20120620, Curacao Spaanse waters
People are facinating beings. Sometimes we allow fear to stop our dreams. Fellow yachties and others who have not sailed but know it all reckon the seas are very bad on the next passage. One guy told about 10 meter waves, another reckon we are a bit late for Panama and should stay south after Panama. Eddie got such a fright that he decided to leave us and not continue to the Panama. Johan and I will sail the next passage by ourselves. We acquired all the information we could get on this passage and will ensure that we stay well outside the nasty patch with high waves. It is also relatively safe because it is south of the hurrricane belt. We also looked at the weather forecast to ensure we will leave when their is a safe window. It is interesting that all the internationals we met in SA told us that the wild coast is the worst in the world. If Laura Dekker could sail safely on her own on this route, as well as hundreds of others, why woulld we be different? God kept us safe and He will again be our Skipper when we leave tomorrow.
20120620, We left Bonaire at 24h00 in order to arrive at Curacao during daybreak. The sail was very bumpy due to the direction of the waves in the strong wind. We did not sail with the main, but only the headsail with the pole. The wind was mostly from the stern
Total miles: 38
We left Bonaire at 24h00 in order to arrive at Curacao during daybreak. The sail was very bumpy due to the direction of the waves in the strong wind. We did not sail with the main, but only the headsail with the pole. The wind was mostly from the stern or a few degrees off the stern.
Johan tried to sleep whilst Eddie and I kept watch outside. We saw a light that we thought shoulde be the tip of the island. The light came too close too sudden and we were unsure of it's origin. Johan remembered about klein curacao island and thought that the light could be from the island. He changed course drastically whilst I started up the computer to look at our position on C-Maps. The computer started installing updates and took quite a while to boot up. Terrifying minutes where we did not know which light is which.
Everything calmed down and Eddie went to sleep for an hour or two whilst Johan took over the watch. I kept on following our track on C-Map until my eyes could not stay open anymore. I rested for an hour before I plotted our waypoints in the hendheld GPS in order for Johan to use it in the cockpit to enter into Spaanse Waters. The entrance is very narrow, trickiy if you do not know what you are doing - you might have to walk/fly home. Eddie was standing on the bow checking the clear water for rocks whilst Johan followed the waypoint and Francina was double checking the progress on C-maps. There was however a few additions that is not reflected on the version of C-maps that we are using - more anchorages and yacht clubs.
We were anchored at 8h30 in very windy conditions. The owner of Kimakalki Marina told us that the wind is always very strong in this region, especially during hurricane season. They mentioned 10 meter waves and boat that were recently lost at sea. One of the yachties told us that he sailed to this marina very recently - and he referred to September 2011.
Willemstad is the capital city of Curacao and also where we need to check in ourselves and the boat at customs and immigration. The historic centre of the city consists of two quarters: Punda and Otrobanda. They are separated by the sint Anna Bay, an inlet that leads into the large natural harbout called the Schottegat.
We took the bus to Willemstad in order to get the formalities with customs and immigration behind us. We were however sent from pillar to post, travelling on various different local buses through a few of the neighbourhoods on the island. We eventually got to immigration, but it was immegration office for residents which were wrong. They send us back to Willemstad, but it was too late to make it during office hours. Whilst we were waiting for the bus to arrive Eddie went to a shop across the street from the bus stop to find out about the time schedule. The shopowner's friend took us back to the dinghy. It was quite a distance and very good of them to offer this service for free.
On Tuesday morning we tried the same again. We were talking to yet another sailor who again mentioned that we are a bit late for the Panama. Eddie got scared and told us that he is not willing to take the risk to continue the sail with us. We used the shopping bus and then took a minibus to Willemstad, because the local bus took too long to arrive. Customs were very friendly and helped us in a jiffy. We took the ferry to the other side of Sint Annasbaai and walked along the pier to immigration. The ferry operates (for free) when the swinging pantoon bridge is moved away for big ships to enter the harbour.
They were also very helpful, even finding out about flights for Eddie to get to Panama and home. They recommended a travel agent close by, but we went to the airport instead. The offices for Cocos air is not open at the airport except on the days of the flight.
