Happy 2016 to everyone! Our last few days in Curacao have been busy as always, hiring a car and enjoying seeing in 2016. The weather window continues to be forecast and today the first Rally boats left for either Aruba or the anchorage in the north of the island. Spanish Water has been busy with 22 of the boats here or in the marinas but it is starting to thin out as people take advantage of the long awaited calmer weather.
We had reserved a hire car with Econ but when phoning to say the 4 of us were ready to be picked up with our laundry, gas bottles and shopping bags, they casually informed us that ‘our’ car had had an accident and they didn’t have another for us. Poor service all round and being the holidays, not easy to find another. Fortunately Budget at the Jan Thiel resort just up the hill did have one and a day late we set off to look for propane for 2 of our neighbour’s gas bottles and drive to the north west of Curacao to see the bays we could anchor in on our way to Colombia.
Santa Kruz is quite small but very pretty, whilst Westpunt, further north, is spacious with clear water and plenty of lovely sand to anchor in. We have decided not to stop in Aruba but stay in Westpunt on Sunday afternoon to swim and get the boat ready for the long and potentially rough passage. The bay is 31 miles from Spanish Water so will take about 5 hours to reach. The waves are over 2 metres today but by Monday when we intend leaving for Cabo de la Vela, they drop to 1.7.
The drive took us past some nice scenery, lovely Lagun bay and flamingoes sifting for food. The babies were standing on 1 leg like their parents! Unfortunately none of the petrol stations had gas for the cooking bottles but we did take the opportunity to buy some food supplies whilst we had the car. Wine and cheese are 2 items to stock up on here before heading west, so we duly loaded up the car and clinked all the way back to the boat.
Tuesday night 44 of the participants attended the first formal meeting for the Belize Rally and were given information packs for the first couple of destinations and organised 3 radio nets for the 3 groups of boats, divided by their speeds. Suzanne and David have put a lot of work into this Rally and we wish everyone a very happy time, safe sailing and a sociable 4 months. An indonesian style buffet, rum punch and a quiz were laid on by Boca 19 at the Santa Barbara Plantation Resort which has a friendly Glaswegian lady running it. Amazingly, our team of Jeff, Di, Rob and myself, came second in the quiz and won light waterproof suits for keeping dry in the dinghy. Some interesting questions, one being what the significance of all the fireworks being let off this week.
Rob and I headed into Willemstad one evening so I could photograph their Christmas lights. The Queen Emma floating bridge looked stunning and the town is well worth a visit at night. The last bus returns at 2200 but we made use of the car and found lots of free parking close to the centre.
Historically the fireworks are believed to frighten away evil spirits and if the number of fireworks are anything to go by, there won’t be a single bad spirit within a hundred miles. Every night we have been entertained by fireworks all around the bay and last night had drinks and dessert on ‘Horizons’ with ‘Balance’, ‘Ellinor’ and ‘Moody Mistress’ to watch the 360 degree show. Fantastic. I’ve never seen so many displays at once and we counted over 27 different shows.
Earlier the 10 of us made the mistake of going to Pirates Bar for a meal. On arriving they told us they weren’t doing any starters nor half the main courses. The burgers weren’t cooked properly, being overdone and dry. The portions were small, the orders for both drinks and food were mixed up and my meal consisted of 5 prawns and a small piece of plain bread. Not great but at least they knocked a little off the bill. Fortunately I had made a tiramisu trifle and we all took champagne to Jeff and Di’s boat to toast our friends and families all over the world at their midnights before celebrating our own.
Today we are chilling out, cooking food for freezing for the passages and packing away our Christmas decorations under our bunk for another 11 months. I need to print out a form for closing down my company after 10 years and as it needs a cheque for Companies House, it is being posted in the UK by a friend who is returning there on Sunday. Tomorrow we will get the bus into town to clear out but I have already done the online notification for Customs with SailClear.
We don’t need to make an early start for Westpunt on Sunday but it would be good to have time for a snorkel before we get the dinghy in place. We have carried it on the davits for the past couple of years through some big seas but this time we are downwind and concerned that a rogue wave might fill the dinghy with water and pull it off the davits or break them. Rob bought some special patches with rings which we stuck on the dinghy and will use to position it on it’s side on the stern platform, as we used to do before we installed the arch. We will be trying that out in the anchorage on Sunday and hope it all works out.
We plan to leave Westpunt at 0600 Monday for the 197 mile passage, going east and north of Aruba to stay in the deeper water in case the seas kick up, then north of the tiny islands of Archipielago De Los Monjes and then past Punta Gallinas, hopefully as the sun rises so we can see the mountains and finally into the anchorage at Cabo De La Vela on Tuesday for an overnight rest. If we are alone though and feel vulnerable we will continue on to Santa Marta.