Monday 12 January
Today I left the boat for the first time since Thursday. I rowed in to the beach and tied to my chosen bush. It is a nice beach considering that it is just beside the road and not touristy. I walked into town with the sole intention of getting some photos of the iguanas. Now I have a waterproof camera I can take it in the dinghy.
There were over a dozen iguanas on the rocks by the beach sunning themselves and more on the grass, then I came back.
I can download direct onto the computer with the memory card and there are some good shots. For me, if you can tell what it is, it is a good shot.
I am sorting the food cupboards, I have to eat or drink everything with an expiry date before 2010. The tuna and corned beef is likely to outlive me. This means no shopping and strange menus.
The rest of the day I seemed to spend swatting flies. The vast majority of Aruba is uninhabited and uninhabitable, so they put the dump here. A hotel here has a private island just past the anchorage and that is nearer than I am.
We are next to the dump, with fast big tenders to and fro the island and under the flightpath just next to the runway, but somehow it is still rather nice here, but a week or two is enough. The anchorage up by the high rise hotels is nicer, but I do not want to move the anchor in this weather. Once I am anchored I tend to stay put, I am not sure how much is being careful and how much is just being lazy?
It has been very windy, it was howling last night and today.
I could not get to land and so had to decide what to do. I could read, mend something or make something. I remembered the spinnaker and really had no choice other than to haul it out and continue to hem it. This is just the zig and then I will have to go over and do the zag and then there is the second row of stitching. 90 minutes later and I had done about 2’, which is not very encouraging. The spinnaker saga started on my Atlantic crossing and is still going over two years later, I think it deserves a blog of its own.
I have a hole in the floor with a bin underneath, the boat equivalent of ‘sweeping things under the carpet’. I had been posting the flies I had swatted down the hole and I was going to see how many I could amass. I realized this was childish and threw them away and washed the container, but there were lots.
I made a loaf and it was nearly ready, I checked later and it was nearly ready, and again. How long does it take before I would think that maybe the gas was out – half an hour. It was a new gas bottle 1 Jan, it was bubbling when I got it filled in Puerto la Cruz, but I did not know if it was overfilled or leaking. As long as it leaked in the vented gas locker I was prepared to use it. Now it is empty, so I think it was leaking and I will throw it away.
Miriam and Pat, Rhiannon 3, asked for my help getting their boat into the marina, so I had to put the spinnaker away, such a shame.
It took hours as we had to keep waiting for the wind to die down enough for Pat to come and fetch me in the dinghy, take up anchor 1, take up anchor 2 and then we headed in. Miriam was at the wheel and I had to put the engine in gear, because they have no gear cable. This meant lying down on the floor and manually moving the handle, which had to be located by torchlight; forwards is reverse, backwards is forwards. It was not difficult, but I had to get up each time and stand in the companionway to be able to hear the next instruction over the sound of the engine and that meant finding the lever again. Luckily it went well and Pat will now do the repairs.
While I was there Jan came in by dinghy and I went over. I had brought his exhaust hose from Curacao, but he could not be raised and it was left on his deck by Mike. Jan was desperate for it and phoned the shop in Curacao, they said it had been collected. He tried to phone Harika and left a message with another cruiser to try and locate it. Then he went outside to do what all guys do, because they can, and there it was.
Pat brought me back in the dinghy, it was a bit of a wet ride, but he had got me some ice. I am going to have cereal tomorrow with real (as real as UHT gets), cold milk.
There is a small turtle in the bay and I saw it for the first time today. It was hyperventilating at the surface before heading back down out of the rough water.
I gave in and started a new book, 700 pages of small print. I don’t think much happened today.
I tried to charge up the computer and managed to melt its 12v adaptor. I hope I have saved it just in time. I shall not use the multi adaptor again. I read until lunchtime, page 400 seemed a good place to stop or I would get nothing done. I rowed to shore and stopped at Conari and Rainbow Warrior, for weather consultations. Then I went into the beach and in to town. I collected my shoes from Rhiannon, they had given them to Dovekie to bring back for me, so I did not have to go in. I resisted buying anything and came back, stopping for a drink on Conari.
I have said my goodbyes and hope to be off in the morning. I stowed the dinghy for the trip and biocided the watermaker as I do not want to have to run that while I am going along and I may not have the power for it.
I was trying to contact Rogue and Southern Cross hailed me. They are sailing past Aruba and I should meet up with them further along the track.
Time to leave Aruba. I have got as much weather data as I can get and it looks ok. The wind and waves are supposed to starting to drop and tomorrow there is forecast to be too little wind. I requested to go into the cruiser dock to check out, but they are busy today and I have to go to Barcadera. It is only about 2.5 miles back down the coast, but it took over an hour as I could only do 2 knots into wind and current. It is possible to cut along the inside, but you have to know where the shallows are, so I went the long way. Rogue got in before me and said there was one space left on the dock. I wanted to approach the dock into wind and thought I would have a long run at it . It would have been a good idea if there were not areas of very shallow water, and I mean not enough for me. Having been aground and not liked it, I did a very tight spin and went back to the original course. I was overtaken by a Venezuelan boat bringing fruit and vegetables and a small fishing boat. They both followed the channel markers, so I did the same. There was now no space on the dock and I rafted up with Rogue.
We had a coffee and it was not until we got off the boat to check in that it was noticed that I was not that tall. There was a brief period when I thought I was taller than his wife, Noy. After the formalities Noy and I had to stand back to back for a measure and there was nothing in it. I am not taller than anyone, but at least there is someone my height; which they inform me is 4’ 10”; we used to be 4’ 10.5”, but we shrank.
I set off and did well to start with, but the apparent wind was about 6 knots, 10 knots true and I went from 6 knots, to 4 and a bit. I am hoping it was just the current running against me for a few hours, and would not have been a problem on a shorter trip. The thought of taking 50% longer was not pleasant and I did have two tanks of diesel that would otherwise just sit there going stale. I put the engine on and motor sailed, I still struggled to do over 5 knots some of the time. I put the radar on and was aiming to go close to the top of Columbia where we have to turn. I spoke to Pete on the phone, it is times like this when the sat phone is worth the money. Pete said to stay 25 miles off and so I moved out to just over 10. Rogue hailed me to say that as it was late they were not stopping at Montjes del Sur, neither was I. It is just about to get dark, I have taken the fishing lines in, the last thing I need to deal with now is a fish. It is comforting to know that Rogue are not far away and will be standing by on the radio.
The night went by and along with it were lots of freighters and cruise liners. Some did not go out of their way to avoid us and came within half a mile, if anybody had to move it was going to be us little ones. The wind continued to drop and there was less than 4 knots of apparent wind, I took the sail in as it was not helping.