At least we were able to see most of the island by bus. On our way back we went passed the travel agent. Eddie however did not have his terun ticket with him and were therfore not able to buy a one way ticket to Panama. He will have to wait until the morning. On our way back a very friendly guy waiting for his wife gave us a lift to the bus station in Punda, Willemstad. We were exhuasted when we took the bus back to the dingy at 18h15.
Africa is in our blood, and we find familiar attractions everywhere in the world. Even Curacao has a real Soputh African restaurant, named Zambesi. Most of the dishes consists of their finest locally produced ostrich meat. They have a large selection of SA wines, Vrandy and Zambezi beer. You can dine in a relaxed ambiance and enjoy the nightly campfire, accoring to teir leaflet. They offer an Ostrich Aloe Safari with the main attraction a visit to the Ostrich farm and Aloe plantation. There is also an Arof of Africa shop that offers a great variety of African art, all handmade and authentic African.
The view of Willenstad from the natural harbour, St Annabaai, is but a tast of the delight sights that await as you stroll the historic streets of Otrobanda and Punda, the two neighbourhoods on either side of the harbour and Scharloo across the Waaigat to the north of Punda (opposite the bus station).
The Postal museum is Willemstad's olders building |(16393) whilst most of the newer buildings are 80 -100 years old. They are all well maintained and looks like nwe. An anthropological museum, Kura Hulanda has the largest African collection in the Caribbean.
The Queen Emma bridge was built in 1888 and connects the Punda and Otrobanda districts.
Points of interest--16 floating pontoon boats support the "Pontoon Bridge." Also known as the "Swinging Old Lady," it swings open using two powerful ship motors, allowing ships to access the port. From 1901 to 1934, people had to pay a toll to cross the bridge -- with the exception of pedestrians going barefoot. When the bridge is open to let ships from the harbour pass, pedestrians are transported free of charge by the ponchi, a small ferry.
The Queen Juliana Bridge was officially opened on Queen's day, April 30 1974 after almost a decade of construction.
Points of interest--One of the highest bridges in the world, at 185 feet above the sea level of St. Anna Bay to accommodate the tanker ships entering the narrow harbour, the Queen Juliana weighs 3,400 tons and has four traffic lanes. The view is breathtaking, and includes the entire panorama of Punda, Otrobanda, and the Schottegat.
The original Rif Fort was built in 1828. This area has been completely transformed by Renaissance Mall and teh Renaissance Curacao Resort and Casino.
Tamarind is a local fruit that surprises your tastebuds simultaneously with both sweet and sour flavours. But beyond sending your tongue into a pleasureable quandory of confusion and providing a distinctive tang to many culinary dishes, tamarind also contains a bounty of healthful benefits.
It is diffcult to describe tamarind's complex taste - it is sweet, sour, fruitey and almost spicy all at once. But you have probably tasted tamarind without even realizing it if you have ever consumed Worcestershire sause. They also make a unique candy but be forewarned, it is an acquired taste. I did not like it at all....
I read in the local newspaper that there are only 145000 people and 80 000 cars.
We gave Eddie or book, The Next Superpower from Mark Finley as a birthday present. Johan dropped him at the Fisherman's village in Caracasbaai in order to catch the 7h00 bus to Punda and connefction bus to the airport. we hope he managed to get his ticket sorted out and has returned safely to SA. We sould not stay any longer to support Eddie because our weather window is becoming very small as a result of the delay. Their was an e-mail from Eddie's son notifying hin tghat his (Eddie ) brother is not doing that well and still waiting for the mask to start his concer treatment. Mayybe it is therefore better that he left to be with his brother.
At Kimakalki Marina they charge US$1 for a shower and US$6 per gallon of water. In Bonaire they charged US50c per gallon.
I meant to hand a dvd to the owner of Kimakalki Marina but did not get the opportunity though. We were going to take one last shower before we leave, but did not have one dollar bills left to pay. Ron does not belief in God and does not understand His lover for us. It is so sad. Please keep him in your prayers.
We left at 8h00 as agreed with Immigration seeing that we were also not welcome on the island without a prior arranged Visa.
20120617, Kralendijk, Bonaire
Distance: 423 nautical miles
Min: 110 on 15/6
Max: 150 on 13/6
Bonaire is a Caribbean island east of Central America and North of Venezuela.
Weather: almost constant at 27 degrees celsius
Terrain: Outstandingly managed and protected land and marine parks. Flat, scant vegetation and natural resources of beaches and salt.
