Arriving in Curacao
We left Bonaire Friday March 29th 7:30 am and got in to Curacao at 2:00 pm. The wind was the usual 22 knots wind, with gusts to 30 knots, 6-8 foot seas from the east which is OK but we also had a north swell, making the sea confused and lumpy part of the way. We did manage to get out on the bow for a while and wash our algae covered dingy. The trip was pretty non-eventful until we rounded the east end of Curacao and a shackle broke at the top of the mast and our main sail came down rather unexpectedly. I got the engines on while Tony got the lines and HUGE sail gathered and tied down on deck. We motored the rest of the way and are now tied up on the T-head at a small resort marina (Seru Boca Marina). That is after a totally unsuccessful attempt at stern-to mooring that completely exhausted me while I ran around the boat moving lines around trying to accomplish one plan, which failed, then another plan, which failed, and then another. All because the mooring line was totally inadequate in a 20-30 knot crosswind.
The day we arrived, it was Good Friday and there were all kinds of water sports taking place in Spanish Waters harbor. As we were coming in through the channel, there were windsurfers, opti sailboats, sunfish, lasers, jet skis, dingys, small motor boats, large motor boats, and larger sailboats all crossing in front of us. It was almost like a game to see who could get closest to our props! It was unnerving to see so many motor boats in full throttle with windsurfers crossing in front and behind them (see photos)!
Coming in, we also got a view of a Curacao beach. They have a new concept for a beach where they build a jetty and fill it in part way with sand and let water in - that is a beach! (see photo).
Curacao was a Dutch island and is now independent, but still closely tied to the Netherlands. It is located 35 miles north of Venezuela, 36 miles long by ~4.5 miles wide, with a population of about 145,000 (compared to Bonaire with ~20,000). It is also very dry and arid, but there are trees more than 4 feet tall here!
We went to Willemstad to clear in through customs and immigration. Willemstad is a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site (see photos). By the time we managed to get guilder (local currency) and pay for parking, the Queen Emma Pontoon Foot Bridge (built in 1888) opened to let a ship pass and we took the ferry. Of course, the ferry had to let the ship pass, so by the time we got to the other side, the foot bridge was open again. Hmmm! But, then we got to cross back over the foot bridge and admire all the different colored buildings from both sides (see photos).
We also saw the very colorful "floating market". Boats from Venezuela come here loaded with fruit and vegetables and stay tied up along the street selling their fruits until they are gone.
More later - Gail & Tony
Liming in Bonaire
We enjoyed our time "liming" (just hanging out) with our Bonaire friends; Mary (from Texas, single-handed motor boat owner) and Nancy & Ginny (from California, sailing on Willow). Yes, it was a month of "Tony and the girls" with several dinner parties on Cetacea and visits to all the fine restaurants in Kralendijk (see photos). Went into a marina to work on the transmission for 2 days and left behind enough oil to start a refinery. But, we got the transmission, generator and hot water heater problems all fixed! And, got out of the marina and back to a new mooring ball location (see photos). And, back to spending more time diving/snorkeling and going to the market and shopping in town (see photos).
Later - Gail & Tony
Touring Bonaire - the dusty desert with cactus and iguana!
We are very behind on our blog postings. This is from last month when we were in Bonaire (we are now in Curacao). We've just been so busy!
We stared out touring Bonaire by going north along the west coast with all the beautiful scenery along the coast. But, inland, the island is a desert with cactus, thorn bushes, and iguana (see photos)! And it never rains here except the rainy season, which is one month; November. Touring the island, and seeing the desert, we came to understand why we have had a thin coat of dust on our boat (inside and outside). Whenever we get out of the water and walk around the deck, it quickly becomes mud!
We drove a couple miles to the other side of the island and saw the wind farm, Indian encryptions in the caves, the blow holes, the cactus distillery where they make tequila (unfortunately, not open), the mangrove forest with flamingos (see photos), the wind-swept east coast with driftwood sculptures and petrified coral in the limestone (see photos), and the Willemstoren lighthouse. There is an excellent wind surfing beach in an area that is an average of ~3 feet deep protected by a reef. We had lunch at the Jibe City Hang Out Bar and watched all the wind surfers (>50 surfers at any time). There is also a kite surfing beach, where you can typically see ~20 kitesurfers at any time.
The most interesting part for us was the salt pans. The salt pans cover ~20% of the island with the huge condenser ponds, evaporator ponds, and the crystallizer areas in their varying shades of blue, green, and pink depending on their level of evaporation (see photos). There were lots of flamingos in the ponds (at a distance). The slaves and donkeys were originally used in the salt production and there were red, orange, white, and blue obelisks along the coast to let ships know where to anchor, depending on what grade salt they were purchasing. The slave huts and obelisks are still present (see photos). The salt ponds (owned by Cargill since the 1960s) are now solar powered and they use conveyors to load ships.
More later - Gail & Tony