21 – 22 .07.10
Passage: Oranjestad, Aruba to Spanish Waters, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles
Crew: FN ( Solo )
Conditions: Weather: Fine and sunny; wind E 18 - 20 knts, seas moderate to rough
16:30 12:31.014N 70.02.340W Renaissance Marina, Oranjestad, Netherlands Antilles
Having been here for three days during which time I had started on the de-commissioning process that would hopefully leave enough time to fully explore the island before flying back on a domestic flight to Curacao for my onward flights home I made a courtesy call yesterday (20th July) to my insurance company. This was to advise them that I was planning to leave Bootleger here in Aruba for three months. To my surprise their representative was very difficult saying that my boat should be out of the water for the hurricane season. I advised the reason I was in Aruba was because it was far away from the hurricane box ( West Indies and Florida). The representative was unmoved advising that unless my boat was left in a manner set down by them for tropical storms (hurricanes) I was not covered should the boat suffer storm damage of any kind during the period!! As a) there was virtually no time to arrange different insurance with an alternative supplier and b) the weather was about to deteriorate preventing a return to Curacao in the remaining time frame, I had to make a decision and act on it fast.
I made calls to various alternative insurance companies leaving messages for them to get back urgently. Nobody did. I made chase up calls. No response. This is after all, the Caribbean. All the other boats that have been left here in the Marina are clearly covered. Question is , with whom?
There was nothing for it but to return to the very sheltered Seru Boca Marina tucked away within Spanish Waters, Curacao where I was assured by all I spoke with - including Cees at Seru Boca there would be absolutely no problem whatsoever getting Bootlegger the necessary cover there with the likes of U.S. insurers, Atlas who are also considerably cheaper than my present insurers.
Time had almost run out to get back to Curacao - the weather was already starting to deteriorate and to get Bootlegger put to bed there before my re-scheduled flight home on the 26th. So, having refuelled here I am ready to depart Sea Port Marina Aruba for Curacao.
!7:15 12:28.855N 70:02.340W Arrived Barcadera Customs and Immigration Dock. As I endeavoured to tie up alongside a Venezuelan fruit boat with 'assistance' from its crew in a heavy swell with winds gusting 26knots my Port side handrail bent and dented as we shouted at each other in our respective languages, neither understanding the other. My hull was also badly marked whilst alongside from their filthy, perishing black rubber tyre fenders.
!7:45 12:28.855N 70:02.340W Barcadera Customs and Immigration Dock. Departed Barcadera after Clearing Out with Customs and Immigration again being warned to watch out for pirates by the Customs man.
19:15 12:25.232N 69:54.519W St Nicholas Lagoon Approach Wind now steady 26 knots. Decided to put into St Nicholas Lagoon which is just twenty minutes from the SE tip of Aruba and a good spot as far as I can see to anchor up for the night.
19:30 12:25 155N 69:53.757W St Nicholas Lagoon Within the lagoon lies the site of a disused Oil Refinery. It is necessary to put in here as a) I need sleep before what will be a tough passage tomorrow and b) I'm not covered by insurance to sail solo at night. I have dropped anchor in the lee of a small island where I find the holding good with 4 metres of water below my keel. I am soon sitting in the cockpit with G&T in hand listening to some favorite music before retiring. As is my usual practice on anchor I will be sleeping on deck.
06:10 12:25.232N 69:54.519W St Nicholas Lagoon After a night during which I did not sleep well, I raised my anchor and departed the lagoon heading out to sea bound for Curacao. There is around 80% cloud cover; Wind 25 - 27 kn and large white capped waves. I am very much aware I have a difficult passage ahead.
06:30 12:24.265N 69:52.726W WP187; SE tip of Aruba With winds from ESE set a course of 45 degrees to NE to be maintained for two hours, riding the waves on donkey only. SOG average 5.6kn. Wind now gusting to 30 kts and seas building.
08:30 12:33.949N 69:44.459W WP193 Changed course to 164 degrees. Wind now around 30kts in strength, with curling white capped waves which Bootlegger effortlessly bangs into and though. The cockpit’s Perspex wind shield is constantly being covered in sea spray making it impossible to see through. Consequently have to get up on cockpit seating to look over its canopy in order to maintain watch, getting very wet in the process ! Now motor sailing with genoa and main 50% out; SOG 6.5kts.
11:30 12:16.840N 69:35.500W WP194 Went onto the other tack; now on a course of 91 degrees which takes us, were it to be maintained, to the NW tip of Curacao.
Noon 12:17.735N 69:30.390W COG 91 degrees; SOG 6 - 7kts ; Winds 26 - 30 kts
13:45 The mainsail separates / rips away from its Clew eye and outhaul !! I quickly brought the damaged sail in and set the Mizzen sail to around 50% of its full size. Bootlegger’s speed only dropped slightly to around 6kts following this sail change.
14:45 12:21.072N 69:12.760W WP 195 Now having reached the lee of the island of Curacao and comparative shelter, motor sailing down west coast of Curacao , COG 148, SOG 7.5 to 8.5 - even an occasional 9kts ! Going like a train ! Coastguard helicopter just been to have a look circling and approaching Bootlegger from astern presumably to get and possibly photograph name on transom and report back.
17:40 12:07.428N 69:06.207 Approaching Willemstad; COG 122 degrees; SOG 8.5 kn average; Wind E20 kn. Guess who is coming out? The same barge and the tug I had the issue with when passing Willemstad on the way to Aruba.
18:30 12:03.479N 68:51.168W Arrived at the approach to Cut into Spanish Waters exactly twelve hours after leaving southern tip of Aruba. What a trip !
18:50 12:04.288N 68:50.598W Seru Boca Marina, Santa Barbara Plantation, Curacao Dropped hook off Seru Boca Marina; too tired to negotiate what is a tight berth to enter in what is now near darkness; no, definately time for a large G&T, to put on some relaxing music and to let those that care know that I have arrived safely..
Tomorrow I must get into Willemstad to once more Clear in with Customs and Immigration and to commence the 1001 things I have to to do before leaving Bootlegger including of course the big clean and tidy up / put away; laundry, shutting down systems and instructing fully those responsible for looking after, maintaining, additional securing for storms and possibly moving her in my absence, sorting out the many things I have to take back, packing etc etc.
I have just two days to do it all in as I leave here 08.20 hrs for Miami , New York ( 24hr stopover as never been and need to tick the boxes; Time Square, 5th Avenue, Empire State, Statue of Liberty, Greenwich Village etc ), then on to LHR where I arrive in the early hours of Wednesday 28th July and onward flight from LGW to the Isle of Man which I left a month ago.