Size: 290 km2
Language: Dutch, Papiamentu (Spanish and English are also spoken)
Currency: US Dollar
Local Activities: Scuba diving, Snorkeling and Windsurfing
Bonaire's coral reefs are their most precious asset. The coastlines of Bonaire, Lac and Klein Bonaire have been designated as protected areas.
Coral reefs are complex associations of living animals. Stoney corals are the major reef builders, they look like brown/green colored rocks. The tiny animal, called a polyp, extracts calcium from seawater and deposits this beneath itself as a limestone skeleton. The polyps of one coral head are all linked together into one giant colony. The limestone structures produced by stoney corals provide a perfect home for myriads of tiny bottom dwelling animals as well as being a safe haven for the dazzling array of reef fish you see swimming above the reefs.
Bonaire and Klein Bonaire are surrounded by one almost continuous fringing reef. A shallow and narrow terrace slopes down gently from the shoreline to a depth of 10 meters (30 feet) and then drops, typically at an angle of 45 degrees, to depths of 40 meters (130 feet). There are, of course some variations to this general description, like vertical walls or double reef formations.
We left Trinidad on Friday morning but the Simrad did not work. We turned back and spent the weekend at Coral Cove Marina. They fixed the Simrad on Monday and we left Trinidad behind on Tuesday, on our way to Bonaire.
The wind was fair except for a swell of 33 knots on day 2. Luckily it only lasted for an hour or two. Eddie took the stearing and Johan reefed the main when the wind went down to 20
The pole that Johan built up is working quite well. We were able to cover more than 100 miles per day in very low winds.
We had one rainstorm with higher (22+) wind. It however did not last long enough for Johan to finish washing himself.
The simrad, fixed in Trinidad is still causing problems . It is not able to handle any load. It is a huge disappointment, seeing that we need a bnackup in the event of a failure of the main simrad. We will have to buy a new one to take with us when we arrive in Bonaire.
The information we had on Vonaire was very limited. We were not able to find the Marina very easily. We got a waypoint from Ian, but we added a few of our own, ignoring his. Our ignorance caused some turmoil in finding the moorings.
The wind came up quite strong (25 knots) during the last 8 miles before we reached Kralendijk. Johan was steering by hand and did a splendid job.
When we arrived Johan and I went shopping and discovereed the supermarket called Tops. We bought very nice bread, as the Dutch can bake. Dinner was therefore sandwiches with cheese and/or cold meat. I did not feel like cooking after the passage and just wanted to start my Sabbath, enjoying the very nice view of the marina.
The water is very clear and you can see the bottom of the ocean. Eddie took a swim when we went to the shop. He apparently got a fritght when he got out of the water. A vin appeared where he were minutes ago, flapped and disappeared into the water. Was it possibly a shark... He is not too confident to get into the water again.
There are plenty restaurants and bars on the beach, but none of the noise we heard in so many other islands. I fell asleep with very nice calming music in the background.
What a rude awakening in the early morning hours with music blasting in my ears. The restaurant/bar closest to us changed into a nightclub. The music continued until 03h00. The people was howeer still around for another hour or two.
We went to customs in the morning, just to find out that we are not allowed on the island without a visa. Johan and I have Seaman's passports which grant us permission to stay for 48 hours. Eddie is however not allowed to go ahore until we leave the island. They warned us that we would have the same problem in all the Dutch islands. We still want to go to Curacao and will face the music when we get there.
We were like naughty kids when we returned from customs. Instead of going back to the boat with the dinghie, Eddie and I walked back to the dinghie dock at Karel's bar. Johan went around to fetch us, but decided to meet up with us on shore instead. Technically, Eddie was not on the boat yet (after being at customs) and could therefore not be deported. They said he is not allowed to come ashore from the boat, but he was not on the boat yet.
We went with him to buy presents for his kids. We stopped at an icecream parlour where he enjoyed home made icecream before his return to the boat. He wanted us to join him in shopping but we kept on explaining that it is Sabbath and we do not shop at all on a Sabbath.
We spent the rest of the afternoon reading whilst Eddie snorkeled around the boat. Karel's bar is on stelts in the ocean and technically not on the shore. We "allowed" Eddie to have lunch with Johan on Sunday - Father's day BBQ special.
