December 25, 2005 - March 23, 2006

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HIGHLIGHTS - "Bonaire Delights" and "Fender Benders"

We made our first real downwind "tradewind passage" to Bonaire, where we had a wonderful (but utterly exhausting) 2 weeks of fun with our friends from Wisconsin.

We also got up close and personal with the medical and educational scene on Bonaire, and discovered to our surprise that both offer some advantages over the U.S.

Then we took a short trip to Curacao, and had a fishing boat crash into our bow. We are just finishing repairs, both mentally and physically.

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December 25 - December 28

Martinique

Our stay in Martinique was short and sweet. While we stopped mainly to get our sails repaired, we were able to spend some time visiting friends we made here last spring -- and in particular, we visited our favorite French Restaurant, La Rose des Vents.

Here are Gail and Frank, the owners of La Rose des Vents. Frank's creative dishes blend French cooking with elements from Indonesia and other parts of the world. Some of the best food we've had anywhere, at very reasonable prices. Gail and Frank of La Rose des Vents

Meanwhile the sail loft " Incidences" worked to fix our sails.

Waterway channel leading up to sail loft We got to the sail loft in Marin by dinghy, motoring down a long winding channel -- it felt like we were in the everglades. We even saw cattle grazing along the shore. (But no alligators.)

 

Then we rounded a bend and came upon a brand new set of modern facilities, including many which supply boat services. The sail loft has an overhead gantry for hoisting sails right out of a boat and up into the huge loft. Ultra modern sail loft

 

Here's Beth with the sailmaker who managed our repairs. Beth with sailmaker at loft in Marin

 

Making sail repair

We believe that UV ate through the threads, so we had the sailmakers protect their repairs by sewing protective UV covers on the exposed sail clews.

(Upon later reflection we have decided to put even more UV protection up and down the edge of the sail. That work will have to wait for New Zealand, however, as we didn't think of it in Martinique.)

Soon after we anchored in Martinique, we noticed that the huge ferryboat anchored next to us had started to sink (see below)!

Ferry listing at anchor

Despite repeated radio calls by concerned boaters, it took hours before anybody showed up to work on the leak. It WAS Christmas day, after all.

Marin harbor barely avoided getting a new reef right in the middle of the anchorage.

Stern view of listing ferry

December 29 - December 30

With our sails back on board, we made a quick passage to St. Lucia to meet our friends, John and Susan, on "Tuppence". A pod of dolphins escorted us part way there. They were particularly frisky with some jumping clear out of the water! (Unfortunately we weren't fast enough with the camera.)

Tuppence at anchor in Rodney Bay

We anchored near "Tuppence" in Rodney Bay. (Note the old British hilltop fort, established by -- you guessed it -- Admiral Rodney.)

 

 

We had promised to spend Christmas with John and Susan and they had made up adorable little stockings for us. Our sail problems delayed us, but they let us eat the chocolate bars anyway. Holiday stocking stuffers

 

Trampoline acrobatics Safety restrictions are a bit looser on St. Lucia (and the islands in general) than in the U.S. You don't see too many playgrounds with trampolines in the States.

 

And so our stay in the Eastern Caribbean drew to a peaceful close. We probably won't be back to these waters for at least three or four years. Sunset in Rodney Bay

December 31 - January 3

Westward Ho!

On New Year's eve we headed westward toward Bonaire, about three day's sailing downwind from St. Lucia.

This trip marked a point of no return. The winds always blow from the east in the tradewind belt, and once you go downwind in a sailboat you don't come back very easily.

We do think there's a good chance that we'll get back to the Eastern Caribbean, but only by sailing downwind all the way.

Figure that one out!

Last view of St. Lucia

Our last bittersweet view of St. Lucia (Pitons pictured in the center). We haven't really scratched the surface of the Caribbean, but we feel the pull of the Pacific.

(Cue the music from "Victory at Sea!")

We had raucus downwind sailing in winds above 20 knots for most of the trip. Our Monitor windvane (below left) steered the boat like a champ, even when we were flying under "wing and wing" (below right).

This was our first taste of real downwind tradewind sailing. We liked it.

