Sept 5-6, 2017
Our friends on Tell Tales Again departed for Santa Marta, Columbia on Sept 3rd. Originally, we were planning to buddy boat with them. However, hurricane Irma NE of us was creating some interesting sailing conditions for our area, including a complete wind reversal, where it would blow from the West for a bit instead of the normal Easterly trade winds. Also, the seas were due to be flat with little wind, if at all. With talking to Saunders from Renaissance Marina, those are the times one can get to Bonaire from Aruba, if you plan it right. We might not be able to sail over due to lack of wind, but we could motor.
Bonaire is still our favorite place to dive. If we could do it, we would like to try to get there and spend as much time as possible. Diving off the back of our boat and staying in one place for as long as we want (barring no weather issues), are some of the primary reasons why we bought Uno Mas. Given our extreme reluctance to sail against the wind, current, waves or push the thresholds again, we thought getting to Bonaire would be worth it. How bad could 20-24 hours be? It sure could not be as horrific as the 6.5 days of hell we went through trying to get to Bonaire the first time.
This time at the Port Authority dock, the check-out process went without a hitch. It was hot, with no wind, and we didn’t have any problems reclaiming our spearguns or getting the exit zarpe. The only problem we had, was that between Immigration or Customs, they lost our exit zarpe from the Bahamas that we had to present upon our arrival. Angie forgot to make copies of it during the fiasco of trying to check-in. When she asked to have a copy, or get it back and make our own copy and return the original, no one could find it. So, we shall see if that puts any type of wrench in our future check-ins. In Columbia and Panama they want your paperwork from the last 10 ports. So, we shall see. Mark sees this is a non-issue.
We did our 4 hours on, 4 hours off shifts. Sailing South around the tip of Aruba gave us closer views of the natural gas oil rigs being drilled, the garbage dump that is always on fire and coated Uno Mas with ash, the main shipping port, the refinery, and the Colorado Light on the pole.
Once around the point, we ended up in Venezuelan waters on our way to the leeward side of Curacao. Eva and Mike told us to stay above the 14 degree latitude for safety reasons, but we were not going to be there for most of the first day. Of course, the first 12 hours of the trip, we had 15-20 knot winds, on the nose, so we could not sail, not the predicted 5 knots on the stern. The confused 3-5 ft seas were again, rocking back and forth, every which way, like a washing machine. This was NOT what was expected. Out of all of the sailing models we looked at, only one (Passage Weather) predicted anything close to the conditions we had. They usually are never right on or even close. The five other weather models from Predict Wind showed no wind and no seas. Once we were in it, there was no going back and things SHOULD calm down once we get in the protection of Curacao. If all else fails, if the conditions do not die down, we could end up going to Curacao instead.
We had dolphins, a sting ray, flying fish, and a Curacao Coast Guard helicopter escort us along the way. We witnessed a spectacular sunset. Once behind Curacao, we followed the shipping lanes and spent the night dodging cruise ships and cargo ships. Thankfully, the seas did calm down and the last 8 hours were bathtub flat as predicted. Our timing was just a little off.