Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Blue Curacao      -----     Netherlands Antilles   June thru August, 2012

How to begin about Curacao?  We sailed from Bonaire, an easy day’s sail with wind and 2kt current sweeping us along to Curacao where Di had to fly out after only two days. Originally we bypassed Spanish Waters and Willemstad to Piskadera bay, having checked out the website for Royal Marine. It looked like the Hilton and had slips available, with power and water too!  Well, after running aground in the first slip and banging on a sunken refrigerator all night in the second slip, and  with nothing present resembling the “glamor photos” on the website, we moved the boat down to Spanish Waters to anchor  amid the mainstream cruising community.

The island of Curacao is quite a bit larger than neighboring Bonaire, and became the center of activity for the Dutch East India Company in the late 17th century. The Company, and subsequently the island grew wealthy on trading European merchandise and African slaves to the New World, and the elegant Dutch colonial architecture and massive forts reflect the prominence and prosperity of the island during that time.


  The landscape however, is much the same as Bonaire, with dry, thorny vegetation and forbidding rocky terrain, limiting agriculture mainly to aloe and small truck farms. 

 A minor agricultural product of Curacao is the bitter orange, descended from Valencia oranges introduced by the Spanish. While these small fruits are bitter and unpalatable eaten raw, when dried the rind becomes sweet and highly aromatic and is used to flavor the famous Blue Curacao orange liqueur. Most people know more about the liqueur than the island!

 Sinbad anchored in Spanish waters in mid-June, and Randy was captain of his own ship for two weeks. Di returned, and six days later Randy flew to Michigan for his first trip back, leaving Di as captain for two weeks more. While apart, we both made new friends, and completed projects.  We enjoyed our time apart as well as together.

Cruiser potluck
The highlight of our experience in Curacao has been the friendly cruising community which has formed here.  There are four areas in the anchorage; we are anchored in the outer corner closest to the fairway in Anchorage A , which is nearest to the dinghy dock and Norman’s Bar and Grill at Fisherman’s Harbour.  Norman’s is the center of cruiser social life, with happy hours on Tuesdays and Fridays, when there’s live local music and a friendly crowd of locals as well as sailors.  Cruisers whom we met in Bonaire-- German/Swiss Rolf and Claude on SV Tika, Earl and Sue from Florida on SV My Bonnie, Swiss friends Phillipe and Sandra on SV Ulani, and American/British friends Heather and Pip aboard SV Picaroon,and lately Americans Jackson and Rico from SV Apparition rejoined to become our core group of friends with whom we have weekly extracurricular activities of hiking, dominoes, potlucks and yoga sessions.

Hiking with cruiser friends
Rolf's birthday dinner
At the ostrich farm

 These have made our time in Spanish Harbor more fun. In addition, we’ve gone to different restaurants, visited the ostrich farm, and explored Willemstad with these lively and interesting people.  There are only about five American boats here; the rest are European, with Dutch, Germans, Austrians, with a handful of Spaniards, French, Belgians and a few Brits comprising the majority of the ~150 boats here.

 Thursday Dominos!
Services here make living at anchor as convenient as possible.  Inexpensive city buses run every 1 ½ hours or so along routes into Willemstad and on to the northern end of the island, and Vreugdenhil’s Supermarket sends a large passenger van daily to take cruisers grocery shopping, sometimes filling ~30 person van to capacity. 

On the bus to the grocery store
 Near the supermarket are two marine stores, the Laundromat, auto parts stores, pharmacy and medical offices.  Di even found a decent chiropractor when her back went badly awry.  And the bus returns us to Norman’s where cold beverages and our dinghies await at a secured dinghy dock.  Norman also provides a shelf for books which cruisers love to swap. The wind here in the earlier weeks was quite brisk, making sleeping and living more comfortable. As summer progresses, the wind has fallen off at night, and we wake sweating and uncomfortable sometimes.  Tropical Storm Ernesto was watched with interest by the cruisers, but in the end it passes well north of us, stunning the wind here and producing an eerily windlass, glassy sea for a day.  We took advantage of the calm seas and dinghied outside of the harbor to a nearby dive buoy , and enjoyed the first great snorkeling since Bonaire.  We are now watching Isaac, and there will be more and more as the summer progesses and the Caribbean warms up, fueling systems blowing over in waves from the coast of Africa.

On August 18, 2011, Sinbad left her home port of Tawas Bay, Michigan to begin her voyages of discovery , challenge and new experiences.  We have passed through our first year of living aboard the boat. It has been fun, rewarding, and full of interesting, surprising and beautiful new people and places.  We have grown and learned a lot.  But the cruising life is not without difficulties. As in everyone’s life there must be give and take, negotiation and compromise to maintain and nourish a relationship.  Living aboard a 42 foot boat, one cannot just get in the car and take a drive, go shopping, to the gym or otherwise take a break from one’s partner to de-escalate tensions. We must rely entirely on one another in the absence of nearby close friends for comfort, support, perspective, and to deal with aggravations and frustrations.  The "gender gap" is real.  There is the “endless summer” party lifestyle which is loads of fun, but  can be ruinous.   The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.  What will Sinbad’s second year be like?



  1. Nathan in MichiganAugust 22, 2012 at 6:24 PM

    Most excellent! Thank you for a view into your experience. It's a joy to read and see each and every new place. We love you here at home, and all are very proud of you, too. Keep up the good work, and try to do what makes you happy & healthy. Your blog is GREAT fun for us. You are appreciated for it. Probably should be "paid", em. Meanwhile, us peeps will enjoy the adventure! Sincerely, Na & Peg & A.J.

  2. You make spending hurricane season in the ABC's a delight. We'll have to try it one of these seasons. ;-)