Monitor windvane doing all of the steering work   Flying downwind under wing and wing

At first Ken didn't really trust the windvane and he watched it all the time to make sure it didn't jibe us unexpectedly. (A jibe brings the boat's stern though the eye of the wind, and causes the boom and the mainsail to swing across the boat with great sound and fury. An unexpected jibe can break things. Like your head!)

But by the end of the passage we had decided that the Monitor was the best downwind helmsperson, (or helmsthing) on the boat. The electric autopilot steers a pretty good compass course, but a compass course won't keep you from jibing if the wind shifts. And while the autopilot can theoretically steer to the wind instruments, there are lots of lags in that system. In fact the autopilot manual says not to use the "follow the wind mode" when the wind is aft of the beam.

OK. Except that we plan to have the wind aft of the beam for about the next 25,000 miles.

And as for us, we aren't in the same league with either the Monitor or the autopilot. Our technique is ok, but we just don't have the same concentration.

So, anyway, the Monitor is our man. Or thing.

Squalls

We also got a good taste of the scourge of the tradewinds -- squalls. We had learned our lesson from the trip to Martinique and reefed early. We were glad the jib was safely furled when the winds whipped up to 34 knots in a squall. With squalls popping up everywhere, it was impossible to avoid them. Radar showing large strong squalls

 

Threatening sky of an approaching squall The sky looked pretty scary, but at least the air temperatures were warm and we didn't need heavy gear as we moved around the boat, getting prepared for the storms. Beth making an adjustment before squall hits

 

Lots of rain and big seas The seas built and the wind was really howling, but we were snug in the pilothouse. At right you can see the torrent of rain water pouring off our sails. Rain pouring off mainsail

 

Bonaire landfall Bonaire was a welcome sight and the winds dropped considerably once we got in the lee of the island.

January 4 - February 3

Bonaire

As soon as we landed in Bonaire, we fell in love with the place. On the plus side: clean water, immaculate town, friendly locals, practically zero crime, superb diving and snorkeling, good restaurants, lots of other cruisers to meet, and wireless internet access right from our boat! On the negative side: lack of good grocery stores (a food shipment comes in once a week) and lack of quick delivery/mail service to/from the States. But we both agreed this was probably our favorite place so far. Kind of like Bermuda, but with a much nicer climate.

Eagles Wings kissed by rainbow All of the waters surrounding Bonaire belong to marine park. The park provides secure moorings -- no anchors to damage the coral!

 

Rainy day in Bonaire The storms followed us to Bonaire. The natives told us they never saw so much rain this time of year in Bonaire. Flooded roads

 

Dutch boat with lee boards

Although Bonaire is Dutch, English is spoken everywhere. Many of the signs are in English, so as to better instruct tourists about the local customs. Like the one on the right.

On the other hand we saw distinctly Dutch elements, like this Dutch boat (left). The "lee board" on the side serves as a kind of lifting keel. Useful for the shallow Dutch waters, but a little out of place in the Caribbean.

Dive shop warning sign

Bonaire currently belongs to the Netherlands Antilles, with Curacao acting as the capital. However, the Bonairians recently decided to secede, since they felt that Curacao hogged all the money. Of course when we got to Curacao we heard a completely different story. Didn't somebody say that "all politics is local"?

Anyway, Bonaire will now come under the direct control of Holland and essentially join the EU. A lot of knowledgeable people on Bonaire think that the islanders are in for a bit of a shock when EU regulations take hold. Most of the fishing fleet would become illegal, for example, because the boats don't follow strict European refrigeration practices. (Did we mention that we rarely eat fish in a restaurant?)

Visiting Friends

We got to Bonaire just in time to meet our friends, the Parkers, who had flown into Bonaire for a vacation. Beth introduced Debbie and Tim way back when, and therefore claims credit for the existence of their kids, Becky and Greg. Debbie and Tim may also have had something to do with it.

The Parkers stayed in a hotel on shore, and we got together for diving, windsurfing and other entertainment. As an aside, it generally pays big dividends for guests to have their own space, as a boat is really very small for company. Almost all the long term cruisers we meet have given us this advice. (For one thing, nobody ever wears much clothing inside a boat -- too warm!)

