, July 18, 2006 - 5:11 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Number 11
Wds 2070

Miss Linda

Still new in the hotel business I frequently approached guests as if they were work-a-ways aboard my schooner. At check-in time I would attempt to appraise them for which functions they would be best at such as swabbing down the bar floor or helping with the coffee at morning chow. My most diligent search was for a yeoman (secretary) since I saw office work in general as one of my shortcomings and used every trick known to find a rating for the job. However for some strange reason I never seemed to have any trouble finding volunteer for pumping rainwater up into the two fifty-five-gallon gasoline drums on the kitchen roof. They thought it fun. The kitchen was the only building on the premiums with concrete walls and a roof strong enough to support the weight, Then Shorty de Palm the cook told me the white ants were gnawing seriously away at the roof rafters under the drums .I started becoming concerned.

The normal thing to do was to replace the rafters. However there was no lumber on island. Harts hardware, a very loosely used description, did have a few sticks but nothing serious. I remedied that by eliminating one of the drums which meant finding more volunteers for the afternoon pumping.

During the early days of Bonaire’s struggle to develop tourism, our remote little island at times had a weird attraction for those who were searching for a place to get lost. Some forever, I don’t want to say the word, but suicide. That being the furthermost from our intentions. However we did boast some of the finest and accessible reefs in the Caribbean. But now my concern is for ladies who seemingly came to Bonaire with only one thing on their mind.. Hmmm!

Annie always with concern watched at check in time, jelious of the lone spincers who sem to steal my total attention on their arrival. Durning lone and quite nights at the bar I would rub a bit of Rhum across her lipswhile speaking softly into her ear. cooing words of endearment, telling her no other woman would ever take her station. .
As the Captain of this enhanced internment camp turned resort, I felt the same responsibility for my guests as I had for passengers aboard my ship and too frequently becoming entangled with their problems. Their despondence became my utmost concern. On a day when Annieke’s suspicions were intense I was checking in an extraordinarily handsome woman. She was the only off shore guest arriving that day. A few locals from Curacao who had arrived by yacht were safely tucked in. As usual, I attempted to be charming, secretly hoping that she might already be a diver. or perhaps had come to Bonaire with the intention of learning about scuba. I knew little of biorhythms in those days. But if I had I would have suspected that mine were ebbing badly, and I wished that she could have checked in a week earlier.

As I had previously mentioned, my reservation counter was an old bamboo verandah bar that I had acquired from Charlie's Bar, who I was told served some pretty good fried chicken legs, cold beer, and was the only place on the island where one could buy a 'Milky Way' candy bar. Charlie also had a few rooms hidden in the back for additional income where ladies could be available for those not wishing Milky Way candy bars.

Clean girls $7.00, dirty ones a little less.. Of course at one’s own risk.. I thought myself clever and got the bamboo bar for only four dollars. I was told It was at my own risk. I warned guests, particularly this lady, not to lean on it because of the. story about catching diseases from toilet seats and didn't know if it also applied to bamboo counters.

On arrival the first reaction of most off shore guests was simply to stand gawking. This beautiful woman was no exception. I was never quite sure whether their stares were at me, at the shacks we called a resort or at Larry who was head down on the bar catching his 40 winks, or perhaps at the five o'clock rat who sometimes knocked a bottle from the shelf as it made its rounds. But jaws hung slack, eyes grew wide and slowly blinked. Then they would inevitably ask, "When is the next plane?"

The usual rehearse reply. "Tuesday, yes, next Tuesday," I would explain, and watch while they counted the days off on their fingers. "However if it is important," I would gently respond."I could arrange deck space on a goat schooner leaving for Curacao at four o’clock tomorrow morning. Five dollars."

Smiling, I would then twist the register around so that it was in faced them. The register was large and black, as old hotel registers should be. Worn, and tattered; it was many years old, dating back to the first of the old Zee Bad days. The first date I fond was February 3rd1953 to a Shon Munchi of Curacao. Much of the script had ceased to be legible buried beneath the fly specks, pages had been nibbled by the roaches, and, of course, there was an abundance of coffee stains. I had been told that the Queen of Holland had signed it, but though searching often, with or without friends, sober or drunk, we could never find her signature, but tonight it really didn't matter. The lady signed the book, and I smiling at her and spun the book around to see what stories she had to tell. Linda, and something unintelligible. I read it out loud, a friendly gesture, but more to show her that I could read.

"Well, Linda, good to have you on island." Then I added, "You are a diver, of course!"

She looked strangely at me, "A what?"

"DIVER," I said, clearing my throat. "You know, a deep sea diver. That's my business, diving!" Then I lamely added, "Wanna go on a dive now? We got the best reefs in town," and tried to laugh.

"If you're a diver, then what the hell are you doing in this... this...?"

"Camp!" I helped her out. Then lied, "Making a living," and brought my attention back to the book. Under profession she had written in bold block letters, "WHORE (my boy friend said so)."

I looked up smiling weakly, "Awww, yes." Then back to the book. Age 100, and I looked at her again, thinking that she was quite well preserved and made a mental note to ask her about it sometime when I got to know her better.

"Yes, Miss Linda. Before you settle in, I would like to show you a few things." I reached under the bamboo counter, attempting not to touch it, and pulled out a half gallon whisky bottle that was filled with a brownish liquid. "Water!" and I pointed to the bottle in case she mistook the brown liquid for booze. She didn't quite get the idea. "Water, awa. It’s good, and safe to drink. Made it myself this morning." And I made another mental note that the water barrel was getting too rusty and had to be changed. When I had first installed the drum, it took me a month to get the kerosene taste out of the water. I was able to get rid of most of the rust by filtering it through a discarded pair of jockey shorts left by a guest. Undershirts made good filters too. I used whatever was available and usually washed them first.

Then I reached under the bar again and brought out a kerosene lantern that I had only that morning prepared for her arrival. I must have knocked it as I set it down because a rust hole in the bottom popped open and kerosene began pouring out over the counter, onto the register, down into the cracks of the bar top and then onto the floor.

Now that in itself wasn't so bad, and I thought about the toilet seat stories and wondered if kerosene was a good disinfectant. What I did discover, however, was that the mahogany birds, roaches to you, reacted in force. By the hundreds they stormed out of the crevices between the bamboo slats, from the cracks on the top, and from under the bar as well. I silently wished for Mrs. Lowbrowski to help me explain exactly what nest of nature had been uprooted.

Now roaches in themselves aren't so bad. They only stink, eat the labels off tin cans, and in every conceivable place. But they definitely are not the carriers of disease, or if so, then certainly less than toilet seats. But in any event, they are not the wicked beasts people believe them to be. I set to wondering what Linda thought of all this. It didn't take her long to discover that roaches fly. With a three inch wing span, they could probably have flown to Capistrano. I started to explain to Miss Linda that only the females flew, but saw that she had been distracted as half a dozen sought her for safety from the flood of kerosene. The roach on her sleeve shocked her, the one on her shoulder turned her to stone, but the three in her hair popped her eyes wide and opened her mouth. From that hole came a scream that I hadn't heard the equal of since Mrs. Mosgrove got goosed by a pool cue in the Canal Zone commissary five years ago.