Eddie got news in Trinidad that his brother was diagnosed with cancer in his throat. They planned to operate on him to remove the cancer and Eddie did not get any news from his daughter yet. We went to the cellphone shop but Eddie decided not to get a new simcard because there were still TT$12 on his Trinidad simcard. It might have been a mistake, because he was not able to make any connection with his daughter in SA.
It affected him so badly that his blood pressure shot up tremendously. It did not help that we were on shore, and he all by himself on the boat. The devil is not kind to you when you are idle. I tried to get internet access to contact his kids for news on his brother, but it did not work. None of the keys at Karel's worked and the other wifi spots were not open until the afternoon.
Eddie reached the stage where he wants to return home to South Africa instead of continuing to Panama with us.
Eddie's brother is waiting for chemo and radiation to start. There is no need for him to rush home and he is therefore still sailing with us to Panama. We will assess the situation once in Panama.
We met Ed at the airport in Port of Spain. He will be sailing with us for the next two months. We took a Maxi Taxi ~ simiilar to SA taxi to the bus depot. We had a good laugh or two due to the experience. Stopping for every person who wants a lift and offloading as and when needed. It was however never more people than seats. We had to pay for one extra person due to Ed's suitcase. I wonder if the big Mama who used one and half seat paid for two as well? Maybe the suitcase paid for her other half seat because of sharing...
We decided that it will be a good idea to visit Tobago with the express Ferry on Friday. The Ferry is a Catamaran and travels at approx 30 - 34 knots. We got to Tobago and bought tickets to return to Trinidad. When we approached the Ferry, we were turned away because it was already full. We were therefore stuck in Tobago and had to wait for the slow Ferry departing at 23h00. We were offered a cabin with 3 beds on the slow Ferry and thought it a good idea. We will be able to sleep comfortably whilst getting back to Trinidad during the 5 - 6 hour journey. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the information desk to collect our cabin keys, we were told that there were no more cabins available. We were offered the old boardroom with broken chairs, etc as an alternative. The money paid for the cabin was not refunded. Would therefore not recommend this type of transport to anybody visiting the islands. Our experience was not very good.
Johan added an additional solar panel to charge the battery for the fridge. He needs his cold water on the boat. Johan also bought 3 new batteries. Two is for the electronics on the boat whilst the third is for the Fridge. He kept the starting battery.
The simrad was repaired by the electronics company. It was unfortunately failing when we sailed out of the harbour. Johan therefore turned back and took it back to the company. They were unable to do anything on the Friday, but spent most of Monday fixing the simrad. It seems as if it is now in very good working condition. A faulty magnet seems to cause all the uproar.
We had a braai at Coral Cove with a lot of fellow yachties. It was a wonderful evening where everybody provide their own meat, drinks and one salad. All eat then from the salad on the table. We had such a nice time that we only got to bed at 01h00 in the morning.
We were on the island for 3 weekends. We spent Sunday afternoons playing dominoes with fellow yachties at the swimming pool area at Crews Inn. It is unusual to see dominoes with 12 dots. It makes it a very interesting game, with private and public trains. The rules is not too difficult and we had a 'training' round to understand the rules. Thanks to Ian from yacht Leila who took us under his wing. He was very helpful to locate the parts we needed for the whisker pole, etc.
Now that the simrad is fixed (hopefully the last time to take it in) we will be leaving for the ABC islands, Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba with the final stop of the Caribbean at Panama towards the end of the month.
20120523, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Too soon and we had to leave the magnificent island of Tobago. It is the first time that westart sailing at night. Normally we prefer to start sailing early morning to ensure everythimg goes well before it gets dark. This tiime we started sailing at 01h00 in order to reach Trinidad during office hours. if you arrive outside office hours you need to pay TT$203.50 overtime. Our reference material indicated office hours as 8h30 to 16h30 and we arrived at customs at 15h55 in Tobago and still had to pay overtime. The office hours are 08h00 to 16h00 and immigration took a while to assist us. We learned our lesson and will therefore ensure we are within office hours. The wind died on us and we had to motor for a good couple of hours especially in the light of the overtime....
Population 1.3 million
Size 4828 square km
Capital Port of Spain
Economy: Substantial proven reserves of petroleum and natural gas. Heavy industrial such as steel, methanol and nitrogenous fertilisers are well developed.
