Final days in Wisconsin and back to reality in the UK….

Monday morning Ruth and I headed out to the casino… at 9.00 am!  We left the guys indoors to fend for themselves while we went off to have some fun. Ruth usually plays the ‘penny’ machines and I was keen to try them out too…. What fun – we played for three hours and both ended $50 up at the end of the morning!  Really enjoyed myself…. Penny slots

When we got back to the house we found that Richard and Dan had gone on the missing list!  We made some lunch and eventually they returned – having been spirited away by a family member and, of course, beer was involved!

Now it was time to pack and get moving – Ruth was driving us into Minneapolis for our final night in the States. Unfortunately Dan had a prior engagement so we had to say sad farewells…… Eventually we were packed up – said goodbye to Bob the martial arts dummy in the garage who had made me jump every time!  – and admired the countryside as we drove into town. I was on the lookout for bears but still didn’t manage to see one. Guess I’ll have to return to Wisconsin another time then?!?


Checked into our hotel quickly and headed off for dinner. We got a little lost trying to find the West End but made it under an increasingly nasty looking sky. We were a bit worried about Ruth driving home later, especially as there was a severe weather warning in place for thunderstorms. But I think we were more concerned than she was! We met up with Kristin and Andy and had a lovely time catching up with them over dinner. It was great to see them again….

Final dinner in Wisconsin

Then back to the hotel and time to say goodbye to Ruth. Oh dear…. felt very emotional. We had had a fantastic time in Wisconsin – a beautiful lakeside home, loads of water toys, wonderful food, fun evenings and incredibly welcoming and generous hosts. Thank you both sooooo much.

Grill man On the deck 2

And so to bed….for a little while…… Up very early Tuesday morning and on the airport shuttle at 3.30 am. Checked in and we were ready for our short hopper flight – we loved the little American Eagle plane ride…  We arrived into Chicago and thankfully our bags were checked all the way through to London so no mucking around this time. We had some breakfast and went to our gate for the 9.00 am departure to London. Everyone was boarded – onto the worst budget American Airlines plane we have ever seen!  Must be one of the oldest planes they have in their fleet – not even seat back entertainment, with drop down monitors for everyone to watch the movies…. Oh well…. Never mind….. Then the captain tells us that we have a problem with a fuel injector. So we sat and waited and then the doors opened again. Oh no – not looking good! Then we hear that the problem has been fixed and we are going to be taking off – but have missed our slot into London and are now scheduled to arrive later than allowed into Heathrow. Well – it seems that AA paid a special fee / fine for Heathrow to wait up for us LOL – and we took off almost two hours late.

The flight went without a hitch – they even fed and watered us, with complimentary bucks fizz and wine…. The plane was pretty empty so loads of room to stretch out and no queues for the toilets – so all was good. We arrived into Heathrow and, of course, being the last plane in we got through immigration, baggage collection and customs in record time – and into the taxi waiting for us.  We arrived home, finally, at 2.00 am our time on Wednesday and went straight to bed.

Thursday and Friday were spent sorting ourselves out and opening the mountain of mail. The weather had deteriorated into rainy, chilly, grey days since we arrived home although it was lovely and sunny on Sunday so we decided to take mum out for lunch. Oops… seemed like the whole of the county had had the same idea, so loads and loads of traffic and jams…. We finally arrived into Southend to be greeted by the sight of the beautiful 150+ year old barges racing in the Thames Estuary.  They were moving quite well despite the lack of wind!

Barge race 2014 (1) Barge race 2014 (2)

Unfortunately all the car parks were full and the place was heaving so we turned around and headed back to our own high street and had fish and chips! Fat proper chips….not fries…..yummmmmm……

Fish and chips

Lazy day on Monday because the weather was atrocious with heavy rain and a bit chilly – it’s a bit early in the year to be wearing fleeces even in the UK – but we cheered ourselves up by having a roast lamb dinner. First time we have eaten roast potatoes for nine months…. Amazing what you miss you know!

Bank Holiday weather

Tuesday morning and Richard went back to work on a short-term contract basis while I’m doing domestic goddess duties. Of course, things never go quite to plan, and my curve ball for the week was the computer crashing and dying when I was typing the blog. Hence the delay – sorry!  Huge thanks to Clive for recovering my data and rebuilding my Netbook with a new hard drive… So I’m finally back on line and can get on with things. Yippeeeeeee……

Thank you

So it is time to sign off with some thoughts of this cruising season. We sailed 1,613 miles and visited 24 islands – Grenada, Carriacou, Union, Petit St Vincent, Bequia, Dominica, Martinique, St Lucia, Tobago Cays, Mustique, Iles de Saintes, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Nevis, St Eustatius, St Maarten, St Martin, Virgin Gorda, Tortola, Jost van Dyke, St John, St Thomas, Bonaire and Curacao – anchored / moored in 40 different locations and stayed in five marinas.  This year we wanted to stretch ourselves a bit more so we did some longer passages – with the most demanding being the 84 hour 450 mile offshore run from St Thomas to Bonaire.