"Whazz that, whazz that?" muttered Larry and struggled to launch himself off the bar stool. I walked over to the bar, Patted Annieke as I went by and ambled around to the back, sadly looked at the broken bottle on the floor put there by the five o’clock rat, and shoved a clean glass and a bottle of rhum over to Larry who now was visibly starting to shake and said, "Come on, old timer, a little hair of the dog, okay?" And I poured out two fingers, looked at it for a moment, then at Larry who also was watching the glass as if it were the return of the five o'clock rat.

His hand started snaking slowly across the bar top, beating a tempo in time with his heart. My eyes went from the glass to his eyes, and I knew that he needed it badly. Then Linda let loose with another blast and before she had run out of steam, I had that glass in my hand and empty before the air had stilled.

"Awwww sheeeut," Larry said, and slid back into his chair. I felt sorry for the old guy and started to pour him a snort, then shoved the bottle into his hand and went to see to my new guest. I've been told that time cures all. Well, I'm a believer of sorts, but Linda was out to disprove me. I gave her five minutes, then extended it to ten. When there was no indication of improvement, I gave her the benefit of an hour, poured her two fingers of Mount Gay and bitters, and she seemed to be coming around.

It was another hour before I was able to show her to the cottage, as she had gone to the bar for a refill and was captured by the beauty of Annieke who seemed to ignore her staring over her shoulder. The sun was below the yard arm and locals plus several tower workers who were constructing the new 720 foot radio tower for an evangelistic radio station. I was always skeptical about These boys. Somewhere I heard that only Indians could handle those on the high steel antennas . These fellows didn't look Indian or talk like Indians, mostly coon ass I'd say. But when the booze reached their belts, they all started acting like Indians. They commenced hollering like Ms. Linda, and I began to wonder. I had always been a poor judge of character.

Office labor, as I said, was never my outstanding point. I often moved through my paper work late at night. After some time at this, just before closing time at the bar, I was able to finally put my ward, Miss Linda, to bed. I was grateful that she had already had her introduction to the roaches, as the second I hit the switch the 25-watt bulb burst into dim brilliance, the roaches came out in mass. I am sure had she been sober I would have had an entirely different pussy cat on my hands, but relaxed as she was, I just aimed her for the bed, took off her shoes, patted her on the head and bid her good night.

End 11


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Captain Don (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #239) on Sunday, July 23, 2006 - 3:27 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

©ANNIEKE number 12
by Captain don/
Bonaire na

Number 12
Wds 1156

As the week wore on, Miss Linda seemed to take well to the total informality, ate native food, sang a few Bonairian songs with our troubadour Cia Cia. Yellow Bird. Then Harriet in her flowing blue Moo Moo did a rendition of Somertime which .had every ones attention as Harriet’s performance was quit theatrical. However most attention was put to the small Boeconstrictor that she wore wrapped around her neck.

The following afternoon while trying to teach miss Linda to dive she nearly drowned me during her first lesson when she panicked and attempted to climb my frame. In the commotion my head became forced into her bosoms valley. No YMCA life saving had ever taught me the escape tricks to handle this. So I just spit out my regulator and bit her.

Percy, my mate was still living aboard the Queen heard the story and thought he could do better. However the following day while teaching miss Linda to snorkel. she was bitten by a yellow tailed damsel fish, and I was happy that it was Percy rather than I. It was her third day on island when I was working late that night. I started receiving abnormal vibrations. I have been told by some that I have ESP, Nonetheless, it was time for a patrol. I fetched my Red Rider B-B gun and went out onto the property. Several nights before, wild donkeys invaded us raising a more than a little hell, and I wanted no similar occurrence tonight.

Passing cottage #3, Miss Linda's domain, I heard a strange moaning coming from that direction.. I moved slowly crab like to her door, which was little more than a wooden frame with cheesecloth and looked in. Anything goes in this business, So I cocked my rifle and held it at the ready. "Good lord" A passing thought, one of red neck construction workers could be in there making mischief.. At the door I stood stone still and listened. It was not my right to intervene, but, I was the Captain and my duty. The moaning continued. But having been around more than most, the moaning did not sound like it came from fun.

I quickly became concerned. "Linda, Miss Linda," I called softly, and then again. Louder. Still no answer. Usually, when I walk into somewhere I didn’t belong, someone throws a shoe or something. Then I yelled, "God damn it, Linda. This is Captain Don. What the hell is going on?" Now I want to tell you that was one dumb question which left me wide open. After the second time I called, I made sure my gun was cocked and backed off and gave the door frame a swift kick . A very macho thing to do, but not so smart when barefooted. Sharp pain shot up my leg, and I accidentally pulled the trigger. A scream came from the next room. And I knew I'd shot her.

That thought terrified me, and no longer considering my safety, I threw my body against the last remnant of cheesecloth smashing through with force The inertia flung me to the floor. I lay considering my next move. Not being able to think of any, I re-cocked my rifle and lay listening. My foot was throbbing badly and was distracting me from my inspection. Now the moaning grew louder. I quickly stood looking into the darkness. Then I flipped the light switch. expecting at least enough electricity to at least; enough to light the single light 25 watt bulb. However it apparently. had gone to some other place, presumably far away because it was not present in cottage number three.

I found the lantern hanging on its nail. A box of Swedish matches stuck in the wire frame and lit the lantern. In the yellow light I saw a mound of glistening white flesh sprawled out on the cot. For a moment I couldn't take my eyes off her. Then my eyes traveled over her naked body and I was astounded at what her clothes had hidden,

Her right arm was extended over the edge of the bed and was quite rigid. I was curious and brought the lantern closer for a better look. "Awwww sheeeut! Here we go again." And I set the lantern on her chest, adjusted the flesh under the base so that the lantern wouldn't fall, and leaned back against the wall to watch. A large roach came from under the bed also to watch. Then it scampered over to the growing puddle of blood and took a sip.

"Ms Linda," I called softly. "You're dying!" I waited then said louder, "Hey, Toots, do ya hear me? You're dying." And I looked around the bathroom for a plastic waste basket to catch the blood. The floors were wooden planks and this sort of thing really made a mess. Several months ago in number sixteen there was the case of the bleeding woman. The maids had been in a frenzy. When I got to the bottom of that one, I discovered that a tourist lady had taken my gardener to bed during her time. It wasn’t voodoo at all.

My attention returned to Ms Linda. I moved over to the cot and shoved her body aside so that I could sit down. My toe hert like I had broken it. Then I brought my attention back to Ms Linda. She was, in that dim yellow light, rather attractive. Any thought of her beauty was forgotten, though, when I realized that I would have to clean up this mess myself since the maids were still pissed at me about that episode in number sixteen.

