Tuesday, 2 December
We went walking and did a bit of shopping as Passat are preparing to leave for St Maarten. I checked on the computer and the motherboard has been ordered, but is on back order, so we are talking weeks not days - and an hour to fit it.
Wednesday, 3 December
There are a few other boats in the anchorage, we kept meaning to go and say hello, but never got round to it. Mike on the boat that got in the day before us came over and introduced themselves and asked if there was anything I wanted as they had a car for the day, which was a kind thought.
We did ask if we could do the paperwork the day before, or not bring the boats in to the dock as we wanted an early start, customs said yes, immigration said no, we had to follow their rules. This is one of the reasons that Aruba has so few yacht visitors, the other being the trip back East.
Thursday, 4 December
I asked permission to come into the dock and Port Control told me to come immediately as they had a passenger ship coming in. I took up the anchor, it was before 6am and still dark, and headed in. There was already another boat on the dock, going to Cartegena, I rafted up along Passat, but Port Control said that the tug might put me in danger as the passenger ship was coming into our dock, so I moved to alongside. Customs came and took us to the office, did the paperwork and then took us back to the boats. Immigration arrived and started to process us, but then went off to the passenger ship that had now arrived. How long would it have taken to process three little yachts, all of which were in first. A motor boat came in that is going to Curacao, so someone is going my way, albeit they will make the trip in a matter of hours.
I noticed that my anchor did not look right, it was not in the roller all the way. I went to sort that and found that when taking it up in the dark the shank had come completely up the outside of the roller and jammed between that and the deck. It took Bob's crowbar to get the anchor out, but it would have been very serious if I had been in a position where I had to anchor had it not been sorted.
Sad goodbyes to Debi and Bob and off we went in opposite directions.
I had allowed 36 hours for the trip, to arrive before dark tomorrow. It was not going to be too easy, that prerogative should have been for the trip down. I put up full sail and as close as I could go to the wind was the best I could do. It was slow but ok to the end of Aruba and then the full force of the current was against me. The wind was reasonable, but also against me. I tacked once, but with the 70 degrees for the tack and 30 degrees of current now pushing me North it was too depressing; I was going North up the East coast of Aruba. I tacked back and decided to keep going SE. I was 6 miles SE of Aruba and only 12 miles NE of Venezuela. Luckily the Venezuelan coast drops away and I hoped not to get any closer. The easy way back to Curacao is down to Venezuela, along the coast and back up, but I did not want to do that on my own. I could keep this course until it got dark.
There has been a ship in distress for the last couple of days that is always transmitting on channel 16 trying to get help. Coastguard and port authority are answering but nothing is happening. There are 18 crew, so it must be quite a large boat. Presumably the owner has gone bust because their agent has abandoned them and the port authority do not want to know because they cannot pay the harbour dues. The coastguard seems to think that if they are not sinking and nobody is injured then there is no emergency. Every hour the captain is on the radio asking for food and water. It seems very unfair that no one will at least give them water. The captain had been losing it a bit, getting more and more frustrated and even the crew came on the radio to try and get some action. They say they will put out a mayday if nothing happens by 6pm tonight, then it will be an international matter. Late this afternoon they were offered a tug into the port and I think they have been sorted. The captain got a bit emotional, now he doesn't just want water, he wants cigarettes. Whatever the circumstances it was a poor reaction by the Aruban authorities.
One tanker passed in front and down my left side and another was coming up my right side, I felt like the filling in a sandwich. Thinking of food I remembered my fishing lines that I had put out just before lunch, one of them had a fish on it. Filleted this was enough for dinner tonight and a meal tomorrow, so I took the lines in. By the time I had sorted the fish and cleaned up it was 6pm and dark arrived, I did not want to go down to Venezuela in the dark and tack back North, regardless of not wanting to be on the Venezuelan coast, I might not make it to Curacao before dark tomorrow. I probably could have made Santa Cruz, but that meant another day. I had the time, I just did not have the inclination and so I motored the rest of the way.
Still motoring, I arrived in Spanish Water just before noon. It had not been a difficult trip, but dead into wind and current and being up for 30 hours was enough. I would check in tomorrow.
Launched the dinghy and caught the bus to town. Customs and Immigration are only open a couple of hours at weekends, but I have to go back on Monday to get an anchoring permit. Luckily I have no agenda now. I have a month to sit here and sort out the boat. I have lots of cleaning and small jobs that will take disproportionately big chunks of times, so it will get back to a maintenance log – sorry Jimmy!
I am anchored in the main area, nearer to most things, but I do not have such a good angle on the wifi dish, so I have to sit on the coachroof on top of the dinghy to get a signal, which is ok if it is not raining.
Today is a fleamarket on shore. I managed to get rid of a few books and bits although the space created by their absence is not evident, perhaps things are less piled up.