We had a fantastic season, explored new islands – notably Montserrat, Bonaire and Curacao – improved our sailing and yacht maintenance skills and were reunited with some great lifelong friends as well as meeting some new ones. And we juggled four currencies – US dollars, Eastern Caribbean dollars, Euros and Guilders…

So – did we enjoy it?   Yes!    Are we going to do it again?   Yes!    When?   We fly back to Curacao to be reunited with Morpheus towards the end of November. So I leave you with some of our favourite photos of the season and hope that you will continue to follow our adventures later in the year. So it’s a usual ‘Bye for now’ – with an extra thanks for following us on our trip.



Whooping it up in Wisconsin

Tuesday morning we packed up and left our apartment for a 3.45 am taxi pickup. Good fast run to the airport and, of course, the American Airlines desk wasn’t open – although they request travellers to be there three hours in advance. Eventually the desk opened, we were first in line, and we checked in relieved that our bags were under the baggage allowance! Then we had to wait for the security area to open. Finally we go through and I get singled out for an extra check having to unpack my bag completely as well as getting an extra pat down. Oh well…. Finally we were through into the departure lounge and drinking coffee. Waiting for the first plane of the day

The plane took off from Curacao on time – few more tears… Bye Morphie!!!    Although quite a small plane it was pretty comfy. The flight was over before we knew it and time to go through the usual Miami hassle…. We had a long immigration line but were through in less than two hours having collected our bags and rechecked them for our final destination. Phew! By now it is lunch time so we had a bite to eat and a couple of cold coronas before our next flight to Chicago. All going way too smoothly…. So of course we board the plane and get held at the gate….and then push back to the tarmac….and take off almost an hour late. Now we are worried about our connection in Chicago – but what can you do???

We ended up chatting to our neighbour – who was a cruiser anchored in Spanish Water. What a small world eh??? We texted Dan and Ruth to let them know we may have problems! Eventually we took off but the connection is decidedly dodgy – we are going to arrive around 5pm but our next flight is at 5.15 pm. So not much chance… Eventually we landed and luckily our next flight to Minneapolis has also been delayed so we legged it through Chicago airport and made it – just! Then of course this flight is delayed further but at least we are on board this tiny plane – which feels like a private jet – and we are able watch our luggage being loaded onto the conveyor belt, so that’s good news!

Arrived into Minneapolis and were met by Dan and Ruth. Great reunion and hugs all round. Then we drove to their lakeside home and had a few drinks to celebrate. What a fantastic place. Feel so happy to be here… Lots of chatting and laughter followed and eventually we had to give in and retire to bed. Was a long day….

Wednesday morning and we were up pretty early. Today we are planning a lazy day so, after breakfast, we went down to the lake and just chilled out – including a trip around the lake in Iron Wind, Dan and Ruth’s lovely motorboat. Fantastic lakeside properties are scattered along the shore and this is a really beautiful place. Eagles circling – although of course never when I have the camera to hand – and Loons fishing….. Saw a float plane too….

Beautiful house! Beautiful lakeside homes Beautiful lakeside homes 2 Beautiful lakeside homes 3 Beautiful lakeside homes 4 Fun on the lake Fun on the lake 2 Iron wind Out for a spin on the lake

Loons Float plane

Back onto the deck and Danny turns up for the night. We had fantastic BBQ chicken – Dan is definitely a grill genius! We had a lot of fun….

Danny on the deck Grill man On the deck On the deck 2

Dan also said that we were going to start celebrating Morphica – so we get presents each night. These are things that we have purchased on line and sent to Dan’s address to take advantage of cheaper US prices. Well….. mine was not exactly exciting…..I got the replacement part for the genoa furler! Richard, on the other hand, got the underwater camera housing and he and Dan had a lot of fun playing around with it…. Not fair!!!

Furler part Morphica present! Practising with the camera housing

Eventually it got a bit chilly so we ended up in the basement playing poker on their special card table. Great time had by all…. and we kept Dan up way beyond his usual 9.16 pm crashing time!