I put my mouth close to her ear. "Hey, Linda, this is ol' Captain Don telling you that you're dying. By the way, Ms Linda, who's going to bury you?" I repeated that several times before she opened an eye. That pleased me, because it showed that I was making progress. "Linda, just stopped by to say so long," and the other eye opened. I let her think on that one a while. All the while, I was measuring the amount of blood spilling into the waste basket, not a Red Cross pint yet, so I went back to telling her how she was going to die.

It was then that a roach, a big one, easily over three inches long, came over the foot of the cot. My hand shot out and I nabbed it in my palm. I could feel it clawing at my fingers, and I shook my hand, making sure I had not injured the beast in any way.

"Ms Linda, are you Catholic? If you are, then I better call the priest." Now both her eyes were not only open but staring.

Now that I had her attention, in one swift motion I plunged my hand into her exposed crotch, opening it and released the roach. Now I want to tell you that Ms Linda all of a sudden became very much alive, suicide a forgotten plan. And as she ran shrieking through the remnants of the cheese cloth front door, I couldn't help asking myself if she was enjoying her vacation
End chapter 12
- 79 -


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Captain Don (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #243) on Saturday, July 29, 2006 - 6:04 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

By Captain don/

Wds 1681

September 8 1968

I loved my old Flamingo Beach Club, though most affectionately thought of it as Zee Bad. It was the kind of place that one didn't go to, but rather wore. And I had often been quoted as saying that "It was a frame of mind, and not to be mistaken for a hotel." Had the island been a wheel, the Flamingo Beach surely would have been its hub
Annieke taking station at the head of the bar stood sentinel over all Zee Bad's happenings, both good and bad.
I saw her the other day, My Annieke. Who some called the Gouden Verrader,. I, like many others had quite a crush on her, and I wondered if she remembered me. From our many meetings. I put the question directly to her ear, one day, then waited. I watched for a sliver of a smile. for a nod of recognition, but none came. I backed away from her in utter disappointment, and just as I was turning to leave, I saw, mind you, just from the corner of my eye, I saw her wink at me.

That made me feel great. Six years we had been together, six long and interesting years, and turning and went back to her. Then at her side, I put my back comfortably against the bar and talked to her softly so as not to disturb the guests. Even then, eyebrows climbed foreheads, and a step in their stride was missed. But I was with an old friend, and I didn't really give a damn for them.....I was off duty.

We reminisced of old friends. The Aad Michel's, the Jimmie Olieman's and many others no longer with us. The crazy tower workers down at the salt flats, my trusting friend Larry who owned a boat with me, the guys who built the pier, the Zinky Smith's and their bull dozers, and the guys who built the new tourist roads. All those who put the blood in the Zee Bad's veins. I asked her if she recalled a Cowboy Royce, and I thought she was going to dislodge herself from the stem of the bar. That made me laugh, and a passing guest bolt ahead to get out of harm's way.
"Remember the Cowboy, do you?" and the bar vibrated,. Only an emotional tremor I thought. Old Cowboy, what a rascal he was, built short and tempered like a spring. Can't ever recall seeing him without his plastic hat on and wondered if he slept in it. If it wasn't Peggy, his wife, who might have belted him, as I'm sure she had every right, or a salt truck that might have run over his head. I often told him I thought he had a deformed head under that plastic cap. He would spring up on his toes, give me a cocky Floridian grin and say, "I'll betcha!" One such time, out of the clear blue. He said "I'll betcha!" Seven years at Zee Bad had conditioned me so that nothing was ever really a surprise. So I asked him, "What?" mostly because I was an inn keeper trying to be polite.

"Ebo can whap ya." Now I was surprised. "Whap me, , why in the hell would Ebo want to whap me?" (Whap, in his language, meant beat me.) "Because I said so!" and I looked over at the bar top to see how many empty Amstels were there in front of him. Ebo was at the cash register and looked over at me with a 'hende bai loco' expression on his face.

"Oke!" I prodded. "Beat me at what? What are we going to play?" "Not play," Cowboy roared. "Race. You and Ebo are going to race around the Klein Bonaire. Well now I thought, that's an idea. Ebo's boat the Vilia is a super boat but our Sislin had a history. Cowboy never ceased to amaze me. That late afternoon before the green flash the bar regulars had been baited. Aad Michel, Jimmy Olieman and others scheduled the race for September 8th. There were still several weeks to prepare.

It seemed pure madness to pit a local island boy like Ebo against a renowned deep water sailor such as myself.. There was little hope for Ebo from the beginning, I thought, but the betting opened in earnest with ten cases of beer. The bar became feverish as the wager grew to twenty-seven cases had to think about that for a moment. How it became an odd number I never fully understood. I looked over at Ebo again who smiled that wonderful smile of his and shrugged his shoulders.

"Oke, you're on," and a cheer went up at the bar that had now become packed. The loyalties of friends, family, and neighbors were being split at that moment. There was no question that Ebo and the Vilia were the favored team. It made me feel unwanted until Larry Thielgard came in and heard of the bet. 10 more cases in favor of the Sislin. Of course it must be realized that Larry was half owner of the Sislin, and was partial to our own small ship.

By midnight the bets were running frantic, 27 cases of beer were on the docket when the betting was closed at midnight. More important things had to be done. Secret sails made. Ballast trimmed and checked. Crew lists made. Shrouds tightened. Bottoms scrubbed. And most important, the designing of the flags.

By day two, enthusiasm was running high, and the date was firmed for the coming Sunday, Sept the 8th. I was happy to see that more Bonaireans began to have confidence in their old Captain Don, just in from the seven seas. Surely he knew all there was about sailing because his boat was so big. Yet on the other hand, some shyly said, Ebo knows the waters. I should have paid more attention to that.

It seemed that all was in readiness, except for one small detail. The rules! There was no question that we were to circle Klien Bonaire, and that was it. Which direction?, How to start? And where to finish?

"The Rules!" I kept screaming. "What are the rules?" The bar went quiet, and Annieke waited. All of us looked at Cowboy and waited. Then he sprang off the bar stool, landing on his toes and hollered, "THERE ARE NO RULES!" I looked at Ebo, who registered nothing. Then the both of us, looked at Cowboy Royce and roared Ebo and I having fun did sit and made our own rules.

Sunday, the 8th the pier and shore line was gathered with cheering spectators and the curious. It was to be a fisherman’s start, anchors down, main sails up. A shout from the pier hollered, "Go!" and the free for all was on. No jumping from boat to boat, no setting of secret anchors, but pushing was permitted Anchor lines tangled with jib sheets as crews fell over sacks of ballast. "Around Klein Bonaire clock wise," Ebo called, "Finish by touching the row boat," which could be anywhere hanging form the pier on a long rope..

Before the wind we flew, secret sails all pulling. Down the long side of the island, around the corner, then suddenly no sign of Ebo. Then across the back side, and still no Ebo. "He sank," I screamed. Then another corner and into the eye of the wind, hard tacking, but no matter. The race was easily mine. The Vilia couldn’t be seen anywhere. I really felt sorry for Ebo, relaxed, drank a beer, and slowly headed for the row boat that had been tied to the pier with a long piece rope.

