Borta med Bengt

En resa

The week that has past

bild: The crew of Shalom

Sunday, 1 September 2019, Boka Santa Cruz, Curacao

The week that has past us:
On Monday vi downloaded the weather forecast to see which track DORIAN would take. It had taken a north-westerly course so it will not affect us on Curacao apart from that the wind will be a little less strong on both Tuesday and Wednesday. The epoxy-fixing of the watermaker has partly succeeded. It is not leaking as much as before. A few towels take care of the water so that it will not run into the engine room. Thuy and Caspar passed with their dinghy and invited us for 'fika'. They had been on the embassy and got different answers to their questions depending on which person they talked to so they decided to sail to Bonaire tomorrow, Tuesday and see what happens. Bonaire is a Dutch municipal and therefore has different rules from Curacao and Aruba which are independent countries within the kingdom of the Netherlands. Don't ask me what the difference is but when you clear in on Bonaire you will meet the Dutch customs and immigration while on Curacao and Aruba you will meet their own officials but all are very friendly and helpful. We had a very nice afternoon with Thuy and Caspar.

Tuesday morning we waved goodbye to Thuy and Caspar and took the dinghy in to the Fisherman's harbour to take the bus to 'Vreugdenhil' to stock up before our departure. After having done the shopping we went to the café to enjoy a free cup of coffee and connect to the free Wifi. This morning the staff had put a big 'frozen cheesecake' out for their customers. Nice! Elisabeth wanted to do the washing in the afternoon. This is some work since the generator has to be put on the aft deck and valves have to be opened and closed. The little valve that we have in the hose from the water tank to the washingmachine refused to open so I had to crawl over the engine to replace it. For this we had to open several lockers to get a new valve, new hose clamps and Teflon-tape out. What should have been a simple 'wash' turned into a sweaty two hour job. The watermaker still leaked so Elisabeth invented something to catch the water and let it run via a little hose in a bucket. Great!

Since it is so warm here neither Elisabeth nor I have any objections against in-water jobs. We will leave on Saturday so we did the anchor chain cleaning again. Its only a few weeks ago we did this but the chain had already lots of growth on it. Not a surprise in this 29 C warm water. I got a big watertight plaster on my infected mosquito-bite and dived down to clean the propeller, log impeller and saltwater intake. After that we started the engine and tried to go forward and back. Bengt just went slowly forward and almost hit the neighbours, ready with big fenders, before we realized that the gearbox was not working. Off with the engine, off with the engine cover, on with the headlamp and in with the mechanic (me). Elisabeth moved the gears and I checked the morse-cables. It turned out that the cable to the gearbox had loosened. The cotter-pin holding the cable into place had disappeared and the cable was hanging loose. In with a new cotter-pin, out with the mechanic, off with the headlamp and on with the engine. Forward, backward. Working!

In the afternoon we got a visit from Tobias and Yana from 'Maya' who wanted to say goodbye since they leave for Boka Santa Cruz and further to Colombia tomorrow morning. They also wanted to show us their new dinghy which they had bought in China and had it sent to Curacao. It looked very nice.

On Thursday we took the bus to 'Vreugdenhil' again to shop for the very last time. Up early on Friday morning to take the dinghy ashore to pay the bills using the free Wifi from 'The Pirate's Nest'. After coffee we took bus 6A to town to clear out of Curacao. We had company with Dan from 'Exit Strategy' who also needed to clear out. We for Aruba and Dan for Bonaire. Always nice with company so the long hot walk gets more bearable. The customs-office was cool. We were cleared out by the same officer that cleared us in. He is a very friendly man. He will soon take out his pension and was really looking forward to that. 'Next time you come here I'll be gone' he said with a big smile on his face. We walked to the pontonbridge which was open so we had to take the ferry over and walk a few kilometres to the immigration-office. Here things went fast even if I wouldn't have minded waiting a while since it was only 16 C inside the office and they had an ice-cold water machine to drink from, but we went back into the heat and walked over the pontonbridge back to town. Here we said goodbye to Dan and went to the cool McDonalds to have lunch and sit inside. At the bus stop we met Dan again. We took the bus all the way to the end and spend the last of our Curacao money in Albert Heyn (cheese and beschuit). The walk back to the dinghy-dock was long and sweaty. On the way back to Bengt we stopped at Dan's boat to collect the promised Aruban courtesy-flag. Dan was not going to Aruba anymore so he wanted to give us his Aruba flag. Very nice of him.

After a cooling swim we started preparing Bengt for sailing. This took a while since we had been on anchor for two months and not moved an inch.

After breakfast on Saturday morning we did the last preparations for sailing. Elisabeth took care of the inside and I took care of the outside. The cat had some difficulty in understanding that he had to be inside so he got sour and hid behind the fenders in the forepeak. We took up the anchor and motored slowly to the exit channel. In the beginning of this channel there are two unmarked sandbanks with around two meters of water over them (Bengt's keel draws 2,25 meters and the rudder 2 meters). We followed the same track as when we came in but got a few meters too close to the shore and got stuck in the mud. It being early in the morning there were no boats around to help us off. After a while a charter boat came past and wanted to help us but was not allowed to do so from his boss. He was told by his boss that it was too shallow for his motorboat (we were in 2 meters of water) and advised us to call CITRO (lifeboat) on 913 and left. The engine could not get us off so we rolled out the genua and waited for a strong wind gust which came after some minutes. Bengt started heeling and slowly sailed off the sandbank. We continued toward Boka Santa Cruz which lies 25 miles north of Spanish Water. We had a nice and fast sail under genua alone and around two in the afternoon we dropped the anchor in the clear water of Boka Santa Cruz. First thing we did was to check the keel and rudder. Some paint had disappeared and the rudder had some bare metal but otherwise all was well. Luckily for us Bengt is made of steel. We snorkelled around, enjoying the clear and warm water. We were now illegal in the country so we had no intention to go ashore. A bit from here you will find the 'Blue cave' which you can snorkel in to and enjoy the sun shining in it creating a blue light in the whole cave.

One yacht was anchored here, 'Maya' from Germany. They were leaving for Colombia but Tobias and Yana came onboard for a short visit and coffee and cake. In the evening the coastguard helicopter passed twice over us so we anticipated some unexpected visit since we had cleared our already but nobody showed up.

Until next week!