Borta med Bengt

En resa

The week that has past: ENGLISH

18 August 2019, Spanish Water, Sunday


Monday 12 August 2019
This turned out to be the ‘broken things day’: The pump of the forward greywater tank stopped working because the plastic ring around the membrane house broke (see picture). We fixed this with a hose-clamp. After that the pump had some difficulty starting up but following some priming help it did its job again. This is already the third Whale Gusher 220 that gives up, one even started burning, since we bought Bengt autumn 2013 so maybe it is time to change to another brand. We have no more spare pumps. Spare rings are available at Budget Marine/Island Water World for 45 USD (?) which is far too expensive for two small pieces of plastic. We have, on the other hand, lots of hose-clamps on board.

The septic tank started peeing through a hole in the side of it and filled the ‘hole’ under the mast foot with a bad smelling liquid. It smelled awful but after cleaning and emptying of the septic tank we could breathe again inside the boat. The holes, it turned out to be several small ones were fixed with steel-epoxy. We are thinking more and more of a toilet called ‘Airhead’. this is a separating toilet which doesn’t need tanks, pumps, flushing or hoses that get clogged up by urine. You don’t have to pump out either. Otherwise a bucket is the best boat-toilet that you can get (just take some spare ones with you because they tend to brake when you sit on them).

The radiator in the doghouse started leaking, this time in another place, fixed with steel-epoxy and vulcanizing tape. The radiator in the galley was also dripping and was fixed in the same way. We fix these leaks immediately since the glycol in the system is fatal for the cat if he drinks it up. If you are considering installing a heating stove, like a Reflex, with radiators I suggest that you buy steel ones and not aluminum ones. They don’t last. Basically you could do without the radiators as the hoses themselves radiate more than enough heat.
All these things broke within a few hours of each other and off course at dinner-time. I wonder if they wanted to tell us something or was it just coincidence. Time will tell!

Tuesday 13 August 2019
During the night some water collected in the ‘hole’ under the mast foot but it didn’t smell so the fixing of the septic tank was successful. It was just some water that had run down from the greywater tank. Elisabeth cleaned and I fixed another radiator. After that we went ashore and took the free bus to ‘Vreugdenhil’ supermarket to take out US-dollars from the ATM in the shop. We need about 1800 USD to pay the Panama Canal fee which has to be done in cash at the City Bank in Colon. We have PayPal, IBAN, internet banking, etc but here nothing has changed much since I transited the canal in 1985, apart from the fee off course (1985: 37 USD for a 24 ft boat. 2019: 1000 USD for a 44 ft boat (the 800 US-dollars we have to pay extra is a buffer which you get back if they don’t have to use it). We stocked up on ‘stroopwafels’ since they were extra cheap. Stroopwafels are from the Netherlands and are two wafers with syrup in between. One of our favorites.

A very windy day today with gusts up to 45 knots so we got wet on the ride back but the sprayhood saved us from a total soaking.
Victor, the OCC-port officer, offered to take us to the propane filling station at Muizenberg tomorrow to fill our two gas-bottles. This can also be done by bus but takes the whole day. First you take 6A from the roundabout at the Fisherman’s harbour to Punda (Willemstad). From there you take the 4A to Muizenberg. Busses are cheap but don’t have a tight timetable so it takes some time. It is also forbidden to take gas bottles on the bus so you will have to hide them in backpacks or so.

Wednesday 14 August 2019
At nine a.m. we were picked up by Victor for a ‘tour de Curacao’. First stop was Hato, the area behind the airport. Here the earth is red. We took a look at the wind-farm and two very nice caves. There we could observe bats and bees but also admire wonderful sculptures in the most incredible colours. All made by nature. The bees live in the caves and drink the water that always drops down from the ceiling. Curacao is a dry island now and animals have to be ingenious to survive. A long time ago there were trees on Curacao but they were taken down to repair ships, build houses, etc. Like on the Canaries Islands man has made its mark here too. After Shell build the refinery for oil from Venezuela the groundwater level went down many meters since it was used for cooling. Shell has left the island, the refinery was bought by the government for a symbolic price, but nothing has been done to restore water levels. Shell only made money and took no responsibility for the environmental results of its actions.

Victor has a great knowledge of the history and geology of Curacao so we heard many stories and got to know facts that we had not heard before. The whole time we travelled on the wind-side of the island we walked around on old sea bottom and as a result of that could see many fossils in the magma soil. We also observed a few native birds of which the Warawara was most impressive (see picture in the Swedish version). We drove a lot off-road and visited Houtjesbaai where people collected wood ‘hout’ in the old days. Nowadays the bay is mostly covered with all sorts of plastic. According to Victor the beach is cleaned every other month but was full of plastic, nonetheless.
We continued to turtlebaai which has a nice viewpoint to observe the turtles that swim in and out of the bay. Unfortunately the Sargasso Weed has filled the whole bay and prevents the turtles from laying their eggs. According to the sign many different species of turtles can be observed but we didn’t see many turtles at all. The smell is terrible as well and the whole bay is brown from the decaying weed. It is actually a unique place since you stand on a plateau and can observe the turtles from above but you don’t disturb them. Even here a lot of plastic floating around. To get to the plateau you have to walk through a hole in the wall and go up on a little staircase. When we arrived a dog was lying in front of the opening and had no intention to let us pass. He was dreadfully skinny and could hardly move. We gave him our water and could pass him. On the way back we used my backpack as a shield. Victor, owner of four dogs, went to the car and got more water and a bowl which we gave to the dog. He drank it all. Victor took some pictures and published them on Facebook hoping that someone would come and take care of the poor dog.

