Sunday, December 20, 2009

B&C of the ABCs (2009 version)

We are playing catch-up on the blog, having reached Colon, Panama and decent wifi access.  More to come....

Curacao (October 5 - 30, 2009)
This is our second visit to Curacao having been here in December of last year, so this time 'round we have only included  pictures and descriptions of a few of the highlights. 

Had a great spinnaker day sail to Curacao from Bonaire, with a short lunch stop at Klein Curacao. We were the only ones on the island, which on weekends becomes crowded with day trippers from Curacao

 Abandoned lighthouse on Klein Curacao. Note superstructure of wrecked ship in background, not to mention the peculiar profile of the lighthouse...

In late afternoon we entered the Spanish Water anchorage on the main island.  Spanish Water is a large (1km x 3km) body of water with many small bays and inlets. Except for the single, winding entrance, it is completely landlocked.  This makes for a well protected anchorage but with up to 200 boats and quite a bit of development on the shore, the water is not conducive to swimming, though some do and seem to survive. 

On Tuesdays and Thursdays there is a Happy Hour at the local sailing club. Lots of locals show up, as well as cruisers making for a real cosmopolitan mix. All nationalities, all ages, all budgets – all having fun. We would find ourselves in a group with people from Italy, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, France.  All speaking English so we can participate in the conversation – impressive and much appreciated by us.  Meeting such a variety of interesting people from all over the world, many of whom have become good friends, is one the best aspects of this cruising lifestyle.

We also had a couple of great evenings with Baros (one especially, with their friends from Holland, where once again, the support posts for our arch were irresistible for incorporation in several dance routines). 

 ABBA reunion on Idyll Island.  Who woulda thought..?

Another highlight of our time in Curacao was a hike to the summit of Kristoffel Mountain, the tallest peak on the island.  A couple of local boaters provided their cars and 9 of us set off at dawn for the 90 minute drive to the other end the island, so we could do the hike in the “cool” of the morning.  It was 8:00 before we got on the trail which started slowly but ended 2 hours later in a near vertical rock scramble to the top, the temperature by that time in the low 30s.  All of us boat people, most of whom don’t get much walking exercise, made it.  The view was great and thankfully the breeze was cool. Once back in the cars we headed for a beach where we refreshed ourselves with beer and swims.

 A short rest at base camp before tackling the summit.

We made it!

The team at the top.  Great view of Curacao.

In Curacao, Derek embarked on a quest for the best kabritu stoba (goat stew), sampling  from many of the local vendors.  The stand at the main bus terminal in Willemstad made a terrific stoba but lost points for lack of ambience, being served through an iron grating, while standing on the sidewalk.  We also took advantage of the excellent and inexpensive medical services on Curacao to have our spots checked, essential when living outside in the sun. We each had a bit or two removed, but nothing of serious concern. 

Once the boat was provisioned with beer, wine, cheese, chocolate and a few other less essential items, we were ready for the next weather window to leave Curacao bound for Cartagena, via the coast of Colombia.  Our first stop though, was peaceful Santa Kruz Bay just along the coast of Curacao, where we spent several hours scrubbing off the hundreds of barnacles that had grown on our hull in the nutrient rich Spanish Waters.

Iguana Soup and Goat Stew
Our stay in Bonaire this year (August 25 - October 5), included Bonaire Day, celebrated in the small town of Rincon just outside the Washington Slagbaai Park.  We decided to make a day of it with Randy and Lynn, so rented a car and left the boats early.   We drove the winding coast road north and entered the park soon after it opened.  We had been here several times last year, so hit the highlights and finished up with a couple of cold ones on the beach at SlagBaai. We left the park just after noon and headed for the celebrations in Rincon. We had been assured that there would be lots of music and food.  We found both, in a hot, small town way.  The highlight for Derek was trying the Kabritu Stoba (aka goat stew), and the iguana (aka Bonaire chicken) soup.  Both were good, the goat very flavourful but bony and the iguana tasted better than they look!

While in Bonaire, we also met up with our friends, Linda and Hans aboard Baros.  Together with Randy and Lynn we all had several great evenings, on board one or other of our boats or ashore at BobbyJans for ribs or Karel’s or Rumrunners for happy hours.  Rumrunner Mondays became a bit of a tradition. We would go and snorkel right in front of the resort where there are massive schools of silversides (silvery little baitfish), with many larger fish zooming around looking for dinner. Swimming into the millions of silversides and having them close around you in a shimmering cloud was very cool. Coming face to face with a 5’ tarpon doing the same thing, provided added excitement!  Just above us on the lava cliff, the iguanas would be soaking up the last of the day’s heat. It seems that they consider some spots more desirable than others and we watched as two of these large lizards (3’+), battled each other, with the loser finally being thrown off the rocks to land in the water (with us) 6’ below! After all this excitement we would shower off at the Rumrunners dock and then go up to the bar for their free rum punch Happy Hour.  Thanks to Rumrunners for making us scruffy cruisers feel welcome!  A regular at the Happy Hour was Cap’n Don, the driving force behind protecting Bonaire’s underwater world starting 40 years ago and with his foresight establishing it as the diving mecca it has become.  Cathy had several good conversations with Don about what life was like on Bonaire, “back in the day”.  Thanks to Don and many others, Bonaire’s coral reefs and fish life, though not what they once were, are the best we have seen in the Caribbean, including Los Roques, Las Aves, and the San Blas.

Good as life is in Bonaire, it was time to move along, so we said so long to friends and set sail for Curacao, the next of the ABC islands (should be ACB) to the west.