Monday, July 12, 2010

Slow Sail To Bonaire

Sailing from Curacao to Bonaire is going the wrong to speak. The trade winds in this part of the world blow from East to West. Bonaire lies east of Curacao so the sail to Bonaire is "into the wind" and usually into the seas as well. It makes it difficult to sail this journey and most boaters use their engines and sails combined to make the trip enjoyable and an easy day trip.

The best time to make the trip is when the winds are light and the seas are small. You have to sit around and wait for this scenario. The winds here are usually quite robust. So we wait and the day arrives.

We say our farewells to customs, immigration and friends. Leave port at 7:30am and head for Bonaire.

We picked a good time to go. The winds are blowing between 8-10 knots and the seas are barely 2-3 feet. So far so good.

About 45 minutes later one of our two diesel engines stop. No alarm, no overheating, no warning just STOPPED. Huh, why we wonder. We had just paid big bucks to have them serviced. All we can figure is we have some debris in our fuel and we now have a clogged fuel filter. Lucky for us we still have an engine and with our main sail up we can continue on our way.

Soon the Curacao Coast Guard fly over us to see who we are and what our country flag is. They keep very close tabs on their coast line.

45 minutes later engine number two stops. Bummer. We discuss going back to Curacao, it is after all, much closer than Bonaire. Getting into any harbor in Curacao, however, is impossible without engine power. The entry channels are narrow and the winds are unpredicatable. Bonaire, on the other hand, has no such navigation issues. You simply pick up a mooring along the open coast and you are set. We, therefore, decide to continue on under sail.
But remember, we picked a day with little wind so we settle in for a long trip.
No squalls, no pirates, it is still a good day. We plan for a late afternoon arrival and discuss how we will pick up our mooring under sail. It would be much easier if we had one engine working.....

A little later the captain goes below and changes the fuel filter on engine number one. It is not an easy task in the rolling seas. Down below, smell of diesel, rocking back and get the picture. It makes him a bit green. But he comes through and voila we have engine power.....for about 10 minutes. To our horror, the newly pampered engine stops again. We can't believe it. Why? And then it dawns on us. WE ARE OUT OF FUEL! How could this happen? It did and it will never again. We laugh because what else can you do?

We continue our trip under sail. It is long and requires multiple tacks. A tack is when a sailboat has to make zigzag course changes to get to it's destination. The wind determines how many zigzags and our wind is having fun with us. 5 tacks later and it is getting late.
Once close enough to Bonaire we launch our dinghy. Steve continues the slow sail to the anchorage while Anne takes off in the little boat and heads for the fuel dock with 2 diesel containers. With 10 gallons of diesel in her tanks, Fine Line finally agrees to motor the rest of the way to the mooring. Long day, 7:30 am to 5:30pm. Now we go visit customs, immigration and the local bar. Bottoms up!

You may wonder why we bother to come backwards to Bonaire. It is a great place. Soccer madness prevails as the Netherlands wins the semifinal game.

The water is spectacular here. We snorkle around our boat and see lots of fish, turtles and sea snakes.

It is easy to cool off

The view out the back door is great

And the sunset is soooo nice

Enjoying life in Bonaire

Anne and Steve

S/V Fine Line

Sunday, July 04, 2010

What, are you still in Curacao?

Still here. Have not left yet. We are caught in the Netherland Antilles. The flag of the Netherlands is also red, white and blue. Makes us feel right at home. Plus the Netherland's soccer team is on many reasons to be here plus There are some good looking birds here like the National Bird, the Oriole.
But the real reason we have not left the boat yard marina is AIR CONDITIONING. Seems the 6 months we spent in San Diego changed our thermostats a bit and it seems really HOT here. We got our power bill, however, and we have to go! Ouch! This is a photo of the main port of Curacao. We are tucked way in the back....way way back
First thing we do as we exit is motor under the Queen Juliana Bridge.

We pass by downtown

We call the Fort Nassau bridge and ask them to open it for us..please.

Down the coast, about 30 minutes by boat we enter Spanish Waters and drop our anchor. We have lots of company here. It is a very popular spot for boaters to sit out hurricane season in this very protected anchorage.

There is lots to see here. Close by are the ruins of an old fort.

Once through the gate you feel like you have entered a secret garden.

There are lots of old relics along the way up to the fort.
The old fort has seen better days but is still a wonderful monument to the days when powerful European Navies sailed these seas and fought valiant battles for the possession of these small islands.

Can't imagine being stationed here in the heat

Wishing you were out there

Along the coast there are caves used by early inhabitants. The Dutch allow you to climb in and out, no "keep out" signs. No lawyers here
The stately Quarantine building long abandoned but by the looks of the inside is a happening party spot
Anchored in our safe haven we have time for some Sudoku

Pizza on the grill

And on the fourth of July we join our American, Dutch, and English friends at the beach for a good old fashioned BBQ. The beach is popular with the locals

Good swimming for all ages

Good food (Steve is always a bit suspicious )

Most important of all, SHADE. Thanks to Fred and Connie on Tashtigo, we got our own palapa for our 4th of July party.
Happy Birthday America

Tomorrow we leave for Bonaire. See you there.
Anne and Steve
S/V Fine Line