Borta med Bengt

En resa

The week that has past us: ENGLISH

Sunday 30 September 2019, Eagle Beach, Aruba
The week that has past us:
The disturbance, number twelve, to the west of the Cape Verdes has been upgraded to a Tropical storm and has gotten the name of Lorenzo. It is predicted to become a major hurricane. He will stay on the Atlantic and will not touch the islands of the West indies. We had a pleasant day. I rowed over to ‘Artemis’, who had anchored behind us yesterday, and had a look at their brand new watermaker, a Katadyn, which does not make drinkable water. Neill and I went through the installation but could not find anything faulty. Over coffee we discussed all things that break down on a boat. They have, like us, a lot of things that break down all the time. It is downright depressing to have fixed one thing and then the next thing breaks. Worst of all is when the same thing you previously fixed breaks again. I got some advice about fault finding our batteries, Neill is an electrician, which I will try on our batteries. We have nine 80 A batteries, Tudor/Exide marine dual purpose, and they will not hold any charge overnight anymore. We disconnected four at the time, let them rest a while and measured the voltage. One battery was completely dead. 10,5 V which after an hour or so dropped to 9,5 V. We disconnected it. The other ones seem to be in better shape but dropped voltage slowly to 12 V. Basically we have dead batteries but as long as there is some charging they will, hopefully, survive until Panama. They have survived four year on Bengt which is ok for cheap standard batteries.

We send an e-mail to Budget Marine here on the island to find out what they had in stock and what the price would be. Budget Marine lies 6,5 kilometres from the Airport Anchorage which is too far to walk. There are busses but taking 8 batteries on them is not an option. After we send some more e-mails we finally got an answer but that was very vague (I’ll come back to you) so we wait and see. They do offered to deliver and take the old ones to the recycling station. Since then not a word from them. New batteries will cost us around 1100 USD but it seems that our business is not so important. We are only a little customer. The same happened with Marine Warehouse who send our spares to the wrong address so we had to pay import duty. They would not admit that they made a mistake and not pay us the 55 USD tax back that we had to pay because of their negligence. No more business from us for these companies.

Tuesday saw Neill and Heidi coming over for coffee. The swell had come so we moved a lot. Neill fell in the water when getting in the dinghy. The wind was westerly around 20 knots and blowing straight through the opening in the reef. ‘Artemis’ brand new watermaker was still not working so they are getting a new membrane send on guarantee. Their engine also developed problems. The mechanic had forgotten to tighten two bolts so they fell off and disappeared. A bracket went loose. When taking up the anchor to go back to the marina to get the engine fixed the anchor winch refused to work. They had just installed a new motor in it. There dinghy developed a leak. It is no wonder that Neill felt a bit depressed.

Elisabeth is sewing new covers for our cockpit-chairs. She uses a pair of old jeans and some sun awning cloth she found at her parent’s house in June. What you call recycling! Environmentally friendly as well! The power (220 V) for the sewing machine comes from our little inverter which gets its electricity from the sun and the wind. For 3 years now we have been living ‘off-grid’ and are still very happy with this lifestyle. We use the electricity that we produce and what we have left is stored in our batteries. When we have days without wind or sun we produce less electricity and, as a consequence, have to use less. Simple!

We make, for example, our own drinking water and produce as much water to keep our tanks full. Should we produce less water than we consume, the tanks would get empty. It could take a while but they will be empty in the end. The same principle goes for the earth we live on. We take more than we put back so in the end all the fun will end, and that will be pretty soon. Better to do something about it before we have to start wars and fight with our neighbours about drinking water or potatoes. Apart from needing to react in the ‘climate question’ we will also be forced to divide the earth’s resources in a fairer way. If I take the example of the watermaker again I can fill one of the tanks until water starts running in the bilges. The other tank doesn’t get any water and I don’t open the valve to it. It’s like that with the earth’s resources. We do not share that we have with everybody. If I do not turn on the valve to the other tank the boat will slowly fill with water and sink. Our planet has sunk a bit already so it might be better to turn the valve.