We had an absolutely great time with the Parkers, and probably got in more pure recreation than we have had in at least a year. We barely survived! Friends on vacation always move faster than cruisers, since they have limited time, but Tim is in another league. Tim's idea of a perfect day on Bonaire would include two scuba dives in the morning, windsurfing for four or five hours in the afternoon, and then a night dive, followed by dinner. And then repeat the next day. Our only consolation was that Tim not only wore us out, but also left his college-aged kids in the dust. Both Becky and Greg were looking a bit comotose by the end of the second week.

The Parker family (left: Tim and Debbie; center: Becky; right: Greg):

Tim and Debbie enjoying a night out Becky taking a turn at steering Eagle's Wings Greg getting ready to dive under our boat

Bonaire offers extraordinary diving and snorkeling and you can reach most dive sites from shore or by dinghy so we never needed to hire a dive boat. The diving was even great right under our boat. Sometimes we heard bubbles hitting the hull as other divers passed under us!

Ken demonstrating backwards entry off dinghy Ken (right), coming ashore after a morning of shore diving and (left) demonstrating backwards entry from our dinghy tied to our boat. Ken coming ashore after shore dive

We were awed by the abundance and variety of wildlife on Bonaire and in the surrounding water. Just sitting on our boat, we saw turtles, dolphins, and tuna hunting a school of bait fish (like the one below right). Turtles, octopus, and all sorts of strange creatures populate the waters.

Turtle cruising along the reef (picture courtesy of Sally on Zahi)   Bait ball fleeing predator

 

Camouflaged frogfish One of our favorite fish was the frogfish. Can you spot him in this picture? Our underwater camera doesn't do justice to the colors, but hopefully you'll get the idea.

 

Do you see him now? These fish are absolutely motionless. Usually they pick a spot where their color matches the background perfectly. Here he was a little off -- which was the only way we could have found him! Frogfish looking like a rock

 

Frogfish revealed Voila! The frogfish is in the middle of the picture. One of his fins is pointing toward the bottom of the picture and his tail points to the top left.You can see his eye (a light colored spot) and his pouty expression (right).

 

We visited the frogfish several times during our stay in Bonaire. Here Beth anchors herself carefully to a piece of dead coral while she watches the frogfish. On a really good day he would open his mouth! Beth watching frogfish

Other special fish and creatures:

Garden eels peeking out of their holes (below left), and a lizardfish (below right):

Garden eels swaying with the current (picture courtesy of Sally on Zahi)   Lizardfish trying to look inconspicuous

Spotted eel (below left) and cleaner shrimp (below right). Cleaner shrimp make their living picking parasites off cooperative fish who visit their "cleaning stations." Here Ken tries to get the shrimp to clean his fingernail. No dice -- guess the shrimp doesn't have a taste for engine room dirt.

Close up of spotted eel   Cleaner shrimp

 

Greg and Tim showing expert windsurfing form Bonaire is also a fantastic place to windsurf. The windward side of the island contains a shallow lake (2-3 feet deep) that gets great wind and is perfect for wind surfing. Tim (left) and Greg (right) were insatiable once they got on their boards.

 

Ken cruising along We had never windsurfed before and we jumped at the chance to try it. Tim was very patient and generous with his time, teaching us the basics. After several days of intensive windsurfing, Ken developed a shoulder injury and had to stop windsurfing the last few days of our friends' visit. Ken (left) and Beth (right) tackling a new sport.   Beth trying her hand at wind surfing

Our friends had rented a truck and we all piled aboard for trips around the island. Invariably we'd see some wildlife on these trips.

Wild goat in the bush Pink flamingos cooling off Donkeys getting familiar

 

Large iguana waiting on dock for handouts And of course we saw iguanas everywhere. They seemed to know when the dive boats were due back in -- they would line the docks, looking for handouts of used watermelon rinds as the boats arrived from their day in the sun.

Our friends took lots of great pictures (some of which we've borrowed for the website) during their stay in Bonaire. They had a great view of the setting sun from the balcony of their apartment and took these amazing pictures:

Setting sun on Bonaire Setting sun Kaleidoscope of colors in Bonaire sunset

 

Oceanside dining with divers in background Bonaire has many romantic spots. The couple at the left is having a private candlelight dinner at the end of the dock (see also night divers in center of picture). At right, we are enjoying one of the many dinners we had with our friends during their visit. Ken and Beth enjoying quiet moment

 

Greg, Debbie, Becky, Beth, and Tim The weeks flew by and we cherished the time spent with the Parkers. We were particularly delighted to get closer to Becky and Greg -- they've grown into thoughtful young adults.

