100327 – Saturday morning, on the hook in Aruba
I was going to write a bit from Bonaire, and had decided at least on a general title for the blog entry: Hurts so good.
It had nothing to do really with JC Mellankamp or 80’s flashbacks or anything like that. More simply it was a quick summary of Bonaire – where, after nearly three whole months, we berthed once more in a marina, our first since Power Boats in Trinidad.
The Good – that doesn’t hurt.
Harbour Village Marina
The ‘good’ part of course is the cushy marina life: practically unlimited water supply to the boat, 110 or 220 volts, plugged right in. These two oddities are what make living on a boat a challenge for some – that and rolling seas, limited space, no TV, no shopping malls, and all the rest (the list is long). Beyond that, you also have extremely calm conditions – the boat almost doesn’t move. You have 24 hour security, locking gates to keep strangers away. There are showers in the locker rooms (though no hot water in this particular marina) and so you can take a loooooong shower if you want to. After living on a boat and taking very economical showers, you know you don’t truly NEED to take a loooong shower, but you can.
We had arrived in Bonaire Friday, March 19th, and went into to berth at the marina – Harbour Village Marina – on Saturday the 20th. As we haven’t seen rain since Trinidad (December), the first thing I did was to hook up the hose and give my lovely boat a topsides bath – power washing off three months of salt spray, Montserrat ash, and general grime. Amazing difference. If you enjoy personally washing your car and enjoying just how damn good it can look afterward, you know the pleasant sensation and pride I’m talking about. Unless you hate your car. Larissa and Adriana got a ride from Steve and headed to the grocery store for supplies. Steve is a very cool guy – a Englishman originally but a Bonaire resident for 15 years and for the last 3 months, a liveaboard in the same marina on his 51 ft Gulfstream ketch, alone. Lots of boat for a single guy, but the deal was pretty good and so he’d sold his house and purchased this 30 year old, very sturdy, fiberglass ketch. He just doesn’t know yet when he’s going to ‘head out there’. Good thing he hadn’t sold his car yet, because as a cruiser, getting a ride to the grocery store means less walking. More importantly, it means you can pick up more provisions at once – not having to hand carry them (walking) back to the boat.
We spent a total of 4 nights in the marina – taking care of odd jobs, hand washing tons of clothes, doing a bit of internet surfing – generally enjoying the cushy life. Good thing on the clothes too – Lara and I hadn’t used a washing machine since Bequia in January. I also did a temporary ‘fix’ to the rudder bearing. From below in the locker, I managed to push it back up into the tube, almost all the way. It actually slid back up a lot easier than I would have guessed. That would mean, I think, that whatever epoxy had been there holding it in place between Trididad and them moment it came loose (on passage from Martinique to Los Roques?), was now completely gone. A mystery. Does non-cured epoxy evaporate? Well, for the moment, I put a gigantic electical tie around the shaft, between the tube and the steering quadrant. Originally, the bearing had slipped down about 3 or 3.5 cm (just over an inch) – it can’t go any farther since it slides right down onto the steering quadrant. Now if it does slide down again (likely) it will only be able to slide down about 1cm. Not perfect, but better than before. I did pick up some new epoxy – it’s from West Systems and has an easy to manage mixing tube, 2 in 1, so you don’t have to play around getting the quantities right. I also got some special syringes to apply the epoxy down into the milimetrical space between the bearing and the tube (in Trinidad, we didn’t have any on hand, Christmas Eve, and so had to use the small flimsy part of a Bic pen to kind of slap it in, tiny quantities at a time…).
Marinas nearly always have a very interesting mix of boats in them. On A dock, there was a lively Swedish boat, a few empty Super Maramus from France, a lovely US boat called “Clemencia”. Near us on B dock was a huge, brand-new Hatteras powerboat from Venezuela, and with liveaboard crew that you hardly ever saw, a gorgeous dark blue Swan from the UK, around 60 feet, called “Sultano”, another dark blue yacht of about 60 feet from Canada called “Entrada” (she had a bow entry so steep and and so fine she looked like a Farr racing sled from the bow), Steve’s Gulfstream, and a few abandoned boats: one an ancient steel thing – a cruising dream crushed when the guy lost his wife – and another fine sloop called “Fiddlesticks”.
