Our last evening in Bonaire was an enjoyable social gathering on ‘Amelie’ with Stephen and Debs our hosts plus ‘Blue’ and a French couple we hadn’t met before.
The 37 mile sail to Spanish Water in Curaçao was quick, even with just the genoa and the swell rarely got up to the 2 metres predicted, ensuring a comfortable passage. The entrance to Spanish Water is very narrow, with a visible reef on the port and a shallow looking area on the southern side, near the Santa Barbara resort. The waves seemed to be surfing into the gap, so it was a reasonably hairy entrance but there is plenty of water in the middle of the channel and a red buoy to port. Once inside the cut there is at least 13 metres of water and at the dogleg you just need to stay slightly to port, then go more to starboard when you round the second corner.
We had tried hailing Seru Boca marina on VHF 67 but didn’t get any response, so in over 20 knots of wind, we anchored just off the marina in 4 metres in nice sticky sand. As we had lunch, a friend we hadn’t seen since Trinidad last October, from ‘Tomorrow’s Dawn’, dinghied by to say he’d recognised the boat. Small world and yet another bay where we know other boats. ‘Tusen Takk’, ‘Puff’ and ‘Lady Elaine’ are also here and we should see everyone at the weekly cruiser’s meal tomorrow evening. Shortly afterwards we telephoned the marina and they were soon ready for us. More ready than I was, that’s for sure, given that a 62 foot catamaran was sticking out half way into the aisle I had to turn down and just opposite the berth we had been allocated. All looked very tight to me and Beyzy!
However, we upped anchor and went towards the second pontoon to avoid a 1.5 metre patch smack bang in the middle of the approach channel. You can pass either side of it. Then had to turn quickly to avoid the mooring buoys the bows of the stern to boats were tied to and make another sharp turn to port to get into the berth, trying hard not to scrape Beyzy’s stern along the shiny hull of the catamaran. Thank goodness for the bowthruster, as I am sure we would not have been able to turn in against the strong wind without it.
Robert, the marina manager, had 3 strong men on the dock to help take the lines but even then they didn’t seem to be in a rush to get our stern fixed, as that stuck out for 4 metres past the pontoon and began to swing towards our neighbour. Fortunately Rob has seen it all before a million times and ‘encouraged’ them to get the stern line around the cleat, quickly. We were safely in and won’t be moving for over 3 months, much to Beyzy’s disgust. She hates marinas and started squeaking her lines immediately, as if to tell us.
The small marina is more protected than much of Spanish Water but I just saw gusts of 24 knots register on our wind instruments and we are blown so far off the dock that I can’t get off the boat without help! There are 2 showers, 1 for men and 1 for women and they are clean with a large seated area for changing. Opposite them is a washing machine and tumble dryer, both needing tokens you buy at the office, 3.5 dollars each. You can also do washing in the large sinks nearby. There is also an ice machine and vending machine in the same area.
The office is cool, with friendly staff and a table and chairs for you to use their WiFi that is far faster than on the dock, at the moment. A driver took us into Willemstad to clear in with Customs and Immigration, as the marina is a 2-mile walk from the main gate of this huge resort. You can also walk for half an hour to the sister marina you pass when motoring through the cut into Spanish Water and we will probably spend Christmas and New Year there just before the OCC Rally. Clearance didn’t take long, with a short form in Immigration to hand fill in but I had already completed the Customs information using SailClear, the online clearance system used in many islands. It certainly saved a lot of writing and there are posters up in the office asking people to use it. They print it out for you if you can give them the reference number the system notifies you of.
We exchanged on our house in Brecon yesterday, so had a flurry of activity booking flights, trains and buildings insurance. New one on me but once you exchange you are legally bound to buy the property, hence need to insure it. That little phone call probably cost me 45 pounds despite them calling me as there was so much red tape ‘stuff’ to quote me but had to be done.
Busy week ahead, preparing the boat for her 3 months at the dock. Today Rob cleaned the water strainer, changed the engine and gearbox oils and managed not to get any of the filthy old oil on his ‘little helper’. I’ve done the washing and started sorting through our lockers to pack away clothes with tumble drier sheets, as they are recommended for keeping bugs away. We have never left Beyzy for more than a month before but it is far less humid here than in Trinidad and we hope the interior will be dry and mould free when we return. Robert will check on the boat weekly, air the boat, top up the forward water tank so the watermaker can do a weekly flush through and check on the batteries. He said he can send photos and a report if necessary but our insurer doesn’t insist on that.
I announced our arrival on the Cruiser’s Net this morning, at 0745, run by David from ‘Suzie Too’. Suzanne kindly dropped by yesterday to meet us, as she is organising the OCC Rally we have joined and is the Port Officer for Curaçao. The Rally destinations and events are shaping up and everything sounds really good, so we are glad we have signed up for it.