Posted by: catamarantwooceans | October 6, 2014

Curacao to Aruba

2.10.14 – Thursday – We moved out of the marina as planned and found a nice anchorage not far from the dinghy dock in Caracas bay at the west side of Spanish Waters. We took the dinghy ashore wanting to stretch our legs and maybe find a supermarket; fifty meters from the dock the outboard motor quit. Opening the cover I saw it was very hot. I had a feeling that I may have forgotten to put oil in the fuel when I filled the tank three month ago. When we came back from our walk we rowed back and I put the necessary 1% oil into the tank; to be checked tomorrow.

3.10.14 – Friday – Although the outboard started and did not seem to become hot, it stopped at about the same place as the day before. I’ll have a mechanic look at it in Aruba. Going to town by bus we met a cruising couple, Alberto and Rita, he from Italy and she from Grenada. They were on a motor boat called “La Creatura” and told us they were going to the Monjes, a Venezuelan island group on the way to Colombia. They said there was no problem staying there for a while; you only needed to report at the local police station. The islands are 50 odd miles from Aruba and may be a nice break in the leg to Santa Marta, Colombia. I’ll investigate that in Aruba.

Departure procedure finished, we went back to Caracas bay; the wind was blowing in a way that made rowing a difficult undertaking and we were lucky to get a tow from fellow cruisers. Out of Spanish Waters, we raised our sails and sailed at good speed towards Santa Cruz, 25 miles away. Somehow we imagined that that bay will be exclusively ours, but as we turned around the point sheltering it from the trades we saw three yachts anchoring there, a mono and two German catamarans: an old Privilege and a Catana 471 called “Like Dolphins”. We anchored near the latter and immediately went into the water for a long awaited swim.

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Like Dolphins” in Aruba

I spoke to Johan and Sonia on the Catana; they did the departure procedure the day before yesterday, came here on Thursday and planned to leave the next day to Aruba. “Don’t you worry about the Coast Guard checking the bay?” No, they never saw them anywhere. The couple went ashore in their dinghy, taking their black dog for a walk. Ten minutes later the Coast Guard big inflatable motored into the bay. Guess who they came to first… Luckily we asked Immigrations to put our departure date for tomorrow. They asked for the anchoring permit for the bay and consented to consider the one I paid for in June and never used. Johan, Sonia and dog waited patiently on shore until the Coast Guard left…

A family debate ensued; Gili wanted to stay one more day while I wanted to leave on Saturday as planned. The lady won.

4.10.14 – Saturday – We did a long snorkeling swim around the bay. The Virgintino free cruising guide says the reefs are “interesting”; I recognize the use of that word as a polite way of saying “nothing to write home about”. Still, the bay is nice; a lot of local people come on weekends, taking their small boats to fish outside. I called the Renaissance marina in Aruba to arrange for them to take us in once we finished the entry procedures in Barcadera harbor and was surprised to hear that those are now being done in the main Oranjestad port. Later the rain came and we spent most of our time inside the boat. In the evening we saw “La Creatura” approaching the bay, hesitating out there and then turning west; probably going to Las Monjes.

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5.10.14 – Sunday – At 0650 I motored out of Santa Cruz; the forecast was for easterly winds of 22 knots so I opened full sails, wing and wing with the jib poled out. When the wind started hitting 28 knots I reefed to the first reef position; 33 knots dictated second reef for the main. Looking aft I noticed an ominous black cloud approaching.

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“That’s a cruel one” I told Gili, but we were reefed in a way that according to the owner’s manual would enable us to sail in apparent winds up to 53 knots (!!!) surely we wouldn’t get anywhere near that figure.

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I never come close to those recommended wind speeds in any configuration.

The squall hit before I expected. The day turned dark and a deluge started, reducing visibility to not more than 50 meters. I saw the wind passing 40 knots and feeling the autopilot was unable to counter the weather-helm I disconnected it and steered manually. Spume flew on top of the waves as the wind climbed higher and higher; concentrating on steering I was barely able to scan the instruments. On a surf down a wave I saw 16.5 knots speed over water, a new unwanted record for “Two Oceans”; maximum wind was 47.8 knots true. I called Gili out to reef the jib some more, not so easy under those conditions. The squall took only 35 adrenalin filled minutes but there were more to come.

The next two squalls were less dramatic because we reefed in time. The last one happened just as we reached the southern tip of Aruba and wanted to jibe the main in order to turn to Oranjestad harbor. Can’t jibe at 48.6 knots! We had to wait for a lull to do it. Getting close we called port control on V.H.F and were instructed to enter and tie at a certain dock. Customs and Immigrations showed up with all the forms, took them to their offices and brought them back rather quickly. We then motored to the anchorage near the airport’s approach lights, anchoring near “Like dolphins” in water 2 meters deep. Airplanes landing and taking off made a horrible din; luckily they have a curfew at night.

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While I was in the shower, Gili heard a conversation on the V.H.F in which “La Creatura” was a participant. When I came out I saw them coming slowly in to anchor. So they didn’t go to the island after all.

6.10.14 – Monday – We arranged to go into the Renaissance marina in order to do our provisioning and fix the outboard. We tied to the dock allotted to us and went to the office to check in. A lady named Xiomara was in charge, acting very strangely in an aggressive and negative manner. At one point we had too much and said we would not stay there. She didn’t seem to care; we filled water and left. The alternative was Varadero Caribe marina and boatyard where we were received with smiles and goodwill. They found a berth vacated by a mega yacht in which we could stay for 19$ a night. Varadero is in Bucuti lagoon which is very shallow in parts; red and green markers take you safely to the marina as well as to the nearby yacht club.

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Responses

  1. Good to see you are back on the boat. Since you have been away, my wife and I have purchased a 38′ Lightwave catamaran that we sailed from Queensland to Sydney. Have been working on it since to bring it up to our required standard. Will head off north in May 2015. I look forward to your further adventures.


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