Saturday, March 04, 2006

Hauled out in Curacao

Aaaaah.....another day, another courtesy flag. Our day sail from Bonaire to Curacao last week was swift and straightforward although we were both a little nervous about no longer having the emotional crutch of the pilot guide - we looked in vain for one of this area but no joy - just the electronic charts and good old eyeball navigation. So we motored gingerly into Spanish Water on Curacao's west side. It was quite busy and very, very windy which made anchoring a challenge. In fact, the 'anchor waltz' went on for quite a while and involved a couple of near-misses but it was all good experience! On entering the anchorage, we noticed 'Shoestring' whom we had briefly met in Los Rochas when the skipper, Peter, had sailed past just as I was hauling up the anchor. Judging by the comments he shouted across the water, he was pretty impressed and obviously unaware that it was my first (and possibly last) time at raising it (it's a manual windlass and the anchor's REALLY heavy not to mention the chain!) So on arrival in Spanish Water, Peter once again yelled across to us, this time to impart the crucial news that Happy Hour at the bar was in half an hour and he'd pick us up in his dinghy. He was punctual and what with the extended 'anchor waltz', we were only just ready when he arrived. Happy Hour was happy and we met more Spanish Water residents and Peter mentioned my anchor hauling more than once, which was nice. Nick seemed to be a bit peeved but then I realised he's been doing it for months and no-one's commented on his technique! Sexism is alive and thriving on the high seas! We checked into Curacao the next day and had the opportunity to see a little of the capital, Willemstad. One great feature is the floating market which is made up of Venezuelan boats which bring their goods over to sell. We had a bit of a passion fruit fest - they're so delicious! We learned also that the carnival was this weekend so we spent Saturday afternoon sitting on the river bank enjoying the festivities.

Our main aim while in Curacao is to have Kika taken out of the water to clean and paint the hull. We also intend to insert a new, bigger through-hull for the sink in order to accommodate the needs of our new, 'intelligent' fridge which, once it's installed will be very exciting for the simple reasons that we can have cold drinks and enjoy butter in solid form again. Our old fridge works but it is air cooled and as a result, makes it very hot inside the cabin. It's also quite old and the insulation level is for England and not the tropics. The new fridge is water cooled which means the heat from the fridge will be transferred into the sea beneath us rather than the air around us. It is 'intelligent' in its use of power because it can sense how full the batteries are and if there is enough power, it can give itself a cooling boost in preparation for when the amps might not be so abundant. Well, Kika is now on the hard in Curacao Marina and things are going nicely. Her hull didn't have too much growth but has now been cleaned and sanded in preparation for painting, and the existing through-hull is ready for surgery tomorrow.

We have had to raise Kika's waterline at the stern as she had so much growth on the gel-coat (the part that's supposed to be out of the water) which obviously wasn't good. We are trying to think why we are stern heavy and can only conclude it's nothing to do with us but is, in fact the fault of George, our very heavy wind-vane (poor George takes the blame for a lot of things!) Mind you, Nick's trumpet is also kept in the stern and I'm sure that doesn't help!

Seeing Kika out of the water is both thrilling and interesting. It was the first time for me, and I am very reassured by her long keel and smooth hull. It is also another opportunity to learn about the boat's nature and systems.

There are times when I think I have learned a vast amount about cruising and all it involves, and may even be able to hold my own in a conversation between the shelves in the chandlery, but then something happens, someone mentions something, and I'm forced to admit I still have so much to learn. Sometimes, just a comment from a seasoned sailor (let's call him Nick) can leave me completely baffled and shocked by my ignorance. This was the case with the 'sacrificial anode' conversation we had way back, but even this was eclipsed by the 'transjuicer' (ed: transducer) that he just dropped into the conversation yesterday. Never in my life have I heard of a 'transjuicer'! Sounds like a weapon from Star Wars - he's making it up! But no, it is real and it is on the bottom of our boat, always has been, I just knew it by it's common or garden name of 'the echo sounder'. Sometimes I think Nick holds back snippets of knowledge so that he can drip-feed them to me in order to keep me interested and amazed by his sheer cleverness! Anyway, if you don't know it, I shan't bore you with the whole meaning of 'transjuicer' save to say it's not as interesting as 'sacrificial anode' (I love that one).

Friday now and Kika's hull has a new coat of anti-fouling and a new through-hull for the fridge.

Installing the new cool plate and compressor will take some time and we shall be busy this weekend with this and also finishing the painting and cleaning the gel-coat. We hope to leave for the San Blas islands on Monday. Meanwhile, we are both quite excited because tomorrow we are going to see..........a band. Some cruising friends (Astrid and Jasper on Antares) have friends here in Curacao, and have invited us for a night out on the town.

We have a very active social life on Kika, but it's usually centred around the boats or in the anchorage bar. This is going to be a proper night out with best clothes and everything because it doesn't involve a wet dinghy ride there and back to shore! Small pleasures!


crabbydad said...

Stumbled upon your blog as I was clicking through the blogger sites. What an adventure you're on. I have decided to spend the rest of my unforgiving Michigan winter traveling vicariously on your boat with you. Thanks, and pass the sunscreen.

roland67 said...


I love reading your blog, brings some lovely sunshine and warmth to cold old London.

Cheers Roland (Dunn, ex-NYKRIS, etc ....)

Farmer said...

Hey Nick & Ellen

Most of my clients have their dodgy businesses registered in Curacao or Antilles. Look out for gambling execs with briefcases - and pass on my details!