Friday, 19 June 2015


Leaving Curaçao behind us we edged North dropping the hook at Santa Cruz , a nice anchorage with caves that have formed all the way along the coast. A good place for a snorkel. We were leaving at first light and managed to get a good nights sleep. We set sail for Aruba with the wind inevitably behind us but a pleasant 20 knots with just the Genoa out we tootled along nicely between 5-6 knots it was not til we were 10 miles or so that the wind started to pick up and reduced sail. We had decided to spend the night in Rogers Lagoon on the Southern tip of Aruba ....there are three entrances one for the fishermen which basically appeared to go straight over the reef! Not for the feint hearted! Another for the big tankers stopping off at the oil refinery and the other down a marked channel which was for all other shipping. Normally it would have been easy to pick out but when it's blowing 40 knots its sometimes not easy to distinguish the buoys......we edged slowly in and finally dropped our hook in 6 metres in what was I'm glad to say good holding. Taking a good note of the way we came in and the buoys lit up at night just in case we dragged,we set the Anchor Watch on the tablet but also decided we would take it in turns to stay up on watch. Whilst the sea was flat the wind was howling! Finally at around 1 o clock we decided the anchor must be well and truly holding....we had not moved an inch off the spot! Trying to get some sleep and waiting for the wind to drop a little we set sail for Orangestad about 12 miles up the coast.

Clearing into Aruba is different and to be honest a bit of a pain. Thirty minutes out of Orangestad you must notify Aruba Port that you wish to come in and clear Customs and Immigration. We did this and were told to wait for an hour then call back. This was a pain as it was still blowing 30 knots and milling about was no fun.....we waited an hour and got back on the reply we waited some more hour and a half later and very exasperated we got the Marina on the VHF and told them of our predicament. They contacted Customs and lo and behold next time we called Customs they answered! By this time there were three boats waiting to come in....a small Venezuelan  motor boat shot past also going to Customs and we met him on the Customs Quay shortly cannot be in a hurry with this process it's pointless! The Customs Quay is lined with big black Tractor tyres and there is no way to avoid marks on your boat unless you come prepared with something to cover them. You identify the boats that have been to Customs by the dirty marks on the hull! All in all it took us over four hours to check in and I really am not looking forward to repeating the process over again when we check out!

Aruba is the most American of the three islands we have been to. There are lots of Malls, Starbucks,Dunkin Donuts and many very expensive watch and jewellery shops. Not really our scene but it's very comfortable and being in the Marina we have use of the pool and the Renaissance private island so it's not all bad. The iguanas line the dock during the day and they seem to really come out when the fishing boats return.....I thought they were herbivores. They a
So have a cinema here so John and I have been to the movies for the first time in many years ....2 for 1 Monday's through to Wednesday so seemed like a good idea.

Every day we study the weather in the hope that the wind will drop for long enough for us to get around the corner but so far we have been out of luck. When the wind drops it just doesn't give us enough time to move down the Colombian coast and we really don't want to be stuck in Capo de Vela for any length of time waiting for the right weather to move on's better we wait here I think. So fingers crossed for the weather to be on our side soon. In the meantime we'll just enjoy the sun, sea and local brew....

Wednesday, 10 June 2015


We left Bonaire early in the morning and sailed off our mooring hoping not to wake anyone. We hoped to make it to Curaçao before three o clock so we could check in with customs. It was a good passage and the sea was relatively calm till we reached the bottom of Curaçao and made our way up the coast. We managed to sail most of the way using just the Genoa with the wind behind us blowing 20 to 25 knots. We were aiming for Curaçao Marine where we had booked a slip so that we could investigate a creak that seemed to be coming from our boom.
As we turned into Willemstad we had to alert the Queen Emma Bridge control (VHF Ch12 )that we were on our way in and needed them to open the floating pontoon. It seemed an age before they responded but in truth I think they were having a bit of trouble with the engine ....but after ten minutes or so a gap appeared at one end of the pontoon and we slid through. There was a large cruise liner in and we were the subject of many photos taken by cruisers as made our way through the floating pontoon. The floating pontoon is quite a site....and once open the ferries immediately take over so that it is always possible to get from one side of the bridge to the other. We eventually found our slip at the Marine having decided to go to Customs the following morning.

It is about a 25 minute walk from the Marina to Customs and we had not realised that they use the SailClear system here so we could have done all the bureaucratic form filling in on the Net before we arrived but never mind....Immigration is a walk or a ferry ride if the bridge is open over on the side of the town. Formalities completed we wandered around Willemstad and took in the sites and a couple of beers. Just outside Customs there are a number of Venezuelan boats that sell fresh fruit and veg every day and it seems like this is where everyone gets their veggies from. They appear to live on the boats and have an abundance of fresh fruit and veg for sale which is kind of ironic considering that we are led to believe that back in Venezuela people are struggling to put food on the table.

The following day we went to the slavery museum....well worth a trip and packed full of information. Curaçao was once the centre of the Dutch slave trade but the museum references all the 'players' in the trade with artefacts and information. There is also a garden with a  Sculpture Garden for you to wander through.

John has hopefully managed to sort the creak....this involved boiling the gooseneck in oil, using one of my best pans of course! And then immersing it in ice cold water to free it up. I thought it was going to be a mother of a job but with a bit of swearing, a lot of banging and of course some skill the seized part became free and John was able to replace some of the bolts on the boom so now hopefully all is well (fingers crossed!).
We are now waiting for a weather window to make it around top of Colombia always seems to be blowing there and to meet up with our friend Ben there.....he's not Italian he's from Rome!

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Bonaire..braving the Iguana!

As we weren't able to ride our scooter through the National Park in the North of the Island we decided to try again but this time we hired. SUV ....the hire car of choice in Bonaire as Divers put their gear in the back and drive around to the many dive sites around the coast. We thought we might snorkel off the beach on the way to the Washington Slagbaai Park and we went with fellow OCC members and friends Rhiann and Rob on Bayzano. Unfortunately it was a very windy day and we eventually decided that it was not an ideal snorkelling day. I know....wimps!!

We took the shorter route around the park ....some stunning scenery and wildlife. The Iguanas just walked right up to you and some were downright aggressive. John found himself a stick to walk with quoting Theodore Roosevelt ' walk softly and carry a big stick! ' . I think it was ' speak softly ' but anyway it worked!... one gave the stick a good bite but they were certainly less intimidating!

The scenery is very arid and reminded us of the Spanish Sierras. In many ways it is easy to see why the Brits gave it up ....they would have struggled to cultivate the land and I should imagine that cactus farming was not an area of expertise !
We did manage to see a few more Flamingos in one of the many salt flats in the Park

With snorkelling written off for the day we made our was to a local restaurant near Rincon, which used to be the capital of Bonaire, much safer from pirates in land we were told. Rincon has a cactus distillery and a little museum and the restaurant had a great panoramic view over the landscape. Rob, Rhiann and myself played safe with the menu and had the catch of the day but John opted for Iguana Stew! John being John and not one to waste food ate the lot but had to admit there were lots of small bones....I should say..he had been warned by the lady who took the order. I think this was a one off and he would not order the same again. The waitress asked him what he thought, agreeing with his comment about bones and saying ' you don't order iguana if you are in a hurry! '