Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Very thorough boat search off Curacao

August 27, 2007 Monday
Klein Curacao, Netherland Antilles
11.59.051N; 068.38.727W      Sailed 24 NM

We are moored off a white sugar-sand beach on the tiny island of Klein Curacao.  The work “klein” means small or little.  Klein Curacao is a tiny island just south of the much larger island of Curacao.  There is one inhabited structure on Klein Curacao---which also operates as a restaurant on days that boats or visitors are plentiful.  Several day-charter companies on Curacao bring visitors down to Klein Curacao, only for the day; they do not stay here overnight.  Good thing, because we are on a mooring that belongs to one of the day-charter companies.  It is our understanding that they never arrive here before 10:00 a.m. and we will be long gone by that time tomorrow morning. 

Klein Curacao is the place that I had wanted to sail to whenever the kids were visiting a couple of weeks ago.  I think this place is more like what they expected to see rather than the desert island of Bonaire which is very commercialized and emphasizes diving.  Unfortunately, with one after another getting sick, it wasn’t possible to make the sail down here and back to Bonaire during their visit with us.  Klein Curacao is the kind of place that Bill and I really enjoy because it provides more solitude in a beautiful setting.  The only other boat here is a medium-sized power boat anchored well away from us.  So we have the view of the gorgeous beach all to ourselves.  There was a beautiful sunset with lots of reds and pinks tonight off our stern, and off our bow the full moon was rising at the same time.  Beautiful evening with so much wind that we don’t even need to operate our fans in the bedroom.

Another cruiser (Scott & Heather on S/V SCOTT FREE) told us about this mooring.  They have stayed here several times and had dived on the mooring and verified that it is secure; has a very heavy chain attached to the mooring and the pennant is thick and in good condition.  We would not have tied off to this mooring except for the fact that Scott & Heather told us about it.  We would have assumed that it was a private mooring and that we wouldn’t be allowed on it.  In fact, anchoring is discouraged because Curacao wants to protect the coral.  So if any mooring is unoccupied then you are encouraged to use it.  If the rightful owner should arrive then one must vacate their mooring, of course.

Today was another perfect sail.  Winds ranging from 12-17 knots off our port stern; following seas supposedly were 5-6 feet but appeared flat to us; slightly cloudy during the morning hours and then bright sunshine in the afternoon.  Just perfect sailing conditions.  Tomorrow we will sail up to Spaanse Waters in Curacao and dock at the Curacao Yacht Club.  Our friends, Donna & Bruce, should arrive tomorrow afternoon.  We look forward to a good week of visiting with them on and around Curacao.

August 28, 2007 Tuesday
Curacao Yacht Club, Spaanse Waters, Curacao
12.04.65N; 068.51.25W          Traveled a few miles.

Now I know why most people do not stay overnight at Klein Curacao.  The current overcame the wind during the wee hours of the morning and turned our boat sideways to the wind.  This also caused the boat to move about quite a bit.  Not so much that it bothered us because we are pretty accustomed to sea movement now, but I would bet most people would find that much movement at anchor somewhat uncomfortable for sleeping.  Definitely a “hold on while walking” kind of movement.  We were up and on our way before 7 a.m.  

There is a ½ knot to ¾ knot counter current against you when heading to Curacao from Klein Curacao.  We put up the main sail and mizzen but couldn’t use the genoa without a pole.  We didn’t want to deal with putting out the pole in the washing machine sea action that was going on, so we motor sailed.  We were able to turn off the engine and actually sail for the final 1/3 of this short trip.

And we experienced our first Coast Guard boarding!  About a mile or so before the entrance to Spaanse Waters, the Netherlands Antilles Coast Guard came roaring up to us in a large black inflatable boat.  They contacted us via VHF radio and got our basic information.  They then said that they wanted to come aboard.  So, what do you say except “Certainly; come aboard.”  They pulled alongside and Bill turned on the motor and started taking in the sails.  Three of the Coasties came aboard; one stayed in the cockpit with Bill and our paperwork, and I went below with the other two guys while they checked out the interior of our boat.

They opened every cabinet locker and drawer and checked the storage areas beneath all the beds.  They even opened and checked the battery compartment!  They had me open each of the freezer and fridge lockers and they moved the food around to verify that food was the only thing in there.  Guess freezers and refrigerators are common areas used by drug smugglers.  They opened all the floor storage lockers except the one where our medical kit is stored and the floor locker near the galley that is chock-full of wine.  They just forgot the floor locker where the medical kit is stored because they opened every floor locker around it.  There are so many that maybe they got confused as to which ones they had already searched.  Anyway, I am glad that they did not see the med kit because then I would have had to dig it out and go through all the contents for them to see.  That would have been a major hassle because we have a substantial med kit.  I do have copies of the scripts for every medicine in the med kit, but it would take awhile to itemize and match every one of them. 

The Coast Guard guys were polite and very professional in their demeanor.  Since the Netherlands Antilles is so close to both Venezuela and Colombia, I am sure they get lots of practice searching boats.  BTW, they did not look at one single safety related item on our boat.  If this had been the USCG, then I am certain that they would have wanted to check all the lifejackets, etc.  These guys were just looking for smuggled drugs or guns.  Obviously they would find neither on our boat.  We took a photo as they pulled away after completing their search of S/V BeBe.

