More of Don is still coming.
19 July 2017 | Curacao
Bill/Cloudy with more wind and rain in the forecast
Now that I got the last post out of my system, here's what went on on Saturday, our third day here in Curacao.
There is a free bus that runs 6 days a week(0830) from the dinghy dock to one of the big super markets. It also is right next to Budget Marine and Island Water World for any of our boaters needs. Tracy and I went in along with Roy from Serenity as he still needed a new spark plug for his outboard. We(Roy and myself, Tracy was shopping for groceries) ended up at Napa figuring it would be cheaper than either of the chandleries. It was just down the road. Saturdays hours were from 0900 on and we were just a bit early so we stood outside and waited, along with 8 other people. Unlike stores in the US(see a crowd and open the doors especially if you are a small business)they stayed closed and locked up till 0910. We're not in American any more.
Roy got his spark plug and then we walked back to the grocery store and met up with Tracy still going up and down the aisles. The bus picked up everyone(about 8 of us) and we headed back, some more loaded than others. Once we dropped Roy off at his boat, he had his outboard up and running in about 10 minutes. It had been a bad spark plug. He was off again this morning(Monday) to get a few more.
This morning(Monday) we started watching the weather as we knew it was coming. I started in on looking at our start battery bank that had so badly overheated on the way here. I checked each cell and refilled them but they were still reading 12.7 volts on each. Not the sign of a really toasted battery. With them checked and refilled, we started the engine and listened to her purr. We let her run for a while checking the volts coming from the alternator--14.5 so that wasn't the problem. I disconnected the ACR bit of electronics from the start batteries and taped off the ends of the cable making sure that it was out of the loop. We don't need any more drama. We will be ready to up the anchor and move to a bit better anchorage spot tomorrow morning. Where we are is find for north or east winds but if it should shift around to the south, we could come up and personal with a reef should we swing on the chain. Gee, ain't cruising fun? I'll type more tomorrow once we see what Mother Nature is throwing at us then.
It's now Tuesday morning and we've been busy. Depending on what website you look at or weather forecast that comes over the SSB radio, we will either have a storm or we won't have a storm. Some say up to 60 knots, some say just the normal 20(what it's blowing right now). No one seems to have a clue. Satellites and big airplanes flown into Don and still no clue as to what is going to come our way.
After a conversation with Chris and Elaine on Nemo yesterday(they were anchored beside us)we decided to wait till Tuesday(today) and make a decision as to what to do about our anchoring. In the end, we decided early this morning that we really needed to move so up came the anchor just after 0730 and we moved a bit farther south in the many fingered bay. The Curacao government has divided the bay into sections where you can anchor. We had been in B but move over to C(along with Nemo). After repeated tries with our Rocna anchor, we finally got it to hold but after some discussion, we decided that Zephyrs stern was just to close to shore. IF the anchor had broken free, we would have had about 20 seconds before we would have gone aground. Not something we wanted to contemplate, so after about 90 minutes of me sitting in the cockpit watching our anchor alarm and staring out at the rest of the bay and Tracy sitting below having definite concerns, we pulled up the anchor(it had actually set quite well) and head back to close to where we started only farther out in the bay(and outside the B box). When storms come, the Coast Guard will let people anchor outside of the boundaries just to make sure they are safe since inside the boundaries fills up quickly. Where we dropped the anchor, it grabbed quickly and set very well. We again set our anchor alarms and are settling in. We don't plan to leave Zephyr till Thursday if this storm does materialize. We sit and we wait.
