Beyzano, bless her, was as we left her apart from a little red dust on the deck to hose off. The fridge and freezer both started up so we could provision, the electronics, navigation lights and engine also worked first time so we are fortunate. Many friends say that there is always something that no longer works when they return and as this is the longest time Beyzano has been on her own, we feared the worst. So, once again, she is a star!
Our trip back was dogged by queues. Gatwick to Schiphol was fine, especially as we were treated to a lift to the airport from Steve and the flight departed at a civilised 1600. The hotel was a 5 minute walk from the airport and a really cool experience. CitizenM is a modern, technology filled place to stay with an iPad to control the mood lighting, entertainment system, even the blinds. Great fun although the room was a little small but for 1 night, no problem. The bar and seating areas near the self-service check in terminals was also interesting, with lots of snacks and drinks to buy. Checking in and out was quick and easy too, so we would definitely stay there again.
The next morning we left the hotel before 0800 for our 1000 flight to Hato airport in Curaçao. We had already printed our boarding passes but it was a nightmare from there with huge queues for baggage drop off. There were only 6 machines but a couple were broken down and several airlines used the same ones. The new technology isn’t that difficult to work but being new, everyone had to read the instructions and were naturally slow. You only needed to place the hold bag in the cubicle, check the weight and press ‘Yes’ to a couple of questions, then secure the baggage label to the case and take the claim tag the machine also printed. You had to note the Gate number shown on the screen as well. Our bags were heavy, we knew that and in total weighed exactly 46kg but 1 was 23.3kgs and the machine flashed it up in red but still took it. Not sure what would happen if it was badly overweight but there was a credit card slot …
After the long wait the plane was already boarding so we had no time to browse all the lovely shops. Real pity. We had also left behind several items in the UK as our bags were so full and heavy, including my Merlyn cream liqueur from the Penderyn whisky distillery which I had hoped to share at Christmas. No chocolate, Christmas cake nor alcohol this time but fortunately we can get all this in Bonaire or Curaçao. We didn’t see our Norwegian friends in any of the queues but met them on the plane to catch up. The KLM flight was fine, less than 9 hours and we arrived on time just before 1300 to face another huge, slow queue at immigration. We took less than an hour to get through but our friends from ‘Blue’ took over 2.5. Customs scan your luggage on the way into the country but the officer took a look at us and just waved us through. Must appear too old (more than likely) or respectable (surely not) these days. Our taxi cost 70 US$ and we were back on the boat before 1500 with Robert, the marina manager helping us with our bags and resetting our gate cards as these no longer worked.
Beyzano was still bobbing about where we had left her, with nothing more than a layer of red dust. Robert has been checking on her every week, sending photos of the equipment and battery monitors, even the water gauge levels. She was hot inside of course but there was no mould, no unwanted visitors and we hadn’t even left the food lockers open this time. Rice, pasta, sugar and coffee survived in airtight boxes. All we had done was prop up our mattress, opened the cupboards and left some dehumidifier crystals in each cabin. We were very pleased with the condition of the boat and still had enough energy to clean our cabin and make up the fresh bed to crash out in.
There was very little food onboard, just tins and jars, coffee, tea and dried items plus a few bottles of wine. We bought some diet coke from the marina vending machine and on Friday managed 2 meals of M&S chicken with lemon rice and tuna mayonnaise with pasta. Mostly washed down with wine! Yesterday we joined another couple on the free supermarket minibus at 0900 and had an hour to get the cupboards, freezer and fridge stocked up again. We could actually make a list and know we would find what we needed, so it was a full load but easily carried in the minibus and a marina trolley. We will go again on Tuesday, as it is so much easier to get frozen and heavy items whilst we are in the marina.
We hosed the boat down, in the knowledge that there is a desalination facility here. Otherwise, given there has been virtually no rain in 6 months and the island is dry and brown, we would certainly not have used any precious water. The problem was, we couldn’t even sit down in the cockpit, as it was so dirty with red dust, so we had to clean it. The hatches also needed fresh water to rinse off the dust that had blown underneath the hatch covers. This would eventually scratch the hatches, so all the covers had to be removed and cleaned.
Next, the dinghy needs the outboard back on so we can have our ‘car’ back and we want to do some ironing before we lose the shore power. The yacht club has a fuel dock so we can top up the outboard tank today for our trips across the bay. Before we left, we both caught bad colds in the UK, Rob from me unfortunately but we have been able to rest a lot and acclimatise to the heat as there isn’t too much to do and nothing urgent. The marina is getting quiet again as people return to their boats and leave, so we can stay here as long as we like and it costs marginally more than being on the mooring in Bonaire. That said, we intend to anchor in Spanish Water this week, to get more breeze through the boat and just chill out with other cruisers for a while until there is a calm day to head back to Bonaire, where other friends are waiting for us. The marina is more of a watery storage yard and only a few boats have any occupants. It is also miles from anywhere; there is nowhere to eat or shop so it isn’t a place to live aboard unless you hire a car. The laundry is a washing machine using cold water, 1 rinse only and a top loader. I always wonder if cold water really gets the clothes clean, given the inevitable sweat but there is no option usually. I use the tumble dryer here otherwise the freshly washed clothes would be covered in red dust as they dry on our line on the boat. Where do you have a laundry with iguanas walking by though?
Our 3 months in the UK was busy and we didn’t get to see everyone we should have, once again. The task of sorting out the house for renting was completed and our tenants should be settling in this weekend, so we send them our best wishes for a happy time there. The kitchen on the boat is tiny in comparison but we have snapped right back into boat life, eating outside all the time, storing everything away safely ready for passage and happily relaxing with a glass of chilled rosé whilst we watch the sun go down. Having been around sailing boats for over 40 years now, I guess it is just too natural for me to live afloat. Loved Brecon and living on dry land for a while but glad to be back on Beyzano and a little ashamed I didn’t miss her more! My worries of settling back into cruising life were unfounded and we are both looking forward to the new season.