We found the entrance to Spaanse Waters (usually referred to as Spanish Waters by the cruisers) and zigzagged through the long channel to find the Curacao Yacht Club.  I drove the boat up to the fuel dock and we filled up the tank as well as our ten jerry cans.  Great price as compared to what we have been paying (except for the exceedingly cheap diesel in Venezuela); less than half what we paid in the Eastern Caribbean.  Then Bill took over the helm and backed the boat into our assigned slip – stern port quarter against a 20 knot wind!  I absolutely hate backing up this boat, so that is totally Bill’s job.  The prop is on the back of the keel, which is a very long way from the rudder.  So you must really power down on reverse in order to back up this boat.  It handles nothing like our previous boat, which I could back up just fine because the prop was within a couple of feet of the rudder and the boat responded quickly.  I am reluctant to power down on reverse enough to control S/V BeBe.   I have visions of ramming the dock as full speed.  Better to let Bill do it.  The bow thruster makes driving it backwards into a marina slip really easy. 

We checked online and the American Airlines flight that Donna & Bruce are supposed to be on arrived a few minutes ago.  They are renting a car at the airport and driving to this marina.  We just found out that there is an electronic gate on the entrance here.  Guess we better mosey on out to that entrance and meet them so they can gain entrance.  Looking forward to seeing them again.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Info on Chichiriveche and storage on our boat

Storage space
average 12x18” and 18’ deep
Cubby Storage  Compartments
average 19 x 10” and 15” deep
2 are extra deep and 30” long and 3 more are 30” long
10 lineal feet
Closet - hanging
1 fwd, 1 aft, 1 nav station, and 1 passage berth
60 cubic feet
Closet - storage
1 fwd, 1 aft, 1 nav station, and 1 passage berth
75 lineal feet
Shelf - storage
averages 4 “ deep
75 cubic feet
Under berth - storage
2 fwd and 1 aft
60 cubic feet
Under floor - storage
1 fwd and 6 saloon
75 cubic feet
Lazarette - storage
225 cubic feet
Lazarette - storage
100 cubic feet
Sail locker - storage
2 forward at the bow
40 cubic feet
Beam – storage
1 locker usually used for emergency equip. & life raft

After we shopped for yet more provisions yesterday and were storing things in all the nooks and crannies inside the boat, Bill got to thinking about just how much storage space we have on our boat.  Here is his list of the storage spaces:

Storage Space on our Amel:
40                    Door Cabinets - average 12x18” and 18’ deep
26                    Cubby Storage Compartments - average 19 x 10” and 15” deep
20                    Drawers - 2 are extra deep and 30” long and 3 more are 30” long
10 lineal feet    Closet – hanging - 1 fwd, 1 aft, 1 nav station, and 1 passage berth
60 cubic feet   Closet – storage - 1 fwd, 1 aft, 1 nav station, and 1 passage berth
75 lineal feet    Shelf - storage            - averages 4 “deep
75 cubic feet   Under berth - storage  2 fwd and 1 aft
60 cubic feet   Under floor – storage 1 fwd and 6 saloon
75 cubic feet   Lazarette - storage cockpit
225 cubic feet Lazarette – storage aft
100 cubic feet Sail locker – storage 2 forward at the bow
40 cubic feet   Beam – storage 1 locker usually used for emergency equip. & life raft

All this storage is yet another reason why we think the Amel Super Maramu 2000 is the best boat for cruising.

Today we received an email from our friends Dan & Jaime on S/V Neria.  They are currently enjoying Puerto La Cruz.  They had checked out our blog and saw that we did not know anything about the statues in the cliffs/caves on the southern side of the Golfo de Cuare near Chichiriviche where we were anchored last weekend.  Here is the info they forwarded to us:

“Of anthropological significance, gouged into Mount Chichiriviche is a 250-foot sinkhole named "the Cave of the Indian," with petroglyphs dating to 3400 B.C. - the mysterious beckonings of a people called the Caquetios.  In another nearby cave you'll find dozens of tiny statues of the Virgin del Valle, patron saint of Venezuela's fishermen, and other saints adorning its pockmarked walls. Here and there you will also see offerings or photos of
loved ones. Each July, the Cave of the Virgin - formally known as the Maritime Sanctuary of Our Lady Mother of the Rock - hosts a procession of fishing boats that have been blessed by the local bishop.”

Thanks to Dan & Jaime.  Interesting.

Tonight we are having sundowners with another boat that wants to do the passage to Cartagena about the same time that we hope to go.  We might buddy-boat with them.  They want to get together and talk about the planned passage and where we will stop along the way.  It would be nice to have another boat nearby for this passage just in case either of us experiences any problems.  After all, we are talking about the normally rough water and high-wind area of the Colombian coast.

We will sail over to Curacao on Saturday.  It is only about 20-25 miles and is basically downwind so it should be a pleasant half day of sailing.  Our friends Donna & Bruce will be arriving next Tuesday to visit with us until 5 September.  We have reserved a slip at the Curacao Yacht Club for the 8 days that they will be with us.  Might not stay in the slip each night because we might want to anchor elsewhere some nights, but having a marina slip will allow sleeping with air-conditioning --- a true luxury!  We tried to reserve a slip at Seru Boca Marina but they were fully booked.  There are no other marinas in Curacao that can accommodate our 7-foot draft, so we are fortunate that the private Curacao Yacht Club is willing to rent slips to foreign flagged yachts.  Their rate is 40% more than Seru Boca, but then they know they have you over a barrel so you just smile and fork over the money and be thankful that you found a slip at all. 