Meeting Other Cruisers

The cruisers who get to Bonaire tend to be hard core -- since Bonaire is a long way from anywhere. We met so many people, we can't begin to talk about all of them

Sally of "Zahi" is a single-handed sailor who spends a great deal of time in Bonaire. She is a master diver and was generous in sharing her expertise with us. She even took us diving and pointed out frogfish, scorpionfish, and the exotic garden eels, among other creatures. Sally of Zahi

 

Zahi moored in Bonaire

We developed a great respect for Sally's competence -- we sure wouldn't want to be responsible for maintaining our boat alone! She has lived on her boat, "Zahi" (pictured at left) for more than a decade.

 

Other sailors, like Allen and Cherne (originally from Skokie, Illinois!) have adopted the southwest Caribbean as their home. They visit a set of favorite places each year, including Trinidad, Los Roques, and Bonaire.

Lots of sailors winter in Venezuela, where fuel prices are ridiculously low -- about 7 cents/gallon for diesel. But things seem to be falling apart under Chavez, and security has become a real issue.

Beth with Allen and Cherne from Honalee

 

Judy and Mark of Windbird, getting ready to head to Panama

And for the first time, we started to meet people who were also heading toward Panama and the South Pacific. Cruisers like Judy and Mark on "Windbird" used Bonaire and the other ABC islands of Curacao and Aruba as a jumping off place for Panama. They shared some great information about cruising in the Galapagos.

Judy has done a remarkable job researching all of the places they intend to go -- they have their stops laid out all across the Pacific, along with expected dates of arrival. Jeez -- we don't even know where our next port will be.

 

On the other hand, we were more organized about certain things, like catching rats!

Here Mark displays the trophy rat that we helped them catch (with our huge arsenal of booby traps and chemical and biological weapons.)

Notice how much Judy is enjoying the whole experience.

Mark and Judy with captured rat; Ken with trap

 

Sundeer 60 Tadeus One day we saw "Tadeus" -- another Sundeer 60 -- sail into the bay. We dinghied right over for a visit.

 

Daniel, owner of Tadeus (left in picture) and part of his crew (Eugenia and Lisandro). Their Sundeer was the last one of the 56/60 series ever built. Daniel, owner of Tadeus, and Eugenia and his son, Lisandro

When we admired Daniel's T-shirt, which had a nice drawing of Tadeus, he stripped it off and gave it to us. Wow, talk about giving the shirt off your back! Needless to say, we were stunned. We returned later with some "Eagle's Wings" caps.

Medical Care on Bonaire

We had two experiences with medical care on Bonaire, and came away thinking there's something wrong with the U.S. system. We got good treatment at low prices, with no government subsidies and almost no paperwork. And it's not that life on Bonaire is particularly cheap in general. What's going on here?

The Doctor

After Ken developed a middle ear trauma and infection from diving, we called a local clinic. Ken got an appointment the same day and saw a doctor who was cheerful and unrushed, even though he delayed his lunch break to see us. Ken spent about 1/2 hour in the office got a thorough examination, diagnosis and prescriptions for treatment, along with a bill for $30. The three prescriptions cost another $18, total. Paperwork was minimal.

Although Bonaire has a Dutch safety net for poor people, the government didn't subsidize the doctor's services to Ken -- those were his market prices. Note that Bonaire isn't a particularly cheap place; a restaurant meal generally costs more than it would in the U.S., for example.

The Dentist

Then we visited a local dentist to fix one of Ken's crowns that had cracked. (Do you get the impression that Ken is falling apart?)

Mariella, the hygenist, and Cora, the receptionist Mariella, the dental hygenist, and Cora, the receptionist, really believe in personal service.

The dentist was completely booked, but somehow Cora, the receptionist, squeezed Ken in. The dentist, Mimi, took impressions for a new cap and made special arrangements for the lab in Curacao to make the porcelain cap within a week to accomodate our schedule. The whole affair cost $780. Compare that to the $1500 that Ken had paid for the original cap in the U.S. in July, 2005. And the original acrylic cap didn't even last seven months. The new one is porcelain.

Again, there was almost no paperwork, and the government didn't subidize Ken's dental work. Those were the market prices.

