18 February 2018
Len and I went ashore yesterday evening for the cruisers evening, the boat ⛵️owners all get together to chat and have a meal 🥘 together. Whilst I was chatting I noticed a woman stood over me, so I gave her my attention, she said "are you Paul?" So we got chatting and I find out that her name was Judy and she was looking for another crew member to help her and another to sail from Curaçao 🇨🇼 back to Bonaire 🇧🇶 then to Jamaica 🇯🇲 then Cuba 🇨🇺 and then on to Belize 🇧🇿. So an hour later we made positive plans for me to join her on her 42 foot monohull boat called 'Scorch' I arranged to motor over to them the next morning. I took Len into the dinghy dock this morning so he could sort out the transport of the generator back to the UK 🇬🇧 and said that I would pick him up at 12:00. I then went to see Judy and Jane on Scorch. Whilst chatting I found out that I and Len were both illegal immigrants here because we hadn't booked out of Bonaire 🇧🇶 before we left, Judy used the VHF radio 📻 on the cruisers net to confirm what she feared. Because of this I was a few minutes late to pick up Len, when I got there I sat down and waited, unbeknownst to me he was already waiting at a table the other side of the bar area, neither of us saw the other for quite a few minutes, which made him get very annoyed with me. I attempted to apologise to him but he would not accept it, he just started ranting on and on refusing to accept my apology, he even threatened to throw me out of the dinghy, when we got back to the boat ⛵️I decided to leave there and then, so I packed my bags and asked to be returned to shore, he was not happy with the US$ 70 that I was prepared to give him because he believed I owed him US$ 170 (he did not get the 170) 😂. After a bit of to and throwing he eventually took me in.
I got on the VHF to Judy and she came in and picked me up, when I got onboard I got myself settled in and had my dinner 🥘 made by Jane.
Today after a few little jobs and a lovely 😊 lunch 🥗 we motored across the bay and a short walk along a short track we came to the next bay, here we got our snorkelling gear on and took a dip, the water was warm and very clear, we could see for miles, the fish 🐠 were great 👍 with all sizes and colours. After about 5 minutes we came across the wreck that was sat on the bottom about 15 to 20 feet deep, now the fish 🐟 were more numerous and varied. When I dove down the fish were all over the inside the wreck in little shoals, after about 1 hour we returned via a huge oil drilling rig and back to shore. Whilst drying off in the sun 🌞 and on the beach 🏖 we saw 4 iguanas 🦎🦎🦎🦎 which came more than very close, the large male actually bit my finger because it thought 💭 I had some flood in my hand. I got a few photographs and videos. Today was a very good day with plenty of sun 🌞 and temps around 28 degrees c.
15 February 2018 | Curacao
We set sail at first light, to a bit of a bad start. Now I absolutely refuse to cut any type of rope or line, however this is the second time that the skipper has got his knife out to a rope, this morning he hauled the mainsail whilst we were still tied up to a mooring buoy, rather than lower the sail again he just cut away (a little bit more team work would have been the order of the day) as we left the anchorage the weather was rather dull and overcast, our trip was just a short hop over to Curaçao 🇨🇼 of around 38 miles, we didn't see our new island 🌴 until we were within 3 miles due to the very overcast sky's., but as usual we sailed along the coast line for almost 2 hours before we motored up the estuary and set our anchor. We seem quite a long distance away from anywhere at the moment, I think 💭 in order to get things done or any shopping in, we will have to move towards the metropolis, that is Willemstad.
It is now our 3rd day here in Curaçao and we are still in our original anchorage, it is quite nice 👍 and rather quiet 🤫, there is a nice bar / restaurant just a short dingy ride away, it is themed with a whole load of pirates (Jonny Depp is also here) we rebuilt the generator and got it ready to ship 🚢 back to the UK. We humped it to the bus 🚌 stop (all 48kg) and got onboard the bus 🚌 at this time the skipper doesn't know exactly where we are taking it to, the driver stopped and said we were here, but the skipper messed about soooo much the driver didn't wait and moved on, we went all the way to the end of the route, got off and straight back on the bus again, back (almost 1 hour) only to get off where we were told 2 hours earlier. Next we got into some sort of a taxi 🚕 back to the boat and for a little under 2km we were charged $14, the bus cost $2 each way.
