Now it was time for a visit from Anders sister so we spent the day cleaning the boat a bit and Anders then walked to meet her at the airport. She was going to spend 2 weeks with us here in Aruba. We spent the first few days in the same anchorage doing some snorkeling, checking out the town and just chilling.
Anders sister also brought us parts that I thought we needed for the generator that has not been working since Grenada. After a completely disassembly of the generator I found a non-functioning diode in the rotor. They were hard getting by so I could only order them on the internet to Sweden. After changing the diodes there was no difference. So after another check on the old ones it turns out they were fine I had just used my faulty multi-meter. So back to the beginning and now I found 2 broken wires on the windings in the stator. So after some soldering and not a very nice looking repair it was finally up and running again. Too bad I did not do a proper diagnose the first time though.
One day we decided to hike a bit on the southern part of the island so we took a local bus and started walking. We were walking on the road for a while and then more or less in the non-existing bush finding an old mine shaft on the way but we were unable to check it out. By noon we arrived at Baby Beach one of Arubas most famous beaches and after some swimming we decided for a beer at the Flintstones restaurant. Sitting there waiting to order we got approached by a girl asking if we wanted to see some caves. We looked a bit confused and were a bit skeptical having read about the caves here but turned the idea down because of them being really touristy with entrance fees and so on. But she talked some more saying they were 3 girls wanted to go but had turned around because they were afraid alone and the just wanted us as company. So we squeezed in all 7 of us in there small car and drove away. About 5 minutes later we stopped in the back yard of local neighborhood. We were of course a bit confused. This can’t be a entrance to the caves. But we walked through some fence and started seeing some caves underneath us. And after climbing down an old three we came to a big cave entrance and started walking in to the cave. And it was huge, easily the biggest cave I have ever been to. It just continued on and on forever. i think it was about a kilometer long and really hot. The cave were apparently only known by some locals and the local girl driving us had heard about it from her husband working nearby. So we felt really lucky.
After finishing the first cave they asked if we wanted to do another cave and we said yes but we drove back down to the beach again. So we were once again a bit confused but the next cave was an old mine shaft a few meters underground and we climbed down through an old pump house with the ladder rusting away as we climbed it felt like. I was just thinking what our German safety engineer Daniel would say about this one. So we came down to a long tunnel with crystal clear water. We walked in it for maybe 15 minutes before we got bored and tired and turned around. They did not know how long the tunnel was either. So after finishing the cave our guides even drove us back to the boat. It was an amazing day and we thank them so much for taking us.
Then we moved south to another anchorage that was really nice and it were supposed to be next to a sunken airplane and another wreck. We spent a few days there hanging out, snorkeling and I did some work on the boat while the others were at the beach. We did not find the airplane since the water was a bit murky where it was supposed to be. But we did find the other wreck. A small tugboat where Hanna and I got to try some freediving with a buoy when we met some free divers looking for the wreck as well. It was fun and they had a few tips and tricks for us. This was a really nice place and we were the only cruising boat around.
Before going to Aruba we had heard very little and mostly bad or at least not good things about it. One fellow cruising boat skipped it because he was afraid customs would confiscate his wine. A lot of comment online said it was a messy check in with a rough dock you had to use. We had almost not heard any positive. But we arrived and called port control on the radio before entering the harbor in Oranjestad just to be sent away to Baracadero a nearby port instead. So we kind of thought this started out bad as well. But after some more radio contact we docked at a nice wooden dock next to some fishing boats and I was off to check us in. We had printed some papers beforehand and the immigration check in was the easiest friendliest so far. So off to the other side of the port for customs clearance a little bit nervous that they would search the boat completely and find stuff to complain about. But the customs office were more or less a tea party of middle ages women. They were talking high and low about everything and processed my papers quickly and sent me off without any boat inspection or anything. We had to leave our spear gun with them though. So all expectation were completely wrong and it was the nicest easiest check in so far.
We went off to anchor close to Oranjestad and right by the airport since Anders sister were arriving in a couple of days to visit for 2 weeks. One good thing about Aruba they have cheap direct flights from Sweden. there were only 2 other cruising boats there so definitely not crowded.
We checked out the town the next day and continued walking by the water or at least by the main road. We were going to check out a bigger supermarket to do some shopping. But the first supermarket was closed for ever and the second one was one of the strangest one we ever been to. They had a huge place with a lot of shelves but almost no stuff in there. Instead of stacking canned food behind each other to get as much as possible on the shelves this was the opposite. A whole shelf of a meter was filled up with maybe 5 cans instead. The whole store was the same. Felt a little like the apocalypse was on its way here.