Mimi and her husband are also sailors and we invited them, along with their teenage son, Derrick, to the boat for dinner. They knew how to get to Beth's heart -- they brought great Dutch chocolates. Mimi, the dentist, with her husband, Benito, and son, Derrick

We asked Mimi why care was so much cheaper in Bonaire than in the U.S. She said "malpractice insurance." Her friends in the U.S. say they are eaten up by medical malpractice insurance costs. We don't know if that's the whole story, but there's something strange going on here.

Education on Bonaire

While Mimi was treating Ken's tooth, she told him about a new school she had helped to start on Bonaire.

The public schools in Bonaire aren't much good, so Mimi and her husband decided to start a private school so that they would have a place to send their son, Derrick. After doing some research they decided to import an innovative Dutch educational system.

The new system requires the students to do all the work of learning. In other words, the new system avoids having a teacher stand up and lecture while the students sit passively.

Ken thought this sounded pretty good -- he always found that he learned things by doing them, rather than by listening -- so we went to see the school.

UniCollege classroom in Bonaire The school (called Uni-college) is very new and very small -- seven students total right now. It's still in its first year.

There aren't any lectures. Instead the students do substantial projects on subjects of their own choice, and then present them to the class. The projects take about six weeks to complete and involve big written, audio-visual and oral sections. The languages of the presentations change periodically -- some presentations have to be in Dutch, some in English and some in French.

The school has one teacher, Inge, who is from Holland and was a principal in one of the highest level secondary schools there. She took a big pay cut to come to Bonaire to start this school. Needless to say, she's a very competent person.

UniCollege teacher, Inge

Inge stays involved with the project research and gives advice, but the students do the work.

At the end of each section, Inge assigns grades, and each student meets with Inge and his or her parents. The student then has to explain the grades to the parents -- what went right and what didn't.

We both had about 20 years of schooling, and we didn't get this kind of responsibility until we were in grad school!

Ken has hired a lot of well-educated people over the course of his career, including many with PhD or Master's degrees. He thinks that most U.S. education programs fail to give people the skills to identify a problem, research the solution and then present the results coherently and persuasively. But that's exactly the way you get ahead in most real-world environments. Go figure.

Anyway, this tiny little school in Bonaire seems like an interesting experiment. They desperately need teachers, especially in sciences. Unfortunately you need to speak Dutch.

Also, they can't get public funding because they compete with the public schools, so they can't pay a lot. Other than that, it seems like the best teaching job in the world.

And it is in Bonaire, after all.

February 14

As Beth was due to fly out of Curacao on February 16 for a short trip to visit her parents, we relucantly left Bonaire. This short sail turned into a bit of a nightmare at the end of the trip -- not a very nice way to spend Valentine's Day!

Letting the monitor windvane do its thing By now we had enough confidence in the Monitor self-steering system that we sailed the whole trip using the wind vane steering.

In Bonaire, Ken had installed a man-overboard system, called Mobilert, which would set off an alarm if one of us fell overboard. We've always been concerned that if the person on watch goes overboard while the other person is sleeping, it could be hours before the person in the water were missed. Basically, ifyou fall overboard at night, you die.

With the Mobilert system, each person wears a pendant that transmits a radio signal with a range of about 100 feet. The main control unit is happy as long as it receives a signal. If the person falls overboard and the signal is lost, the contol unit logs the GPS position of the boat and sounds a VERY loud alarm, which Ken installed right over our sea berth. At least with this system we would have a chance of recovering overboard crew.

Mobilert control unit mounted in pilothouse We decided to try the system on our trip from Bonaire. The control unit (left) shows two of the pendants in use and safe -- meaning we were both on board! Beth is wearing one of the pendants (right). We decided NOT to really test it out by going overboard. Beth wearing man overboard radio beacon

 

Curacao has a very different feel from Bonaire, and we got an initial whiff from the sharp, angular landscape. It looked like someone had taken big slices out of the hillside. We later learned these hills were indeed carved up by mining operations. Approaching Curacao

Collision!

As we were nearing the harbor entrance, we slowed the boat to take down the sails, a maneuver that takes a lot of attention. Although the coast was clear when we started the maneuver, we were horrified a few minutes later when a 20 foot wooden fishing boat came barreling toward us at high speed.