Then... out from a shadow, some place near the water plant, the Vilia materialized with a bone in her teeth and coming down fast. My crew screamed for more speed, and I hardened the main sail, hoping for that, but my Sislin sluggishly moved forward like a slow motion dream.

Only fifty meters, and the race would be mine... Then a shadow closed over that little row boat, and I was staring at the stern of the Vilia and that damned big smile of Ebo Domacasse.

The fishermen soon became serious, and we raced almost every weekend. Seagull, Vilia, Eagle, Sislin, and a boat that I have forgotten. Always beer for the winner and cheap rum for the loser. A carnival attitude developed, and people wanted to spend money, have fun, drink beer, dance, and snack on cheap sandwiches, till dawn.

Larry, my boat partner, was also active in the Lions Club. A natural, the Regatta became a Lions project. I still made sandwiches, sold a lot of beer, and we all danced all night. Few ever remember, or even knew why, but the Regatta saved the Month of October for the old Flamingo Beach. Without the Regatta’s coin, she could have never made the October payroll.

The fun of the old racing starts and the free for all tradition has somehow become lost in our modern ways, and our fishermen are all but forgotten. However, Ebo and I, still true to the sea, did the Thirtieth Regatta together today, this time both aboard the same boat. The Committee Boat.

The Regatta’s 25 th Anniversary in 1992

Was a contributing part of Capt'n Don's 30 Year Anniversary celebration. The Amstel beer people in Curacao designed a special label for exactly 27 commemorative cases of their beer. It was intended to sell these special bottles during three major parties. That may in itself seem a simple task, selling 648 bottles of beers during these parties. but to sell them for $12.50 each when the going price was $1.70 in town for cold ones! The profits were split between the old folks home, and the 60 Plus, of which I just happen to be a member. Part of the attraction was that Ebo, and I, his worthy adversary, actually auto -graphed each of those 648 labels.. After all, we were the founders of this mad sea going folly.

End 13


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Susan (Extraordinary BonaireTalker - Post #1631) on Sunday, July 30, 2006 - 10:15 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Captain Don,

How funny is this? Yesterday I pulled out my (autographed) copy of your book "The Adventures of Captain Don - Tales of Bonaire Diving (guaranteed 85% true)" and reread this same story - though you've added the ending and how it's become a tradition, now.

Susan (hoping to see you at Habitat in September!)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By "RAY" Wickham (Extraordinary BonaireTalker - Post #1022) on Sunday, July 30, 2006 - 6:41 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

sorry to point this out Cap'n Don but Chapter 10 is missing!!!

otherwise another great story, which I've just caught up with too


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Freddie {Moderator} (Moderator - Post #211) on Sunday, July 30, 2006 - 7:59 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Don if you would just put #10 as the next post I will,happily place it for you in the correct place..


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Captain Don (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #250) on Tuesday, August 1, 2006 - 3:08 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Afternoon, Freddie. This has happened before. My bookkeeping is rather good. However mij Mac tells that mij transmission has flown. Had a bad time with Sea Trauma. I have been called down several times for missed materials. Problem is I never double- check. Another lesson. And by the by. many thanks for your guidance in the past.

Now for you, Suzan. Please pay attention. I have written hundreds of stories. For people just like your 'Dushi' self. Now I saw an opportunity to tell the modern tourist a great little story of a doll. A figure head if you must.

To-day the modern Divi hasn't the wildest of how it started. So.... and if I duped on a story, play it cool, mij love, and let's keep a secret. huh!

See you come September. Hey I have no idea what you look like, Me I look an aging Errol Flynn. So who are you any ways. Put on a chest pin. I AM SUZAN. or clutch a rose between your teeth.



Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Susan (Extraordinary BonaireTalker - Post #1633) on Tuesday, August 1, 2006 - 4:21 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Captain Don - I was only saying that it was a coincidence, the same story. :-)

And I'm hurt you don't remember me... When Geoffrey - I mean Steve - and I even came to visit you the last time we were on Bonaire, and Geoffrey - I mean Steve - showed you some good exercises to help your leg... :-) :-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Captain Don (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #252) on Saturday, August 5, 2006 - 6:30 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

ANNIEKE Number 15
a story
by Captain don/

Wds 2150

Regatta time, always a bag of fun. Over worked. Under paid. More people on island than since the previous October, the magic month of our sailing regatta. I had the duty in the bar and it was jumping, mainly with young Dutch Marines. They were fun, demanding, cheap and noisy. Marines per se, were nothing new to me. During the 1940’s I had spent several years in their company, although mine were Yanks, of course. We Navy men called them jar heads in those days. One would have thought I would have become accustomed to their barbaric behavior and bragging. For most, their loud mouth skylarking was hot air. However, sometimes there was some truth to their claims of heroism and valor, so I was always attentive.

For instance, several years ago, at this very same bar, I entertained a similar group of Marines who were openly boasting about their prowess with dynamite and explosives. I suggested a trade off. "You blow up my reefs, and I’ll throw you one hellova party and pick up the tab," never thinking they would take my offer. However, a month later a half dozen of them showed up with a Captain, a box of dynamite, primer cord fuses, and a permit from the police.

"Get the beer cold," ordered the Captain, "and get your tourists off the beach and under cover."

The reef that I had targeted was shallow rubble at the water line across the entire front of our small beach and from the shore line out into about six feet of water. Everybody was very excited and put great distance between them selves and the targeted reef. "Shoot!" said the Captain, and a column of white water jumped five or so feet into the air; there was no noise, only a whomp, just a simple whomp, and now it was my obligation to set the date for the party and hope that the head count would be reasonable. At any cost I was now able to build a perfect beach where I could have never done it before had it not been for the Dutch Marines.

Watching these young Marines go about their business took me back to my Service days. War demanded killing, wounds, and severe cases of the clap, and to service this, the United States Navy invented the Hospital Corps. The men who served in this division were called Hospital Corpsmen, Pharmacist’s Mates, or simply "Doc." And, because, for whatever reason, the United States Marines had never gotten around to creating their own medical corps, they borrowed their medics from the Navy. These guys were called Fleet Marines, or again, just plain Doc. They wore the same uniform, could field strip an M-1, and died just as fast as any of the others when a bullet jumped through their heads. However, there were some perks, for example, pure grain alcohol, morphine, and, of course, the nurses. The downside was serving with a bunch of guys who still called us corpsmen faggots, that is, until some sharp bullet poked a hole in them. Then we were their Father confessors and their mothers as they screamed, "Hey Doc!"