In the evening we missed the bus by 30 seconds because we allowed another dingy to depart the dock before we came fully in. We were on our way to watch the carnival 🎡 parade, so I says let's hitch hike to Willemstad, which I was promptly told that there is no way we will be picked up, after only a few short minutes a young lad stopped and took us almost all the way there (how good was that?). We had our dinner 🥘 in town, then made our way round to where the parade was going to pass. The thing that we didn't know was that the parade would not pass until 23:30. The atmosphere was great 👍it was real party 🎉 time with some sporadic dancing in the street and lots of drinking, the queues for the beverages were rather large, so 2 or 3 drinks at a time were ordered, we had a heavy downpour of rain about halfway through and the spectators almost all disappeared, but as soon as it stopped they all returned. At 01:40 the skipper had had enough of the parade and wanted to return to the boat saing "once you've seen 1 parade you have seen them all" and "he was all carnivaled out" so another taxi ride cost us only a few dollars.
So back into Willemstad on the bus again this morning I had a couple of tasks I needed to do. The first was to get a new battery in my old HTC phone 📱, no one could help so I ended up getting a new Galaxy 5s at over US$200, hopefully my phone problems are now a thing of the past.
Happy Valentines Day to all. 💝
09 February 2018
I'm getting rather frustrated because it seems every boat ⛵️that I have sailed on over the last 12 months have had some kind of an issue with producing power, this boat ⛵️is no different, now I know that the skipper has had a big problem with the new generator that he got from the UK 🇬🇧 and it not working out of the box, and that the new wind generator has not materialised for one reason or another. He knows the problem but just seems to be delaying getting anything done, we have all sorts of things tripping out, which is effecting my equipment also, today I watched as my phone 📞 was being charged only to see it get less and less power instead of going up.
Today I got an email from my insurance company refusing to pay for my recent stay in hospital, because my comprehensive 1 year multi trip cover does not cover me for being out of the country for more than 90 days at a time, it just happened that I have been out for 96 days, they also tell me that I have no means of appeal, it is the only decision. I also bet that I cannot get my money back from them.
I had a great swim down to the jetty and back, which took me just under an hour, again the water was great, the temperatures are also very good.
We started to prepare the boat for sailing ⛵️, which means packing all the loose equipment back into their rightful places, and also getting the dingy back on board and the outboard engine locked down. This evening we had a very pleasant visit from out next boat neighbour 'Boruag' he is a Croatian 🇭🇷 and with his wife and two young daughters are taking a couple of years to travel the world 🌍 in their 48 foot boat ⛵️. He tipped up with a bottle of rum, I found he was very civil and even gentle, he Seems very knowledgeable and even put my skipper on the right tracks a number of times, discussing our problems with our for-stay, we almost finished the bottle of rum before he said he must return back to his boat⛵️. It was bed at early o'clock, and up around 05:30, ready to sail at first light in the morning.
Beautiful but expensive
08 February 2018
Today was fix and repair day on the boat, on the trip over from Martinique 🇲🇶 I noticed a small rip of maybe 6cm long in our foresail about 3\4 the way up the forestay and I mentioned it to the skipper who didn't seem to be too worried 😦 at the time. Jump forward to today and he says we will take the sail down, look at it and repair if necessary, as I stood at the base of the mast waiting I was ready to take it in, whilst lowering the sail, which was refusing to come down very easily, I heard a slight ripping sound, as I looked up I just saw the tearing sail and the small hole grow to about 3 metres long, we quickly lowered the sail, to stop ✋ any further damage. The skipper then says that the $40 fix has now jumped up to $2000 for possibly a new sail. In the afternoon I got myself going with the boat cleaner (it does anything) to polish the rusty bits off from the safety hand rails, and the rest of the boat, this is an easy job but very time consuming, the boat ⛵️looks better now. In the afternoon I decided to swim, whilst out in the water 💦 I saw two fish worrying some thing on the sea floor, it was in fact a little octopus 🐙, they were nibbling away at the end of his little tentacles 😢. The water was just about the right temperature and the air was a little over 31 degrees c.