UN’s climate conference continues with speeches of heads of government, VIP’s and young people. ‘We have done enough’ says for instance the Australian prime-minister Morrison. They have not understood the seriousness of the situation. There has been some harsh words said about the youngsters, with Swedish Greta up front, holding speeches because they have used strong language and accused leaders of not doing enough. This sort of talk is not liked by the privileged, they feel threatened and try to talk down those who speak out. (‘They don’t know the facts. They have no education. They are only children. Children can’t take responsibility.’) Worst of all is Mr. president himself. How deep can a country sink? Fortunately the Democratic party is starting an impeachment procedure against him. We can only hope that he, like his fellow party member Nixon in 1974, is forced to leave the White House as soon as possible. All these young American people who protest in the ‘climate strike’ will most likely not vote for an ‘Elephant’ (symbol for the Republican Party) in the 2020 elections.

Leaders are part of the establishment and they cover for themselves. They have put enough money in their pockets to do so. Divide and conquer is one of their tactics and the people are silent. They watch television, maybe can afford a trip to some exotic country or a new iPhone. Leave the responsibility to corrupt politicians and have learned to be pleased with life as it is offered to them. Pleased people don’t protest and don’t want change. Change costs and gives fear of losing that you have.

In ‘Tao Te Ching’, written by Lao-Tse, one can read the following:
Chapter 44
Fame and life, which one is dearer? Life and wealth, which one is of importance? To gain one but to lose the other, which is of most harm? Therefore, if one’s desires are great, it would result in exhaustion. Overstock shall result in heavy loss. He who is contend will not suffer disgrace. He who knows his true nature will not incur danger. It is in this Way that one can endure longer.

Fear is the greatest enemy of change even if the change itself is positive. It is easier to hold on to that you have than to change. Change gives uncertainty, anguish and chaos. Chaos gives order (Yin and Yan principle) and in the end a new, and hopefully better, way of living together on this planet of ours. But the new drugs, ‘social media’ and mobile phone keep everybody under control. Huxley’s ‘A brave new world’ and Orwell’s ‘1984’ are nothing compared to what is going on in society today. So hat off for Greta and the other youngsters who dare to open their mouths. We can only hope that they have the strength to resist the call of the establishment as it has lots of goodies and intimidations on hand to get them back in line. Patty Smith screamed out ‘Outside the society, that’s where I want to be’ many years ago but now she herself is part of it.

In ‘Tao Te Ching’, written by Lao-Tse, one can read the following:
Chapter 53
If I were to have the very slightest insight, I would live in accordance with the Great Tao. My only fear is, to go astray from Tao while spreading it. Great Tao is smooth and plain, yet people prefer the devious bypaths. Hence, the government is corrupted with luxury and splendour. The people are exhausted with labour and leave the fields to be wasted and the granaries depleted. Under such practices, the officials wear fine clothes, carry sharp swords and indulge themselves in good food and drink. They crave with greed to possess great wealth. Such is said to commit the crime of robbery and certainly is not the Way of Tao.

The ‘climate question’ has wandered the same path as for instance smoking or the use of the weed killer Roundup. ‘It’s not so dangerous’. Take another cigarette and spray the poison on your plants. Don’t worry, be happy! Fly here and fly there, consume more. But then we got the results of independent research (not the so called ‘scientific research’ payed by the industries). It was dangerous! We can’t go on like this! The icecaps are melting, ocean levels rise, more drought, more rain and violent storms, less food, larger differences between rich and poor, millions of people losing their homes and probably their countries, war about fertile land, etc., etc. Even the Marlboro-man died in lung cancer.
Even if we cover our eyes and pretend not to see the bill will come whatever we do, it will be high and nature does not give credit this time.

In ‘Tao Te Ching’, written by Lao-Tse, one can read the following:
Chapter Eighty-one
Words of truth are not pleasing. Pleasing words are not truthful. The wise one does not argue. He who argues is not wise. A wise man of Tao knows the subtle truth, and may not be learned. A learned person is knowledgeable but may not know the subtle truth of Tao. A wise man does not possess and accumulate surplus for personal desire. The more he helps others, the richer his life becomes. The more he gives to others, the more he gets in return. The Tao of Nature benefits and does not harm. The Way of a wise man is to act naturally without contention.

