Curacao Marine to Santa Cruz Bay, Curacao
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
This marks the official beginning of our GREAT ADVENTURE with ANGEL.
We left the anchorage at Curacao Marine at 0730 in company with Karen and Ralph aboard KARA DREAM. We each had a lasting souvenir of our stay there in the form of the exceptionally thick and viscous mud on our anchors. The Curacao Port Authority at Fort Nassau had given us permission to proceed into the canal behind an outbound barge. We came to a bit of a dilemma when we found ourselves AHEAD of the barge and decided, with approval from Fort Nassau to lead the way out. We were thrilled to be able to exit with the entire pontoon bridge open. Normally sailboats rate only a tiny crack through which we must manouevre. It was a thrilling race to the sea, with one eye on the fast-approaching tug and barge to our stern. We waved enthusiastically to the passengers of a Princess Line cruise ship moored alongside the canal. Fortunately the outgoing tide or current swept us along briskly.
It was such a relief to be at sea again, if only for a 20 nm run! For most of the passage to Santa Cruz Bay (one of the most northerly anchorages in Curacao) the winds were too light, but during the final hour we put out the sails. After all these years aboard, it is still a magical moment when the motor goes off and suddenly the only sound is the winds in the sails!
This serendipity was momentarily disturbed when we kept hearing an alarm from the autopilot, which also kept shutting itself off. Our first hint should have been when it was first engaged and informed us that “calibration” was “necessary”. However, until that final hour, it seemed to function well. Then we were informed “Rudder not found”. Apparently, the control unit attached to the rudder had died, leaving us to hand steer the rest of the way. No worries!
After dropping anchor in gorgeous Santa Cruz Bay, where we also found DARRAMY (Brian and Sue) and BREAK AND RUN (Joan and Al), Dave spent a couple of very hot and awkward hours finding the spare rudder control and then installing it (working upside down inside and under my bed). The outcome, however, was a success! Now we need to order a new spare part.
Upon restoring order after this procedure, I was ready for a good swim. Uh-oh, my mask and snorkel were discovered to be still in the trunk of the rental car we returned in Willemstad yesterday! No problem. There is a small dive shop in the bay. We unstrapped the dinghy and motored towards shore. Unfortunately, as we reached the rocks along the shore, the outboard motor died. The gas line was installed backwards! Lessons learned: don’t rush when you are tired and always have the oars handy for fending off of the rocks.
Having reached the dive shop, we found they had just received a box of masks and snorkels- hooray! Unfortunately, while I was trying them on, Dave fell into the hole in the floor which leads to the storage area! To make things worse, the mask and snorkel are less than ideal. But will suffice until we reach Aruba.
It was a relief to finally get wet and exercise. I DID, unfortunately misread the current and ended up taking twice as long to return as to go out. But, I DID see a lovely turtle and a Spotted Eagle Ray en route- wonderful!
After a shower and dinner, with the dinghy back on the davits, we snuggled in the cockpit beneath a star-filled sky with a magnificent sheet lightning display to the southand decided that THIS is what is truly wonderful about the cruising life and that we are truly happy.
But, if this is an indication, our trip may be more adventurous than we had imagined!