We realized we were in trouble about 10 seconds before impact and we started yelling and shouting, but the fishermen didn't hear us. No one was steering their boat and the two people on board were looking aft, cleaning fish. We were going very slowly, so we couldn't turn quickly. We didn't have a maneuver -- if we turned up they would hit us, and if we turned down they would hit us.

So they hit us. Really hard. With the pointy end of their boat.

We thought they would go right through our hull, but instead they bounced off, scraped down our side, and took off at full speed.

We were so stunned we didn't get the name of their boat. Also, after a few moments of reflection, we realized that they could just as well accuse us of being in the wrong. We were going very slowly, and they were going pretty fast without keeping a watch, but both boats were under power and they hit our starboard side, meaning they had right of way. Our watch keeping wasn't good enough to spot them while we still had time to maneuver, given our low speed. So we guess that we should be just as glad that they ran away.

Fortunately the damage was above the waterline, so we weren't concerned about either boat sinking.

Boat similar to the one that hit us The boat on the right in this picture is similar to the one that hit us. In fact, this one had some suspicious damage to its bow (hard to see in this picture.) In the excitement of the moment, however, we didn't get the name of the boat so we don't know for sure.

The impact felt awful and we expected the worst.

Dented boat

Only our very strong laminate kept the fishing boat's bow out of our forepeak.

However, the damage was worse than it looked -- the core had delaminated on both the inside and outside of the impact.

Scratches and paint left by fishing boat in collision

Repairs

It took us more than a week to organize repairs, but we'll skip ahead to show you the results.

After Beth returned from a wonderful visit home (much too short), we decided to move the boat to a boatyard in Willemstad for repairs. Gijs, the manager at Curacao Marine, sounded the damage and showed us we had delamination.

Eagles Wings docked at Curacao Marine

First we had to squeeze in between two other boats at the dock with 25 knots of wind blowing us off. Wow, that was a tight fit. Actually could have used a bow thruster there.

We had about four feet of clearance behind us and about four feet ahead of us. And Eagle's Wings is a bit hard to parallel park!

 

Mullet creating intricate patterns in the water Even in such a heavily used harbor, the waters brimmed with fish. We had hundreds of mullet (left) schooling around our boat. A snook (middle of picture at right) is cruising the mullet bait ball looking for a treat. Snook spooking the mullet

Repairs always make things worse before they make things better. We hated watching someone grind away at the hull of our boat.

Clifford grinding away the hull Exposed core after grinding away the damage Hull after grinding work complete

We were impressed with the thorough and careful job Clifford did on the hull. We also had delamination damage on the inside and he did a similar repair there.

Clifford filling in ground out hole with epoxy Clifford (left) fills in the ground out hole with epoxy. The finished job (right), was so fair, that no additional fairing work was needed before painting could begin. The sign of a real artist. State of repair after epoxy work done

 

Pierre, beginning paint job  

Pierre (left), the head painter and one of the owners of the yard, primes the hull. Hank (right), did a terrific job applying the paint.

Hank, getting ready to paint hull

 

We were thrilled with the results of the work. The repair is totally invisible. The repair should be stronger than the original construction. Finished paint job looks just like new

Perspective

Back when we were anchored in St. Lucia, this little catamaran hit our boat.

(Our friends John and Susan later told us they had FOUR of these boats hit their boat while anchored in St. Lucia.)

Couple from resort on Hobie Wave

 

Scratch from catamaran on the bottom paint

At the time, we were very upset about this horrible scratch on our waterline. Can you even see it?

Of course, subsequent events put this problem in persepctive.

We also got a perspective on our problems by visiting this tanker (below) in the drydock in Curacao. It too had suffered a collision hit on its starboard bow, but the consequences were a little worse. Also, this ship was carrying a load of LIQUID NATURAL GAS when it got hit. Put that in your pipe and smoke it -- but not on board the tanker!

Extensive damage to bow of Maersk Holyhead The Maersk Holyhead (right) was involved in a collision last November. The entire forward part of her bow was destroyed (left). Our damage certainly pales compared to that! Maersk Holyhead in shipyard for repairs

February 15 - March 23

"Jedi"

Although our entry into Curacao was off to a bad start, we were thrilled when we entered Spanish Waters to find yet another Sundeer (named "Jedi")! "Jedi" is a ketch rigged Sundeer 64 (meaning it has two masts).