Wednesday started out nice so we had a long morning swim before breakfast. Life is hard! After breakfast I worked on the cables of the removed battery. I had to sit on a towel because the sweat pours down as soon as you do something in this very humid heat. Without the towel I would soon be sitting in a big puddle of sweat. Elisabeth reinforced the new wind-scoop and finished the new covers for the cockpit chairs. After that we needed to swim some more. Behind us the sky went black. A new thunderstorm on the way. Cold air with big raindrops. According to the weather forecast all would be back to ‘normal’ at the end of the week. ‘Normal’ being tradewinds from the east, cute small cumulus clouds, no rain and no thunder and lightning. We have to wait and see. Lorenzo has started his curve up into the North-Atlantic and seems to be heading for the Azores. Not good! The forecast is that he will grow and be a major hurricane (class 5) and will hit the most westerly islands of the Azores.
Elisabeth baked another sourdough bread and a banana cake for afternoon coffee. I had to fix another radiator since it dripped glycol. If the wind will be ‘normal’ we will move to Eagle Beach at the end of the week.
Thursday morning started with all warning lights blinking furiously orange. No power! Voltage down to under 12 V. It seems the batteries need replacing anyway. We had hoped to keep them alive for a while but it seems that we can’t. As long as we have wind during the night the batteries get some charge from the wind generators and all is well but as soon as there is no wind, no power. The last days we had very little wind at night so no charging. It doesn’t feel ok to start the engine but we were forced to charge the batteries for a quarter of an hour or so. After that the sun took over. When you live ‘off-grid’, like we do, you need good batteries to hold the electricity you put in during the day.
Beachwalk today and after that a long swim in the warm ocean. Since the batteries are bad we send Budget Marine another e-mail inquiring again about what they had in store and at what prices. We had got some other e-mail addresses from Neill and Heidi: They will answer! No! We resend the e-mail. No answer, no shopping.

The night from Thursday to Friday was incredible hot and humid so we didn’t sleep well. Elisabeth went to lie on a matrass on the cabin floor since it was coolest there. In the morning the wind came back so our wind generators started work again and we could sleep some more. We finally got an answer from Budget Marine but it was still vague ‘we are looking into it’ but they do delivery and take the old batteries to the recycling station. My infected mosquito bite looked a lot better so I was allowed to jump in the water again. Lots of wind today so lots of power so washing- and watermaker-day. Washing dries within a few hours here. The wind blew all day and night so we slept and slept without waking up because of wet sweaty sheets.

Saturday morning, after breakfast, we took up the anchor and motored the 2 miles to Eagle Beach where we anchored in 6 meters of turquois blue water. One other yacht was anchored here: ‘Artemis’. They swam over for coffee. At the moment ‘Bengt’ appeared around the headland Neill send us an e-mail with the question if we wanted to come to Eagle Beach to have coffee. Since we don’t have internet all the time we didn’t knew this but there we were. They will sail for Colombia on Monday. Neill and I took the dinghy in to the beach and went to ‘Superfood’, the enormous ‘Jumbo’ supermarket, to do some shopping. Very Dutch, they even make fresh stroopwafels. We had a coffee in the café and discussed batteries and other things that had to do with our electric systems.

We will be anchored a few days here. It’s nice here and no shuttle boats to the Renaissance Island with their terrible swell. There is a disturbance passing om Tuesday which might give south-westerly winds and then we have to move back to the Airport Anchorage since we don’t have any reef here to give some protection, it’s an open anchorage with the ocean behind us. Eagle Beach is a long white beach with wonderful calm water to swim in. There are many hotels, restaurants, bars, jetski rentals, beach chairs and other things a tourist might need. Since the water is calm and the wind always off the beach it is made for sailing dinghies or canoeing but the only thing you see here are very noisy jetskis. Normally you need a drivers licence to drive fast boats (Vaarbewijs) but even teenagers seem to be able to rent these water-pests and drive like mad around our boat.. Since we normally walk around naked we just go on deck to scare the mostly American tourists away. They don’t like naked bodies. The locals, on the other hand, don’t care Luckily for us it is not tourist season so it’s fairly quiet and there are not too many jetskis pestering us.
No answer yet from Budget Marine about new batteries so we will leave without new ones next week. In the afternoon we went over to ‘Artemis’ for coffee.

On Sunday morning we took the dinghy ashore to take a long walk on the wonderful beach. We hoped to find some Wifi hotspot but nothing was found. We receive the weather forecast via SSB-radio so we know what the weather will be like the coming days. In the evening Neill and Heidi came over for farewell-dinner as they will leave for Colombia tomorrow. We had a nice evening with Babi Pangang, kroepoek and espresso with Calvados for dessert.

Until next week!