Picture: Thunder on the way
Sunday 23 September 2019, Airport Anchorage, Aruba
Writing this on Monday the weather forecast predicts a few quite days with little wind but rain showers and thundery squals. The wind will be south to southwest because of hurricane Humberto. We decided to re-anchor in deeper water. Our anchor was in 2,4 meters of water with low water (we run aground with 2,3) and if we would swing towards the beach we would run aground since it is very shallow towards the beach. When taking the dinghy ashore we sometimes get stuck on the sandbank between us and the beach. Unfortunately, our anchor doesn't like the bottom here. We tried at least ten times to get the anchor to dig in, in different places, but we only dragged. The bottom here is sand with seagrass but the layer of sand is thin in places. Finally, after some hours, we found a piece of deep sand and the anchor dug in.
Tuesday gave wind from all directions. A very hot and humid day so vi stayed on Bengt and swam for hours instead. Normally the trades blow strong, so swimming consists of hanging behind the boat or swimming close in the lee of him. Now we could be in the water without being carried away by the waves or gulp water. Not even I get cold in the 29 degrees Celsius warm water. I snorkeled out to the anchor to check; it is completely buried in the sand. The Atlantic is producing disturbances one after the other. Number nine got the name 'Imelda' and hit Texas. Number ten was called 'Jerry' and is curving towards Bermuda. Number eleven is already on the way from the Cape Verdes. When they are curving towards the north Atlantic and continue they become autumn-gales or storms in Europe. The tradewinds have disappeared between here and Panama so we stay on Aruba for a few more weeks.
These disturbances get born over west Africa and move across the Atlantic in a week or so. They will get a number, e.g. 10, and an eye will be kept on them. When they grow up to a tropical storm (organize themselves) they get a name and when they upgrade to a hurricane they will be classified on a scale 1 to 5 of which 5 is worst. In 2017 'Irma' and 'Maria', who destroyed St. Maarten, Dominica and Barbuda, where class 5 hurricanes. Even 'Dorian' who destroyed parts of Bermuda this month was a class 5 hurricane.
Meteorologists use the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale to measure a hurricane's strength. The scale also estimates potential property damage.
Storms reaching Category 3 and higher are considered substantial hurricanes "because of their potential for significant loss of life and damage," the National Hurricane Center writes.
The system divides storms into five categories:
• Category 1: Winds 74 to 95 mph (Minor damage)
• Category 2: Winds 96 to 110 mph (Extensive damage -- Can uproot trees and break windows)
• Category 3: Winds 111 to 129 mph (Devastating -- Can break windows and doors)
• Category 4: Winds 130 to 156 mph (Catastrophic damage -- Can tear off roofs)
• Category 5: Winds 157 mph or higher (The absolute worst and can level houses and destroy buildings)
The names are traditionally every other male and female. The list is made up in advance.
We have very little wind, so the heat is almost unbearable. Temperature lies around 35 C. After breakfast we took the dinghy into the Renaissance Marina and walked the 2,5 kilometers to a big supermarket called 'Ling and Son'. On the way we went into the Renaissance Mall and looked at all the brand-shops like Cartier, Gucci, etc. All empty of customers even if there were two cruise ships in. One with tourists from Colombia and the other with Americans. It seems that 'Ling and Son' is the shop were the Dutch do their shopping since it has groceries from 'Albert Heyn' and 'Jumbo' on its shelves. The cashier started talking Dutch to me which, on this island, is quite unusual because the main languages are Papiamento, Spanish and English. You hardly hear Dutch. Prices are higher than on Curacao, especially everything with alcohol is expensive. Probably one of the reasons why the customs officers visiting our boat were so interested in how much alcohol we had on board. Strangely I found a very good Portuguese beer, a favorite, called 'Super Bock' on the shelves of 'Ling and Son' and at cheaper prices than the locally brewed 'Balashi'. Even my favorite from the Dominican Republic 'Presidente' was in stock, although at a much higher price than on Curacao.