In 1942 I attended medical school in San Diego, a three months crash course which made me a Medical Doctor, Navy version. That was a tough year. Over 75% of my graduating class were instantly transferred to the Fleet Marines and whisked away to play in the tropical blue waters of the Pacific. I felt very much left out, figuring that my classmates were the lucky guys. They got to visit all the beautiful tropical islands of the Pacific- Bougainville, Rebul, Tarawa, then off to play on the beaches of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. There was a lot of bitching from these guys because they never got to visit Guadalcanal. Left behind, I had to listen to all of the adventures and exploits of my gold bricking Jar Heads when they passed through my sick bay.

Then I brought my attention back to the young Marines lining my bar and chug-a-lugging boilermakers. I marveled to myself how much they were like the kids I had spent my youth with, young and full of piss and vinegar. I knocked back a shot of Geniver ( Dutch Gin) took their applause and looked at the empty shot glass thinking, "God, that was only twenty nine years ago." As I studied these wild ass kids, it seemed the only difference between the Yanks and the Dutch was the length of their hair and all that pubic- like hair that was sprouting from the ends of their chins. Vocal cords and grand exuberance were identical

I had traded my Sickbay for the Flamingo Beach Club bar but resumed the station of listening and tending to spiritual wounds. Our fourth sailing Regatta was in full swing and most of these hot shot boys represented Curaçao and its Sunfish class. A Sunfish was a 12 foot surf board with a sail. slender dagger board keel, and a rudder. It was considered a very fast boat. They had come from our sister island of Curaçao enmass to teach us Bonaire sailors a thing or two about sailing. That was what they said, anyway.

I put out a suggestion. "Just for the fun of it, why don’t you boys race amongst yourselves back to Curaçao after the Regatta is over?" I watched for reactions. "Besides, it would save your loading all your boards back onto the barge. Finish the Regatta, have a few more beers and charge off into the blue to prove who is really the best sailor amongst you."

Poking a sharp stick into a dead bee hive would have created a better stir. They were all talking fast, in Dutch, of course, hands and arms in motion matching their jaws. I had been pushed off the road and onto the shoulder, but it was evident that a soggy fuse had been lit.

The week passed. Regatta was over, prizes and trophies claimed, and I was glad that no attempt had been made to steal our Gulden Verader. (Story 32) Come the morn of the following day, I was at the main pier buying vegetables from the Venezuelan fruit boats that berthed on the same pier as the Navy barge. I saw dozens of Sunfish on board, stacked high and ready for the return trip to Curacao. Damn, I was one pissed off fellow. I really had expected more. This was not the first time that I had been egging them on to make the trip. Only forty some miles, no big deal, and all downwind too. "Well," I thought, "there is always next year. Maybe I can provoke some Dutch courage amongst these young bravos."

Then the penny dropped, and I knew exactly how to goad these guys into a race. I would make the trip myself. I didn’t have a Sunfish, but did l have a smaller version called a Scorpion. It was plastic, had the same sail area as the Sunfish, missing the weight required to hold it down in the water for serious sailing, but not a bad boat at all. It didn’t take me long to make up my mind to do the skit, and I started putting things together just as soon as I returned to the Flamingo. All I had to do was make the trip, set a record and challenge my young Curaçao Marines to best me.

November 13th 1971
I was ready. Every afternoon for a week I had practiced knocking the Scorpion down then righting it with skill and hurriedly climbing back on board before the sharks could get me. All this training, of course, was done just in front of the Club where we didn’t allow sharks. I had made an extra long dagger board, thinking I might need additional stabilization when I entered the open ocean that existed between the islands. I had Mars bars for energy, matches, and cigarettes to provide nicotine for courage, all individually packaged in plastic bags which I had secured to the lip of the small cockpit along with several squeeze bottles of water. My compass was a small wrist band device worn by divers to give them general direction. It was better that having to shoot a sun azimuth, and I was happy to have it.

For myself. I had a rubber bathing suit, an abundance of baby oil, and a water-ski life jacket. Percy was in charge of the chase boat. The rules were simple. I must make the trip solo without aid or assistance of any kind unless there was a shark attack. The chase boat was to stay well astern of me and just follow. If Venezuela was where I was heading to, then so be it. "Just follow the Scorpion" was the order. I had practiced napping while stretched out on the bottom of the boat, and as far as I was concerned, I was ready to round the Horn.

As far as Percy was concerned, he was happy to get in some good fishing while making the crossing. Percy and I had been together long enough for him to cease wondering at anything this crazy Gringo might do.
The plan was a bit hurried. Police, Immigration and Customs all had to be notified and asked for approval. Keep in mind, a Gringo kid departing one island and hopefully entering another required paper work which could not be overlooked. Too, this little plastic twelve foot plank required the identical departure papers as a five hundred foot cruise ship with a 226 person crew or a freighter with tons of cargo deep in the hold. All this made life fun in planning for this very special trip.

There was much speculation around the club as to the outcome of this trip. Some thought Flamingo would be needing a new manager while others had hope and calculated that I would make it, but that it might be well into the night before I raised the lights of Curaçao. I didn’t give any of these wild speculations much thought. I only knew that the target island lay to the West about forty three miles, that there were big waves in mid channel which was full of sharks, that the wind would not change direction, and if I got started early enough, I should raise the little Curaçao lighthouse before sun set. My prime concern was that the boat didn’t fall apart. I envisioned all the seams opening up when the glue melted in the sun. I also hoped that I had taken enough Mars bars for fast energy in case Percy’s boat sank and I had to drag them all over to my Scorpion then swim back to Bonaire for help. Anyhow, I counted on Percy who was there to be my back up in his big fishing boat.

Several seamen hanging around the bar, when looking at my diver’s compass questioned its accuracy. I held it up for their examination and told them, "Look! See that big W and notice that it is pointing in that direction where the sun is setting. That, my friend is West, and under that setting sun is the island of Curaçao. It’s a big long thing and something that I could never miss. "

They agreed, but countered, "What if you see it when you are heading straight for the middle ? Those iron shore cliffs will grind you to sausage in less than ten minutes."
Well, quite frankly, that was a disturbing thought. "Ten minutes, they said. I know those shore lines and ten minutes was an over estimate. Try five would be more like it. Then I thought to myself. "I gotta talk to Percy about this possibility." Anyhow, all things were go. I stopped at the bar for a quick night cap and to spend a few minutes with Miss Annieke. She had watched the thing from the beginning and I sincerely hope that she was in agreement with my scheme. Perhaps she might have been a bit jealous because she had never set a worlds record because she had always sailed in the known sailing routes. Ebo smiling, knowing the ways poured a few drops of rum into a bottle cap and handed it to me. I wet my finger tip in the rum and rubbed across the lips of Annieke. Kisser her on the cheek and went to bed confident that the world’s record would be mine. A crossing on such a small boat had never been done before, so it had to be a record. Gee Whiz! based on all the comments, one would think I was going over the Niagara Falls squatting in the cockpit of my speedy little Scorpion.

End of 15.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Captain Don (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #255) on Sunday, August 6, 2006 - 1:03 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

I tell stories. A historian if you must. I have been with a million people since. Well just since. and half of these were (are) woman.

