Decision made and Curacao for Christmas it is. We sadly left Bonaire on Tuesday morning just before 0800, just as our friends on ‘Joy of Shamrock’ arrived. At least they were able to take the mooring next to us. Our buoy was much sought after and another boat had ‘booked’ it the evening before by attaching a fender to one of the floats. Unfortunately it got wrapped around our lines and we couldn’t leave until they launched their dinghy and sorted it out. Then Joy arrived and forced them to pick up our mooring straight away, so it was all a bit of a rush. Chuck and Barb on ‘Tusen Takk II’ arrived on Monday, so we said a quick hello and goodbye as we haven’t seen them since June.
‘Echo’, another OCC Rally boat, left with us and we both had a fast but comfortable sail downwind to Spanish Water. I didn’t even feel queasy after 6 weeks sat on the mooring and the only bumpy bit is south of the island. The wind gusted up to 27 knots but we had the full genoa out and sped along, entering the cut into the lagoon within 6 hours. Straight away the seas flatten and it is lovely and calm but as soon as we were out in the lagoon the winds strengthened again.
It is surprisingly quiet here with plenty of anchoring space. For the first time we could anchor in ‘A’ section, closest to the dinghy dock and The Pier restaurant. We had 3 metres under the keel and know the holding is excellent. Just as well, as the true wind was showing 24.7 knots when we dropped anchor. Our spade anchor dug in straight away, so much so that the wheel was torn out of my hands when the boat lurched to a stop. As the forecast is for even stronger winds, we let out 5 times the amount of chain for the depth of water and haven’t moved an inch during the last couple of days.
Yesterday we caught the 0815 bus into Punda, the town of Willemstad, to clear in. All the officials were in a good mood and Customs were very pleased I had used the SailClear system online to do all the paperwork in advance. There is no charge.
It is a pleasant walk over the newly refurbished ‘Queen Emma Bridge’ up to Immigration and past the Venezuelan boats and cruise ship dock. Paul Allen’s boat ‘Tatoosh’ was also moored up in Willemstad as there wasn’t much room in Bonaire for her when the cruise ships arrived. After we were ‘legal’ we got some guilders from the ATM and a phone and data SIM at a cost of 53 pounds for the month, so we can actually connect to the internet on the boat. Saves us getting soaked in the dinghy and spending money on drinks in the bar to get WiFi ashore.
We had a wander around town to see their Christmas decorations and hope to go in one evening to see it all lit up. This island is certainly a lot more modern and busy than Bonaire and the waterfront is much prettier. Spanish Water is also more scenic with the hillsides dotted in lights at night and many little coves in the lagoon.
Our friends Jeff and Di on ‘Horizons’ have been here since November and it was good to catch up with them again. We moved behind them after another boat left, to be marginally more sheltered from the wind and away from the channel where boats whizz around at night. Despite the strong wind, the boat is far more stable here than on the mooring in Bonaire and I can actually use the electronic weighing scales for measuring out the baking ingredients. First offering was a bitter orange poppy seed cake.
The Christmas decorations went up the afternoon we arrived and the cockpit lights are also back in place after the passage. Somehow it still doesn’t feel ‘Christmassy’ though and I am really missing the cold weather, log fires and mulled wine. The huge P&O ship ‘Azura’ came into Bonaire on Monday and I felt very homesick listening to all the british voices in town, something we don’t hear very often. One man had a big welsh flag on his shirt, so I had a chat with a group of 4 from Wales and they told me all about the terrible weather back home.
We don’t miss the weather when it is wet and grey but we do miss the family and planning ahead, all part of Christmas. We don’t even know what we are doing or eating on Christmas Day yet and it is just a week away! All of us with families are in the same ‘boat’ as it were (no pun intended) so we make the best of it, enjoying the company of friends and strangers, joining in with whatever we can all come up with but it is often last minute. Sometimes that is actually better, as there is no rush to buy presents and food, no pressure and we can just enjoy the day and try to find local festivities to learn more about other cultures.