It's now Wednesday morning and we were up at 0600 to listen to Chris Parker, the weather guru for the Caribbean. Reception was bad so we moved over to the different weather sites we look at on the net. It still showed Don coming our way but with much less intensity. With us learning that, we again pulled up the anchor just after 0700 and pretty much moved back to where we started, just bit more to the south. The anchor went down in 16 feet of water and I let out the chain and she bit in first try! A good thing. We judged our position so we were not close to Serenity and started getting ready. We could see the storm front headed our way blotting out the Sun. When we'd pulled up the anchor this morning, parts of it were caked in mud so I spent about 15 minutes with a bucket cleaning off the fiberglass at the bow. We knew it was going to rain but I wanted the muddy mess gone before it had a chance to dry and harden around the windlass. We could see the storm coming with it's progressively darker clouds so we put up the side and part of the stern cloth panels that enclose the cockpit. We can sit out and stay nice and dry and be about to better watch what was happening around us. We headed below to have a quick breakfast just after 0800. At 0815, the rain and winds started as the outer reaches of Don started in. We'd gotten set at just the right time so we had a nicely set anchor and an enclosed cockpit. Winds hit in the mid 30 knot range and driving rain came with it. The first of the storm passed in a few minutes and now we are just sitting and waiting for the next arrival.
It's now 1530 and we are waiting for the next round due here about 1730 according to the weather folks. We've only had about 3/4 inch of rain while the north coast of Curacao has had over 7 inches so far today with more coming. Winds are up and down, from calm to only about 10 knots as the front comes through so it's been pretty much a non event but there is still more coming. Believe me, I'm not complaining, I just wish the forecasters were better at their jobs(don't we all).
Don is almost here!
19 July 2017 | Curacao
Bill/overcast, waiting for more rain.
It's now Wednesday morning and we can see it coming.
Why won't she leave us alone?!?!?!?
17 July 2017 | Curacao
Bill/sunny with winds
I'm doing this post a bit out of order. It's now Monday at 1800. Once I'm through with this rant, it will begin talking all about us checking in.
Why can't Mother Nature cut us some slack? After buying Zephyr in Seattle, we took her down the Newport, Oregon for her first winter. What happens then? They get smashed by hurricane force winds. Up to 93 knots causing lots of damage. When we moved back to Seattle for her refit, Seattle has the third worst Winter on record. In Tonga, we had earthquakes. In Tuvalu, we just managed to miss a cyclone that trashed poor Fiji. We'd originally planned on being there but had changed out mind at the last moment. In Richards Bay, South Africa, they had a hurricane come through(always at night of course) with winds over 80 knots again. Last year, when we were in Grenada, a tropical cyclone started up so we took off for Trinidad. After passed just north of Trinidad, it became Hurricane Matthew. This year, when we were in Bonaire, another tropical storm(Bret) came through and now we've learned that we have another tropical storm coming our way--DON! Where we are, Curacao has been pretty much exempt from these types of storms for centuries!! Now this is coming our way!! I hate to say it but it's just NOT FAIR!! What the heck did we do to upset the weather gods? It's just not normal. OK, the rant is over.
Now that we are in Curacao, we had to head to town and get checked in. We're anchored in Spanish Harbor a bit farther down the coast. Yesterday morning, we gave a lift to Roy and Ann from Serenity as their outboard had decided to pack it in. We made a bridal and with them behind us, we headed in to catch the 6A bus for town. Cost was just about $1.00. Once into town, we marveled at the wonderful architecture that is everywhere. Bight colored buildings all over town. I'll get some pictures later(forgot our camera)and post them.
Once off the bus, the four of us made our way to Customs. They have a big sign up at the top of the building but nothing down low where you walk so we just tried to keep the high sign in sight. Tracy had down the preliminaries of our checking in with a website called "SailClear". It's a multi national site that once you find the country you are going to, you can enter all the data required so once there, all they have to do is print it out and voila, you're done. Only problem was that the agent we got had not really been trained on how to pull up the data from the program. He had to get assistance from another agent but once he had it, all we had to do was sign the bottom and we were done with Customs. Roy and Ann hadn't done it so they had to fill in the necessary forms before they were done. Off to find an ATM so we could get Guilders. They will take US money but any change you get is in guilders. No Euros either. With money in hand, we had to make our way to Immigrations. Their office is no where near Customs. It across the river. So we walked about a half mile down one side of the river, over a bridge that swings open to let boats in and out and then up the left side of the river to a security booth where we had to sign in for clearance to get to go to the Immigration office.
