Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Chilled in Curacao

Waterfront in Willemstad
We spent just over a month in Curacao, it wasn't really our plan however it's a great place to get things done, and we had realised that September and October are really rainy in Colombia so we decided to defer out trip there. I have to say Curacao is not our favourite island in the Caribbean despite being part of the Dutch Caribbean group. It does have beautiful beaches but you have to get special permission to anchor outside the main harbours and then only for a few days at a time. The main anchorage is Spaanse Water which is a protected lagoon, complete with mangroves and derelict yachts that have been left here to rot in the murky brown water - after the beauty of the water in Bonaire I found it a bit hard to take the brown water. Spaanse Water is also a long way from everything great the island has to to offer so you need to hire a car (luckily cheap cars are available - some even had aircon). There are different allocated anchorage areas inside Spaanse water and we were nicely secured in zone A alongside our friends on Avenger and Tiago - that was until boats started dragging on us so after a few days we grumpily went to the marina at Sera Boca.

So the good stuff about Curacao..... Great supermarkets (although alcohol is actually more expensive than Bonaire due to a change in tax since most guides have been written), the lovely lively colourful town of Willemstaad, Kura Hulanda, some nice areas to walk including national parks and old landhuis (plantation properties) to explore, chilled beach clubs and good restaurants.

Here's a bit of a picture download:

Askari arriving in Spaanse Water - when we were last here there was no marina at the entrance - now it serves as party doc on weekends for locals and is great fun.
Captains Table dinner at Pier - every week there's a cruisers special meal - this was our first night out in Curacao with the lovely Avengers too.
Going to check in is quite a a hike around town but you get to take in some beautiful buildings and art

Our anchorage in zone A
On calm days we took Askooby outside to find blue water for a swim
Kura Hulanda - an amazing complex and museum in Otrabanda
Street art has taken over the whole area of Otrabanda - which means 'the other side' it the other side of the river from the affluent neighbourhood of Punda
A new installation - these guys were very proud residents of Otrabanda
Exploring Otrabanda

Dutch snacks - at the Gouverneur - best place for a sunset happy hour in town

Pride Curacao - march over Queen Emma bridge

Pride march continued through town

With Tiago and Talanoa

Mother Africa - slave museum

A random blow whole while out exploring the wild north coast

At Rudy's Seafood - pick your fish from Rudy's local kitchen - small fabulous place

Number 10 - my fav place for coffee and cake
Goat curry on Askari with Tiago - then off to Salsa night...

Maze of thorns at Landaus Bloemhof

You can't come to Curacao without trying the liquor 

Our totally favourite Dutch word

Champagne hike with the lovely Reed (no relation) family from Alchemy

Sera Boca Marina - Askari, Alchemy and Talanoa all here - view from our sunset hike

Lots of beautiful beaches to explore

Tugboat Beach - nice snorkel but not worth diving in my view

Salsa spot in Pietermaai district - Thursdays such wonderful dancing

Perfect evening for drinks on the beach with Zouterik and Carrousel

Zouterik girls - my lovelies

De Visserj - amazingly good simple food with friends
Karakter Curacao - really lovely beach club - bubbles for lunch - yay!
 Despite it not being my favourite island we had a wonderful time in Curacao.....
Downwind sailing again - hurrah - next stop Colombia 

Some Useful information
For what's on in Curacao including happy hours https://pasabon.com
Punda Loves You Facebook page for events in Punda PundaLovesYou 
Kura Hulanda Museum www.kurahulanda.com
Marina Seru Boca at Santa Barbara https://santabarbaraplantation.com/marinas/

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The things he'll do to get out of the washing up.....

Some ramblings from last night's 'midnight adventures' in Spanish Water......
Normal service again today....

So it’s 11pm and I’m alone in charge of Askari - Andrew’s been gone since 9.30pm when the wind dropped enough after the storm to go and help the other boats.....

Two boats broke moorings and 4 or 5 dragged anchor tonight when a storm cell past over us in Spanish water, Curacao. We saw 38knots of wind from the south when all boats are anchored into prevailing east winds.

The boat next to us, a Bavaria, wedged itself in the front of a catamaran, the boat behind us ended up moored to the shore....(that’s where andrew is now securing that 60ft boat so it doesn’t drift back out into the anchorage when the wind changes).

We had the air con on and we’re enjoying a lovely New Zealand pinot noir with a movie when we heard the noise of the rigging all around us. Spanish water is always so calm and protected; so when Andrew popped his head out and found 30 plus knots blowing it was all a bit of a shock. He quickly grabbed off our sun covers while I started the engine and turned our nav lights on. We have an app the records our position on anchor. He grabbed that and a torch and we watched in horror as boats so near to us, left unattended, drifted, as we just pleaded for our rocna to hold tight. Then the radio started as other boats called to alert more danger. I didn't take my eyes off that anchor app for half an hour, calling out the distances

Andrew went to assist in moving the Bavaria with another dinghy. All I could see was lashing rain and the alarm on our hand held vhf going off - it doesn’t like being wet. Then eventually the boat moved away from the cat and alongside Calabuig. Next up the 60 footer on the shore... Andrew checked its long heavy mooring and found no end but we were then worried it could drift back out and collide with Askari or other yachts. Andrew asked me to report to the coastguard - I called in VhF 16 and followed up by phone 913 (they never attended). 

