The construction of the most important lighthouse of Bonaire started in 1837. It was planified to open on the “Koninginnedag” in 1838, the dutch national day (hence the name Willem). It will be finally operational four months later on August 3, 1838.
The Willemstoren lighthouse is precisely installed in front of a well-known reef to mark the danger of coral garden at large from the south coast. The light, arised at twenty meters, can be seen from the sea at a maximum of 12 miles away.
The Willemstoren Toren’s unknown wreck is clearly drawn in color purple on the chart map. The field is deep, bottom depth is 55 meters. The area around the lighhouse is called “Kura Rondo” by the Spaniards, the coral garden with a rounded shape, the most southern of a serie of three Kura’s. The second one is near the first bridge after Willemstoren, the third coral garden is around Black Rock.
Comparing the nautical chart to the satellite view scaled at 247 meters doesn’t make it any easier to locate the coral garden from above as it is lying in the dark blue. The coordinates have been copied from the chart.
Latitude: 12° 1’32.65″N. Longitude: 68°14’4.65″O
…”Information has been officially received from the chargé d’affaires of the Netherlands, that a lighthouse has been recently erected on the most southern point of the isle of Bonaire, near Curaçoa, in the latitude of 12 degrees, 2 minutes and 12.5 seconds west from Greenwich. The light is elevated 70 feet above the sea; it is clearly visible at the distance of six to ten miles at sea, but cannot be discerned at the distance of more than 12 miles.”…
Army and Navy Chronicle, domestic intelligence, 1838.
…”À Bonaire, les côtes sont désertes; point d’arbres fruitiers, point de digues; le cactus a envahi les terrains propres à la culture. La côte orientale est hérissée de rochers et d’écueils, et presque chaque année, quelque navires y fait naufrage.”
Bulletin universel des Sciences et de l’Industrie, Société pour la propagation des connaissances scientifiques et industrielles, Paris, 1825.
©2012 Olivier Douvry/GlobeDivers