All the ABCs

GPS tracks of sails between the ABCsOn Friday we left Bonaire to make our way west to Aruba. My friend Andy and his wife Aliza are flying down for a few days of warm weather and sailing on Tahina. We had made the arrangements weeks ago, and were slowed down for repairs and a new computer back in the Grenadines and Grenada This is why we had limited time to stay in Bonaire.

We did manage to stop in Curacao for a quick look. Curacao is much more developed than Bonaire and has a sizable, and growing, population. You could see construction trucks and cranes all over the island. There are many more cars than buses on the roads. They have a huge bridge over the main port entry – big enough for ships to go under. We were enjoying looking, and taking pictures, of the island so much, that we passed the entry to the anchorage called Spanish Water. We ended up having to turn around and motor against wind and waves to get back to it. In our defense, the entry is almost impossible to spot from offshore.

We stopped in Curacao partly because there was a chance to get a new anchor light at the Budget Marine chandlery. I tried to catch a bus to the store, but it didn’t show up when expected. I was told it was only 2-3 miles, so I started walking, but fortunately a boater drove up and offered me a ride. It was at least 5 miles.

Earlier in the morning, I went to take a shower in our guest bathroom (so I wouldn’t wake Karen). The shower drain pump stopped working. Uh oh! So, I checked out the wiring and found there was 12V going to the pump. So, I removed the pump assuming the pump was bad. While at the Budget Marine, I managed to get a suitable pump replacement (it turns out two spares I had bought back in the US were not the right size). Back at the boat, I spent a few minutes setting up the wiring, and then put in the new pump. Nothing happened – but, I noticed when I pushed on the wiring it would sometimes make a slight noise. Our friends on A Small Nest also came to Curacao on the same day. We invited their kids to come over for Wii and ice cream we had bought. When their father Willem brought them over, he offered to help diagnose the pump problem. We did some testing and found both of the new pumps worked. The problem seemed to be the 12V power wire. It had slightly less voltage than the other wires. I went to pull on the wire to get a closer look, and a 6 inch piece of the wire came right out. On the end was green gunk – the wire was corroded! We had found the problem. We soon had a new power wire in place, and the pump worked perfectly. I’m a bit perturbed about the corrosion though. Good marine wire shouldn’t do that, and this wire was put in by the boat builder.

Yesterday, Sunday, we left before dawn and made our way slowly out the Spanish Water entry in the dark. We soon were having a nice downwind sail to the NW along the Curacao coast towards Aruba. It was about 80 miles to the main port of Aruba and we wanted to arrive well before dark. We had a great sail and made good time. There was only a brief period where the winds died down and we ran a motor to keep our speed up. Once we got to Aruba we had a great run in the lee up the coast making 11-12 knots on a beam reach!

We called Aruba Port Control on the radio several minutes before getting to the port. But, they didn’t answer until we were entering the harbor. They told us we had to go back to the Barcadera commercial port to clear into customs. So, we turned around and sailed 4 or so miles back. Once there, we found a small ship dock with 5 boats already parked – and no room for Tahina. There was more dock space to the west, but it was behind a fence and the water was shallow. A coast guard boat came by and said we should wait for a boat to leave. We waited for over 30 minutes trying to hold position with the wind. Finally I called the port again. Fortunately, the local marina listened in and told us that although the water was shallow, if we would move in close to the dock on the closer end it would be deep enough. He was right, and we were soon docked. Customs and immigration were speedy and I was in and out almost as fast as I could fill in the forms. That was nice!

We motor-sailed back up to the main port and called the marina. They told us where to dock, but explained they were leaving for the day. So, we tied up ourselves. The ironic part is that the water was even shallower at the dock, and I’m sure we touched sand in the process. As we were arriving, the sound was incredible. It turns out the first Carnival parade was going on at the street next to the marina. But, as we were finishing tying the end of the parade went by and was followed by a series of trucks that picked up all the pedestrian barriers and the parade was gone.

As we were cleaning up and having a late dinner, the Superbowl had started. They had it projected on the side of a nearby hotel, and loud enough we could hear the commentary. But, we enjoyed seeing a taste of good ole US of A. We’re glad to be in Aruba with a couple of days to clean up the boat. And, we’ve now completed a brief visit of the ABCs. I would definitely enjoy being able to spend more time at the other two islands. But, hopefully we’ll have a chance to see a lot of Aruba during the next week.

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