Klein Curaçao to Bonaire

After I had arrived and moored on Klein Curaçao I was dog tired. Took a little nap and after that I peddled to shore for a quick tour of the island. There isn’t much to it, the whole island is pretty much barren, with a few fisherman’s huts and a few beach huts. And the deserted lighthouse, which has been taken over by the lizards. On the windward (east) side of the island there are two wrecks: an old steel boat and a huge fiberglass ketch. They are continuously being pounded by the waves crashing into the koral and rock.

After a good nights sleep I went about repairing the main sail on Saturday. Their was a reep right along the leech of about 25cm. Applying some of the tricks I copycatted from some other sailors: pre-punching the holes with small hammer, nail and a wooden board behind it. Then it makes the sowing itself almost effortless, the needle and thread go through the holes without needing any extra tools. Now that I have sailed another 300 miles with it, I think it is holding up very well.

I was not able to get any updated local weather reports (the radio stations weather forecast is so generic: really not usefull for a sailors needs) so I had to go by my own judgement. It appeared that the wind was decreasing a little bit, on Sunday morning I went back and forth between deciding to stay or go. Until I decided to go for it, just since the weather forecast (from a few days back) had lighter winds for Sunday than Monday.

Leaving the mooring was easy, and the sails were up quickly. Having learned from the last trips, I had decided to choose an easier option: use less sail than I normally would and run the engine for extra speed. The first few miles behind the island were an awesome sail, but once rounding the north point it was waves and current into the face, like expected.

This was my first ever real motor-sail. But I think it was the right thing. I would point the boat into the wind under the same angle when just sailing (which gives the boat its usual heel and forward motion on the sails). Then I would use the engine power to increase the boats speed to about 6 knots through the water (which effectively was between 4 and 5 knots over ground). This way you get the relative comfort of sailing (as sailboat on just the motor does not give a very pleasant motion at all) but an improved speed. The speed improvement pays of on not being set aside as much, thus needing less tacks to cover the distance. Once I reached the north point of Bonaire I changed tack, aiming south, which is straight into the waves. This pattern is the same on all of the ABC islands, the waves run parallel to the islands, not necessary the same direction as the wind. This gives one easy tack (the eastbound one) and a bumpy tack (south bound). After one more tack I came out west of Klein Bonaire (Bonaire’s satellite). Decided to go north around the island, which gave me a beautiful flat sea. Finally some real sailing, kept the motor running (not to upset the luck: once turning it off for half an hour, will it start again?) almost stationary. Real good sailing into Kralendijk.

Around all of Bonaire it is natural park where no anchoring is allowed, therefore you have to use a mooring ball. I found a gap where there were two unused balls back to back, that would give me a little more room if I would fail to pick up the ball (not immediately being pushed into the boat behind you). Motored to the ball, actually the came in pairs, with nice tether lines. Maybe this was going to be relatively easy. And… managed to pick up the tether and pull my line through it on the first attempt. When hooking up the second one I did manage to get my boat hook stuck again, but since the first line was already attached I could simple jump into the water (which was beautifully blue and clear) and resolve the problem.

Then I launched the kayak, informed at my neighbor about the location of customs and immigration and went over there. Customs was pretty easy, immigration was closed (Sunday afternoon) but I got checked in at the police station instead.

On the way back I stopped for a drink and watched the final of the Copa Americana (South American football championship) between Argentina and Brasil. Argentina was favorite (since Brasil had come with a very young team without their top stars). But Brasil got an early lead, just before half time they scored again (well not really, was an own goal by an Argentinian defender) and the game was decided.

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