They have two supermarket chains VaLu and HiLo. We found very nice tinned vegetables to stock up with. There is very little water and lots of veggies, which makes it more cost efficient than the mixed veggie tins bought in SA. The taste is also very good. It is almost as if you are eating fresh veggies. It is a pity that we do not have a bigger boat to stock up more....
Meat is imported - lamb from New Zealand at TT$24 and TT$32 per kilo
Beef steak imported from US at TT$54 or TT$56 per kilo
Goat is local but it costs TT$72 per kilo
Diesel is only TT$1.50 per liter, but the marina is charging us more than TT$5.00 per liter. It will therefore be more cost effective to rent a car for the day to buy diesel at the local petrol station instead of using the marina. We will then have the use of the car to transport the groceries, etc
Public transport is again inexpensive. We paid only TT$2.00 per person for a trip from Chaguaramas to Port of Spain in the local bus. The very short passage from the Bus station to the airport is a bit more expensive at TT$6.00 and it is only departing every hour at 5 min past the hour. When we arrived at the station to go to the airport to meet Ed, Johan's friend who is joining us, the bus just left. We were scared that we might be arriving too late at the airport and decided to take a Maxi Taxi. The taxi was only TT$5.00 for the trip, but it was like the taxi's in SA. Stop for every person standing next to the road and keep on loading on and off, ensuring that all the seats are taken. We went through the informal areas, but never felt unsafe.
We used the Maxi Taxi back to the station in Port of Spain and used the bus back to Port of Spain. Ed said it is his first ride in a taxi ever and the first ride in a bus since school/army. We all enjoyed the experience and arrived safely at the boat in the dark. Exhausted and ready for a good meal and good nights sleep.
Johan bought an additional solar panel to charge the battery for the fridge and paid less than what he paid in SA for a similar panel. He also replaced the Trojan batteries (cheaper than SA). I was quite upset about the batteries because the one was already replaced in Cape Town before we left. Unortunately you need to replace both the batteries and not only one at a time (according to the agent). That is what Johan did now and I hope it will not give us any problems on this journey.
Johan also bought a spinnaker pole for us to use with the head sail. The pole will be used to keep the headsail open when the wind is from the back. With the pole we would not need to tack all the time like we did on the route from Cape Town. It is apparently something we definitely need on the next voyage.
Distance: 67 miles
20120520, Storebay, Tobago
Sailed from Scarborough. the capital of Tobago to Storebay in the Caribean side of the island. What a treasure in the middle of the ocean. The airport is very close with the landing strip almost in the ocean. The airport is very busy with mostly holiday makers arriving and then staying in the luxery resorts closeby. We spend too much time in Scarborough and should rather have came here on the second day. Luckily the Marine shop owner is sick and we will therefore be able to stay until Tuesday midnight. We need the gas bottle refilled and they can refill South African bottles if we are prepared to wait for him to get back. The alternative is to dump the bottle and buy a new one. We waited and the price.... TT$50. We snorkeled in very clear waters where you can see the bottom of the ocean even though it is 11 meters deep. Johan scrubbed the barnicles off the hull and Ntombi is again looking like a young girl. This is one place that I want to visit on my next sail in the Caribbean. If it was not for the NZ emigration.
We walked to Penny Savers supermarket a few miles from the resort. On our way, I dog latched itself to us. He walked with us all the way to the supermarket. All the people we met on our way said to Johan "hey mon, put the dog on a latch" and his obvious response "hey mon, it is not my dog". Shame, we spent too much time in the supermarket and he was therefore gone by the time we got outside. It is a good thing because I will not be able to take him aboard...
I found very nice Soya cheese at a price cheaper than Cheddar cheese in South Africa. Unfortunately, we do not have the facilities to keep a lot of them and I had to settle for only one small block of cheese. Tinned beans were quite reasonably priced and we found raisins that were more in our price range. It is difficult when you are in the middle of the ocean with fresh fruit and veggies. Dried fruit is therefore a very good alternative to have on board.
We left at 0100 in the morning of 23 May for the voyage to Trinidad. The wind was fair when we started off, but it unfortunately died down during the morning. We motored for a good 30 odd miles in order to reach Trinidad during office hours. You need to pay overtime if you reach the island outside of office hours and we learned our lesson in Scarborough.