Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Curacao and Bonaire October 14

Curacao and Bonaire October 14

We arrived back in Curacao at 20:30 local time on 30th September. The hire car we had booked with Jansen Car hire arrived as scheduled and we drove to The Happy Turtle apartments, which was to be our home for the next few nights.

On the veranda 'Happy Turtle'
The apartment was quite basic but had everything we needed and a few little luxuries – television (with quite a few channels), wifi and an air conditioner in the bedroom which meant a cool nights sleep with no mozzies! We had brought tea, coffee, powdered milk and cereal in our luggage so we could have a late night drink on arrival and breakfast before heading off to check on Galene.

We had breakfast on the back verandah overlooking the lovely garden watching hummingbirds hovering  in the Bougainvilla and other flowers.  There was a pool too, but unfortunately we never got a swim as it closed at 7pm and we got back after dark each evening. 

We had been in email contact with Curacao Marine and had been assured that all was on schedule, but there is always a little doubt. It was great to see Galene back in the lower yard, ready and waiting. The new cutless bearing had been fitted, the sides were being polished and Rocky, the manager, said his guys would be ready to paint the bottom as soon as we gave them the paint.  We still had 2 tins from England and decided to use them.  Anti- foul is very expensive out here.
In the Yard

We were going to change the anodes and service the seacocks, so while Richard started on seacocks I got on with anodes – the easier job. However, the big pear shape one near the prop shaft would not undo.  Painting continued and was completed, while a series of screwdrivers , wrenches and pliers failed to undo the bolts -  they had corroded nicely together. The tops were in the bilge that filled with seawater when the rudder began to leak on the Atlantic crossing and we obviously did not clean up vigorously enough.
WD40 and vinegar were tried while Richard continued with the seacocks. Rocky was called in and eventually it was decided that the only thing to do was to cut the bolts and fit new ones if we wanted to be launched on Friday as scheduled. Except, the chandlers out here do not have those rods! Luckily we had brought a spare anode with us, as they did not have them either. Something else to add on our next UK shopping list. Fortunately, there is a welding shop just over the road and they were duly ordered. Minimun charge of $50 US! 

We finally got the bolts at about 2pm on Friday with launch due at 4pm, the last of the day. So they went on sharply and we just hoped that an hour would belong enough for the sealant to go off. We were expertly splashed at 16:00 as scheduled and we could spend the weekend on the boat. We had checked out of the apartment in the morning, but arranged that we could come back if necessary. They were very understanding –no problem at all. We could stay on the boat on the hard, but it is very hot and dusty and because the fridge is keel cooled we cannot use it on land, so life would be quite hard.

Having the car made shopping very easy, so we stocked up a bit. We had tried to eat up as much as possible before leaving so were missing some of the basics. As usual we went to Van Den Tweel and Vreugdenhill supermarkets and a super huge one, Magero, we did not know about. Exit Strategy were in the marina too and so Rose came with us as a guide and do a bit of shopping too. The guys went off to get the propane refilled at Santa Rosa , quite a way, but they only filled Dan’s, said they could not do ours. A bit of a nuisance, but not serious as we still have some in our little blue one and another big orange one. At least we were able to fill up a couple of cans with Diesel as there is no fuel in the boatyard.
The forecast leading up to the weekend was for light winds so we decided to leave for Bonaire on Thursday. So, Wednesday was mostly taken up with the long walk over the hill to Willemstad to check out and then over the pontoon bridge to immigration in the port. We waved to Exit Strategy as they headed out, back to Spanish Water for a few days.
We slipped the marina at 10:30 on 9th October and headed out. Richard called up the bridge to ask them to open it and they said it was open. We thought this was a bit strange but carried on. When we turned into the main channel we could see the bridge and out to sea – a huge tanker was on its way in! Richard called up again and asked if we should proceed and the reply was “Yes, with all speed Captain!”  So we did, not wanting to be in the entrance at the same time as the tanker. 

Leaving Willemstad

We had a lovely sail to Klein Curacao, a small uninhabited  island to the south of Curacao. The plan was to spend the night there and then sail up to Bonaire giving us a better angle on the wind each day.  The topography is a lot like Bonaire – very deep water shelving suddenly to a shallow rubble filled shelf where we had to anchor, but quite narrow. There were several mooring buoys with tripper boats on, several small fishing boats at anchor and only one other yacht further north.  After  three attempts we were finally happy with the anchor at about 16:00 and had a drink and surveyed the scene.

At anchor Klein Curacao

We saw a few Ospreys on the way over and I watched one dive down and send a little flock of terns scattering. Too far away to see which they were or if he got anything. There was a Pelican fishing and a Caspian tern resting on a buoy. All the day boats left soon after we anchored and we got ready for a swim. Suddenly a big swell appeared pushing us around and making it impossible to get off the boat. It did not last long so we had a quick swim to check the anchor and back on board in case the swell returned. Which it did periodically through the night. A pity, as I would have liked to have a walk around the island which was very picturesque with an old lighthouse, still in use, a huge wreck on the shore and the wreck of a yacht.
At dusk a 20ft fishing boat tied onto the buoy next to us that a tripper boat had vacated earlier. A bit later a smaller one tied onto the back of him and the fisherman proceeded to clean a few fish, hopped onto the bigger boat and they had a nice barbecue on the back!

Our Neighbours for the night

At first light there was a knocking sound – the boats had turned again and the bigger boat was facing the buoy and banging on it. The smaller one had his engine on and was trying to untangle them! Richard went up and they apologized for coming so close to us. They got themselves sorted out and went off fishing.

We got up at 07:00 planning on leaving at once, while the winds were still light as it would be more to windward today. We were going to go round the south of the island to get a better angle and to see the other side. However, we were greeted by thunder and a big squall to the south.  We got ready anyway deciding we would just go north. Richard had just taken off the snubber when it began to rain heavily. So, we waited, watching the squalls go over. About 08:30 the squalls all seemed to be staying south so we set off north, putting the sails up at the top of the island. We had a glorious sail, in the right direction, for all of ten minutes when the wind died and we motored the rest of the way to Bonaire.
Squall over Klein Curacao

As we approached Klein Bonaire we were pleasantly surprised to hear ‘Vivace’ calling us on the radio. They were just arriving from Grenada and were wondering where we were. We were only a little way behind them and said we would find them after they had picked up a mooring. We were lucky to get a mooring, taking what looked to be the last available one, but with only one pickup line not two as they are supposed to have. A quick snorkel down to the block revealed a line cut off below the water so we tied our own line to it to be secure.
Bonaire is very busy as it is the end of Regatta week and they also have a fishing competition on the last day. There are boats moored everywhere, on all the buoys, in the Club Nautico marina, on the fisherman’s dock, the place has a real buzz to it.
Our dinghy was down in double quick time and we managed to make customs by 16.30, we then met up with ‘Vivace’ for a ‘happy hour’ sundowner, and as usual end up meeting other people that Dave and Leslie know but we didn’t so all in all a quick drink ended up as a whole evening out with new friends. Welcome back to Bonaire!
Our plans are to spend the next few weeks here in Bonaire, doing a few boat jobs and diving some more. It is a very pleasant place to wait out the end of the hurricane season. Then we will head North and East as soon as there is a window to do so. We hope to make it to the Virgin Islands, before continuing our trip through the island chain again.

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