Monday, October 01, 2007

Heading West - Curacao to Aruba (Tango to Tango)

It was time to say goodbye to Bonaire for this season. The last week was non stop farewell dinners and visits. We had a lot of fun with "Cheshire II" and "Slow Dancin'" (the Nordhaven 40) on our dock at the Marina and Bob and Barbara returned from a visit to the States and had us for dinner our last night. We picked a relatively calm day to sail over to Klein Curacao and stayed there for two nights. "Maker's Match" was there already and we had them over for dinner one night.
This was a good opportunity for Scott to really rest his knee and luckily he had a good book. We always have a big selection of books ready. At each marina or beach bar etc. cruisers leave books they've finished and pick up new ones. These "book swaps" can be like mini libraries or just a few volumes on top of a washer or dryer. In addition we often swap between boats. At the marina in Bonaire Linda from "Cheshire II" copied over 15 movies and 10 CDs that have occupied and entertained us since.
We anchored in Spanish Waters, Curacao, for a few nights just in front of "Unplugged". This is a really lovely spot enlivened by small sailboats racing all around the protected bay and in and out of the anchored boats (see picture above). We spent a day with a rental car checking in and out and visiting about 10 stores.
Our friends on "Tango", John (the surgeon who was such a help to us in Bonaire) and Mary, had us over to their boat for a farewell evening. Pictures here show them with their two adorable dogs, Tika and Grif, and Scott and  I with them as well.
Then it was on to new places! We sailed north along the coast to the pretty harbor of Santa Kruz and anchored close to the beach. The snorkeling was great along the cliffs and it was an easy departure the next morning for Aruba. This 55 mile passage is often rough but it wasn't for us. Unfortunately it was dead downwind so we had to motorsail the whole way. The entrance to Oranjestad harbor is wide open but the buoy system is very confusing here. It's wonderful to have the electronic navigation and auto pilot!
This is a famously difficult check in. The port authority directs you to tie up at the cruise ship facility docks. These are not set up for small ships. We did manage to find a section without huge black tires (they mark the sides of your boat) but there is no one to help you and the huge bollards are spaced apart for enormous ships - there are no cleats. Once tied up though the Immigration officials came to the boat and Customs was close by. The whole process took about an hour and we were off again for the Marina. The Renaissance Marina and Resort is fantastic. Scott and I rarely stay at a place like this and we had full use of the facility for our week here. Happily too we tied up next to Richard and Debra on "Tango" (not John and Mary on "Tango" we had just left in Curacao)..
It was our first "med mooring" and easily done with help from both Richard and Debra (shown here to the left) and the Dockmaster in his dinghy. In this configuration there is no side dock. You turn the boat around and back into the dock. A long line from the bow is tied to a off shore buoy and the stern to the dock. Luckily access to our boat is easy from the stern via our swim platform. Our plans are to spend a week here and then leave for Columbia.

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