Now for those called Suzan, Why there must have been hundreds. Little ones. Big one. round and flat. Some rich, some poor, and just because you are married to a guy name Steve what makes you think that I should remember you???

You were at my Home... Farm... Hotel,, then which one which one? Or how about Hollywood on Wilshire Blvd.. Mexico maybe,, I knew a of of girls named Suzan in Panama. Most of them working at the Villa amour. Aboard my schooner which was totally crewed by handsome ladies many called Sue.

When I was in Japan in 1946 I met many Suzans there. I knew an Eskimo in Alaska who called her self Sue. That was short of Suzan. Eskimo's always cut their word's short.

Suzan, you sound just like a girl that I would enjoy knowing.

Leave Steve at home, and,, the long stemmed rose,, Remember??.

Just call me Errol/


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Captain Don (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #256) on Wednesday, August 9, 2006 - 2:12 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

By Captain don/
Bonaire na'

New Horizions
Un edited
Wds 1927

November 14th 1971
I had a disturbed sleep. I had opted not to work the bar, left Ebo to do the closing and went to bed early. A bad thing to break a habit just before doing something special. I suffered a loss of concentration, a loss of sleep, and even a niggling headache. In any event my feet were on the deck at 0430 hours and I was ready to go a few minutes later.

Everything had been in preparedness and all that I had to do was wait for Percy and the Customs and Immigration people. Being on an island with a Dutch heritage, everything was prompt, which was somewhat different from the other island to the northeast where if the officials showed at all, it would have been most likely close to sunset. I ate a light breakfast, drank several coffees, opened the front doors of the main building, said my farewell to the Gulden Verader, and marched down to the beach where Ms. Scorpion patiently waited. Immigration and Customs were there, tapping their feet and looking at their watches. Percy and some of his friend were drifting around off shore in their wallowing boat, waiting. My God, I was late. It was 0555 hours.

Perhaps ten people of assorted nationalities gathered above the water line on that solemn beach. There was no jubilee well wishing in that very silent place. I pushed the board out into the water, stepped the mast, pushed down the rudder, and inserted my secret dagger board into its slot. I looked at the sky, tested the wind with my finger, confirming that it was from the East as it had been for the last two thousand years and watched the spectators as I oiled my body and donned the ski vest. I adjusted the wrist band holding the compass, studied it for a moment, confirming the big W was indeed pointing in the Curaçao direction, the sunset side of the globe, and eased myself onto the deck of the board, tucking my feet into the little cockpit, then drifted several dozen feet away from the beach and pointed up into the wind, watching the Immigration officer who was studying his watch. Then he said, "Awor" (now) and looked at me a little impatiently and in English said, "Go."

I hardened the sheet and the bow fell off toward the southern end of the island. The Scorpion gathered speed as I drew away from the shelter of the island. By the time I ventured several miles off shore, the chop had turned into waves. Shallow waves, not more than several feet high. With the sun came more wind, and I felt myself moving as if really in a seaway. I was still heading in a south western direction, banking that the wind would make a slight southerly shift, guaranteeing me a comfortable reach as I shot for the little Curaçao light house, which was a super tall phallus symbol, something like Coyt tower in San Francisco. "Go West, young man," was my desire, and if I were lucky, the tower would be the first thing I sighted somewhere around eleven o:clock. That was just left of center, just off my port bow. Boy, was I ever optimistic.

At about 0700 hours, still moving swiftly and getting deeper into the proper run of the sea, I reckoned that I had made enough south to put myself into position for a straight shot at the light house. I had lost the protection of the southern end of Bonaire and felt as if I was entering the stream of the roaring forties. The hollow between the wave tops got deeper, the wind commenced whistling across the tops, jumping me forward each time I crested a wave, driving me down the back side of the wave I had just climbed. Then the board, with no lifting quality in the nose, buried itself in the back of the next wave, sending me pitch poling. (somersaulting) only to arrive on the top of the wave upside down with the mast pointing at the bottom of the sea.

Well, I had rather expected something like this and hoped I would figure out how to beat this inconvenience. The one thing I hadn’t thought of was a non buoyant bow. My wonderful Queen was just as bad in a deep seaway sea. A man could have drowned just walking to her rail for a pee because of no floatation forward. But both my Queen and my Scorpion sure were maneuverable in a moderated sea. I gave myself just two minutes to solve that diving bow problem. If I didn’t, there wouldn’t be a third minute.

The waves got bigger, the troughs deeper, the wind driving me like a piece of loose Styrofoam. When the skill was finally learned, it was painstakingly slow. I would ride the wave until I was perched on top, surf for some yards then start down into the frothing trough, and just at the moment the bow was to tuck (dig in), I would slam down the tiller, sliding the board down and into the back of the next wave. Of course I lost all foreward motion, but I didn’t do the pitch poling trick. When on top again, I would quickly look for the tower, then jump ahead like I had afterburners, then down the wall and into the trough again. This went on for hours. No Mar’s bars, no smokes, and if I was lucky, a suck on the water bottle.

I was aware of Percy cruising around behind me somewhere, keeping to the rules and for the most part totally ignoring me. Fish were his game, and I came along as extra fun and to "pick up all expenses."
When I entered the mid channel, the crests became higher, further apart, and the troughs even deeper. I saw nothing but water and occasionally the compass. As far as I was concerned, I was beating around the Horn and Curaçao was forgotten. I was half expecting Rio to show on the horizon. Well Sugar Loaf never did materialize, but the Little Curaçao light did, almost where my navigation said it would be. On the horizon but 45 degrees to the right. I had to bend to look under the boom to see it. Christ, I was on course for Caracas, Venezuela. I looked around for Percy and spotted him about half a mile behind me, sitting on the cabin top just watching me. Well, he was playing by the rules. At least I wasn’t on a crash course with the iron shores and their meat grinding cliffs.

The weather had been kind, the usual trade wind that tasseled my hair, at twenty knots not quite enough to blow me off my boat. I had been watching a cloud mass which had been gathering in the East, some distance behind my faithful watch dog. This time of year I normally paid little attention to these running squalls, but often I learned that there was more than just rain inside these guys. As with a Kansas twister, one never really knew what was going on until it was drilling holes in the back yard.

Percy goosed his wallowing yacht up behind me, really the closest he had come to me since the trip started. Cupping his hands, he shouted,

" Wanna quit?" and looked over his shoulder and pointed at the advancing swirling dark gray mass of turbulence. He held out his arms with the palms of his hands up, meaning last chance, now or never, because in the confusion of a squall he would never be able to get me and my board hauled up onto his boat. He shrugged, and I gave him the finger. He laughed and must have felt shitty asking me such a dumb question. It was not as if we hadn’t had some history together.

I looked at the candy bars hanging in their plastic bags on the lip of the cockpit and wondered if I would ever slow down enough to get a free hand long enough to pick one of those delectable yummies for lunch. My left hand was full of pulling sheet and my right hand was on the tiller. Then the squall front dropped on me like a wet hair dryer gone mad. I really didn’t take time to note, but the wind actually seem to flatten the sea, and I was able to fly over the wave tops without having to do my sliding down every wave thing as I had been doing for the last several hours.