A British Swan, “Sultano”
Fast-looking Canuck Boat, “Entrada”
This is “Onyx”, an increidlbe megayacht that we’ve crossed paths with four or five times – Tobago Cays, Los Roques, Las Aves, Bonaire…
Steve’s Gulfsrtream 51 – I think she’s called “Mareva”
On Monday, and again with Steve’s generous offer for a ride, we went to town (Kralendijk). Eduardo and I checked in with Immigration and Customs, and then visited Budget Marine, our favorite chandlery. I was able to re-stock some fishing gear, get Lara some sailing gloves, and took a huge step forward in solving our recurring propane gas woes. In other words, I was able to pick up a gas bottle that I’d had my eyes on for months but hadn’t been able to find on sale. It’s got a plastic frame and a fiberglass bottle. Aside from being lighter than the typical steel bottles, there is NO RUST (important on steel boats you know) and, with the fiberglass structure, you can SEE how much gas you have left. Very cool. I think all gas bottles should be like that now! If the chandlery had stocked more, I would have purchased two – but they didn’t have any more. 😦 Anyway, this one carries 10 pounds of butane or propane and we filled it up at the marina for US$ 1.75 / lb. Now my gas locker has quite a collection of bottles:
The little blue one is the “Campingaz” 3kg bottle – a European standard that we bought in Martinique. The larger blue one, tucked in the corner, holds about 8 to 10kg – this one from St. Vincent (bought it the day my in-laws left for Brazil). Though it’s still more than half full, the trouble is that I discovered a slow leak in the hookup valve. Not just any valve, of course, but a specific Shell Oil & Gas company valve that is apparently common in the Caribbean but totally unavailable in places like Martinique, Bonaire and Aruba… I discoverd the leak in Martinique. So…. That one is now a back up and when we do need to use it, we’ll have to hook up and then disconnect the valve for every use. Not exactly practical. Such is the cruising life sometimes. But who cares, I absolutely love my new fiberglass bottle – no rust and a 15 year rated lifespan. Funny how something like that can cause you so much joy!
What hurts so good about a marina is when you check out, and get the bill. We ended up with a bill of something like US$280… For four days! That’s US$1 / day / foot of boat length (43 bucks a day, for us), about $12 for the electricity (metered, of course!), and the whopper: more than $70 for water. Water is $0.09 a gallon – so you figure it out! Yes, we did fill the water tanks (that’s around 320 gallons) and that of course is nice. The rest was washing the boat and washing clothes. It might have been worse had we sent our clothes to the laundry – $4.50 for 2.2lbs (1kg)! And we washed a lot of clothes. Even better was washing down the boat, again, with brush and soap. During our 4 days in the marina, Walk On was once again a mess – heavily dusted with a red dirt that blows across the island, and it’s been blowing 20 knots and more for four days straight! It all hurt so good – so good to clean up like that, so painfull to see the bill.
So Wednesday we headed back out to the city waterfront – a long string of moorings, only 25 meters aways from the coast and therefore close to town: stores, restaurants and bars. What sets Bonaire apart is not only this incredibly well-organized waterfront (quality moorings that you HAVE to use, no anchoring, for a fair price of $10 a night), but the quality of the waterfront itself… Just below the surface! We dinghied to several place to snorkel in this incredible place – but the very best snorkeling was right under the boat! Just put on your fins and mast and fall in the water. The island slopes steeply away from the shore so at about 25 meters away, the water is 7 or 8 meters deep and absolutely bursting with coral and fish. At 50 meters distant from the coast, the slope falls off into oblivion, a certain blue that only nature could create. Le Grand Blu – for sure! Amazing snorkeling right under the boat and a civilized shoreline just in front. Trade winds to cool things off and charge the batteries, and flat water in the lee of the island. Could be the best waterfront we’ve ever seen, or wanted!