Our diesel is down to only 220 liters (we hold 600 liters) and Bill wanted to fill up here in Bonaire.  I suggested that he first call the Curacao Yacht Club and find out the price over there.  Diesel is almost $5 per gallon here at the Harbour Village Marina in Bonaire.  Diesel is 92 NAF (Netherland Antilles Florin) in Curacao.  At our bank’s exchange rate of 1.818, that means the price of diesel in Curacao is about $2.176 per gallon.  Glad Bill called before filling up here in Bonaire.  Obviously we will wait and fill up in Curacao.  At that low price we will also fill up all our jerry cans before we leave for the passage to Cartagena.

Not sure if we will have internet access in Curacao; so if this website is not updated for a week or two that means we didn’t find WiFi.  But we will certainly update before we head out to Cartagena.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Fled Hurricane Dean from Bonaire to Chichiriviche, Venezuela -- a fabulous place!

Note May 28, 2013:  Crime has become too bad in VZ.  We would not go there today.

August 19, 2007  Sunday
Golfo de Cuare near Chichiriviche, Venezuela
10.54.723N; 068.18.432W                  Traveled about 95 NM from Bonaire    Avg 8 kts.

When we checked the location of Hurricane Dean on Friday morning at 1:00 a.m., there had not been enough movement for us to make a decision whether to remain in Bonaire or head south.  We decided to check again when NOAA made their 5:00 a.m. report.  For the previous two 18-hour reports, the storm had moved .9 degrees north and .6 degrees.  During the current 18-hour period the storm had moved only .3 degrees north.  So, we set our decision criteria to be that if the storm had moved at least another .6 degrees north by 5:00 a.m. then we would stay in Bonaire.  Anything less than another .6 degrees north, then we would head south to Venezuela.  This meant that the storm must be at least at latitude 14.5N by 5:00 a.m. 

It wasn’t!  The storm had only moved to 14.3N by 5:00 a.m. Friday.  Even though neither of us thought it was necessary, we decided that it would be prudent to move southward so that we would be within the insurance zone for storm coverage.  If we had stayed in Bonaire then we would have had to motor back and forth behind the little island of Klein Bonaire when the winds shifted to the west or south or if swells came in from the west, all of which were definite predictions starting Friday night and lasting though the weekend.  If another boat had collided with us then our insurance would not be in effect.  The other option was to go to Curacao and anchor in Spanish Waters, where there are at least 50 boats already anchored.  If a boat dragged anchor and ran into us then we would not have been covered by our insurance because we were not far enough south.

So a trip to Venezuela was in order. 

We left Bonaire at 5:20 a.m. Friday and arrived near Chichiriviche about 4:30 p.m..  We had to motor almost the entire trip as the winds did indeed shift to be from the south (directly on our nose).  This was the wind shift that we had feared would affect Bonaire.  Sure enough, according to our weather service emails, Bonaire sustained a couple of wind reversals between Friday night and Sunday morning.  Glad we weren’t there!  It wouldn’t have been that big of a deal.  We know what we can handle, but we always worry what the “other guy” might do wrong to cause an accident. 

We are glad we came down to Venezuela.  If we had not made this storm avoidance trip then we would have missed out on seeing a wonderful area of Venezuela around Chichiriviche.   As we entered the main channel from the sea into Chichiriviche this morning a flock of scarlet ibis flew across our bow about a boat length in front of us.  These were the most scarlet ibis that we have seen at one time.  A scarlet ibis looks like a pink flamingo except smaller and bright red; legs seem a bit shorter proportionate to the total body size as compared to a flamingo.

There are high, dramatic cliffs along the southern shore of the Golfo de Cuare.  Mangroves cover the western and northern shores.  We maneuvered through the mangroves on the eastern side of the Golfo in order to get inside here.  At one point the water depth beneath our keel was only 1.8 feet!!!!  But it was an adventurous little trip for us.  Our navigation charts stopped about 1/3 of the way inside here, but our sailing guide had a good detailed sketch-chart and we followed it easily through the mangroves.  Bill stood on the deck and I drove the boat while constantly glancing at the depth gauge.  It was really pretty easy and our first attempt at gunkholing. 

We are the only boat inside the Golfo; there were 3 or 4 other sailboats that anchored out just behind the point bordering the sea.  They didn’t attempt to wind their way through the mangroves to get into the Golfo de Cuare.  We are very glad that we did not anchor out there with the other boats.  Apparently very few boat come inside the Golfo because we are quite a curiosity to the locals.  Several boats have come by to take photos of S/V BeBe at anchor in here.  Guess they don’t see a 53-foot sailboat in here very often.  We are breaking the cardinal rule about never anchoring alone in an isolated spot anywhere near South America.  But we feel totally safe here.  We are setting our boat security alarm each night and locking down the hatches except for the one hatch in the cabin where we are sleeping.   If someone does board the boat the alarm would sound and we could lock that hatch before anyone could reach it.  Just because we feel safe doesn’t mean that we aren’t being security conscious.

It is truly gorgeous in here.   We anchored in 16 feet of water fairly far away from the cliffs --- for 2 reasons: 1) to avoid as many insects as possible and 2) to catch as much wind as possible.  Bill put our two mosquito covers over the forward hatch and the saloon hatch, and we zipped up the shade screens around the cockpit.  This is not “bug-proof” but it drastically reduces the number of flies and mosquitoes who can find their way inside the cockpit or down below deck.  We want to purchase two more of these “noseum” mosquito nets for the remaining two hatches and have screens made for our four side ports.  We also want to buy many yards of nylon netting o bridal veil netting to stuff into the spaces where the cockpit shade panels don’t completely zip shut.  Those things would really reduce the number of bothersome insects to get inside the boat or cockpit.

