Curacao 2.

We arrived in Curacao during the rainy season, with the result that the rain came bucketing down for days on end, which was good for filling our water tanks, but not so good for exercise. Whenever there was a break in the rain, we bolted out on walks into the country, or to the supermarket.

Going bush – Spanish Water, on our way to the ocean beaches.

Caracas Bay on the ocean side – a cruise liner and an oil rig laid up due to Covid.

Papagayo Beach with mostly Dutch tourists.

In between, we did work on the boat or had other cruisers over for drinks. Ed and Natalie from Montreal in Canada took us along in their car to do shopping, so we reciprocated with a dinner at Taboosh, a restaurant on the Spanish Water with local cuisine.

Dirk, Ed, Natalie & Annie at Taboosh.

The bus service into town gave us the opportunity to explore the towns of Punda and Otrabanda on opposite sides of the canal into Willemstad. On the Otrabanda side is the fantastic Kura Hulanda Museum, which is part of the urban renewal project which the Dutch entrepreneur and philanthropist, Jacob Dekker funded to the tune of many millions of dollars. Curacao was the centre of the slave trade in years past and the museum is a stark reminder of the terrible fate that befell these people from Africa. The museum has a valuable collection of African art which Dekker assembled over many years. Born in 1948, he sadly passed away a year ago from cancer at the age of 71.

Entrance to the museum.

A bust of Jacob Dekker.

“Mama Africa” sculpture in the museum courtyard, highlighting the origins of the slaves.

Started by the Portuguese in 1526, the current estimates are that about 12 million to 12.8 million Africans were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean over a span of 400 years. The number purchased by the traders was considerably higher, as the passage had a high death rate with approximately 1.2–2.4 million dying during the voyage and millions more died in seasoning camps in the Caribbean after arrival to the New World.

Millions of slaves also died as a result of slave raids and during transport to the African coast for sale to European slave traders. Near the beginning of the 19th century, various governments acted to ban the trade, although illegal smuggling still occurred. In the early 21st century, several governments issued apologies for the transatlantic slave trade. (Source: Wikipedia)

Model of a slave trading ship. In the holds of these ships, the slaves in chains, were crammed like sardines .

Sad!

Venice also has something to answer for it’s North African slave trading history.

Slave girls – I have only included photos of the less shocking exhibits in the museum.

Mural depicting slaves at work in the Caribbean.

Exit of the slave museum – Annie looking back, gobsmacked.

End of a sad chapter – celebrating the emancipation of the slaves in Curacao by King Willem III of the Netherlands.

The photos following, are of the redeveloped urban area in Kura Hulanda – with lots of public art around.

 

 

Cooling off with iced cappuccinos.

Dekker’s extensive African art collection.

Walking back to Punda.

Punda, which we explored on the other side of the canal, is a living and very colourful street art gallery, with artistic surprises around every corner. We enjoyed this so much, we went back two days later to explore the area further. Below, follows some photos of the street art, which don’t need further explanation.

We thought this building was a church – it is the Public Prosecutor’s office!

The Christmas decorations are coming out.

A Chichi Santa with reindeer.

Last night, we had cruisers from Australia and New Zealand around for drinks, all of us waiting for the Colombian border to open on the 1st December (hopefully). Like us, these boats, Merewether and Wild Thing are also planning to transit the Panama canal early in the new year, to start their Pacific crossing. We are all waiting with bated breath. We will report back early in December on our next move, so until then, keep safe and wear your masks.

Curacao

Caribbean Route.

Note: If the map on the email version you have received is not clear, click on the map to enlarge it.

The route from Grenada to Curacao has two potential dangers: 1. Piracy off the North coast of Venezuela, which evidently, is worse than the piracy which we had expected off the Somali coast in the Gulf of Aden – so, we sail well offshore from the Venezuelan Islands of Blanquila and Los Rogues! 2. Strong easterly winds, which build up towards the Gulf of Mexico, after their long journey across the Atlantic.

The Predictwind Offshore service which we are subscribed to, indicated a favourable four day weather window starting on the 7 th November 2020. The expected wind strength for the 440 nm (815 km) distance was around a 15 knot Easterly with swells of 1 – 2 metres. Ideal for Esprit with a poled out jib and full main, going dead downwind. We set sail from St George’s in Grenada on the 7th at 15:00.