Thursday was also hot and humid with very weak winds and enormous thunderheads around us. The voltmeter showed 11,2 V and all orange warning lights were blinking furiously. We started the engine and after a quarter of an hour all was back to normal. Voltage 13,3 V. Our batteries are four years old and probably nearing the end of their lifespan. The little fan we have in the bedroom has been behaving erected for a while and stopped working from time to time, off course always on windless and hot nights. I took it apart and it turned out the wires were just twisted around the motor contact pins. After soldering the wires, it worked fine. The fan costs 75, - Euro and is made by Caframo in Canada. For that money you expect better quality. During the afternoon large thunderheads formed around us and the wind went round to the south. A tropical wave was passing us. Elisabeth knitted a present for Neill who is having his birthday today, Thursday. We took the dinghy to Varadero Marina with balloons, a nice bottle of wine and the present to Neill who celebrates his 56 birthday today. After a nice evening with good food and nice company we motored back to Bengt. We were met by a swell and accompanied by lightning. After we went to bed all hell broke loose. Torrential rain, lightning everywhere and wind from the south so I had anchor watch in the cockpit. After an hour or so I had to bail the dinghy because it was full of water. Fortunately, we only had one strong wind squal. We have a reef behind us, and the water is not very deep although we have 35 meters of chain out in 4 meters of water. Turning on the anchor watch on the GPS is quite useless since the lagoon has not been surveyed properly. Depth sounder and eyes are what you need here. Around half past three in the morning the worst was over so we could sleep a few hours. Bengt was lying the wrong way in the swell, so he rolled heavily which is not funny when you try to sleep. Luckily for us we don't have to go up early in the morning to go to work.
Friday morning, we were invited to have a coffee on Martin's boat but after the sleepless night and the, still, unsteady weather we decided to stay put. In the afternoon the weather cleared up, so we took the dinghy to Varadero Marina to visit Martin's Catana 47 catamaran 'Melody'. Large like an apartment and with all the goodies you can expect. You have to stand in this boat to appreciate the vast amounts of space. It even had an air-condition. Martin bought the boat on Grenada last year and sailed it to Aruba to fix it. Like on all boats he has problems with lots of equipment and will likely stay quite a while in the marina to get everything fixed. Martin comes from Stockholm but has lived in the US for many years. The boat is 20 years old but still looks very good both in and outside although lots of equipment has broken. He would like to sail 'Melody' up to the Swedish east coast and sail around there. He showed us pictures and a video of Bengt, the man we thought had built our boat. This Bengt didn't look like our Bengt although he also has built a boat in his garden.
This and next Friday young people Climate strike to focus attention on the need to change our way of living so future generations can enjoy this wonderful planet in the same way as we do. Grown-ups can off course also participate. Do you do something, so the children of tomorrow have somewhere to live? We have no house, no car and shop and consume little. All the electricity we use on Bengt is made by solar, wind and water (towing generator). When Elisabeth is using the sewing-machine it runs on our own power. The same goes for making drinking water, using the drill, charge the computer, listen to the radio, etc. The engine is not used for generating electricity but runs once a week for its own sake. This simple thing like generating energy and taking care of your energy consumption is something every household can accomplice, even in apartments, but it demands an investment and prioritization of what one puts one's money in. Most people consume, think they do the right thing, act if they are happy and close their eyes for reality.
In 'Tao Te Ching', written by Lao-Tse, one can read the following:
The five colours can blind one's eyes.
The five tones can deafen one's ears.
The five flavours can dull one's taste buds.
The pursuit of pleasures can derange one's mind.
The hard-to-get valuables can distort one's behaviour.
Therefore, a saint cultivates himself with virtues and does not indulge himself in sensory pleasures.
He rejects those outer temptations and chooses this True Nature.
Saturday was a cloudy day with moist airt and lots of rainclouds around us. Little wind and little sun means little battery-charging. We have found a way to close off our instruments so we save some power (they use 2 A every hour). Our batteries seem to have reached the end of their lives but we wait with buying new ones until Panama or Chile since battery-prices are very high here on Aruba. Elisabeth baked a sourdough bread which tasted really good. In the evening a large thunderstorm passed us with a very strong and cold wind. After that lots of rain.
The cat doesn't like the heat
Sundays weather report showed a new tropical storm 'Karen'. This is number eleven which, according to the forecast, moves to the north. A new area with disturbances is already on the way from Cabo Verde. This is number twelve which is forecasted to become a major hurricane. It will be called Lorenzo. Here, on Aruba, the weather continues to be unsteady with large thunderheads and lots of lightning all around us. The sunsets are also wonderful with all sorts of red. The tradewinds between us and Panama have disappeared. Aruba is fine at the moment.
Until next week!