With that done, we took off again for Immigration. Again, a quick and easy sign in and all four of us headed up stairs(same building) for the "Anchoring Permit Office". There are a few different places on Curacao where boat can anchor. If you want to move, you have to go back to the "Anchor Permit Office" and get a new permit. Cost $10US. Every time you move, you have to tell them when you are moving, where you are moving too and how long you are going to be there and where you are going when you leave there. This "office" is more like a window in a hallway. No chairs or seats, you just stand and wait your turn. At one time there were 8 of us waiting in the hall and more outside. It took a while for everyone to get their permits but once done, it was time for lunch so we walked back down to the security gate and returned out permits to walk to Immigration and then down the river side and over the bridge where we found a nice restaurant. Tracy and I each had a sandwich and a coke. Cost $19.00. Cokes run $3.00 for a can!!!
Once done with lunch, we needed to find Digicel. Well it was back on the far side of the river and the bridge was closed and swung away so a tug boat leading a car carrier could get through. No knowing how long it was going to take, we opted for the free ferry across the river. We knew about where Digicel was and we got a far better deal for internet here than in Bonaire. 18 gigs for $79. We paid $56 for just 8 gigs in Bonaire.
With that done, we headed for the bridge only to find it was just opening for another boat coming through but we waited till it was back open as it was to be a fast opening. We headed for the bus stop to catch the 6A bus back. As we neared the main terminal, we watched as the 6A bus pulled away. We'd just missed it and the next one wasn't for another 90 minutes. We asked around and found that there were smaller buses(mini vans) that would take you for $3.70 guilders(about $2.15) but would get us back much sooner than waiting for the bus to return. The four of us piled in and off we went getting back to the dock shortly there after. Roy hadn't found the spark plug he thought he needed to fix his outboard(got water in his gas) so we made plans to go in today and find it and scope out the local large grocery store. ( wrote all this a couple of days ago and will post again probably tomorrow morning on what we have done since)
Defrosting the freezers and moving to Curacao.
15 July 2017 | Spanish Waters, Curacao
It's about time to move on. We think Thursday will be the day as no one leaves a port on Friday. It's bad luck to do so.
We spent this morning doing more odd jobs. The stainless steel tank for the stern head has developed a very small hole in its front that we found when we took off the wood paneling that covers the tank and fiberglass hull. We found a small stream of hardened "stuff" running down the outside of the tank. No big deal. We cleaned it up with soap and water and then one of those yellow sponges with the scratchy side on it to get what might be left and then I mixed up some JB Weld and slathered it on. I made a nice border around the small hole with 3M Blue tape so it would look better though not to many people will ever see it. Slathered it on and then peeled off the blue tape and made a nice square patch. It takes a while to harden but then it should be just fine.
While I was doing that, Tracy set about defrosting our two freezers. The Engel and the Cool Blue. The Engel is one of those chest freezers that looks like an ice chest but runs on 12 volts. It's our primary freezer as it keeps everything in it very frozen. The Cool Blue is a fridge/freezer combo that freezes on one side of the divider wall in the chest and refrigerates on the other side. When defrosted, it does a great job. Unfortunately, the insulation in the built in box dates back to when Zephyr was built so we're sure it's not the best or in the best of shape after 35 years. Tearing it apart to put in new insulation is a job I don't ever want to face. Now that both are done, we should have nice frozen and refrigerated food for a good while. I really like the Engel as it's cold enough that I can make ice cubes in it and I just love ice in my drinks. True, it did double our battery use but we would still have to run the generator every day so no big deal.
I have a doctors appointment tomorrow as a follow up from two weeks ago and then we will set about the final stages of getting ready. Some of this morning was spent putting away all our scuba gear and getting it tied down so it won't go flying should be get hit by a big wave. Winds are supposed to be 15-20 knots from the east so no big deal. We only have to go about 40 miles so it's an easy trip. Leave in the morning and in by the afternoon.