To remind us of the high rainfall in Grenada and as a farewell present, we were hit by a severe squall with torrential rain, two miles offshore. After this, Harry the Hydrovane took control and we were sailing downwind at 9 – 11 knots SOG (Speed Over Ground). With no further rain and  a consistent wind, we had a wonderful trip downwind for the next two days.

Harry the Hydrovane.

The prediction for day 3.

Weather, according to MetBob in New Zealand (Bob McDavitt), is a mix of pattern and chaos. It therefore comes as no surprise, when the wind suddenly dies down on day three, despite the predictions. We had to start the Yanmar engine and motor for the last 30 hours, before anchoring in Curacao – averaging 6.1 knots over the total distance. As passages go, this one was both good and frustrating.

Although Bonaire is the first island in the Netherlands Antilles to be reached, sailing from Grenada, we passed it by as Bonaire required 14 days quarantine on arrival. It is a small island, but has good diving.

Approaching Bonaire.

The southern tip of Bonaire.

Day 3: Annie catches a good sized Dorado (Mahi Mahi) with her new pink lure.

Approaching Curacao – huge Cumulus clouds.

South of Willemstad the capital of Curaçao, is a substantial body of sheltered inland water called Spaanse Water (Spanish Water), accessed by a narrow channel. Yachts anchor here in five designated bays during the hurricane season. Although we have now reached the end of this season, there are still many permanent boats anchored here, mostly from the USA, Canada and SA, who uses the bays as a base to cruise the region.

Spanish Water.

You can’t blame these cruisers, as the island (a self governing province of the Netherlands), is well developed with modern infrastructure and services, but more European than the islands of the Windward and Leeward Islands. The Island was settled by the Dutch around the same time in the 1600’s as Cape Town in SA, so architecturally the Dutch Colonial style buildings with the Amsterdam gables are similar, but more colourful in Curacao. Because it is a world heritage site, modern buildings have to conform in a stylised fashion.

Dutch gables.

The 1888 Queen Emma floating bridge busy closing.

Almost closed.

The pedestrians walk over.

The official language is Dutch, but culturally, the island has many influences such as Spanish, Portuguese, French, Afro-Caribbean, Latin American, Asian and Jewish. English is widely spoken, but the native tongue is Creole of Portuguese descent.

The high Queen Juliana bridge.

Colourful buildings on the dockside.

Lots of public art.

On a street corner.

The morning after our arrival, we took a bus into Willemstad and walked for miles to check in with Customs, Immigration and the Port Authority, staffed by friendly and efficient people, all apologising for the fact that the offices are situated so far apart. In the evening we had Ed and Natalie on “SV Safari” from Canada over for drinks – they had helped us in the morning with information on how to get around. They have a beautifully restored Morgan monohull and two dogs.

Ed and Natalie have a car and they invited us along on their weekly shopping trip to the supermarkets two days later. The supermarkets are well stocked with fantastic cheeses and cheap Amstel beer. The selection of fresh fruit and veg is of good quality and reasonably priced. We look forward to exploring Curacao further, until the end of November, but in the meantime, we conclude with a few photos around the Spanish Water.

Fisherman’s harbour housing, next to which we tie our dinghy up at the dock.

A holiday resort opposite Fisherman’s harbour.

A colourful house next to our anchorage – the voluptuous lady is a statue!

A lot of houses have these grass covered gazebos.

Curacao Yacht Club.

 

Grenada 2.

As we approach the end of October, we are still in Grenada, trying to get permission to sail to the ABC Islands (the former Dutch colonies of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) north of Venezuela. To our south, Trinidad is still closed. The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly messed up our plans, which at this point, should have seen us returning to Trinidad to launch Esprit back in the water, after touring Cuba, the Aztec sites of south Mexico and Guatemala.

Still in Grenada.

We will visit those countries from Australia, when the Covid thing settles down – hopefully in about 2-3 years time. The music of the “Buena Vista Social Club” from Cuba has to suffice for the moment, despite Ben from Vermont SA, dismissing them as “old chestnuts” (“old chestnut” actually means, a stale joke, story or saying).