Meanwhile a french aluminium yacht was also aground so Andrew and ‘the dinghies’ went to assist getting him free. The coast guard is also calling ships on the vhf. I think I’ll put the air con back on and enjoy the rest of that Pinot noir 🍷😱⛵
Oh maybe some chocolate too 

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Missing you already Bonaire!

Reflecting on our wonderful 3 months in Bonaire - what was it about this small, dusty, windy island that has captured my heart???
The view from our mooring ball - $10 per night
Many people permanently living aboard a sailing boat sit out a winter in a marina or hide up a river during hurricane season. We have never done that, we generally opt to keep sailing in another direction or take some time out to do something different. The last two years we have been on the East Coast of the USA. We found it very stressful sailing back down the East Coast as hurricanes approached from the South and gales were starting to appear from the north. We weren't ready to rush into the Pacific at the end of the season and really didn't like the idea of hauling out Askari in the Caribbean - we've worked too hard to get her to leave her to fend for herself in a hurricane zone even if we could get insurance.

So the idea to stay in the Caribbean during hurricane season with her developed and Andrew did a lot of research on the path of storms. He then managed to persuade our Australian insurers to cover us in the South of Grenada, Bonaire, Curaco and Colombia to Panama. Andrew timed our arrival in Bonaire late June to coincide with when he thought hurricane season might start. We had planned to spend some time in the marina there and then if we got bored knew we could head to Curacao where there's a good haul out yard or alternatively to Colombia or Panama where there are also marinas or haul out options.

Dushi Bonaire

Bonaire was always a destination I wanted to return to from our first sailing trip but when immigration gave us approval to stay three months I never thought we would be looking to take advantage of every single day. The things we loved about Bonaire:

1) The weather - virtually no rain, mostly constant cooling wind 15-25knots from the East, and a few clouds most afternoons. Our teak deck has never looked so good. We might have used a bit of water for weekly boat washes but it's much better than having to constantly close hatches when squalls come through. One day the wind came from the south and swell from south west - not good but we just went to Klein Bonaire for the day - not too much of a drama.

At Klien Bonaire on 'Reversal' Day
2) The water - so very clear and with diving straight from the back of the boat in visibility often over 30 metres. The water temp was 28 to 29 C every day we were there. Flat calm mostly without swell and because we were moored so close to shore the boat hardly moved.

Calm day in the anchorage - wind a little to the South East
3) The people - the cruisers here were seriously adventurous and accomplished. Lots of folk that love hiking, backpacking, diving, windsurfing, kiting, etc. We met so many people during our time in Bonaire, both cruisers and people who are currently living on the island, that inspired us to look beyond our current dreams and stretch our horizons. We met more boat kids in 3 months than we met in 3 years and they create a lovely energy. Overall I think it was the people.....

Tjaart and Mariska over for sundowners
Beautiful Berber learned so much English we could chat away by the time they left Bonaire
Craig can actually play this weird didgeridoo
Just an afternoon stroll for Max, Sarah, Nael and baby Mia whose was born in Bonaire the week we arrived
Last night with the Fat Susan crew - off to explore the US but they'll be back

Esther made us real paella and shared her Scoby
Out out with the Fairy Queen's - Nicol and Ronald
4) The diving - Andrew logged 111 dives and I logged 95 in Bonaire. We dived over half the dive sites marked in Bonaire, including the East Coast and every site at Klein Bonaire. We did clean up dives, dived with other cruisers, I took part in international women dive day, Andrew took boat kids on their first qualified dive and a night dive plus so much more. I would say our buoyancy control is near perfect and we've learned lots about keeping our equipment going and improved our photography. Diving pictures on Instagram

Clean up dive - over 80 divers (we are at the back)

Women's Dive Day

Womens Dive Day
Women's Dive Day
Gerard & Louis First Dive - filmed by Andrew edited by me

Diving the East Coast with Craig

5) Social life - you can literally party every night in Bonaire. It might be small but there's lots going on, from cruiser pot lucks /happy hours, to formal wine tasting, to jam sessions to island cultural events. There's great restaurants, food trucks and a fabulous supermarket. There's also lots of opportunity to volunteer.
Sylvie & Veronique didn't approve of our french wine
Wine Tasting at La Terrazza
Wine tasting dinner
Taste of Bonaire night - each month, such a fun local event
Jam night at Woodstock Bar
Music by the fire at Delfins Resort
6) Sunsets - since we left Western Australia I don't think I have seen so many great sunsets, the wind always eases off and it's just perfect at sunset in Bonaire.

So many great memories Bonaire......

Post dive lunch at Ocean Oasis 
Bon Tera - amazing locally grown produce
Poor Blue Pearl got attack by water bikes....
At Woodstock with TGT and Aria
At Woodstock with Craig
At Delfins with Fairy Queen and Felicity 
Paella onbaord Avenger
Cruise ship - yuck we normally stay on board - just dwarfs this small island
There's always a donkey not far away
At Foodies - oh so good!
Bobbejens BBQ - a firm favourite one night we chatted with owners Maggie and Robert all evening 
Gaby leading Andrew astray or ashtray at Little Havana
Me and Audrey - wine or rum?? 
James came to visit and I went to the UK - another story....
I love this painting on the radio station
Kitty's Birthday onboard Talanoa
Our last night - I love these girls
Our last night at Zazu - try the passionfruit mojito!!
Patrice - thank you for everything you do for the Cruisers - Zazu bar is our home in Bonaire
Outa here Bonaire - til next time please don't change x x