“Land was created to provide a place for boats to visit.”(Brooks Atkinson)
And we have finally managed to leave Curacao. (But more of that later.)
Rigging holdups delayed our departure for Colombia, so we plugged away at the boat work and made our own fun as we went.
Drumroll…. we got our mast on! However we noticed after the event, that there was a small hiccup, requiring the mast to be lifted and repositioned. Another crane booking. Anyhoo… that’s done, and so on with all the bits and pieces to get us mobile. Thanks to all being well, we were able to leave within a few days. Destination Colombia, but the plan was to do a bit of doodling around with the sails up as a shakedown, and then be on our way when the weather looked fine. As it turned out, instead we crossed our fingers and made a bolt for Colombia.
In the meantime, Christmas (and the Captain’s birthday) and New Year’s Eve were suitably celebrated; our days being spent pleasurably with boat friends, in and out of the boatyard. We are getting to know our neighbors better every day, and the benefits of these fledgling friendships extend far beyond social chit chat, to generous gifting of much needed spare parts and other odds and ends, and loaning of cars for various expeditions. We have been fortunate recipients of a useful battery when we needed it most, a table chair to keep my grandbaby safe when he visits, lovely shared meals, and many loans of cars. We are alert for opportunities to “pay back/forward” the many kindnesses we have received. So far meals, the odd beer, and the occasional tool are as useful as we have been.
The boats on either side of us had their masts removed the same day as us, and since then we have been in a race to see who is remasted and away first!
The remasting race has proved a nailbiter, with many lead changes. Problems emerged every day for each of us, and the solutions often involved parts being sourced overseas, shipped, harboured by customs, and eventually after much kerfuffle, wrenched from their clutches. There are many traps for new players when importing different items to a yacht in transit, and between the three boats we have discovered many of them. One should not mix non essential items with boat parts, as they attract different attention from customs, and non boat parts require tax to be paid, and when these are present in the same package, the untangling required seems to be an achingly long process. At least we are learning from one another’s experiences.
Fortunately our rig arrived fairly promptly, and as the small truck drove into the yard, I made a beeline for it – full of hope – like a child to a Mr Whippy van. And the contents were just as sweet! A late but very welcome Christmas gift, boxed up and as shiny as new pins.
- 1st place by a good 2 lengths, the English boat Ynot, captained and crewed by a fun and energetic family of 5. Mast up, provisioned, and they are away, destined for Dominican Republic!
- 2nd place, Swedish Almazul, after two attempts at remasting. Provisioned, almost ship shape, destined for Colombia.
- 3rd place contenders, (who are still running) the Dutch boat next to us, captained and crewed by a fun and kind Dutch couple. They ahave just recieved parts, and the plan is they will head for Guatemala as soon as they can.
We spent Christmas Eve and Day morning with an American/French Canadian couple, who really put on a spread! A sumptuous Christmas dinner, useful and thoughtful gifts, and (a new one on me!) a mimosa at breakfast time on Christmas Day!
2022 began with a bang, that’s for sure! Curacao allows open slather on fireworks – it seems that anyone can buy them, and many people do. The soundtrack to the week between Christmas and New Year was like that of a war movie, such was the jarring rat a tat of firecrackers during the days and nights. The two boatyard dogs spent their days trembling in the marina shower block.
It is customary for long rolls of firecrackers to be rolled out in the streets, and set off with alarming frequency – causing me to jump every time.
There were also big fire works launched day and night all week, and we started to wonder if there would not be any left by New Years Eve. There were plenty, evidently.
SOME NEW EXPERIENCES:
- Sleeping without the fan going. It has thankfully been dropping to under 30 degrees overnight often.
- Crazy daytime fireworks.
- Getting our mast up, and the boat ready to sail.
- The rigging arriving!
- Our sewing machine getting over its midlife crisis, and grumbling back to life. (After our disappointment that it could bot be fixed, Magnus took it apart and evidently performed some magic.) Then we took it to a fantastic sailmaker here, who informed us that the machine was fine, it was us that was the problem. After gratefully listening to his good advice, we were able to put the trusty old PFAFF back into service to fix some of our drooping and leaky canvas. For a while anyway. It was soon disgruntled and lethargic again, and we are currently in a hostile standoff. TBC I guess.
- Protracted birthday celebrations, shared with one of our neighbors whose birthday is a few days before Magnus’s. The various days included Thai food, ice cream cake, then lemon slice cake with a side of nutbush.
- Receiving our booster shots – ironically the day after one of my daughters at home got COVID.
- Missing the bubbling Aussie comedy show, usually performed in the wee hours, with my sister, daughters, and cousins on their Christmas Day when they are gathered together eating prawns and swimming in the pool. Last time, I received their hilarious and heartwarming call very early in a quiet marina, and I had to usher their mellifluous burbling voices away onto the street, in order not to wake the neighbors!
- Bow propeller suddenly not working when we needed to move the boat from our reasonably tight spot around to the mast crane. But it was safely done by the captain, and as many people pointed out – many boats don’t have a bow prop at all.
- Family at home being sick – the Caribbean suddenly feels a very long way from home when your loved ones are ill and/or in hospital.