We bought a couple of things anyway and headed across the road to the beach were there was some big happening. It was court after court of beach tennis. So they had maybe 40 courts for a big world championship tournament. But it was an open tournament so there were people of all levels playing everywhere. We sat down for a while in the big arena watching a game of doubles of some of the world’s best players apparently. It was nice and a bit surprising finding it there. Then we headed of finding a normal big supermarket and then walked back home to the boat.
Aruba so far starting out nice even though the beer could have been a bit cheaper.
We continued our travels in The ABC islands and after B comes C. C stands for Curacao that has named one of the spirits in one of my go to drinks Isbjörn, Blue Lagoon, Electric Lemonade or to be specific vodka, blue curacao, a dash of lime, sprite and never forget the ice. Well back to the topic the order of which to visit the ABC islands for a sailboat like us tends to be BCA which had been a bit confusing for us before we got there but upon arrival to Curacao I think we had that down. At least that it started with C but we manage to confuse it with both Carriacao and other islands starting with C.
We decided to anchor in Spanish water mostly because it is pretty much the only approved anchorage in the entire country and secondly because it is quite protected and nice. Being an approved anchorage there were some rules to be followed you had to put down your hook in specific areas but we did not know the borders of those. So after a adequate guess we managed to anchor in square A, the prime location we even had wifi some days when the weather allowed.
A calm Spanish Waters
Some new neighbors
Some more neighbors
We arrived to Spanish Waters early enough to make an attempt to check in the same day. Since we had brought our own local guide Linda from Bonaire we thought we were all set. Linda had however never been to Curacao and didn’t really speak the Curacao lingo but she was eager to ask for directions. And after running around the city and finally finding the temporary customs office. Ensuring the harbor master that we indeed were anchored in the correct spot ten minutes before they closed. We thought we deserved to take a celebratory beer at a random sports bar outside of their happy hour.
Someone needs to work on their landing
The big highway bridge
Harbor masters office
We then continued our city tour of Wilhelmstad. Linda who had been seeing the same faces since she got to Bonaire was thrilled to interact with others. Wilhelmstad is a colourful city built on both sides of their harbor inlet. There is two main ways for pedestrians to cross the inlet you can either walk across on the floating bridge that moves out of the way every now and then or you can take a chance that the free of cost ferry will depart soon and take that over the narrow inlet. The old forts on the edge of the inlet originally served the purpose of protecting the city from pirates and other intruders. The forts is now a days a very touristic shopping mall and houses various shops and restaurants. We sat down at a small outdoor cafe beside the floating bridge and talked about our options, we decided to head back to the boat. Linda managed to get some local currency from the cashier at the place we couldn´t understand why at the time but we found out the day after that they didn´t accept bills on the bus.
The floating bridge
Some colorful houses
Thats why we are here
Close to Spanish Waters there is a salt lake that we explored more then once the bushes were rattling by all the different lizards moving around when we came walking by. some places around the pond/lake were windy and quite nice to see the almost desert like landscape surrounding a big body of water. Some places were not windy and unbelievably hot and beyond comfortable to be in. We walked by a beach club and tried to stop by for some ice cream. It turned out that they didn’t sell ice cream before lunch. So fed up with their parental like behavior we went next door to the ice cream shop for some ice cream instead.
Walk by the salt pond
Some more walking by the pond
A pretty lagoon outside the salt pond
Felt like a child again
Later that day we returned in to the city for some night life. Well night is to stretch it a bit since our last bus left the station at ten o’clock. But at least we got some city pulse.
Some busy street life
Tried to widen our blue curacao usesage
Worlds best Mojitos (they weren’t great)
The next morning Linda left to fly back to Bonaire and work. We on the other hand rolled up our sleeves and qued the music because it was time to get some shit done. We spent the following week doing projects on the boat, took some shopping trips and lived a really slow life.
The new slimmer sun protection
From order to mess in a matter of seconds
Sonar for the dinghy heading in to uncharted territory with a deep boat
The old sun cover solution
New sun mesh on the doghouse
New seat cover the old one started to peel of
Hanna and Andreas took a pause in the hard work and went on a snorkeling excursion to a old tug boat wreck. what i can tell you from the pictures is that the water were much nicer over there then at our boat.
One of the restaurants in the marina had a what they called cruisers dinner every Thursday so we went there. it was a affordable sit down dinner on a table filled with other cruisers. We ended up chatting with another Swedish boat and the manager of budget marine. After a couple of days of putting Chibidarra together again after all the projects we were ready to set sails towards A in ABC or in our case BCA. One could say that we failed to explore large areas of the island but sometimes you need to priorities. Over and out Anders
When we were in Bonaire we were told that between Bonaire and Curacao ?? Was a small little island with nice reefs , white beaches and wildlife. So of course we got interested and wanted to visit this small island the problem is the checking in and out of a county. This small island is a part of Curacao and to follow procedure we should go first to Curacao then back to Klein Curacao . But everyone we talked to stayed a few days on the island before checking in either in Curacao or Bonaire. So we did the same.