This morning we put the dinghy in the water and motored over to the Indian site in the cliffs on the southern shore.  There are some rock carvings inside a cave that was used as a burial ground by the Caquetios Indians who lived here around 3400 B.C.  The local people have built a small jetty there where the local tour boats tie off and unload their passengers to walk around inside the cave area.  The cliffs above the cave area are the most dramatic cliffs all along the southern shore line.  We wanted to go see this cave before the local tours started for the day and thought that Sunday morning would be the best time to avoid being in anyone’s way.  There was only one tour boat there while we visited.  Another man and little boy arrived in a hand made dugout canoe just as we were leaving.  There are quite a few rock carvings in this burial ground area.  If you walk back you find yourself in a crater with sheer cliff sides about 200 feet high.  Quite a sight!

A bit east of the Indian cave site is a grotto of some sort.  It is full of little statues so it appears to have some sort of religious significance to modern day locals, but we have no idea what.  There is a fresh water spring that comes out of the rocks behind a large single mangrove tree well up inside this little grotto area.  Every nook and cranny of the rocks in this grotto are filled with statues, photos, candles and all sorts of things.  Apparently in memory of departed loved ones would be our guess, but who knows.  At any rate, it is a different kind of place and we are glad we were fortunate to see it.

This large body of water with the high cliffs and mangroves all around it does evoke feelings of long ago.  We can see in our minds-eyes what life must have been like for the native Indians who lived here more than 6000 years ago.  I am reading a series of anthropological novels about Native North Americans covering 13000 BC through 1200 AD.  Wish I could find a similar series of books about South and Central Americans because I find this history interesting and would like to know more about the Caquetios Indians as well as others who inhabited South and Central America.

Off topic note:  last week when the kids were visiting I bought a couple of one-liter cartons of what I thought was chocolate milk.  It was labeled in Dutch; I could tell it was chocolate and it was in the milk section of the supermarket.  (BTW, I think the United States may be the only country left where milk is still sold in refrigerated bottles; everywhere else milk is sold in UHT long-life cartons which are not refrigerated until ready to use.)  That night I asked the kids if they wanted a glass of chocolate milk; answer, of course, yes.  I cut the corner of the carton and started to pour a glass.  GLUNK---GLUNK----GLUNK!  This was the thickest chocolate milk that I had ever seen.  Turns out it was a carton of chocolate pudding ---- called Chocolade Vla on the carton label.  BeBe still wanted chocolate milk but she had to do without and settle for Vla instead.  I hope to go back to that supermarket and buy some more Vla before we clear out of Bonaire this week.  Also want to try the Banana Vla and the Strawberry Vla.  BTW, we also found long-life yoghurt.  It requires no refrigeration until ready to serve and the expiration date is sometime in December.  It has a bit of a powdery or grainy texture but would be great for while we are in the San Blas Islands and can’t buy anything for a few months.

August 20, 2007  Monday
Cayo Sombrero, Morrocoy National Park, Venezuela
10.52.863N; 068.12.734W      Traveled 24 NM

Today was the day to finally move out of the Golfo de Cuare (or Golfo de Cuaro, depending on which chart you look at).  We very much enjoyed being anchored all alone with views of the dramatic cliffs.  The local people were very friendly; many came by in their lanceros to take photos of our boat or simply to wave and say bueno dia. 

On Saturday Bill had dug out our high-pressure salt water pump.  We normally use our fresh water hose to wash down the boat as needed.  And we already have a salt water wash down on the anchor, but it doesn’t always line up exactly with the anchor chain as the chain pulls up over the bow roller.  Since we were anchored in basically a huge sea water lake surrounded by mangrove swamps, we knew that the bottom was mud instead of sand and that our anchor chain would be particularly nasty when pulled up.  Bill set up the high-pressure salt water pump to siphon up from the sea water level, through the pump and then through a hose to wash down the chain as it was raised.  He tested it and it worked great.  So he decided to lower all our anchor chain and wash it thoroughly as it was raised.  Well, duh!  He kind of forgot that he would be lowering all the chain into yucky mud!  Good thing the pump arrangement worked so well because that chain came up with large chunks of mud all over it.  Bill washed it well and lowered the excess chain back into the anchor locker.  Now we were set for when we were ready to raise the anchor and move on.  No muddy chain going into our chain locker!

First thing this morning we again set up the high-pressure salt water pump and the hoses and started raising the anchor chain.  Murphy’s Law struck at once.  No matter what we did, the pump would not bring up the salt water more than a trickle.  And man, was that chain muddy!  So, what to do?  Luckily, Bill had saved a small section of hose with an end-fitting that fit our stationary salt water anchor wash down mounted near the bow rollers.  He switched out the normal fitting with this small section hose fitting and attached a water hose.  Now we were in business again.  Had very strong water pressure to wash the chain as it was raised.  It took probably 30 minutes to raise and clean 48 meters of anchor chain.  Once the anchor was off the bottom I went back to the helm and started slowly driving out of the Golfo.  This time it was easy because I could simply follow the track we painted on our electronic chart when we entered.

While doing all this messing around with the anchor chain we discovered that the windlass would only operate sporadically to lower the anchor chain.  It raised perfectly, but it only lowered every once and awhile.  Bill looked at it later in the day after we were anchored for the night.  His synopsis of the situation is written below my blog for the day.

