Archive for: ‘July 2012’

Back in the Land of Plenty

July 24, 2012 Posted by Deb

For awhile the gods were conspiring to keep us in Curacao. The winds were howling and we were late in getting the headsail down. We tried to time a lull by reading the golf course flags so that we could quickly pull out the headsail and drop it before it turned into a wild beast on the deck. We would have succeeded but the headsail jammed about five feet down. The winds surged again, things began to get crazy, and we had to roll it up again.

We tried again at 1:00 a.m. when the winds were down even more with no luck either up or down.

At 6:00 a.m. Deb cranked me up the mast (electric winch) to check out the problem first hand. We resolved the problem and had the beast folded and stowed before the trades kicked up again. Neither of us had a lot of energy left for the final push to get to the plane but we sucked it up.

We flew home first class because on that particular day first class was the only thing available and it was cheaper than regular fare on any other day. That’s a nice way to travel, particularly the reclining room, free booze, great food, and the no waiting in lines anywhere. We got into the Twin Cities late and grabbed a $35/day SUV that blossomed into close to a $100/day vehicle when we got through with all the taxes, fees and their insurance. I’ve never agreed to rental car insurance before but we have learned that our Chase Visa credit card sucks at backing us up on rentals even though they claim they do and we have no auto insurance.

Upper Iowa Canoe

We brought the van back to life, got plates and insurance, loaded up the camping gear, and headed off to the Upper Iowa River for a relatively undiscovered canoe trip through limestone cliffs then a visit to the caves in Harmony, Minnesota. We logged our first dog on a campfire in 2012. Now for a BLT with home grown tomatoes.

Gaining a Day: Curacao

July 8, 2012 Posted by Deb

A cruiser’s fluid sense of time. We watched weather, cleared out of Bonaire customs, and took off for Curacao on Thursday, July 5. The only problem was that we actually left on Wednesday, July 4. Great sail but it shouldn’t have been. We didn’t find out that we were calendar challenged until late on the real Thursday when we panicked everyone around us by insisting that it was Friday. I powered up my smart phone (dormant since we aren’t here long enough to mess with a SIM card) and a few other folks grabbed theirs and we figured out that Deb and I were wrong. Dick from Celtic Quest was particularly pleased because he had Friday social obligations. We were very pleased because we blew the entire day with Customs and three attempts at looking for the Immigration Office and now we had bonus day. We suspect the date we used on all those forms was wrong.

Curacao is flat out gorgeous. We can’t believe we were only here for a day in 1995 but we just stopped to say goodbye to friends as we sailed off to the Northwest Caribbean. The shot above is the conclusion of a narrow channel called Spanish Water and a lot of the land is owned by the Hyatt Hotel folks.

Home for the Summer

Neytiri is on the far right just across the water from a tee for a very high numbered hole. The hill in the back is pure bird shit. The “Never get off the boat” from Apocalypse Now is a feeling we are having as we prep to leave for the first time. Leaving a boat like ours is no small matter and the few shots that follow are a small part of that process. Deb is sewing covers for the helm (in the background) and the cover for unnecessary solar panels (I figure why bake them in the sun for 3 months when they’re not needed). In my shots, I’m hosing down the anchor chain with fresh water and tying down the head of the mainsail just in case. To date, the hardest project has been de-commissioning the outboard.

Bonaire: Belated Return

July 3, 2012 Posted by Deb

We always knew we’d be back, partly because we loved the island and partly because we underachieved the last time here. The “underachieve” part is that we didn’t dive around the clock like our buddies. We’re scratching our heads as to why but I think the cost, the fact that we left our PADI cards in the US, and the fact that we were at our peak form for free diving then (50+ feet) and had our plate full with free diving.

Our first return attempt was to fly here for my 60th birthday (Chuck). We ended up in Cozumel doing plenty of diving and trying to party on the windward side with no cash but that’s another story. The second attempt happened on June 2830, 2012 and was a success. Here are two shots taken at Karel’s beach bar separated by 17 years. Sanity, our former boat, is behind us in the old shot on the left and Neytiri is behind us in the current shot. The old shot was shortly after arriving from the Aves (just a 30 or 40 miles away) and the current shot was just after arriving from Grenada, 400 miles away.

We skipped all the wonderful islands between Grenada and Bonaire due to the deteriorating situation in Venezuela and a history of increasing and more aggressive piracy incidents, the latest involving the VZ military. So, if the good guys turn into the bad guys at night, is that worse than just plain poor folks robbing you out of desperation. We think so.

The downwind run from Grenada was pleasant with winds a bit on the light side and a small easterly swell about four feet. We did the 400 miles in just over 2.5 days, leaving Grenada by around 9:00 a.m. on the 28th and entering the lee of Grenada just after midnight. It’s a bit of a hike to get to the main town, Kralendjk and is one of the prettiest sails in the Caribbean but we did it in the dark. We did shifts of two hours on and two off in general but I would do five on occasion and so would Deb. The last five hours we were both up and that wore us out more than any other part of the passage.

We’re going to underachieve again and leave Bonaire in 48 hours, but we will return. We are out of time to get to Curacao and get the boat put away for our flights back to the US. That sucks because this is a nice island and we have a lot of diving to do. It also sucks that the marinas in Curacao appear to be full.