As Andreas wrote we accuired a extra Hands,passenger, doctor Linda a friend of Lotte. She had a cording to Alejandro the island fever is when you move to on a small island and after some months you are really tiered of seeing the same people and places and you want to get of the island. So she wanted to join us for a couple of days sailing over to Klein Curacao then onwards to Curacao and fly back.
We left Bonaire on Wednesday and sailed to Klein was slow with hardly any wind so we gave in and started the engine. So that we would have a couple of daylight hours on Klein.
When we got there a guy from one of the day trip charters helpt us to pick up a mooring that according to him was free and for our use . He was afraid we would drop the anchor and damage the coral, like some cruisers had done before. We actually do check where we place our Anchor but not everyone does it. When we had tied up to the mooring we saw alot of boats and dinghies leaving the beach to follow a pod of dolphin. We jumped in the water, hoping to get to swim with the dolphins but they where too far away, we could hear them in the water.Before going ashore we decided to have some lunch, the info we got were that all chartered boat would be gone by 16.00 and they where, so we had the island with 4 other cruisers to ourself.
Being a little lazy we took the stand up paddle board and swam ashore. We were under the impression that the island would be deserted but there where huts and houses build by the Charter Companies. So After just walking a couple of minutes one guy from Mermaid cruisers came and talked to us. He was dutch so he and Linda hit it of fast. He was staying the night and invited us to come by later after exploring the island.
So we walked around the island and checking out the lighthouse and the boat wrecks on the east side. Then back to the Mermaid hut to watch the sunset with some complimentary beers from our new friend.
A perfect ending to a amazing day in a amazing place.
When arriving in Bonaire after pretty much exactly 5 days we thought that the Bonaire regatta was going to end the day before. But of course this was not correct. When getting closer to town we saw a lot of boats coming out for some sailing competitions. The problem with this is they only have 40 moorings that you have to take if you don’t want to get in to the expensive marina. There is no anchoring at all in Bonaire. Some people have had problem with not getting a mooring and having to leave or go in to the marina. But we were lucky despite of the regatta and got one of the 2 last moorings.
So I headed off finding the customs office and after some looking around for a while I find it only to be told that I needed the whole crew with me when checking in. So back to the boat and getting Anders and Hanna and our spear gun that we needed to leave with them as well. The check in then went very easily and we went off paying the mooring in the marina. In the marina we also found Lotte, who sailed with us up in the northern Carribean, on her boat. So we said hello and got treated with some coffee. She then gave us a ride back to the dinghy before heading off to work. We then ended up in the middle of a giant floating party in the middle of town. We sat at the bar where we had parked the dinghy and the water in front were full off boats and people floating around on floating toys drinking talking and playing a lot of loud music. It was pretty cool but we were still tired after sailing so after a couple of beers at the bar we dinghied back to the boat and rested for a bit. Later on we headed back in to town and spent the evening with all the festivities due to the regatta. We also met a couple we knew from Grenada so we hanged with them for a while.
Bonaire is famous for its diving. You can pretty much get a decent reef dive of any point of the island. We dove from the boat on its mooring and got an ok wall dive right there. They also have a lot of moorings all around the island that you ca use to dive from. So just tie up with the sailboat and dive. It was really nice and we should probably have been diving more then we did. But we got our first night dive and a nice wreck dive and some more so we were more then happy.
Otherwise we spent the days chilling doing some small shores and got driven around by Lotte showing us the island. We helped Lotte and Alejandro on their boat trying out their new mainsail and got some afternoon sailing in the bay and it worked out fine. We also had a few nights together with them when they showed us the town and the local foods.
We had 2 little bit bigger problem in Bonaire. I was gonna finish service the windass since I started without the service kit in Grenada. Anders brought a kit from europe and also a new piece that was cracked. But of course the new piece did not fit properly. It is always nice having to take to the angle grinder the first thing you do when buying new spares :). But that part worked out good and the windlass is serviced just to find out we need a new part again. This time it is the dog clutch that got bent. Probably me who did not put it back correctly in Grenada. But that one is only used for manual operation of the windlass.
Our watermaker also stopped producing water, which is never a fun thing to discover. So after some troubleshooting I manged to find that the problem was in the pump. So ripped the pump apart to see what could be wrong only to find a nice troubleshooting manual. The manual then says first, “do not remove the cir-clip in the bottom of the pump”, of course i had started with removing the cir-clip. But with the pump completely disassembled the problem was the magnetic drive to the pump that had slipped on the pump shaft. Apparently a fairly common problem. So talked to spectra about a new piece but they had stopped selling those and wanted to sell a whole pump for 760 us dollar instead. So we molded the old piece with epoxy and it now works like new again.
