Rescued by a submarine
Sunday 17 to Tuesday 28
Sorting, sorting and more sorting all the areas of the boat before leaving.
Monday walked to Budget Marine, then tried to find the road down to Customs and Immigration for when I leave and finally decided to try and find Varadero Marina. This was at the end of the road, next to the airport and the sign said 4.3Km to Budget, which made it a 10Km walk!
Monday, the bar is usually closed, but it was a holiday, so Tuesday it was closed.
Somehow I just did not settle at the Nautical Club, I did not sleep well. They didn’t seem to be doing anything about my membership and deciding on a slip and maybe putting some cleats and lines on.
I went with Sally to see the process for leaving the boat, Renaissance Marina are the only people to offer any assistance. I could go to customs and immigration and do it myself, but I don’t think this would not be a good idea. We went to Varadero Marina to try and clarify the new rules, this is the only marina that is trying to get somewhere with Customs. Boats have to leave after 6 months for 15 days, or post a bond for 22% of the value of the boat. There may be agreement to boats being unoccupied and in a specific area and then the clock would stop until they were occupied. Nobody knows yet, but one boat had left the dock and if it is not returning then they would have room for me.
They are having a meeting this afternoon about the new rules and yes I can have the space.
I paid the Nautical Club, an extortionate $165 for 5 nights, but it had served a purpose.
I set off for Varadero and could not get any response to the radio, so I went in anyway. I am between a large sport fisher and a huge Hatteras motor yacht, at least twice as long as my boat. I got two ropes on the dock at the bow, not difficult as the wind was pushing me in. The ropes on the 8’ poles were another matter. I went on the sport fisher and could reach to get one rope through the ring in the top. I tried to throw a rope round the other pole, but I could not get close enough. Eventually I got in the water and swam it round and back to the boat. It is more expensive than Nautical Club, with membership rates, and I will not be here, but I feel happier. Lets’ see if I can sleep tonight, otherwise did I move for nothing?
I put the dinghy together and could not find the bolts, which I keep in a special container and always put in the same place, but it wasn’t there. I have tidied so much of the boat that there is no point looking for the black container. Either I left it on deck when I put the dinghy away or it has fallen somewhere, and I don’t stand much chance of finding it. Luckily I have another 7 bolts and plenty of tap washers, so I built it anyway.
I spent the early morning putting more ropes out, using the dinghy, I now have 8. Then I treated myself to a trip into town. It was a good trip in. I went to Renaissance Marina, I can’t afford to dock there, but they do the paperwork that nobody else wants to do. I needed a new serial to USB cable and have managed to get the USB half, but not the serial extension, and I don’t know which part doesn’t work – if it even is the cable. The trip back was into wind and chop and wet.
The rules have been introduced because the Arubans have brought in boats and not paid import duty, it is a bit unfair on cruisers who want somewhere for hurricane season. If I haul the boat and put it in the secure compound then the 6 months will stop until I return. The owner of the marina is going to have another try with customs for non resident boats on Monday, but I don’t hold out much hope.
Most of the sport fisher motor boats here are illegal Aruban ones that have not paid the duty, or Colombian or Venezuelan boats that cannot go back because they don’t want to pay the duty back there. A lot of the employees are also Colombian or Venezuelan, so much for getting away from all that Espanol.
I was going to see how far I could walk from the marina, but as soon as I got out the gate I realized that the road across was not until after the end of the runway. Just because I was mad enough to walk 10K the other day didn’t mean I was going to make a habit of it. I came back, I did not want to take the dinghy into town again until Monday or Tuesday. I did manage to get a piece of tubing round the rope on top of the pole and some anti chafe on the front lines, which seemed enough for the day, as I had promised myself a day off. I listened to a book on the Kindle and it’s not perfect, but it means you can get on with things. I sewed the tab fastenings onto the top of the four seat back cushions, which may not sound like a lot, and in fact it isn’t, but it was necessary and I had not got round to it.
I have not found a tap with water in that does not have a hosepipe attached and I am not sure if it is metered. There is a bathroom which is supposed to be out of use, but has been unlocked. The shower is capped off, but the toilet works and the sink has water, so I cleaned it up and rinsed my washing. It is so windy it will not take long to dry. I put a piece of hosepipe round the fitting on the top of the second pole. The berth is too big for me and the length of the ropes gives me too much swinging room, so I put a 9th rope out diagonally at the back to keep me off the sport fisher.
I emptied the 4 jerry cans of diesel into the tanks, it just fitted, filled both to the brim. This goes to show that if I had not bought the 8 cans in Cuba and Jamaica I would have empty tanks, but I would have got here. I am determined not to fill up the cans again, just use them to collect fuel. I love having the clear deck. Now I just need a hosepipe to clean the boat up this week and I am finished.
I am seriously finding it difficult to find anything nice to eat on the boat. I am determined not to buy any food before I leave, so it is a handful of cranberries and a spoonful of Nutella.
I did start sewing up the genoa this afternoon, slow is an understatement. I am doing a zig zag stitch, but so far just the zig, the zag will have to wait until I have got all the way round once. Sails may not look big, but they are when you have to sew them by hand, with the aid of a pair of pliers to pull the needle through.
I was still not sleeping properly and had a feeling of impending doom and was unhappy. I decided to do something about the things that were needing to be done. I asked and borrowed a hosepipe that was attached to a tap as there were none free that had water. I cleaned the boat down and filled the tank.
I then went and found Jena and asked him to come and look at my engine, he said he would come late this afternoon. I set off for town to get my immigration documentation. I was on my way back when the dinghy started to take water, I was going to stop at the catamaran and hold on so that I could bail. I did not make it to the cat, the dinghy filled and turned over. There were half a dozen boats in the anchorage, but only one with a dinghy behind, but I could not reach or raise them. The dinghy did float upside down, and I could turn it over, but it was too full of water and turned turtle again. I shouted for help, but none came. The boat that takes clients to the private island went past and probably did not see me, on the way back they should have done. The second one of these boats can hardly have not seen me on the way back, I am certain the passengers did, but he did not come over. The third one of these boats I was sure would have to stop on the way back because I would have been right in his path, if I had not drifted too far out by then. I was contemplating letting go of the boat, but what would that achieve, I could not swim against this current, would I end up on the reef or would I go past? It had been quite a long time and I was sitting on the leg of the outboard at the back of the upside down dinghy. The submarine was going back and they saw me and came over and rescued me. I was very grateful and evidently I was smiling. I should hope so, I would hate to have scowled at my saviours. They towed the dinghy to the dock in town and I jumped off. A boat there helped me empty the water and I left the dinghy on the dock, hoping the people on the boat will be able to tow it back as they should be coming to Varadero, but it is too windy at the moment. One of the passengers on the submarine had a hire car and offered me a lift home. I took the outboard with me, because if I did not rinse it immediately it would be a problem.
I had hung on to everything until the rescue, when I lost the seat and the shopping bag where I had put my shoes. I could not find the key to the boat, but could get in and did find a spare key to the padlock indoors. I rinsed the motor and showered. The immigration paperwork is mush and I have asked for new copies, which will entail another trip to town, that will have to be by bus, which is a long walk, but I shall not be taking the dinghy again, if I get it back.
Aruba, not my favourite destination.