The balance of the trip was a piece of cake. The squall must have taken me a mile or so before it ran off to some other place in the sea. As I slid in to the lee of the east point of Curaçao, I was greeted by a small fleet of yachts. They stayed well back until I had crossed the finish line at Santa Barbara Beach, then clustered around me with beer and cigarettes, but I still had all the Mars bars waiting to be eaten. Rudy Dovale, an old friend, came alongside with his long, fancy ocean going speed boat, congratulated me, took many photos, handed me a beer and invited me to spend the night at his house. But I want to tell you that I was burnt like crisp bacon. Next time, a tee shirt, and for god’s sake, no oil!

Keep in mind this was November 1971. For the next twelve and a half years there was a succession of attempts made to beat my 6 hour 5 minute record. The shame was that never in all those years was there to be a Marine who made the attempt. I had, in a manner of speaking, wasted my time inventing such a skit as I had. Then In March of 1984 news reached me that two Dutchmen had sailed their Sunfishes from Curaçao, to Little Curaçao, then on to Bonaire. That had to be one helluva trip, and I set out to find these two who were some place on Bonaire . I found them in a bar, telling sea stories to their cronies. I invited them to Habitat for more beers and to show them the famous Rudy Dovale Trophy then smoothly asked, " Want to try for this thing? Just jump on over to Curaçao with your Sunfish under your arm and do it faster than I did and it’s yours."

Alex Rose, the taller of the two, and Wim van der Gulik, maybe the older, bearded, and looking every much the part of a seaman, agreed to take a shot at it. They told me there would be no official timekeeper and asked if I would trust their word on the time of the crossing. These guys weren’t Marines. There was nothing bravo about these two at all. Instinctively, I trusted them. "OK boys, there’s the cup," and I pointed to the Dovale Cup that was missing one ear. " Go for it, and if you take it, always remember there will be someone behind you wanting to give it a new home."

End 16


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Captain Don (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #258) on Friday, August 11, 2006 - 3:23 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

by Captain don/
Bonaire na.
Wds 2505


This is the last episode of mij story of Bonaire’s wonderful Annieke
Thank you for reading me. I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed the story with as much enthusiasm as I have had living it.
Augusto 2006

May 1972
Karpata, A word in the Caribi Indian language meaning cockroach. It means ‘tic’ in Papiamentu. Also is the name of a large plantation that produced aloe during the 1800’s. and it further calms to be the land lord of a small cove on the sea shore where exists a most fantastic reef system of all Bonaire .It also is the name of this story.

This chapter is my swan song of my final days at the old Camp. The Flamingo Beach Club, my au revoir to Annieke aka, the Gulden Verader. My many friends from over the years. The things that I had built with no more than a bent nails and a tangle of wire. Almost ten years gone A new owner had taken the reins,

I suppose that that it shouldn’t have been a shock, But when Bogart my off island boss handed me an envelope one afternoon not long ago. My first thought was of joy. Ten years of busting my butt for his Flamingo only like a Nanny with never so much as a thanks. I really never expected it from his wife, however thought he might be giving me a pat on the back. Now a sealed envelope, My god, a bonus, a check, or fat with bills. I stood straight and tall as he handed me the envelope. I fumbled for words. "John, you shouldn’t have,,, "He looked at me unsmilingly then turned and walked away leaving me alone with the envelope clutched in my hand.

l looked down at it as if it might be alive. It felt it heavy, surly not a check, but thick and heavy like hard currency. My heart now thumping I pressed back against the wall and eagerly dug at the seem, when the folds fell open,Well! Maybe not money,,, but it was worth a great deal. A packet of one way tickets back to San Francisco. Maybe he was not such a bad guy after all. I could have swum back you know!

This afternoon’s arrival were very important because Joe Strykowski a hot shot YMCA instructor was bringing in a small group of divers from the Chicago area to take a look at what Bonaire had to offer, "A week of fantastic diving" is what I had promised. For some time it had been my intention to open the cove of Karpata as a new dive site. I had only been waiting for the best opportunity this group that is if all went well. Could be just the guy’s to commemorate the site. I also, a little selfish perhaps but was looking forward to polishing my operational functions. We were the best of course simply because we were the only diver here about.

The Flamingo Beach Club’s diving operation was only Ebo and myself. As said, we were the only operation on island. Had the only air compressor and what little diving gear there was. Further we had the best knowledge of the reefs and exactly what each had l to offer.. Ebo was certified NAUI basic and me, a self certified,. Captain Don Diver, more a blessing than a certification.

I had eagerly been looking forward to meeting this fellow Joe for a long time. I knew him through the Dacor Diving Equipment Co. which was located just outside Chicago The Principles had done some dives with us and I got to know them quite well. And it was through them that I had heard of this fellow Joe Strykowski.

Joe, I understand had authored a book on diving called ‘Diving for fun." 1969.’ A publication which might have been sponsored by the Dacor people, I really wanted to meet this guy. Further I wanted a copy of that book. Up till now we island divers had nothing in writing concerning the sport. I wanted to know more about those gas the laws that some of my divers were talking about.

The truth is I had been winging this diving thing since the beginning. Thinking back, I frequently wondered how Percy and I had ever gotten away with it. The real horror was I was teaching diving and awarding my students with the certification of Captain Don’s Divers. Nothing wrong with that but the course was rather inadequate. I taught my student how to swim like a shark. Dive as if hey were born with Finn’s and a tank on their back. I was good and my students exlant ,,, however their theory was rather weak.

Joe’s people arrived late that afternoon well before sunset. The group was small, maybe eight or ten divers, which was considerable in those days. I got them registered and quickly shown to their cottages. There still was plenty of light and I wanted them to get into the water for a little snorkeling as soon as possible. The reef just off shore front of the Club was exlant, a good reef and a fine example of things to come. Afterwards cocktails on the veranda over looking our water front then spending a little time with them making small talk then off to a special dinner. Special, meaning just a little better than the usual, Joe’s people weren’t the first group I had ever serviced but certainty were amongst the pioneers.

Concerning dinner that night with effort I kept fish off the menu. My slogan for that was "I wouldn’t eat any thing from the sea if nothing from the sea will eat me." Well that was nice. But I was amazed at how many barbaric divers and some close friends sought fish on the menu and were more than just a little pissed at me once they heard me say. To eat a fish was an act of cannibalization. Well it was an opinion.

After dinner moments amongst diving folks were usually spent getting the gear ready for the morning dive. Listing to my instructions which I called the "reading of the article." An expression left over from my sailing days. Now days we call it "the orientation. "The evening was moving into night, Joe’s people with jet lag to the last, said their good nights and I was left wandering around. Talking to the staff and finding my self a castaway with out a single chore to do.

