Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Story of Curt and Curacao

Willamstad
From Bonaire we sailed to Curacao the day before New Years. We were met at the Customs office with snacks and alcoholic beverages to celebrate New Years - this should be the standard for welcoming boats! We enjoyed some local fried snacks and rum punches. We had a lovely lunch out in the capital, Willemstad, and watched everyone setting their fireworks off all day long (all you can see if smoke, no lights!). 


Snacks and drinks from Customs!

Out for lunch 

We went for a few nice walks and did a little snorkelling and soon realized it was more of a weekend destination as activities were slim pickings. 



Snorkelling a wreck 

Blue Lizard

We ended up spending longer than we wanted because the wind was way too strong to sail to Colombia. Thankfully our friends on Noomi arrived a few days after us so we had great company. After a couple of days exploring we started to become somewhat desperate for activities. One day we went over to Noomi’s with a bottle of brandy and busted out their sewing machine. The project was to repair one of our torn windscoops - not sure if the brandy made things better or worse as far as the sewing went but it was a fun day and killed a few hours! At this point both boats were desperate to leave for our next destinations.  





The day before we left James and I found a dog in appalling circumstances. He was very emaciated and wandering the streets with a thick nylon cord wrapped multiple times around his neck and legs. The cord appeared so tight that it would have been difficult for him to eat. Luckily, we found an AMAZING non-profit organization called Curacao Animal Rights Foundation (CARF). Within an hour of contacting them they had rescued the dog! They named him “Curt” after the man who rescued him and they gave him pain meds, food, de-worming and tick and flea meds, and had a vet check him out! Within one week he went from a trembling, snappy, sad dog to a happy, tail wagging adopt-me dog. I have kept in touch with the organization and love getting “Curt updates” - he has since been neutered and always seems very happy in the videos they send me. I posted Curt’s story on Facebook and explained that he is ready to be adopted and that most of their adoptions are done out of country since dog adoptions are not popular in Curaaco. My friend Gwen fell in love with little Curt and his story and is going to adopt him! The plan is for the organization to bring him, along with three of his friends to Maine, then Curt will continue onto Nova Scotia by ferry. By April 9th Curt will be a proud Canadian :) I love this story! 


Before




About 2 weeks after being rescued


Now after lots of love, food and medications!


What? It's how cold in Canada?!

While in Curacao we had emailed our friends on Aquavida to see how they were and found out they were in Bonaire and also planned to sail to Colombia. We we planning on leaving at the same time so we arranged to meet them in Aruba and to sail to Colombia together. Our sail from Curaco to Aruba was quite windy with some moderate sized swells and our autopilot was having a bit of trouble sailing downwind with that much force. Just as our autopilot failed a massive gust of over 40 knots of wind hit and span the boat around causing an accidental gybe, despite having a preventer line. The gybe caused the preventer line to whip through the cockpit and it broke the stainless on our dodger! We were just glad neither of us was hurt as the line flew through the cockpit and metal flew into the air! We were also glad the boom was fine and that we hadn’t ended up replacing our enclosure in Grenada! We hobbled into the anchorage in Aruba and Aquavida was waiting there with cold beers. We spent the next day making some minor repairs (we found a wooden dowel in a closet and used it to reinforce the broken stainless) and preparing for our passage to Colombia!  

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Christmas in Bonaire

After leaving Los Roques a little earlier than we wanted due to a front moving in and after having low expectations for Bonaire we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived! It looked quite industrial with cranes and mountains of salt but once we rounded the point it was very pretty. 

There are a LOT of cacti in Bonaire
Sunbathing Lizard

Mountains of salt

The best part of our arrival was finding out our friends on Delphinus were there! It’s always exciting to pull into an anchorage or mooring field and find your friends :) To preserve the coral, there is no anchoring in Bonaire so we took a mooring ball in water that looked like a pool. We could look overboard and see lots of fish swimming around and under our boat. 



Fish swimming around our boat

After taking the mooring ball and checking into the country, Immigration informed us there was a Christmas street party that evening so we wandering the streets sampling treats, mulled wine and listening to live bands. 


Popular Bonaire Christmas decorations

Since Noomi was also coming to Bonaire and we had already planned to spend Christmas together we were happy to learn that Delphinus always wanted to spend Christmas together. So Delphinus, Noomi and Nomads all spent Christmas day together! We found an amazing grocery store where we were able to stock up on all our Christmas favourites including fresh brussel sprouts and egg nog! Delphinus invited us all to their boat for the day to play games and have Christmas dinner. We had a fantastic time! We ate tons of great food and played a game of Cranium, ladies verses gents. I won’t go into the details about who won. Jane on Delphinus went all out and made a proper Christmas dinner with all the trimmings - lentil loaf, roast potatoes, carrots, peas, cabbage, sprouts, bread sauce, stuffing and more! She even made homemade mince pies!!! I’m in awe of how much she cooks on her boat! Things I would never tackle in a galley kitchen. 


Our amazing chef Jane!


James and Daniel

The gang for Christmas Dinner

Heaven 
Nomads stellar Christmas decor

Trying to cool our Christmas bubbly in the ocean over the side of the boat!

After the Christmas celebrations we did a little exploring on the island which is known worldwide for it’s incredible snorkelling and scuba diving. We took our dingy to several places around the island and were amazed how much we saw. There were all kinds of fish and coral and even some coral regeneration projects.  After we’d had our fill of snorkelling, we rented a scooter for the day which allowed us to drive around the entire island, that’s how small it is.  


One of the highlights for me was getting to see wild flamingos in their natural habitat. We had seen several homes with flamingoes wandering around their gardens but they were so pale they were almost white. The wild flamingos were such an incredible shade of coral pink!
Flamingos in someone's garden!


Wild Flamingos 




We also visited a cactus distillery where most of their liquors are cactus based and all are made with local ingredients - we did some sampling and purchased a small bottle of the neon green cactus liquor then hopped back on our scooter and headed to the salt ponds. 

Cadushy cactus distillery 



Cactus Fence







The salt ponds are an important part of Bonaire’s history. There are large brightly painted obelisks on the shore and each colour reflected a type of salt and quality. The allowed the incoming ships to anchor near the correct colour for the load of salt they were purchasing. From here slaves loaded up baskets with salt that women would put on their heads and walk with over to small boats that were rowed to the large ships. The city has preserved the original slave huts where the slaves lived who worked the salt ponds - they are grossly small and must have been really hot. 


Obelisk 

Original slave huts

Salt ponds and their mountains of salt 


After enjoying all we could in Bonaire we set sail for Curacao! 

And now for a thousand underwater photos...

video



Peacock flounder

Porcupine fish 

Rainbow parrot fish

Honeycomb cowfish

Coral Regeneration 


French angelfish

Trumpetfish