- Dinghy trip with our two sets of neighbors around Schottegott Bay, finishing with a picnic of some white Zinfandel, (received as a Christmas gift); beer, and home made hummus and cardboard. (aka cruskits, but the humidity is not kind.) We had our picnic on a huge concrete bollard in the middle of the bay. It was a bit hairy landing the dinghy near so many sharp edges, but once we got the dinghy downwind, all was well.
- ”The line” discussion. This still makes me giggle thinking about it, so I have to try to tell the story. Our dear Dutch neighbors were passing our boat, and stopped for the usual chit chat about what work we had planned today, dinner plans etc. We told them our plans, and they theirs. When I said that I was planning to change the failing toilet pump – our very handy and chivalrous neighbor Roelof asked, aghast, “Do you want me to help you?” I assured him no, thankyou, that I thought I should have a go at it myself. Then his wife Els said something like: “Rebecca; there are boys, and there are girls. And there is a line!” I replied, “Well maybe, but then do I have to ask Magnus to stop cooking, and doing the dishes from time to time? Sometimes it’s tricky to know where the line is” and then, (in reference to any toilet business whatsoever), she said emphatically “That’s the line!” We all rolled around laughing, and I went on with the toilet repairs. Els and Roelof are extremely funny and kind, and often have us in stitches…. they are really bright lights to share the jetty with.
- Discovering, at an awkward moment, that it is ONLY AUSTRALIANS that know the nutbush! Really?
- This one is maybe funnier for me than the Captain – but when our rigging went up, we had to put the rigger up the mast to do some final adjustments.(TWICE as it turns out!) This meant grinding him up, in a harness, with a winch. We do this to each other all the time, and of course we each prefer to be the one going up the mast rather than doing the grinding. There is a 30 kg difference between us, and we do not have electric winches. So when we took turns at grinding our rigger up, it was sweet serendipity that he weighed exactly the same as Magnus – so we BOTH had a turn of heaving that particular amount of beef up the mast!!
FOOD AND BEVVY HIGHLIGHTS:
- A delightful Phillipino meal prepared for all of us by yet another nice boat neighbor. She cooked an enormous quantity of pansit, and made 100 spring rolls. This whole feast came from her boat galley – this seemed nothing short of a miracle to me! Theirs’ is a similar boat to ours – and our galley is yet to produce anything nearly as impressive! We shared this meal in the palm roofed hut that we gather in here in the marina.
- Meals with our lovely, funny, and lively direct (mastless) neighbors including a hearty chicken soup, served with avocado, sour cream, and corn chips; and a really tasty sauerkraut dish with sausage, served with pickled cucumbers. YUM!
- A potluck dinner with a twist – it was hosted by a lovely American couple who really provided everything on their big catamaran; setting, food, drinks, good company. We guests chipped in with the odd bottle of wine and salad, and enjoyed an evening of great conversation. It is the luxury of space on a catamaran that allows one to move around different conversations and groups during the course of an evening.
- Christmas Eve and day, including a traditional turkey roast, breaky with mimosas, then Larry’s for dinner, with nice reef beef dinner, key lime pie, and pumpkin soup with almonds. A true food cornucopia!
- A Caribbean version of Mum’s Christmas pud! A few ingredients were not to be found, so substitutes were implemented (eg sweetened shredded coconut for almond meal, fresh grated orange peel for candied mixed peel) but overall it had the same rich Christmas smell and taste. Maybe it’s the brandy? Some were steamed in our multipurpose egg cooker, some in the pressure cooker, and served with a cranberry coulis they weren’t half bad! And as an aside, no-one was hurt during the flaming brandy pouring process.
- Hoppin’ John – a New Year Day tradition from the southern states of the USA, as explained to us by Beth, a New Yorker with a southern beginning.
- Deck scrub/bleach; clearly a job for the first mate.
- Auto bilge pump and alarm installation.
- Installation of inverter switch.
- Completion of hull cleaning.
- Toilet pump changeover by first mate, see discussion above!
- Rigging attached, mast up, second try!!
- Ferrying diesel cans back to the boat by wheelbarrow – the experience of years of cleaning stables came in very handy.
- Splicing started, haltingly ATM, but started. Assisted by a thoughtful Christmas gift, and an awesome Youtube from an inspirational neighbor., the aforementioned Beth. (Who, among other things, sailed solo from Puerto Rico with no engine at all. She is also an expert splicer, having constructed her own Dynema standing rigging. Hats off!)
- Sewing machine fixed – kind of, and some ensuing canvas repairs.
- Investigative work on non functional bow propeller. TBC.
There have been so many this month, it was difficult to single out a particular occasion. TBC next time!
The gaily coloured buildings that form part of Curacao’s visual charm reportedly began as such, according to tt.loopnews:
“It was a headache that changed an island, according to local tales. Curacao’s famous pastel coloured buildings possibly began in 1817 when former governor Albert Kikkert allegedly complained of headaches after looking at the brilliant white buildings which reflected the sun’s glare. -It is said that after this the buildings were painted in bright colours…. The fact that Kikkert was part owner in a paint factory may have also played a apart in things. In 1997 the historic area of Willemstad’s inner city was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status.”
No more headaches?