Unlike when Bogart was owner of the club and I had to pay for the booze I consumed. Things became drastically changed in that respect. With the new owner whom I shall call Alberto, I no longer had to pay for any thing from the bar. Which was rather a relief because he had imported a hefty rough looking lady from Bogota. That’s in Colombia. She I discovered had numerous functions.

Further, to make my job easier I was released from any say over operations. nor any management dissections of the policies that I had established over the last nine years. Alberto said he was the owner but in truth I sensed there were others involved. He told me that he also owned the island of Klien Bonaire. I never really discover who he was. But at this time of no real importance, none the less, I felt he kept me around only for two reasons. To maintain the club membership, talk American English to the guest from the states. And the secondly to attend to the diving end of the business.

I had nothing to do with the clubs new stable of young Colombian girls. The haughty lady at the cash register took care of that. God,,, The music with murmuring and laughter in Spanish, English and Papiamentu forgotten I thought I was back at the Vila Amour in Panama. I feeling that engulfed me like a purple cape.

Earlier that afternoon. Before Joe’s people had arrived. Alfredo drug me over to the office. He demanded to know what those And he pointed to Mrs. Harvey who was just rounding a corner the main building carrying a floor lamp. He was on the verge of screaming. Which I found to me a normal trait with him.

I tried to stop her and she said the light was hers.’ Small traces of spittle wee forming on his lips. And I knew he was on the verge of going in to a fit. I was becoming accustoms to this. All his rant and rage could not back me down. I would not have tolerated that under any other curcumstatance. He was ripping a love right out of my heart. " Pacing my words I told him that the lamp was the property of Mrs. Harvey, as so many of the other items in the club house belonged to people who loaned ‘good things’ to the club simply because we could not afford them.

The cold hard fact was that I had been selling the newest business in the world while Alberto intended selling the oldest. I was no kid, I had been around and I was no longer wet behind the ears so what the ladies really did didn’t bother me, but when Kevin, my thirteen year old Welsh son fell madly in love with a sixteen year old Colombian hooker the writing was on the wall,,, and the time had come to move on.

I had to be an ass whole because I just would accept that I was all over and just wouldn’t lay down. There was no way in a million years that I could remain and continue building as I had. We were the best, a great little family resort that focused vacations on the sea. and I could see it coming to an end.

Nothing wrong with whores. They’ve been a round longer that I had.. Nothing wrong with folks from Columbia. But when you put all that together and put it all into my Flamingo with a blue haired piano player then things weren’t so good. I didn’t belong here any more, and just couldn’t seem get it into my thick head.

The bar was not busy, some of the old bar fly’s still hanging around Some I knew and others I had never seen before. I watched Alberto get into a row with a fisherman who, before the girls never would have entered the club. Came in bare footed and got run out.. Then later faces I knew from the island elite started showed up. considering, I was really surprised as I knew their wives and kids. It is amazing what a smiling naughty girl can bring out of a man.

This is one night that I should have avoided the bar at all cost. There never was any secret about my bar habits. good and bad. Basically I was a happy drinker seldom drunk. Good jokes. pats on the back . Just a good old boy,,, Though really not so old, but good. This night disproved all that. I was no longer a good old boy. The venom of hate which flooded my vanes spilt as if a picture had been kicked over The anger of watching my wonderful old Flamingo succumb to a stable of whores was just more than I could take.

Alberto was at the far side of the bar with some new friends while I sat on opposite side. My beers had gone to gin tonics and gin tonics to whisky and ice, and all that was needed was the catalyst. And when it came it was in the form of a snide remark made by a redneck tourist. It involved the girls, the madam and my mother. Now my mom has been gone a long time but still? There is no way that I can recall in what order it was delivered but it must have been out of sink because it fused my powder keg. The fur flew. As did a dozen dirty words. A chair fell to the floor and the bar tender looked up.

Alberto quicker than I would have expected from his chubby body materialized between the redneck and me. That I think is when I went a little bit crazy. As if by magic Alberto became target. I felt my fish sink into soft flesh then surprisingly his knuckles found my forehead. We went down. Me on top, him on top and bad words commenced to fly.

To observer it might have appeared that a school yard tussle was in process. Out of the bar, in to the sitting room, down a flight of step into an alcove. Behind the front desk and finally into the office He was on his knees hands tight on the combination knob of the safe. His cousins held me back. I fought forward, they pulled me back some more and kicked him in the face and he fell away from the safe. Again he went for the knob, holding he side of the safe for support and he spun the knob in seriousness. I struggled forward some more and kicked him on the side of the head again. I was desperate. Because I knew that in that box was his defense. A small, flat, 25 caliber automatic.

I was a sorry thing to see the following morning. So much I had built lay scattered about. I was pleased that Joe and his people didn’t have to see that mess. I greeted them at the restaurant, which was a separate building the following morning at seven thirty. We had a fine breakfast to start the day. I slipped out around the back and a took a bit of the hair of the dog. ‘Got the ton and a half old blue Dodge loaded with gear and after the dive treats. A case of beer, and rolled on out of driveway heading north for the undersea surprises of Karpata.

If I showed sign’s of a tussle on no one made mention. Alberto that afternoon never spoke of the fight. Any more than I ever patronized that bar again. On May first 1972 I gather the last of my belongings and walked to a waiting auto. I turned and looked at the tall proud mast of my Valerie Queen standing sentinel in the center of the Flamingos garden.

Joe inscribed his book to me as he and his group departed for home.

‘For Don Stewart. A truly civilized citizen of the underwater world
Best Personal regards. Joe Stryiowski. May 1972"

My karma took me to the beach of the of that other hotel. Actually the only other one on island which had been dormant due to bankruptcy for just over a year. It was to be a brand new future for the both of us, the hotel and I. as on June first 1972 the Caribbean saw the birth of a new and exciting venture of under sea tourism.

Aquaventure was to become the pioneer of many new and wonderful things to influence the world of sport diving.

‘ And Joe’s book , well it was to become our bible.

Captain don/


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chet Wood (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #679) on Saturday, August 12, 2006 - 7:30 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Captain Don Stuart,
Thank You!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Susan (Extraordinary BonaireTalker - Post #1646) on Saturday, August 12, 2006 - 8:33 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Captain Don,
I've gone past the Divi a number of times but never noticed: is the mast of the Valerie Queen still there in the garden? And Annieke, where is she now?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Captain Don (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #260) on Saturday, August 12, 2006 - 3:51 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Suzan. you are just a bag of questions.

Firstly. a schooner has two or more mast. So the mast you recall seeing was a mast, not the total mast from mij ship. However It was one of the mast and was 20 feet shorter than when it was working.

Ahhhh! Annieke. You didn't know Suzan, she was abducted by the Dutch Marines.

That's all folks.!.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Captain Don (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #261) on Saturday, August 12, 2006 - 4:02 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

This thread, Annieke is not officaly closed. Watch for the next exciting story by the ®Wicked Mind's Eye of Captain don/

ps. The mast that Suszan is speaking of is now centered in the north garden at Habitat.

Signing off... Whisky Able 2292.


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