Even in Curacao they know about Saint Nicholas
I know. It has been a while. But it was a busy time and also one of hard decision making. Ellen and I experienced that long distances is a big handicap in seeing each other. So I decided to go back to Europe. A long trip, but rewarding.
But first things first. Now, after visiting NL for a couple of months, I am back in Curacao. The best next step will be St Maarten. An island split in two. A Dutch and a French part. It should be a good place for provisioning. The only drawback. The wind direction is bad when sailing from Curacao. Straight into the wind. So that will be a detour. It could be easily nine days before arriving.
I bought myself a guitar. I did receive it as a present from my parents in law. A piano on board is a lot of hassle. I brought the piano back to NL. Now Ellen is using it as a site table. But, dear, as soon as I am in NL again, it will be a piano again. Still my favorite instrument.
A friend, Marius, would like to visit and do the trip with me. He has some experience in sailing overnight. And besides that. I like his company. So I had to wait for his arrival. It should be two weeks.
Not really a problem, since I like it here and need to do some work on the boat. Sometimes the Ellena looks more like a workshop.
Marius came over. Since there are no buses from the airport I did arrange a minibus for him to come to my place.
We stayed for another couple of days for provisioning and sight seeing. He took a surfing lesson. Not bad at all for your first time!
We decided to first stop at ‘Klein Curacao’. A nice little island and good anchorage where we could test the sails, etc. Still not a wind I would prefer. A bit strong, but it should give us a nice direction. At start this was indeed the case, but later on there was a bit of a shift and we could only head for Puerto Rico. Hmmm. Not ideal but doable.
The wind picked up quite strong. The waves came up to 5 meter, but I really enjoyed the Ellena. She went at times 10 kts and at times just dancing over the waves. But . . .
We also encountered a lot of bad luck. In short. My solar panel broke due to a rope that snapped, lost my anchor, leakage of one of the hatches caused my fridge to stop, a sail batten failed and more.
No fridge and a sail handicap is unfortunate.
We managed to reorganize our eating in a way we did not need to throw away anything. So cooking in advance for a couple of days was out of the question. But Marius took care of that.
The sailing was harder since the boat in this condition, could not point enough into the wind. For Marius it was a bit too much and he expressed his wish to leave more early. Well Puerto Rico is US and we don’t have a visa for that. We stayed, illegally, overnight in a bay though to get some rest and left the next morning. It was straight into the wind, so a lot of motoring. Best first stop would be The British Virgin Islands. After a couple of days of sailing and motoring we arrived at Road Town.
Another surprise was awaiting us. Customs accused me of smuggling a person. This because Marius entered first at customs to explore what needed to be done. Since he is not the captain I should be present too. Obviously a scam, but they where very persistent.
They Confiscated the boat and we had to pay a vine of 5.000 $US!
I mean ridiculous. We talked to other people and heard stories even worse! After some debate and a lawyer we could bring it a bit down. Although it is a scam, they have the power. I could choose to go to court, but that would take months and no boat. We stood with our backs against the wall. We raised the money, which was quite a challenge, Marius got a plane heading for Columbia and I stayed for a couple of days to repair my sail.
Pfffffff. I do not think coming here ever again! A month later the president was arrested in Miami because of a drug deal.
That says it all.
While the mainsail was repaired, the Ellena was sailing much and much better again. I had a nice trip to St Martin. I was told best to enter on the French site. No hassle and free of charge. Well I could use a simple entrance. I can tell you.
Jeroen, who guarded my boat in Curacao while I was in NL, was already here. Nice to have someone to tell my story. Lots of Dutch yachts over here. The island is nice, although I must say, Caribbean islands look very much alike. They have a special vibe. To give you an impression. I came across a music video.
When you think of Caribbean Music, you probably think Reggae. I must be honest, heard it a lot around me, but there is more. It is called Island Music. There is a sparkle of Reggae in it.
I came across this video and this is exactly what I experienced in the Carib and what I did like very much. So if you want to experience a taste of the islands, watch this:
St Martin is the French part and it is not very different from the Dutch part. You can pay in euro and the common language is French. The Dutch part is more American. You pay in dollars and the common language is English, but all speak some Dutch, also French and Spanish. Those Caribbean people are master of languages.
Now for me, it is preparing the boat, provisioning and wait for the best time window. I managed to sell my bikes and drone. I mean, I hardly used it and Jeroen pointed out several times to me. “You have too much stuff on your boat”.
The trip to Spain can take easily 4 to 6 weeks. This because there are no trade winds. So you have to puzzle the best route all the way. I discovered a nice website, https://Fastseas.com, who can send me messages to my satellite device about wind predictions. Beside that, Jeroen will also do the crossing and we can keep in contact by satellite messages.
I look forward to this trip, although there are some challenges. Spending a long time on the Ocean looks very appealing!
The Mediterranean is also a very nice sailing area, but the weather here in the Carib is unbeatable! For that I could live here.
Also some bad news came to me. Remember the guy I assisted in repairing some stuff in Grenada? He died. R.I.P. Nikolas.