After we re-traced our path out of the Golfo we went back down to Morrocoy National Park.  Unfortunately, neither of our electronic charts are correct for this park area.  And our sailing guide did not appear to be correct either.  And to top it all off, all the channel buoys and navigational markers were missing.  There was nothing to guide you through this huge maze of snaking water ways and reefs except the color of the water, and the water was murky (except where it was so shallow that the reef was almost exposed).  And there were at least a hundred of fast moving power boats zooming in every direction.  Talk about stressed out!!!!!!

Our only purposed in going to Morrocoy was to try to buy diesel.  We are down to half a tank and have already used our spare jerry cans.  Our sailing guide stated that in 2001 a certain small marina planned to start selling diesel.  So we thought we would give it a try.  The guy who owns the fuel dock supposedly speaks good English and monitors the VHF radio.  We tried raising him on the radio several times with no answer.  We decided that we didn’t need all this stress just to buy cheap diesel, so we turned around and got the hell out of that place!  We would NOT recommend any keeled boat going to Morrocoy.  It is fine for power boats, but sailboats need to avoid that place.  However, all that said, it is a beautiful place.

We motored back out of the park and headed north between Cayo Sombrero and Cayo Pescadores.  We planned to anchor behind Cayo Sombrero for the night but we wanted to paint a track of the way out because we plan to leave sometime during the wee hours of darkness to head back to Bonaire.  It would be nice if we could simply sail straight to Curacao, but we did not check out of Bonaire when we headed to Venezuela very early last Friday morning.  This lack of clearance is not a problem for us here near Chichiriviche and Morrocoy because there is no place here to clear into Venezuela.  The nearest place for VZ clearance is Puerto Cabello, about 45 miles east of here.  There are no customs or immigration officials in this area to check on us; and the local Port Captain does not want anything to do with private yachts.  He says not to bother him.  So we were go back to Bonaire tomorrow and Bonaire officials will never know we left.  We hope to do a bit of shopping for specific items and then clear out and head to Curacao on the first good weather prediction.

And, now is Bill’s story about the ailing anchor windlass:

Reason number 200 as to why I would buy only an Amel

The windlass had a problem today.  It would raise the anchor but not lower it from either the helm switch or the button on the windlass.  A quick check reflected that the Lofrans control box was the culprit.  This could happen on any boat.  The control box would be mounted on a bulkhead somewhere that you would have to stand on your head and hold your tongue just so to be able to even see it.  Either that or it would be in a similar place, but hanging free and swinging with the boat.

Let me try to explain what Amel does with the Lofrans windlass control box.  The most forward port side storage compartment has a beautifully finished door that when opened exposes several circuit breakers on the forward side of the compartment.  By the way, the compartment is lined with 100% natural wool woven in a 1/8” pile.  All of the storage compartments on an Amel are lined completely with this wool (top, bottom and sides).  It naturally absorbs moisture and, of course, it keeps things from rattling (sailboats move).   There is a thumb-screw nut located just under the breakers inside the door.  When the thumb-screw nut is loosened and removed, a piece of wood that the breakers are mounted on loosens up…it does not fall, just gets loose.  If you observe the other side of that forward cabinet wall, you will see a finished piece of mahogany that the breakers are mounted on…also mounted on the reverse side are several relays and the Lofrans control box. 

Remember, I said that after removing the thumb-screw nut the board became loose…it did not fall.  It did not fall because it is held in place by Velcro.  Pulling the board from the Velcro reveals a finished mahogany board with relays and the Lofrans control box on one side…the other side is upholstered in 100% wool and has a piece of Velcro.  Now that the board is free of the Velcro, you can pull it out of the tight quarters in to an open area because all of the wires are long enough to allow that.  Oh, by the way the wires are all labeled, they are bundled and strapped…AND there is a small piece of bungee cord to pull the slack out as you replace the board.

NOW, after all of this “hard” work, the Lofrans control box can be replaced.

There are hundreds of reasons just like this one that explain why I would only buy an Amel.

August 21, 2007 Tuesday
Kralendijk, Bonaire
12.09.114N, 068.16.725W      Traveled 77.2NM        Average speed 7.72 kts

The alarm clock failed to sound this morning so we left Cayo Sombrero a little later than hoped.  Anchor was up and we were on our way by 6:30 a.m., and we arrived Bonaire and were tied to a mooring at 4:30 p.m.  It was a very easy passage.  Bill was sick this morning and spent hours laying in the cockpit.  Good thing I can handle the boat by myself --- especially since we were motoring for the first half of the trip because there was zero wind.  Bill began to feel better around mid-day.  The wind finally picked up to 15 knots and we sailed the last 35 miles.  A very easy trip.

We are glad that we made this little side trip to Chichiriviche area of Venezuela.  It is lovely.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Doubloon

Tonight we visited the POLYNESIA, a Windjammer tall ship that was docked in Bonaire.  The Windjammer ships are not supposed to no longer allow non-paying persons aboard to visit, but the purser made an exception in our case.  Why?  Because we had saved a doubloon from the last time we were passengers on the POLYNESIA.  So the purser (Abbie) allowed us aboard as guests of the captain so that we could spend our final doubloon at the bar.

