12:30.530N 70:01.989W Aruba
Monday 24 November 2008
One of the worst things about this cruising is the constant checking in,
We took the dinghy to the dock at 7.30 and the bus to town. We did
customs and then got an anchoring permit for the anchorage near the top of
Curacao. Here you have to tell them where you want to go and when you
move, which is rather more of a pain than usual. It was nearly noon by
the time we got back to the boats.
The plan was to go 25 miles up island today and jump off early tomorrow
for Aruba. I did not want to rush today and then still have 55 miles to
go tomorrow, with time to check in and anchor it was too much for me and
my little boat.
Passat and Bluewater Cat set off and I had a nap and something to eat and
Richard gave me the weather forecast as we had been on the bus when he
read it out over the Cruisers Net. It would be 15-20 knots; if I waited
till Wednesday the wind may be less, but I would get wet. It was not too
windy and I did not want to get wet, so it sounded good to go.
4pm I set off for a reasonable sail, taking my time to arrive in the
morning 80+ miles later.
I got out of Spanish Water and that I thought was going to be the most
worrying part as it is very shallow in parts. The wind was reasonable and
I put out 1/3 of the main and most of the genoa, as it would be dark soon
I did not want to have to deal with sails in the dark.
I was lulled into a false sense of security and was having a lovely time,
but that was not to last. I had not even reached the cruise ship dock in
town, about 5 miles, when I had my first squall, I could not even see the
land. I pulled in the main and reduced the genoa, after it was over I
thought it must be quite late as it was now dark, but it was not 7pm. The
squalls continued, virtually non-stop all night. The wind was 20 to
40knots, the rain was torrential and made it difficult to keep tabs on the
many tankers and freighters just off from the coast. The swell was heavy
and soon grew to 10 feet - this was not what I signed up for.
Tuesday 25 November 2008
I survived the night, it was just more of the same, even with my wet gear
I was soaked. With the wind coming from behind it was going in the
saloon and clothes, towel and furnishings now have the smell of damp dog.
The nasty weather I have encountered in the past had taught me that if I
did not have too much sail up then the boat would be ok; it was just me
then. I had 2 feet of genoa out and just kept going, 5 knots was easy, it
was mainly surfing the swell, I registered 8 knots at one point, rather
The morning came and the weather did not improve, I was getting close and
wanted to go into Barcadera where they had a more yacht friendly dock. I
contacted the port authority and was told that I had to go into the cruise
liner/container terminal in Oranjestad. This was what I was concerned
about, remembering back to Barbados and the 10' wall and fenders too far
apart to protect the boat. I had to stay offshore as there were huge
squalls and I could not see the island, let alone the entry through the
I contacted the port authority and usually they switch to channel 11, but
they kept 14 for me so that I could keep in touch. About 9 there was a
break in the weather and I decided to go for it, despite the huge clap of
thunder and lightning right over the boat; at least I could see. I had
told them that I was alone on the boat and had been beaten up all night
and they were very nice.
There is an anchorage and a marina, but you can't stop there. I went past
the cruise liner, turned to starboard in front of the tug and went into
the second slip. Slip usually means fenders and ropes all round, but this
slip was for passenger ships and was several hundred feet wide, so I
pulled up at the wall opposite the small cruise ship on the other side.
Normally there is no help available, but I had 3 guys waiting to take my
lines, The wall was horrid and there was still a swell, but it was only a
foot off the water and their tyres and my fenders did the job.
Immigration came to me, the point being that they board the boat, but he
gave me the forms to fill in and he sat in the car, before giving me a
lift to Customs. It was all rather easy, but it should not be necessary
to bring the boat in, just because they cannot differentiate between
cruise liners and yachts. I should have got a lift back as the boat was
in a secure area, but I was in the cruise ship terminal, which is usually
off limits unless you have a ticket, so I had a look in the terminal
shops, but it was just souvenirs. I had to wait for a vehicle to come out
of the controlled gate before I could back to the boat.
I was dropping on my feet, but made an excellent job of getting off the
wall unaided; I would have to scrub the black tyre marks off the hull
I went to the anchorage next to the port, which is also at the end of the
airport runway. A plane was coming in to land just when I was coming
through the reef and I was right under the runway as he went over, it
seemed very close to the mast. The anchorage had some very shallow parts;
I went down to 1.5 metres, which is what I draw, and parts are much less.
I anchored in 3.5 metres and was very relieved to stop. By just after
noon I was anchored.
After lunchI was in contact with Passat and Bluewater Cat, who had started
out early that morning and made good time, but they had the same weather.
Wednesday 25 November
I did not get wifi yesterday, because I did not get off the boat. I set
off for the computer service centre, but could not get positive
directions. Eventually I bought a phone card and rang them. I will take
a taxi tomorrow. We all met up for lunch and had a stroll round town,
which is very geared to the cruise ships. We took an island tour for 2
hours and saw all the hotels and casinos, there are 11 casinos in a very
small area and thousands of hotel rooms. Tourism is the islands main
source of income. I did not find any wifi today either.