It's now Thursday evening and we are now in Curacao after an easy 6 hour trip across. As for Wednesday, well we were on the run for most of it. While I sat at the doctors office for my followup check up, Tracy took off for Van Den Tweel grocery store and the Warehouse Grocery store. She's been having problems with her back so I wanted to meet up with her and lug the heavy cart we use for transporting the food back to Puff. All worked out find and we even had a quick lunch at Van Den Tweel. Once back at Puff, we took off for Zephyr and the next step of the day. We checked the water tanks and found that we badly needed the tanks refilled so we left Puff on the mooring and headed for the marina. We'd filled up there last month so we knew the routine. The problem came when we pulled into the marina and found a 50 foot catamaran tied up. They had been scoping out the neighborhood looking for a place for their boat out on the moorings but more on that later. We waited for them to pull out for their slip but they had to wait another boat(Scorch) to more out from it. Once the Catamaran(Edelweiss) was gone we pulled in the started filling the tank. We were leaving two days before we had planned so the marina was going to refund us the $21.20 we had already paid. After our filling, we worked it out with the office that we would get a refund of $1.20. Our tanks were full and all was fine. We took off for our mooring as quick as we could as we still needed to check out with Customs and Immigration. Once back on the mooring, we grabbed out paperwork and headed back for town. As we entered Customs and Immigration, we found that group from Scorch was just checking in after booking in at the marina for 4 days(no mooring available). When they found out we were leaving they asked about getting ours. Apparently, when they came into the marina, they hit the electrical/water post on the marinas deck and trashed it. We offered them our mooring if they could get out of their problem with the marina. If they could, we told them to bring out a fender and we could attach it to the mooring reserving it for them. We headed back for Zephyr as we still had things to stow and straighten out before we could leave in the morning. As we were doing that, we were approached by a family in a dinghy asking if it was true that we were leaving in the morning. They were the family off Edelweiss! We told them about our promise to Scorch and that Serenity, a boat right in front of us was also leaving. They went over and had a conversation with Roy and Anne and would return with something to attach to their mooring. They were thrilled as only spending one night in the marina instead of 4 would save them well over $500 as catamarans pay more since they are so big. We never heard from Scorch. As we were preparing to get underway this morning, another boat was pulling into the bay looking for a mooring. I waved them over and explained about the situation here in Bonaire and offered them ours as we had not heard from Scorch. They of course were quite happy to get it as it's a deeper mooring with more blocks of concrete on the bottom. Before we were 100 yards away, they were already heading into grab the mooring lines. These moorings are hard to get and getting one was something you don't say no to. Serenity came right after us and we headed for Curacao. As expected, where it had blown strong winds for weeks, Mother Nature decided to give us winds of less than 10 knots so we ended up motor sailing the entire way--about 40 miles and were pulling in by 1345 having left at 0730.
We dropped our anchor and it refused to set but after three tries, it did and I swam down to check it out. It had buried about half of the anchor and after Tracy put Zephyr in reverse, it was in about 80%. We'd dropped anchor with just 5 feet under the keel(12 feet deep) and I let out 150 feet of chain. We have a huge amount of chain out but it makes staying put much easier. Better to much chain than too little.
We discovered a problem once we were anchored. It appears that the start battery alternators regulator has failed and it lets lots more power into the batteries and may have fried them. We had water spewing from the tops of the cells and the floor boards above the battery box was very hot. So tomorrow, we will be looking at getting the problem resolved. The good thing is that Curacao is a major fix it place for boats with all kinds of repair facilities available. It shouldn't be to hard but it will probably be not cheap either.
We will get checked in tomorrow as see if we can find Digicel of some provider to get us back on line.
This and that.
10 July 2017 | Bonaire
Bill/Cloudy with big winds blowing the dirt.
Having been here for a while, it was time yesterday to make another trip to the marina and get more gasoline. Between the generator and the use of the Tohatsu outboard to get us to dive sites, we'd used the 20 gallons we bought back on June 2. We loaded our four jerry cans into Puff and off I went. Had nice chats with the marina folks and got our cans all filled. This time, the price had actually gone down to $4.67 per gallon from $4.83 of a month ago. Still, some of the most expensive fuel we have ever bought but when you need it, you need it.
Upon my return, we hoisted the cans over the port side since we store them there strapped to the stanchions and life lines with a 2X6 chunk of wood. We broke our earlier 2X6 as we were going into Madagascar close to two years ago. So far, the new one(much heavier wood) is doing just fine. It's a nice piece of rose wood.