In the meantime our social life here in Grenada carries on unabated, with music evenings, walks, lunches and drinks with friends.

At the music jam: Richard serenading his wife on her birthday.

The coup de grace: a flame thrower birthday cake.

Last night, the 26th October, we were on our way to the Cruiser’s Reef Bar in Clarks Court to listen and dance to the “Leaky Seacocks”, but on the way there, we had to turn the dinghy around, when a heavy rain squall hit us. We got drenched on the way back and were just in time to take down all the canvas shade covers, before a massive storm with gusty winds hit Esprit a half an hour later.

Fortunately, the“Leaky Seacocks” (Granada’s “premier” rock and roll band) will be on at Roger’s Barefoot Beach Bar on Sunday arvo, with “Bilge water” as the support act. We will try to get there after brunch at the West Indies Brewery.

The West Indies Brewery is becoming a habit – Jan, Noel, Ceu, Annie and Jane.

News update: Great arvo with the Seacocks but Bilge water was a bit of a disappointment – an ocker Aussie bloke reciting a Banjo Paterson’s poem “Clancy of the Overflow” (1889) to a puzzled crowd, before launching into the worst rendition ever of “Beds are Burning” by Midnight Oil. The Oils Peter Garrett will be in tears.

The Leaky Seacocks.

The dancers.

Bill (80 year old Aussie solo sailor) is a faster beer drinker than me.

Aargh! His bed is burning.

We rented a car for three days to explore the island. Our route took us up the east coast to visit Grenville, the Belmont Estate and the river Antoine Rum Distillery. We stopped in Sauteurs at the north of the island for lunch, before driving down the west coast to Gouyave, and turning inland to see some waterfalls and Grand Etang Lake. We managed to climb up to Fort George in St George’s, visit two museums and do shopping.

Church in Grenville.

Belmont Estate.

Annie and Kelly pointing out the cocoa fruits.

The east coast of Grenada – battered by the easterly winds.

Buying fruit and veg next to the road.

Downtown St George’s.

Walking up to Fort George.

Old gun emplacements at the top.

View down to Port Louis Marina.

On the 31st October we sailed from Secret Harbour to St George’s to meet up with some friends at the Victory Bar in Port Louis marina. Saturday night is their music night and we enjoyed good music and good food.

A great duo – this young guy on steel drum and the lady called “The Voice”

During our Sunday morning walk along Grande Anse beach, it started raining and continued bucketing down through the afternoon and night. The next morning we set sail for Carriacou Island, (Part of Grenada, about 30 nm to the North) and anchored halfway there at Corn Store Bay on Ronde Island. The next day we had a wet sail in a howling wind and anchored in Tyrell Bay in the south of Carriacou.

Grande Anse beach before the rain deluge.

Tyrrel Bay offered us the opportunity to explore the town and get rid of our trash, before we sailed to Anse La Roche for lunch the next day. We anchored overnight in Hillsborough, the main town and had our hair cut the next day. On the way back to Tyrrel Bay, we stopped for lunch at Paradise Beach, opposite Sandy Island.

Beautiful Anse La Roche bay with Tim’s beach bar.

Hillsborough jetty.

Hillsborough town.

Paradise Beach.

Sandy Island.

Armin Stauch, a fellow sailor who kindly included a part for us in his order from the US, sent us a text to say our new Suzuki outboard propellor had arrived in St George’s. So, on Friday the 6th November we sailed back to Grenada to collect the prop and checked out with Customs on Saturday morning. We will set sail for Curacao at 4pm this arvo for the two day and 14 hour crossing – looking forward to do some distance again. We will update you on the ABC islands in our next post. Stay safe and be happy!

Tyrrel Bay: Machineel tree warning – seen all over the Caribbean.

Tyrrel Bay: A design from Popular Mechanics.

Finally, some news from our girls: Karen, with her punishing hours as an orthopaedic surgery registrar, still finds time to do a masters degree in surgical education. With her colleague Sav, they have become published authors. Michelle, seems to have found a work/play balance, and have climbed Rabual volcano in PNG with some friends.

Work: A food security advisor and a gender advisor walk miles in the rain and mud through remote Western Province PNG wondering where this job will take them next.

Play: Michelle at Kokopo island, with Rabual volcano in the background.