24 November 2018 | Airport anchorage, Aruba
Well, we are on our way, anchored at the end of the runway in Aruba. It's a little noisy but not really much bother. We are still working through the to-do list but it is getting manageably shorter and we are making time to do nothing much at all - it feels good after a horrendously busy and stressful few months. We did a lot of second guessing after selling the house but what is done is done and we will move forward.
We have joined a rally, the OCC Susie 2, for the first time and, to be honest, I'm still a little ambivalent about it. There are some real upsides. Suzanne, the organizer with her husband David is a force of nature and invests massive energy in organizing and simplifying the cruising experience in an area where it can be tricky. She does not stop at documenting the status quo. If it doesn't work she changes it. Governments? Authorities? No worries - she takes them all on. I think the general cruising experience will be improved for everyone after her efforts in Curacao. We shall see how things change further down the line. The other great aspect is the instant community of generally like-able and like minded people. This provides both good company and a talented support network ready to help one another. A number of the participants are cruisers we met and enjoyed in Sint Maarten last year, the main reason we signed up. Another very positive aspect of the rally is the improved security. Some of the areas we are sailing can be a little hairy and not only will we be in the company of other boats but national coastguards and navies are aware of our presence and providing some support directly, an awesome achievement on Susanne's part.
So why the ambivalence? There are a few challenges. The main one is the size of the fleet. Our group has about forty boats (some of them pictured under the full moon). That's at least eighty people.... I find eight people a bit overwhelming so eighty is a good deal more than I'm completely comfortable with. It is also one hell of a lot of names to learn - not my strength. The strange impact of this is that where I might normally be out in the anchorage meeting people I'm tending to hunker down on Leela and keep to myself - silly I know but.... The other issue with such a big fleet is we create our own over-crowding. Anchorages fill up, dinghy docks can't cope, we even managed to sell out the Local cinema last night. The last challenge for me is the schedule. For me, schedules are the antithesis of cruising but, apart from weather, we now know where we will be every day for the next several months. Are they places we would have gone anyway? Would we have stayed longer or left sooner left to our own devices? That is going to take some getting used to.
Anyway, we will see how it all goes. I think there is definitely more upside than downside at the moment. we will be here for nearly a week and then head to Santa Marta, Colombia. We are really looking forward to that after several years of small island sailing.