Shaking a leg – towards Cartagena
Fabio & Debby will be in Cartagena on April Fool’s Day – so we need to get there! On Thursday, the 25th, we checked out of C&I (Customs & Immigration) and dropped the mooring at sunset. Course? Aruba! We passed a US Coast Guard Cutter on the way out – the first I’ve seen on this cruise.
From the logbook:
(leaving bonaire – Klein Bonaire Island and Anima Mare @ sunset)
100325 – Leaving Bonaire
Sunset. Dropped mooring.
Motor: 1,009.3 hours
Left together with Anima Mare. CG Cutter in the bay. Light winds, 8-10kts, E/SE
Headed for s. Tip of Curaçao.
At the beginning of the passage, Lara gets ready to peel some potatoes, downwind! They were great with the spicy Tandoori Chicken! Thanks baby cakes.
Wing and Wing at Sunset
Have started midnight watch. Rounded S. Cape fo Curaçao about an hour ago. Winds now 12-16kts, E/SE. At the turn, wind angle shifted from 170 degrees to port to about 165 degree to starboard – had to jibe main & spinnaker pole & reset genoa. Again sailing wing and wing. Boat averaging about 6.5 kts, calmer seas here in the lee of Curaçao. Pretty heaving shipping, brightly lit towns & cities along lee shore, to stb.
306 degrees magnetic
64nm to Aruba coast
Had fantastic Tandoori chicken & potatoes for dinner!
I did the midnight watch till about 0330. Lara took over to 0630. Now out of the lee of Curaçao – seas a bit lumpy, waves from the stb quarter. Wind about 13kts, right on the stern. Boat is maintaining 6 to 6.5kts. Gorgeous sunrise!
28.8nm to Aruba coast waypoint
Fishing now, listening to the Doobie Brothers.
Saturday morning sunrise, fishing & the Doobies
LAND HO. Can see 5 or 6 large windmills at about 16nm distant – at Punta Basora
Continued lumpy seas, No fish!
Noon (Friday, 26 March)
Entered anchorage of Oranjestad, between commercial docks and Queen Beatrix Airport. Very windy, very shallow. One US boat here: Swan Lake, big ass Oyster of probably 60 feet. Gorgeous.
Anchored in 4m of water:
Made good time – and rollicked up the Aruba coast the last 10 miles – flat water and boatspeed between 9 and 10 knots the whole way. Peaked at 10.5. Had some current methinks….
– – – – –
After arriving, we said hello to Edu & Adriana, who arrived shortly afterwards. Then we had pasta and white wine for lunch and then… BED! I slept from 1400 to midnight in a deep, deep, deep sleep. Got up for some reason and then back to bed. Woke up today about 0600.
Sunrise this morning, Saturday.
From our anchorage, Aruba is a busy place. Over coffee this morning, I watched a huge cruise ship pull in, a half a dozen Hatteras/Bertram style fishing boats headed out for a day of hunting the seas, and several Delta, American, and US Air jets coming in. This place is tourism, all the way.
In a little while we’ll go ashore – grocery shopping, internet to check the weather, and a bit of sightseeing in Oranjestad. Back to Walk On early-ish to prep for the passage to Cartagena. We’ll leave about sunrise tomorrow – 400 nm separate us form the old spanish city and our reunion with dear friends. We epxect three nights at sea and arrival on Wednesday. Fabio & Debby show up Thursday evening! Looking forward to that!!!
Ciao for now gang.
A question of perspective:
our little dinghy in the foreground, a rather large sailing yacht (a US Oyster called Swan Lake) in the middleground, and a rather humongous cruise ship in the background – this is the “Ruby Princess” and she just pulled in this morning.