Bonaire: Our Nitrox training started with a 100-page instruction book with a lot of calculations and other tasks. If we just wanted to study that before class next day. All possible plans to go diving were immediately “down the drain”.
It was really a lot of reading, but after about 10 hours of struggling, we were through. Next day there was an afternoon session with our instructor to evaluate the answers to the questions. After that: a real exam! Fortunately, we both passed with high grades and are now certified Padi Nitrox divers certified to dive with up to 40% oxygen.
It is no longer needed to do a training-dive with nitrox, we were able to get started right away. We have always been a bit skeptical about the alleged positive side effects of the enriched air mixture. But it really seemed to help! We felt considerably better and less sleepy at the end of the day.
There is actually only 1 very small disadvantage, packing the gear takes a little more time. You have to measure the oxygen percentage of the tank, and then perform a number of administrative actions.
During the diving itself there was no difference. We generally do not like to dive very deep, the maximum depth of 25-30 meters is well within the limits of nitrox diving.
The place where we usually record the our deepest dive in Bonaire is on the wreck of the Hilma Hooker. You can easily touch the 30 meter there and enjoy the wreck. We have dived on “the hooker” several times. This time we wanted to take pictures of the wreck as a whole. It appears that it is quite possible with our 10mm lens to get a decent picture of the entire wreck with Theo as a model. We have been experimenting with one of us posing with the wreck in the background.
Unfortunately the ocean was not very calm. A large part of the coast was damaged due to the storm of last fall. As a result, the entry into the water was sometimes a little challenging, and of course also slippery due to algae growth. This combined with the high waves sometimes made entry into the water a tricky business.
The water temperature was relatively cold. That in itself was normal for the time of the year, our thermometers indicated about 26 degrees. Although you are using nitrox to extend your dives, we have shortened them to about 45 minutes due to the temperature and reduced the number of dives to 2 per day. A more intense dive regime is postponed until next time when the temperatures are a bit nicer.
Dive sites were not very busy. We saw relatively few people at the sites, but also few in the town and at the restaurants. Cruise ships were the one exception. Almost every day there was a mega monster on the pier. Once, we were diving at the Windsock during the departure of a cruise ship, about a kilometer away. What a deafening noise! The fish too seemed to be somewhat disturbed. They could see us, of course, but probably did not hear us exhale. Their behavior seemed different from other times. Unfortunately, that did not mean that we could now approach them more closely. You can’t have everything.
Furthermore, we have not really seen anything special, but it was nice nonetheless: a few eagle rays, a few turtles, the seahorse at Plaza Resort was still in residence, quite a few barracudas, and the usual parrot fish, butterfly fish, gobies, a striking number of flamingo tongue snails, etc.
We again fully enjoyed our week on Bonaire.
24 Jan – 2 Feb, 2009