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Puerto Rico to Aruba Passage Oct 5-16, 2012

Dolphins off the bow

Passage to Bonaire:  total trip 385 nm (but 525 on the knot meter due to almost 2 kts unfavorable current the entire way) took 72 hours mooring to mooring.

Happily under way

10/5 Left palmas at 5pm on Friday.  Getting the kinks out after a month at the dock took us awhile.  We got the sail up and fenders stowed and fishing line ready.  Had a decent downwind sail at about 6kts 150 degrees off the wind.
Wind died around 10pm and we started the engine.  I’m doing the 4-7 am shift (my favorite).  Saw nothing during my watch, just motoring along.

Did I mention that Cliff came back?  It is great to have him.  He spent the first day in the hospital with extreme dehydration getting IVs of saline, but he’s been his old self the rest of the time.

Cliff on arrival in Puerto Rico

Cliff after 48 hours with us!


10/6 still motoring at 2200 rpm and although we’re pushing 7-plus knots through the water, we’re fighting a current because we barely make 6 over the ground.
The sea looks like wide-wale corduroy with just enough breeze to keep the sails from flapping.  Sun is coming up soon. Hasn’t broken the surface yet but the horizon is turning yellow.  It is 5:50 am and the sky is yellow and pink.  When the sun finally does come up, it is too bright to look at even for one second.

At 1pm we stopped in the middle of the Caribbean Sea for a swim.  The water  was 14,409 feet deep and the prisms of light shone down forever.  16.16 north and 66.20 west about 100 miles south of Puerto Rico.

After motoring for almost 24 hours with 2 kts of wind, the weather gods deigned to bestow a breeze upon us.  It’s 4 am and the half moon is directly overhead as Sinan glides through the still flat seas with a fresh breeze on our port.  Nothing on the horizon.
Earlier today, around 2 pm we got hit by a squall.  It would’ve been a non-event except that the jib sheets were flailing so briskly that they snapped the dodger out of place and tore along one seam.  The sheets also popped a cotter pin off the lifelines and then the foot of the mainsail slipped from its track.  We all got soaked but the rain felt refreshing, especially since we hadn’t had an opportunity to swim today.
Well, other than that, the weather has been fine, and the seas delightfully calm.  Tonight we played 20 questions with food and animals and Cliff joined in.  He stumped us with an anteater.  It was fun though, having someone else join us.


I’m physically exhausted from this trip. Just being hot and sweaty all the time.  I had really grown accustomed to life at the dock.  We caught a beautiful mahi but after we stabbed it, it jumped overboard.  Of course we felt bad about mortally wounding an animal and then not eating it, but we’re certain some other fish made a good meal of it.
Tonight two tankers passed us.  One was bout 8 miles behind us crossing our stern headed east, and the other crossed our bow 5 miles ahead headed west.  I tried to hail one on the radio to no avail.  We are pretty far south, but not as much as union island.

Ej made delicious chili for dinner tonight, because I really needed a respite from all the cooking.

10/8 arrived Bonaire around 6 pm.  What a comfortable place to arrive after dark.  The only town with moorings is on the lee side of a boomeranged with another small cay protecting it from the west.  The water is perfectly clear like glass with the lightest turquoise hue, since the coral bottom reflects most of the light.  The water is About 200 feet deep until within 75 feet of shore with a line of 40-50 moorings along the shore.
In the morning on 10/9 we awoke to announcements in Spanish for the annual sailing regatta.  We had settled right off the race house and in line with the windward mark.  It was very exciting, but we were soon asked to relocate to another mooring.
Town runs for a mile along the shore from the marina  (booked solid) to the southern pier where there are food kiosks from each of the island’s 20 restaurants.

First place?
Bonaire Regatta

Unfortunately, the island is ungodly hot.  By 10 am it was 92 degrees in the shade of the bimini  on the water.  With the breeze in the shade it is just bearable, but the sun scorches relentlessly.
10/10 ej and I went out to dinner, our 19th anniversary.  It was our first real date in a year.  After exploring every restaurant in Bonaire we decided on Chinese food: it was the only place with air conditioning.
We wound up staying 4 nights in Bonaire.  Kids wound up having impetigo from the heat and our friends back in Palmas.  We all almost drowned in our own juices it was so insanely hot the whole time.  Under the bimini from 10-2 every day and then in the water at all other times.

Our mooring was right outside of town so an easy 40 foot dinghy ride brought us ashore to food stands, and regatta festivities.  The coolest activity for the children was going on the movie bus.  There was an old academy bus with air conditioning that played “ice age 3” in 3-d and just sat  in town.  They went with Cliff the night of our anniversary.

Cakewalk 45 mile sail into Curaçao arrived around 7 pm and anchored in Foik Bay which is like an old phosphate quarry.  It was beautiful, empty and industrial all at the same time.  The water was full of bioluminescence that lit our hull.
Early Saturday morning October 13, we moved to Spanish Waters.  This is a large inland lagoon with a long winding entrance and lots of nooks and crannies to anchor it.  The entrance is very tricky with several clumps of coral.  A local dive boat pulled up near us to help guide us in and make certain nobody destroys the reefs.
Here’s a home in Spanish Waters, obviously built around the volcanic protrusions.  They were everywhere, but this was one of the only homes that really used them in their landscaping.
We tried desperately to find a dock so we would have air conditioning, but no spaces were available.Cliff actually had a web-friend, Anya, who came to meet up with us.  She was very gregarious, direct, six foot tall Dutch grandma.  She and her boyfriend Ben are leaving to sail around the world on Nov 5, so we were fortunate to catch them.  We had a good happy hour talking tales of the sea.
On Sunday, desperate for a/c more than anything, we rented a car. Hallelujah!  The town of Williamstad is a UNESCO world heritage site with charming Dutch houses painted bright hues of blue, red and yellow.  We walked around town a bit, where there is a big swing bridge that opens once an hour.

Canal Houses WilliamstadWe also toured the Hato caves.  Three miles outside of the airport are these caves with wall carvings from Taino Indians.  They were at once below sea level because there was coral turned into walls and seashell fossils.  Now they sit about 500 feet above sea level in the side of a hill.

Aruba 10/16 –

Finally left for Aruba 75 miles upwind.  Dead calm again.  Lot’s of motoring.  Pulled into Rodgers Lagoon just after sunset.  Not a difficult entry, but intimidating with a NJ-like factory (oil refinery) on one side of the channel and submerged rocks on the other.  Pitch black except for the refinery, and some car headlights shining into our eyes from the causeway on the breakwater.
Sweated through another hot night interrupted by frequent drizzles.  Of course, just enough rain that we had to close the hatches and eliminate any fresh air.  Got up and left with the sun around 7am.  Next stop: Colombia.


Leave a Comment
  1. Marion Gropen / Oct 26 2012 11:22 pm

    Hmm, sounds like summer in NOLA (New Orleans, LA — as the natives call it). I would find it very hard to bear, unless I could rig the windscoops, or use the A/C.


  1. Arrived South America – Oct 19, 2012 « nauticalmom

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