The owners, Nick and Josie, sped over in their dinghy soon after we dropped anchor, to say hello. They welcomed us with open arms and were a great help to us during our stay in Curacao.

Jedi, a beautiful Sundeer 64, at anchor in Spanish Waters Josie and Nick (right) have been working on "Jedi" (left) for the last 4 years. They have made extensive changes and modifications to the boat -- finally we met someone who works on their boat more than we do! Josie and Nick on Jedi

It isn't easy to get around Curacao. Nick and Josie have been living in Spanish Waters for 8 months and had purchased an old car for use during their stay. They drove us to Customs and Immigration, located in downtown Willemstad, making our life considerably easier. Josie and Nick are from Holland, and we learned lots of interesting things from them -- for example, the word "cookie" is Dutch. Beth knew her ancestors had their act together!

Nick also turns out to be a consumate computer and electronics hacker. He started the first Dutch internet service provider. He is also a gourmet chef. He and Beth had many deep conversations about electronics while Josie and Ken played with their cats.

Other Cruisers

Nick and Ellen on Kika

Nick and Ellen on "Kika" had just started cruising last year. They are also bound for Panama and the South Pacific. Many of the other cruisers helped send them off as they left for Panama. (We were still finishing our repairs.)

Ellen looks very English in her porkpie hat at right.

Ellen and Nick departing for Panama

 

Hans, jack of all trades

Hans, on "Sol" helped us with an alternator modification. Hans started EDS's European operations, and reported directly to Ross Perot. Now he gets his kicks helping other cruisers solve mechanical problems. He used to do it for free, but finally started charging $10 per hour to limit the demand.

Ken thought he was getting pretty high powered help for that price! But that's crusing. You never know who you're anchored next to.

Spanish Waters

Beautiful countryside surrounding Spanish Harbor Spanish Waters (left) has many quiet moments. But it is also the venue for a wide variety of sailboat racing (right). With the persistent strong winds, it is also a favorite windsurfing spot. Racers flying by the stern of our boat

 

Of course, no Caribbean harbor is complete without its share of derelict or sunken boats. You just get used to seeing wrecked boats all over the place down here.

But it's spooky when you think about it. A moment's inattention -- and bang! Like that fishing boat...

Sunken boat in Spanish Waters

Downtown

Industrial Curacao

While Spanish Waters is pretty rural, you quickly see how industrialized the island is when we venture out by car. The island has major refining capabilities, with smoke belching out of the smoke stacks 24 hours a day. Not like pristine Bonaire.

On the other hand, you can buy all kinds of great stuff here, like stainless steel welding rod (useful for replacing cotter pins) and all kinds of engine belts and filters. Curacao is our kind of place!

 

Rooftop concertina wire We were warned not to walk the streets after dark in downtown Punda, a section of Willemstad. The locals take security very seriously, and we saw lots of concertina wire (on the upper left roof of the cute little house at left). And their idea of a parking lot guard reminded us more of a prison camp (right). Guarded parking lot

Certainly a very different feeling from Bonaire!

We were glad we had heavy chain for our dinghy and that we had installed the stainless bars and grates. However, when we spotted this enormous bolt cutters for sale at the local RADIO SHACK, we weren't so sure.... Beth with giant bolt cutters

But Curacao did have its charms.

Goats above Immigration building Even in the midst of a heavily industrialized city, we saw goats running around -- like these shown at left right above the Immigration building along the wharf.

 

If you look hard enough, you'll find beauty in the most unlikely places, like this strikingly beautiful tree at the edge of the parking lot containing the guard tower shown earlier. Eerily beautiful, knarled tree

Willemstad has a thriving waterfront produce market. Wooden boats come over from Venezuela loaded with fruits and vegetables and the owners sell produce from stands along the canal.

Produce stand along the canal in Willemstad The produce stands (left) are supported by the boats behind them in the waterway (right). Fishing boats behind the produce stands along the canal

 

  Ken likes the local fashions. Island fashions

 

Not sure what to make of this fashion statement Only in the islands....

What's Next

We'll soon start the next leg of our journey -- Panama! We've filled our fuel tanks, so we're ready to go as soon as we finish some of the lingering maintenance issues....

With luck, we'll be in Pacific Ocean by the next update!