We decided to hire a car 🚗 for the day, the cost was very reasonable in my eyes at only $40. We drove around the coastline of the island 🌴 until we came across the salt pans, which were about 20km around and covered by square miles of lakes. The lakes changed colours from deep ruby red to passion pink and all the way down to soft canary yellows. Then we eventually came to a little town called Rincon where we had a completely free demonstration of how the local distillery was in operation, here they make all their sprits (Rum, Vodka, Whiskey and tequila) out of the local cactus 🌵 plants, we were even allowed to taste all of their different drinks 🥤 all for free without any pressure what so ever to buy, the drink 🥤 is rather expensive but only available here on Bonaire. We then stopped off for lunch almost at the top of the hill, the views were spectacular with almost a 360 degree view of the island 🌴. We then had to do the boring bit of my travels and that is to stock up with food and drink 🍷 for our upcoming trip to Curaçao 🇨🇼. Right now I am rather bored 😑 sitting in the laundromat waiting for my clothes to be dry. The sail is still sat in the boat and has not as yet been repaired or replaced. Maybe at the next island 🌴.
What kind of attack?
05 February 2018 | Bonaire
We upped anchor at early o'clock. To the East, yellows and oranges seemed to burst into the sky just as the sun ☀️ peeped its head up over the hills, just as it came light in Martinique. Within a few short minutes we were sailing ⛵️ together for the first time, and we are headed for Bonaire. The Caribbean Sea 🌊 is a beautiful azure blue when you look down into it, it was calling me to just dive in, but alas we now had somewhere to go.
On the morning of our 2nd day of sailing ⛵️, I had a very bad feeling, well not exactly a very bad feeling, but a bad stabbing pain in my chest and pins & needles, in my fingers. I also had a shortness of breath and panting. Now to say I was worried 😟 is an understatement, I was bricking it. When I told the skipper he didn't seem too bothered 😕, well I pushed on as best as I could, and hoped that the symptoms would go away. It pretty much stopped me dead 💀 in my tracks, everything I did was a total effort and 💯 times more difficult to do. I was not too sure if the skipper entirely believed me just by his lack of concern, this went on through both the rest of the day and night. When I got up after a very restless 😬 night, I could see land which meant to get the boat ⛵️ready to approach the anchorage and get the sails down. I still had absolutely no energy at all, but the job needed doing, so I got one with it as best I could ( I'm not too sure how much help I was) When we got to immigration I asked where I could find the doctors, at this point the skipper said he would meet me back at the dingy 😳.
The hospital was only 600 metres away but it took me almost 20 minutes (I had a young lad on a push bike show me the way as if he was looking after me (very kind I thought)). ) Pretty much as soon as the hospital staff saw me they had me in a wheelchair, then rushed in to a room where I had 8 doctors and nurses wiring me up to an ECG machine, I had the nitroglycerin spray under my tongue 👅 and hooked up to two drips in my left arm. After about 30 minutes they told me that they didn't think 🤔 I was having a heart attack, but that it could be a pulmonary embolism, they then started to monitor and started me on a short course of drugs. They kept me in for 3 nights and 4 days, I was a very relieved 😅person when they said I could leave, I have to go back in 6 days so that they can check me over. Now I just have to get my insurance to pay 💰 up the almost $5000 for my little stay in hospital.
New friends to turn a pedal with
29 January 2018 | Martinique
Today we had an early start and went into the town for about 07:30 🕢 so that we could get a hire car 🚗 for the day so that we could go sight seeing, now it turns out that we went to 5 different car hire companies and all except one were without any vehicles 🚗 the only other one, was an expensive taxi ride to the airport and that we could only get the car for 2 days at €175 because they were closed on Sunday. So whilst wandering around I came across a mountain ⛰ bike 🚲 rental company, so I am now going to have a go on a maheusive electric fat bike, I have booked the fat bike for all day on Monday with a guide from 10:00, the cost is €55 including lunch 🥗 on the beach 🏖 the bike that I will get has never been used because the company has only been trading for 4 days. They also have 6 brand new Mini Mokes, for a reasonable €75 per day, we are tempted. On this boat ⛵️it is so relaxing 😌 and the company and conversation is intriguing, Len is an interesting retired businessman who has made $ millions and lost $ millions, now I have spent some time on the boat she is well laid out and clean.