About the middle of the afternoon, I grabbed one of our computers to read a book I'd loaded only to fine the battery was dead. No problem, just plug it in. That is if you can find the cord. It wasn't where it belonged so the search was on. Now Zephyr isn't that large but she's got tons of spaces to "hide" things. I'm still looking for a fresh water pump I brought back from the US over two years ago. Into drawers and cabinets, under and behind cushions. It was no where to be found. I jumped in Puff and headed back to the laundromat since it was the last place I could remember using it. Nope, not there. We had company coming from drinks so I headed back to help get ready. This morning, we started looking again and finally found it forward on one of the berths under the cat tube and two wheeler. No clue how it got there but we have it and the computer is getting charged.
Early yesterday morning, when we got up, we found the boat that had been attached to the fisherman's mooring off our starboard side was gone. Apparently, one of the boats farther west of us had left and he snatched the mooring as fast as he could. He's already been visited by the marina folks twice(they monitor and regulate all the moorings) as well as the National Parks patrol boat. He knew he had to get off. This morning, two more boats came in and one found a mooring and the second(a 56 X 26 foot catamaran) had to go into the marina till something becomes available. This place is still jammed and boats either go in the marina of leave for Curacao.
It's now Saturday afternoon and it's been a busy day. All the moorings are still taken with people leaving their dinghies or fenders attached when they leave for the marina for water or fuel or go out to dump their black water tanks. We dropped our lines just before 0800 and took off our selves this morning as both our tanks were darn close to being full. We again, left Puff on one mooring line and our blue fender attached to the other with a nice long line for easy snaring. It took a couple of hours to do the distance required by Bonarie to get us off shore enough but both tanks got emptied and we came back just bit lighter. Roy from Serenity came out in his dinghy and attached our mooring lines to one of the fittings so we had no problem getting reattached. Then once that was done, Tracy shut off the engine and jumped in and attached the second line and freed Puff. I led Puff to the stern where I tied her off. We couldn't dawdle as I needed to go to town to get our internet re-upped. We were down to our last 500 megs so I got another 8 gigs for $56 and headed back.
Once back on Zephyr, I put on my swim trunks and fins and mask and jumped in so I could take our emergency back up mooring line down to the shackle we'd attached to one of the big concrete blocks on the bottom. Once through, I brought the end of the line back up to the surface and passed it off to Tracy and we were set with the two mooring lines and the back up third mooring line. A quick shower and a nice lunch(one of Tracys incredible salads) and we were pretty well set for the day.
About 1430, as I sat in the cockpit reading, I watched as a small float passed by Zephyr off her starboard side. I called below for Tracy's help and I climbed into Puff and took off after it. Ended up being a kids float, about 24 X36. I brought it back and went boat by boat to most that were upwind of us and so far haven't found who lost it but there are a few more boat to check once the owners return.
It's sunny again with winds in the mid teens so the Duogen is spinning nicely on the stern making what it can for the batteries. Sure wish we had solar panels. Would make a ton more that what the DuoGen does.
It's now Sunday afternoon and I'd have posted this post late last night but apparently Digicel is doing their impression of AT&T for service. As you read above, I'd signed us up for another 8 gigs for $56. For some strange reason, it never got activated(again). By late in the evening, we no longer had service and with them being closed on Sunday, we now have to wait for Monday before we can go in and get it fixed. This isn't the first time this has happened and in the past, we've gotten burned the same way. Pay, not get activated and have to return to get it fixed. Quite annoying. Going a WHOLE DAY with no internet!!! Oh, the withdrawal pain!!!
One thing I forgot to write about was the zinc on our Max Prop. After attaching the spare line to the mooring block, as I swam to the stern to climb back on board, I checked the zinc as it looked a bit loose. It was so I had Tracy hand me down an allen wrench to tighten it. It just didn't want to really tighten up so I had her pass me down a new one and I took off the old and put on the new. Without diving gear, I have to hang on to either the prop or the zinc to keep myself deep enough to get to the zinc and be able to work on it. It took a while but she's all changed out and we are good for another 300 or so engine hours.
