12 April 2013
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