We got up at early o'clock again this morning, in order to get me to the mountain ⛰ bike 🚲 place. Allan was there to meet me and told me that there would be another two people with us, which I was really pleased 😀 with. So I got my new helmet on along with my new bike ready, checking that it was fully charged. So off I went on my own aiming to be back for 09:45, I did a bit of a road trip and as usual almost got myself lost again, I was heading out away from Le Marin trying to complete a circular route, but as time was running out I decided to back track. For this ride I did 8.2 miles, climbed 1266 feet and my maximum speed was 33.6 mph.When I got back I met up with Allan again and also with Maria and Louis. At 10:00 we got riding. This is where we started our guided ride with Allan as our guide, he was very knowledgeable with the route that we had, and was very professional. The first 3 miles or so were on the road. Then we got onto the single track, mostly firm sand but also very soft and deep in places. The trails were brilliant for me, however at times we were reduced to a little pushing due to the very difficult terrain (rather large rocks strewn completely across the trail and over a considerable distance). Now the bike that I had was an electric ⚡️ assist fat bike, with no suspension apart from the 1psi tires. I was on flat pedals, which always causes me a few problems with my left leg bouncing off especially when I try to go over some of the larger rocks (or ones that are close together, bounce bounce off, as usual for me ☹️). Another small problem was with the huge thorn trees overhanging the trail, and ripping my arms to shreds. We blasted around the coast line some times down to the beautiful waters edge, at one stage Allan warned us that we were about to pass through a nudist beach 🏖, as usual it was mainly old men and a few women (Maria seemed to take her time at this point (lm only joking 🙃)).
After what seemed a short time in the saddle, we stopped at what is the only restaurant on the beach 🏖 (there were others but they were across the road some way away) the food was outstanding, we had a starter with a lovely (very) hot sauce than nobody else would eat. Then I had a whole large red snapper fish with chips 🍟 it just melted in my mouth and was beautiful, 3 scoops of ice cream 🍨 followed, to finish we had coffee. I met Allan's wife who sells bikinis 👙 on the beach 🏖 the bumpy road was lined with hundreds of cars 🚘 all wanting to go to he same beach. The view was awesome, I almost had a massage here.
When we set off again we came to a nice 👍 little wooden bridge in the middle of a salt pan lake. We needed to cross over, however there was knee deep water both in front of and after the bridge. Both Louis and Allan carried all 4 of the 25+ kg bikes 🚲 over to h other side, then pretty much picked me up and did the same for me keeping my leg out of the water 💦. Then we were into the moon 🌓 scape area hi he was just rocks and the salt pan, there were hundreds of little trails going off in many different directions, we spent a good while here which took us up to the Atlantic coast, again beautiful in its own right the waves were crashing into the 40 foot vertical and rugged cliffs. In this area there is the Devils table (a small flat topped island just off shore ). We then went into the mangrove swamps and pedalled round the edge and over quite a fair distance on some north shore (wooden planking raised above the soft mud). At this point we turned right and then did a loop in the trail which took about 1 hour, the disappointing thing is, it was very difficult to ride and sapped our strength just to get back to the very same place. I felt sorry for Maria because of how difficult it was for us, she looked very tired 💤 , but she never once complained, I was very impressed with her (well done Maria 👍👍) after a short while we got back to a proper bit of tarmac road and zoomed back to Le Marin. Where my skipper was waiting. On this ride (my second of the day) we did 10.6 miles, with 623 feet of climbing maximum speed of 26.8 mph. To date this is the best day here in the Caribbean (Martinique is a place to visit, it is beautiful when you get away from the tourists )