05 July 2017 | Bonaire
Bill/Partly cloudy and still blowing
It's now Tuesday and it's been a busy week out here on the moorings. Yesterday, several boats showed up and meandered up and down the mooring field trying desperately to find any available moorings. One came in a bit later and grabbed the mooring just to our forward port side. I'd tried to radio him but he was on a different channel(found out later). He'd come in on the east side of the field and went all the way to the end of the field on the west not finding a mooring they liked. When he finished his looking, he just stopped and appeared to sit trying to figure out what to do. Eventually, he made his way up to us and took one of the few(like 2) buoys left. His wife did an amazing job of getting the mooring up and a line through it the first time. I congratulated her later. It's not an easy job when the winds are pushing your boat around. They got settled in and I later filled them in on where to go to get checked in with Customs/Immigration as well as the Marina.
Today was a different matter. Early in the morning, I went in deck as a dinghy checked out the small moorings just to our starboard side. They are privately owned and not available for cruisers. In our conversations, I found out that he was stuck in the marina and wanted to get out of there. I showed him the other mooring off our port side and loaned him a mask so he could snorkel down and check it out. He needed a depth of 7 feet for his boat. In the end, he decided to pass on it but on his way back to the marina, a big catamaran had just dropped his mooring lines. He got lucky! He tied his dinghy to the mooring and walked back to the marina. When he was checking out the one beside us, I told him that one boat had already come in and taken one farther east and that two more boats were headed in. Finding this mooring was very good luck for him.
I watched on our AIS screen as the two other boats started into the harbor and came in close to us. There's one guy on a dinghy that seems to go back and forth trying to help the boaters when they come in. No clue who he is. He put a fender on the mooring off our port side to "hold" it and then assisted the first boat that was coming in to take the private moorings just off our starboard side. It's owned by a local and isn't available. I advised them of that but their response was "everything is full". In the end, the boat just stayed there, not moving. As for the third boat that was coming in, they found an available mooring and in the end, and the man in the dinghy took the fender off the "reserved" mooring ball making it available again. As for the boat that's on the "private" mooring off our side, he's now 20 feet from us and maybe 15 from the other boat. A bit close. It's now almost 1800 and the big launch from the marina just came out inspecting all the boats and making a list of who is where. As for the boat beside us(20 feet off our starboard side), he left a note on their boat that they have to move as soon as possible and a second boat(came in yesterday)that had taken another private mooring closer to town also had to move. As of right now, there is only one mooring that we know of in the field. As of now, the island is closed but we know more boats will be coming in tomorrow so it's going to get interesting. It's a great form of entertainment for us.
As we were heading over to one of the boats off our port side for "sundowners", we spotted a trimaran coming into the mooring area having just arrived from Carricou just north of Grenada. An American boat! One of the few here. We motored out in Puff and showed them the last available mooring(the one the guy had taken the fender off)and guided them in and helped get their mooring lines attached. Once they were in and hooked up, we headed over to Serenity(Roy and Ann) and had a nice evening swapping stories about both our cruises. They had come over from the Netherlands crossing the Atlantic never having sailed the ocean before. BRAVE for a first trip.
As of this morning(Wednesday)the boats that were advised to move haven't and another ketch came in to the harbor, looked through the moorings and not finding any headed into the marina. Going to be an expensive stay for them. We have no idea what the authorities are going to do, if anything about these two boats. They are tied up where they do not belong but there is no where other than the marina to go. The folks on the boat next to us have been gone most of the day.
I took off about mid morning for Van Den Twill(big grocery store) to get a few things we were short on and then to the Grocery Warehouse for more chubs of frozen hamburger(80% lean) and at a good price and was back on board by 1400 and then we unpacked and stowed what I'd bought. We're trying to be better about keeping poor Zephyr picked up and clean. With all the cat hair blowing around, it's a continual chore but that's all part of have two cats on board. It's been another sunny windy day with gusts back in the low 20 knot range and it's keeping the wind generator humming.
The picture today is of a cluster of Spotted Feather Duster Worms. As I snorkeled between Zephyr and shore here on the mooring, I found singular as well as clusters of these creatures. They burrow into the sand and take nutrients from any thing that might pass by. Sensitive to light and anything that moves near them, they pull in their "Feather Duster top and vanish under the sand.