Windjammer uses a non-cash system to purchase bar drinks.  One must purchase a paper doubloon from the purser.  This doubloon is simply a circle of paper with black dots all around the edge.  Each bar drink requires a certain number of punches to remove the black dots.  Our one doubloon was enough to purchase 2 beers and 2 pina coladas.  When we originally purchased this doubloon back in 1989 or 1990 aboard the POLYNESIA in St. Martin, we paid either $5 or $10 for it.  Today a doubloon costs $20.  We think it still buys the same number of drinks.

While aboard we met a woman named Sam who was planning to dive in Bonaire tomorrow.  Looks like hurricane DEAN will change those plans.  We also met a nice man named Steve and chatted with him a bit.  The captain called a meeting of the passengers in the horseshoe on the top deck.  The horseshoe is a covered area where meetings are usually held. 

Captain Cesar proceeded to tell the passengers about the formation and predicted track of hurricane DEAN.  This was news to the passengers because none of them had been tracking weather like we cruisers have been doing all week.  The captain passed around a laptop computer showing the passengers the current location of the hurricane and its predicted path.  He told them that the ship would be taking on fuel at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow morning.  Then they would have to make a decision as to whether they would remain in Bonaire until noon before departing back to their scheduled final destination of Aruba, or if they should leave for Aruba immediately after taking on fuel.  There was no doubt what the passengers wanted to do --- they wanted to leave as soon as the ship was fueled.  They did not want to take any chances of encountering bad weather from hurricane DEAN.  In fact, some of the passengers wanted to leave tonight; but that was not possible because the ship could not be refueled until tomorrow morning.

As for Bill and me, we plan to wake up at 1:00 a.m. tonight and make our decision then as to whether to head south to Venezuela or to wait until morning and head west to Curacao.  Neither of us wants to stay in Bonaire with westerly winds and large westerly swells predicted to start here tomorrow night.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hurricane Dean headed this way and BeBe's 6th birthday

August 14, 2007  Tuesday

The kids left very early this morning.   Hope the two six-year-olds travel all day towards home as well as they traveled on the way down here.  They will have only 3 flights to reach home vs. the 4 flights on the way down, but it is still an all-day ordeal.  A tropical storm or possible low-category hurricane is expected to pass through Puerto Rico area on Thursday night or Friday.  At least they will be in and out of Puerto Rico today and will avoid that mess.   Hope Lynn and BeBe don’t get sick along the way.  Zachary, Aaron and Sebastian were sick with fever, headache and vomiting for several days during their visit with us.  Obviously this illness is contagious and appears to have several days incubation period, so I do hope they make it home before anyone else exhibits symptoms.   I know the entire family will be glad to be back in the land of air-conditioning and unlimited electrical and water consumption. 

Thanks very much to Aaron & Lynn for bringing the stuff down to us, especially the new laptop.  It is great to have another spare computer onboard.  And also thanks to John for buying the two suitcases from Goodwill and packing them with all kinds of goodies from Sam’s Club.  It was like Christmas in August when we unpacked all the surprises.  One of the things they brought us was our mail for the past months.  This included a complimentary copy of SAIL magazine from some business.  We had canceled our subscription to SAIL several years ago.  Now that we have perused this latest copy, we wonder why in the world we every subscribed to this magazine in the first place.  SAIL reads like a sailor wantabe rag.  There is nothing of any interest in that magazine to an experienced sailor and definitely no interest for a cruiser.  It seems to be written for people who want to envision themselves sailors.

Elisabeth (BeBe) celebrated her sixth birthday on Sunday.  Zachary will not turn seven until 5 October, so for the next seven weeks or so they are both aged six.  Zachary is ten months older than BeBe and never lets her forget it.  He is also more than twice her weight and about a head taller than her.  She is such a girly girl.  But for the next seven weeks BeBe doesn’t have to accept his teasing about how he is “older” because they are both six.  They are such total opposites.  He has an “anything goes” attitude and she is quite high maintenance.  Maybe that is a good thing because she won’t settle for less than she thinks she deserves.

Bill and I looked at several stores trying to find something to give her for a birthday gift.  Toys are not to be found on this island.  Only thing we found was a small stuffed animal, so that is all she received from her grandparents for her birthday (and she already has at least a hundred stuffed animals at home so it was the last thing she needed or wanted).  Zachary brought a birthday gift from Houston—a transformer truck---and that was exactly what she wanted.  For such a girly girl it seems odd that she enjoys cars and trucks so much.  Her mom gave her some Tinkerbelle sunglasses and a very pretty hair clip from Paris.  I baked a birthday cake for her and Lynn decorated it; and we put balloons around the boat.  The kids had fun playing with the balloons in the cabins.  Elisabeth will have another small birthday celebration on Friday at her Montessori school. 

BeBe only got into the sea once during this vacation.  She got a bit of salt water into her mouth and hated it, so that was the end of her attempts to swim or snorkel.  But she did enjoy being paddled about in the kayak, giving orders as to the direction to go.  Zachary doesn’t swim all that well yet, so he wore swimming aids of various sorts; but he loves the water and enjoyed snorkeling a few times.  He loved jumping off the deck of the boat into the water.  This is about a five-foot drop at the location of our swim ladder.  We had him wear his snorkel mask and told him to hold it tight to his face, but the mask still came off a few times.  Not a big deal but the salt water burned his eyes and he wasn’t accustomed to that experience.  But he is a boy and believes he can do anything anyone else can.

Sebastian learned to drive the dinghy and did a great job.  Zachary also learned to drive the dinghy and did as well as could be expected for a six-year-old.  His shorter arm length prevented him from having firm control in some maneuvering positions.  But we think he drove the dinghy just fine.  He managed to place us back at the stern of the swinging boat most of the time, and managed to cut the engine at the right times to drift the dinghy up to a dock with good accuracy. 