It was a really pleasant couple of weeks and Bonaire was a nice place with awesome diving and a relaxed atmosphere.
After little over a 35 hour long trip from Thailand, I got picked up by the captain at the airport. With 20 kg of new stuff and goodies from Sweden in my bag we set of back towards Chibidarra. Captain and Hanna had spent the day in Martinique criss crossing the island in a rental car shopping like maniacs. So after emptying the car from the last stuff the dingy was full to the brim. But with the new engine we were quickly back home. After filling all the cupboards, bilges and other hidden crevasses with food for the coming months we got to bed. The next morning a bit jet lagged I woke up thinking that I still was asleep since the discussion that I overheard was that Chibidarra was to dock at the marina. Pff, that had to be a dream I thought. Turned out it wasn’t a dream after all. Later that day Chibidarra was docked for the first time since February.
The reason for this being that our batteries had been severely worn down and we thought to try to revive them by equalize them and since our diesel generator wouldn’t produce any electricity we found it better to take shore power for a couple of days. Being by the dock meant that we all of a sudden had plenty of freshwater and electricity. We found it best to wash everything. Our trusty little laundry machine had to work harder than ever over these few days. We manage in addition to clothes, to wash the covers for our sofas and beds as well. Since I´d been away from the boat and we earlier said that we would wait for hurricane season in Grenada, we saw this as a break between the sailing seasons. After three days we were fed up with the marina and since we partially had succeeded to revive our batteries we went out to the anchorage ready to cruise again. That’s more than what you can say about our neighbor Triton that had been suck in the marina for 18 months. The reason for that had been a couple of different and to his frustration he still weren’t quite ready to set off. We did however spend a day on the beach in Saint Anne together with him and couple of other guys we met on the dock. One of them (Igor) were familiar from before since we had met him in Bequia a couple of months earlier. We had one of our pretty rare beach days where we spend the day on the beach barbecuing and chilling.
After stocking up on the last things/beer we set of for Bonaire. But not before we draw a uterus over the entire anchorage with our chart plotter.
I had forgotten what it was like to sail. It had been a long time since our last really long passage and the first day were not calm. Well wind wise it was quite calm wave wise on the other hand it was quite uncomfortable. The following days it calmed down and we got in to the sailing groove of eat sleep sail repeat. We even manage to catch a reasonably sized Mahi Mahi witch a couple of days later in Bonaire got really exciting.
We also caught on of our smallest fishes at the same time. The sail had changed from us doing 6 knots over ground to 3. Let’s just say it got a bit boring for a while. It got clear that the weather gods weren´t on our side. During the days we didn´t get enough sun to charge our batteries and due to a burned cable from the engine generator we hadn’t enough voltage when charging with the engine. This made me spending the first morning hour hand steering in an attempt to save battery until sunrise. Sadly we didn’t have any sun this day either. But luckily for me the wind had picked up and we were once again doing some speed towards Bonaire. We were under the impression that the regatta on Bonaire where to be finished before we arrived but instead we got greeted by plenty of sailboats when we passed Klein Bonaire in the last days of the regatta.
On our way from Grenada to Martinique to pick up Anders from the airport we decided to stop once again in Carriacou. There was a special hash this weekend in Carriacou that we were gonna run. When leaving Grenada I had measured the distance so we would get there before dark but I had done something wrong or remembered something wrong. After motoring the last bit to be able to anchor in some light we dropped the hook just after the sun had set. But all was good and we settled down and prepared for the hash the day after.
The next day we woke up and prepared for the hash. It was a really hot day and around noon we gathered with a couple of hundred other people to sign ourselves in. After some waiting we jumped in to some buses and got a ride to the starting point. After some more waiting it was time for the start. It was really hot and the course started out with a climb up on the second highest point of the island. It was the toughest hash we had run so far. It was so much up and down all the time, but it did go through lot of nice scenery.
After finally finishing the run we got treated to some included barbecue food and of course a few beers. We spent the evening with some other cruisers and hashers and at one point we were standing outside of a bar next to the town dock. Some fishermen came and started loading really big fishes on to the back of a truck. One of the fishermen stopped by us and offered a big piece of kingfish to the girl next to me but she said no but he then turned to me and I happily said yes. So suddenly I was standing with a beer in one hand and a 5 kilo piece of fish in the other hand, What do I do now??? But after some quick organizing by a friend of ours that lived on Grenada the fish was soon packed in a plastic bag with some ice from the bar and put in the dinghy for later. So we invited anyone who wanted for lunch the next day on the fish.
The next day Hanna ran the live hash that was a hash that was created at the same time as the runners were running it. There was a lot of circles and wrong turns to be made on this one. In the meantime I took the bicycle to the next town to check us out of the country. After having Some grilled fish for lunch together with Nick and Sarah we sailed off towards Martinique in the sunset.