We stopped at ‘Plantation house Ascension’ where we visited the grave of ‘Shon Martin’ (master Martin). This man was a slave himself but ‘boss’ over the other slaves. He behaved like he was the owner of the estate and was not liked very much by his fellow slaves. When he died they buried him lying on his belly with his hands under his head facing the Plantation. In this way he would always have to look at the plantation and never find peace.


A visit to the national park ‘Boca di Seko’ was next. We visited ‘Boca Pistol’ where giant waves crashed into a small opening creating huge fountains of water which often had the form of a pistol. ‘Boca Tabla’ has a cave where the ocean rolls in, very impressive. The last stop in the park was ‘Boca Wandomi’ with its natural bridge. After this we were ready for lunch which we ate in a nice restaurant looking out over Westpuntbaai. It felt like being in Greece.


On the way back to Willemstad we visited a few nice beaches, Groot Knip and Klein Knip, which also gave us a greek feeling. A last stop was made by the beautiful ‘Sint Michel baai’ before we headed back to Spanish Water. Victor told us many things and gave us many facts to take in during the day so we were very tired when we came back to Bengt but it had been a wonderful day and Victor was the perfect guide. We went to bed early.

Thursday 15 August 2019
Needless to say it got to late yesterday to get our gas bottles filled so Victor offered to drive us today instead. First we went to the veterinary (we had ordered a time at nine a.m.) so Obama could get his vaccinations. The vet, Claus, was very gentle and nice so our little cat was not afraid at all. He examined Obama thoroughly and wrote a prescription for some antibiotics to have with us, just in case. Claus is a sailor himself so he understood that we had to have some ‘pills’ for the cat in our medicine box. We also got an International Health Certificate written out. Total cost around 110 Euro.

After this Victor drove us to Muizenberg to get our gas bottles filled at the Curgas filling station. Two 5 kilo bottles cost 46 ANG which is about 11 euros per bottle. Cheap! Payment is done in the office before filling and can only be done in cash or with a local Maestro bankcard. MasterCard and Visa are not excepted. Fortunately for us there is an ATM next to the office which accepted our MasterCard.

Friday 16 August 2019
We took the 6A bus to Punda this morning to check how long Elisabeth was allowed to stay on Curacao and, if necessary, apply for an extension of her visa. On next Monday, 20 August, we have been here 90 days and her visa expires then. I, on the other hand, have a 180 days visa because I am a Dutch citizen. On the bus we met a friendly Belgian sailor who gave us a lot of information about Aruba, our next island. We had company with him all the way across the pontoon bridge to the immigration office past the Juliana bridge. Unfortunately we got no help there but the very nice gentleman working there told us to go to ‘the main office’ in town. This is situated in a modern building opposite McDonalds in one of the main streets of Willemstad. Again a very nice and helpful person gave us the info we needed (until now we have only met nice and helpful people here on Curacao). Elisabeth has a 90 day visa but the 23 days she was in Sweden are not counted so she can stay until 8 September. This was good news because we had two parcels on the way which had been delayed with a few days. We celebrated by eating lunch on the opposite side of the street. It was a long time ago we tasted a Big Mac. After walking through town and the big tourist market we took the bus all the way back to Jan Thiel where we did some shopping at Albert Heyn. With heavy bags we walked the two kilometres back to the dinghy dock in the Fisherman’s harbour.

Saturday 17 August 2019
In the morning Victor passed by the Fisherman’s harbour and I could finally collect the parcel with the new rudder-blade for the windvane. A bit later we got a visit from Tobias and Yana from the German ‘Maya’, a nice old Vindö 33. Even here we got a lot of information about Aruba. Tobias even had some useful links with info to download.

The parcel was opened and I was occupied for the rest of the day with fitting the new rudder and the new fitting for the paddle. As always we had to find solutions for ‘things that didn’t fit’ (the new fitting for the paddle was to wide so the blade didn’t fit) but in the end all worked as it should. The whole windvane had to be cleaned and sprayed with WD-40 because the salt had invaded everywhere and things had got stuck after three months of non-using. The air here on Curacao is ‘aggressive’ because of the high humidity, high temperature, high salt contents and strong winds. You really have to protect all things metal.

Sunday 18 August 2019
During the night a strong squall with rain and thunder past over us so Bengt got a free freshwater shower. We even could collect some water to wash our dinghy sprayhood with which had to be impregnated and had to be salt-free for that. It was one of the moistest nights since we came to Curacao so we didn’t sleep very well. Not until later the air cleared and dryer cooler air moved over could we sleep.

Since we didn’t feel like buying another Whale pump for 300 USD I crawled into the engine room and took an old pump out. We had changed the greywater tank for the shower two years ago to one with a build-in pump but could not get the old pump out of the engine room because it was situated in a ‘difficult’ place. But now, two years later, the screws holding it in place had rusted through so the pump could be taken off easily. After testing, it worked fine, and cleaning we put it in the spare-parts locker.
Elisabeth sewed towels of my old dressing gown. We use a little inverter, 12 V to 150 W/220 V, which is strong enough to power the sewing machine. I have worked on the windvane. The paddle got some new paint and the rudder blade got two layers of anti-fouling. Putting it all in place was easy so now we long for a long test-sail. In the afternoon we cleaned the anchor chain which, after three months in the water, started to get dirty. Elisabeth sat in her inflatable bathing-ring under the chain and cleaned it link for link. I took up the chain bit by bit for hand until we had cleaned 20 meters of the 40 we had out.
Until next week!