I have nine loads of laundry to wash today, clean the heads and clean all the fans with alcohol and Q-tips.  Those fans get grimy/dusty very quickly and they haven’t been cleaned in over two weeks.  Bill is helping with the vacuuming.  And my final job will be to wipe down every wall or cabinet surface because there are little fingerprints and dust everywhere inside this boat.  While I am doing those chores Bill will start cleaning up the topsides and getting all the little footprints washed away.  The carburetor rebuild-kit for the outboard motor arrived yesterday and that work is being performed today.  Perfect timing. 

Bill deflated the sea kayak and stored it away first thing this morning.  We won’t be using it again until probably the San Blas Islands so it might as well be stored away properly now.  Lynn and Aaron helped us fold and flake our forward ballooner sail yesterday.  That sail is used only for direct downwind conditions and I doubt we will have the need to use it again for some time.  So we were glad to get that big sail folded and stored away again.  We had used it between Cubagua and Tortuga, VZ, and had just stuffed it down into a sail locker when finished with it that day.  It really is difficult to properly stow away a sail on a moving boat since the sails are longer than the boat.  Makes folding a challenge.

On Sunday a catamaran full of Venezuelans arrived and got on the mooring next to us.  There were 8 adults and a whole bunch of kids, including an infant that looked to be about 8 months old.  Yesterday morning they loaded up the dinghy and took the first group ashore, leaving 3 adults and the infant onboard waiting for the second dinghy trip ashore.  Right after the first dinghy departure I noticed the baby crawling up into the seat of the cockpit.  Then he crawled right out onto the deck.  There were no adults watching this baby at all.  We watched the baby crawl over to the life lines and pull himself up.  This catamaran had the normal flimsy wire lifelines and the baby was holding on very unsteadily.  Scared the beejesus out of us!  Our dinghy was up on the davits so we couldn’t get over to that boat if that baby fell into the sea.  I grabbed our air horn can and Bill blasted away towards the catamaran.  After the third series of blasts an adult finally came outside to see what the commotion was all about.  That is when he learned that his infant son was now crawling around on the foredeck!  I cannot imagine what 3 adults were doing inside that made them forget that they had a baby aboard.  They are extremely lucky that the baby didn’t drown.

Yesterday afternoon soon after we had all climbed aboard from snorkeling we noticed a large fish feeding only 30 to 50 feet from our stern.  Couldn’t identify what kind of fish it was, but it was definitely a large one – looked to be approximately 4 to 4 ½ feet long.  We thought it might be a mahi-mahi (dorado or dolphin fish), but we could not see any of the bright green/blue of a live mahi-mahi.  This fish was brown on the tail and dark colored on its back with a brilliant white or silver belly.  Whatever it was, I wish we could have caught it.  Would have provided a month’s worth of fantastic fish dinners.

A small tropical disturbance is predicted to pass well north of Bonaire today.  If that happens, then it is possible that Bonaire will sustain wind-reversal for several hours.  If the wind starts coming from the south or west then all boats must vacate the moorings until the wind returns to normal easterly direction.  There is a very, very deep underwater shelf on the leeward side of Bonaire where the moorings are placed.  If the wind changes to the south or west then the waves are driven over this underwater shelf and large waves will pound into this area.  One boat that has endured these conditions twice told us that once they had to literally cut their mooring lines free because there was so much pressure that it was impossible to release the lines.  When a wind-reversal happens (once or twice per year) then all boats must vacate this area and go meander back and forth behind the little island of Klein Bonaire until conditions re-settle.  We have the boat ready to let loose the mooring lines and head out to sea at a moments notice – except for the laundry hanging topsides!  Hoping the winds don’t cause any problems today because I really would like to finish laundry and cleaning.

Should be lots of photos associated with this posting (if we get another internet connection—the one we have been using for the past month is no longer working).  I will not attempt to describe any activities here; you can read the captions and descriptions with each photo for any explanations of what we have been doing while the kids were visiting for the past two weeks.

3:00 p.m. update
A few hours ago we received an email from the weather guy, Chris Parker.  Seems that Tropical Storm Dean (#4) is becoming more difficult to predict.  This is the storm that was supposed to develop into a low-category hurricane and pass through Puerto Rico on Thursday night or Friday.  Now the predictions cover everywhere from Trinidad to Bahamas.  They have no idea which direction this storm is going to go.  But most of the computer models are now taking the storm on a straight westerly path.  From its current position, that path would take the storm directly over the ABCs!  Guess you could say that the kids really did leave at the right time!  It is too soon for any accurate forecasting of the path of this storm so we will have to watch it carefully for the next 36 hours.  If it truly is headed straight towards the ABCs then we will have to hurry down to Venezuela.  There is a great hurricane hole area in Venezuela that is just within the geographic limits for our insurance coverage.  It is only about 80 miles away and should take us approximately 14 hours max to get within insurance coverage zone.  What a time for the internet to quick working; right when we need it the most in order to stay up-to-the-minute on this storm movement.

August 15, 2007  Wednesday 8:00 p.m.

We just returned from eating the worst meal either of us can remember in our lifetimes.  I was craving Chinese food and there is one Chinese restaurant nearby, so we gave it a try.  It was horrible!  Neither of us could eat it.  But at least I definitely won’t want any more Chinese food for awhile.

The marina is filled now with boats that have moved from moorings to inside the marina.  All in anticipation of bad weather within the next few days.   Tropical Storm Dean is expected to be upgraded to a hurricane on Friday.  The computer models indicate that at least the outer bands should affect Bonaire.  With the circulation pattern of hurricane winds, that means Bonaire should experience those nasty westerly winds it is so famous for.  I have plotted a route to the hurricane hole on mainland Venezuela that we chose as our best option in case the predicted bad weather comes any closer to Bonaire.  It would be about 90 miles, so we would want to leave Bonaire sometime tomorrow night so that we could arrive during bright daylight of early afternoon Friday.  We are watching this storm closely.  Look for our decision to be posted tomorrow night.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Family visited us in Bonaire

Some of the photos linked to this log are from some of the dives that Bill has done during the past couple of weeks.  It has been a couple of weeks since this log was updated and I cannot remember exactly what we have done, but I do remember that Bill did a few dives before our family arrived to visit.  Note May 28, 2013:  No photos added yet for any of these older postings moved from our previous website.

Our younger son Aaron arrived in Bonaire late the evening of July 31, along with 15-yr-old Sebastian, our 5-yr-old granddaughter Elisabeth (BeBe) and our 6-yr-old grandson Zachary (BeBe’s cousin).  Aaron’s wife Lynn arrived on August 2.  So we have a boat full!

The kids enjoyed paddling around in our inflatable sea kayak several times.  BeBe had been practicing snorkeling in the swimming pool at home before this trip; but the first time she got into the sea she experienced salt water in her mouth and that was the end of her snorkeling.  It was also the end of her getting into the seawater at all except in the shallowest edges at the beach.  She detests putting her face or head into the water.  But then, she also hated water on her face when she was an infant.  Zachary, on the other hand, absolutely loves it.  He is game to try just about anything.

Sebastian learned to drive the dinghy and handles it pretty well for someone who previously had never been on a boat of any kind.  He also takes to the water like a fish.  Zachary has also learned to drive the dinghy but definitely still needs supervision.  BeBe wants nothing to do with driving the dinghy.  After all, she is a princess, you know.  She much prefers to tell everyone else what to do and when to do it.  Poor BeBe takes after me; she is literally covered in nasty large red insect bites.  No one else has even one noticeable bug bite.

Zachary was sick with high fever and vomiting one full day.  Then Aaron caught it and was sick for several days.  The rest of us have avoided catching this so far.  Aaron wanted to learn to dive during this vacation but that won’t be possible because he is apparently allergic to the desert plants native to Bonaire and has too much nasal congestion.

Sebastian and Lynn did windsurfing lessons one day at Lac Bay on the windward side of Bonaire.  Winds were light that day so it was perfect conditions for beginners.  Both of them seemed natural to the sport and appeared to enjoy the experience.  But we turned in our rental car (truck) early so now they have no easy means of transportation from the boat mooring field on the westward side of Bonaire to the windsurfing area on the eastward side of the island.  We do have the phone number of a taxi driver who could transport them if they really want to windsurf again.

One day we drove through the Slagbaai National Park.   The northern third of the island of Bonaire is designated as the Slagbaai National Park.  This park was nothing like any of us expected.  It is mostly a dirt road through a bunch of cacti.  The road is one-way.   You enter on the eastern side of the island and pretty much just drive around or near the coastline until eventually the road cuts straight back across the island back to the entrance/exit.  It was something different to do for a day, so we were all glad that we checked it out.  We did see the Bonaire version of blow holes on the windward side.  These did not compare in even a basic sense to the real blow holes that Bill and I saw in Tonga, but these Bonaire blow holes were interesting to the kids and gave them an understanding of how the blow holes work with the surging sea. 

We also saw many pink flamingoes, a few parrots, numerous unknown birds, lots and lots of goats or sheep.  We even saw one hawk and one deer.  Didn’t know that deer were native on Bonaire.  We stopped at a nice little beach on the westward side where there were several buildings and had restrooms and picnic tables.  We had brought KFC fried chicken and apples and bottled water for our picnic.

We also stopped at Devil’s Mouth on our drive to the park.  This is an interesting rock formation on the westward side of Bonaire.  Unfortunately, the bugs were horrific so we could not stay long enough to take decent photos of this unusual place.

We had parked the rental truck behind the marina office.  This was the spot recommended by other cruisers as being the most secure parking place.  Turned out not to be true.  One night someone cut the fuel fill line so they could siphon out half a tank of gasoline.  They would not have had to cut the fuel fill line if the car rental company had not put a lock on the gas tank.  Three other vehicles also had the fuel fill lines cut, but they were parked in a more highly visible area across the marina from where we had parked.  Police reports were filed for the other vehicles but we opted to repair the truck ourselves rather than pay the rental company for their exorbitant repair costs.   Bill and Aaron were able to purchase the necessary parts to repair the fuel fill line on the truck, so they repaired it and we turned it in early.  Not worth the cost of repairing vandalism.

Today is cloudy with scattered showers.  Bill and I have routine dental appointments this morning.  Lynn would like to take the kids out to the beach on Klein Bonaire.  The kids are playing their electronic games so much that we adults want them to do anything except lay around inside the boat and play these silly games.  Maybe a forced march down the sea wall might be in order to force them to get more exercise.  Today is also Aaron and Lynn’s wedding anniversary.  Don’t think they will be doing anything special to celebrate.  Maybe drink a bottle or two of champagne in the cockpit tonight.