Anyone for poker Fixing drinks

Thursday and we are taking advantage of the nice weather – so more fun on the water. Danny went waterskiing and then we all had a go at regular tubing and taco tubing. Amazing fun…. Check out the photos!

Dan's turn

Danny and Richard tubing Danny showing off Getting ready to go Glassy water Hang on 3 Hang on Richard Hang on! Having fun Me and Danny tubing Phew - it's over! Richard and I getting ready.... Richard upside down! Time for a taco

Sadly Danny had to leave us in the afternoon so we said our farewells and then later on we returned to the deck to eat Dan’s famous recipe smoked ribs…. Wow – fabulous fabulous fabulous!!! Combine that with the sweetest corn you could ever imagine. Yummmm….. Another fun night out on the deck…. Getting a bit chilly so we ended up down in the basement playing poker again. Really good fun and I did win a few hands this time…. And we kept Dan up late again LOL!

Friday and we thought about going to the river but didn’t in the end as the weather wasn’t so settled. Dan and Richard headed off to town for some bits and bobs followed by a visit to the golf club to hit some balls….. Ruth and I took to the dock and bobbed in the tubes. Eventually the boys came home and joined us – so we all ended up bobbing for a while… This was definitely bobbing with style and no holiday would be complete without it!

Bobbing Wisconsin style Bobbing Wisconsin style 2

Later on we were picked up by Rod and Karen on their pontoon boat – and also met Bill and Lorraine – and had a lovely leisurely drive around the lake along with a few cold ones! We met a large duck family too…. Oh yes, and Wisconsin has loads of local breweries so we have had fun trying out lots of new beers! I particularly like Leinenkugel’s Original….

Pontoon boat afternoon Pontoon boat afternoon 3 Pontoon boat afternoon 4

Duck family

In the evening with joined Ruth and Dan with their usual crowd for Fish Friday. A Wisconsin tradition. We had fish and chips!!! We enjoyed the company of Gary and Judy, Bob and Sarah and Gary and Betty… Was a lot of fun – the people here are very friendly and welcoming – and I was very jealous that Bob and Sarah had seen a bear on the way to the bar and grill. But never mind, I got to stroke a picture of one!!!

Fish Friday Fish Friday 2

Saturday morning and Dan and Richard headed off to the golf course again – this time taking the little sports car…. They looked pretty pleased with themselves – check out the photo….

Looking happy in the car

Ruth and I headed downtown – it is so small and cute – and went grocery shopping followed by a visit to the most amazing delicatessen / butchers store. There was an absolutely incredible variety of meat, fish, cold meats, cheese and sausages on display for sale. The walls were adorned with awards and I could see why people travel miles to visit this place!

Downtown At the butchers Amazing selection Anyone for a sausage

Back to the house and Ruth and I start preparing dinner – English food tonight – and eventually the boys come home again. They have decided that they want to go sailing as they are getting withdrawal symptoms! So off they go on the hobie cat – while Ruth and I settle onto the dock – accompanied by a little frog – as it is beer o’clock.

Frog on the dock

Beer o'clock

We see them disappear around the corner and we are watching the weather carefully. We decide that the weather is looking decidedly dodgy so we launch the motorboat to go and check if they are OK. Yes – they are very happy but need more beer! So we hand over a couple of bottles – and decide to stay close as the clouds are building. And it got really dark… Then it started raining…. and it is now time for international rescue. The heavens opened – we all got soaked – but Dan and Richard didn’t seem that bothered as they had beer as they got towed back to the house!!!!

Weather changing

Boys having fun International rescue International rescue 2 Happy in the rain getting a tow

After we were all cleaned and warmed up we had our appetizers followed by a break – and we started playing Guitar Hero. Richard and I have never done this before – it is sooooo much fun and actually a lot harder than it looked. After a while we had our main course and then it was Morphica again. This time Richard got the gas solenoid but still looked pretty happy. I opened mine – and oh no – it was another gas solenoid!!!! Hysterical…. Dan now took pity on me so I got another gift – and this was our new cockpit light – hurrah!!!!

Morphica present Lovely jubbly

Back downstairs to the basement and we continued with Guitar Hero – boys –v- girls now. Well – Ruth is amazing ! She is really very very good….. so I had a bit of an advantage. So we beat them every time. A great evening had by all full of hysterical laughter! And we all ended up having a pretty early night – before 10 pm – as the days out in the fresh air caught up with us.

Guitar hero 1 Guitar hero 2 Guitar hero 3 Guitar hero 4 Guitar hero 5

This morning it’s pretty gloomy – and Dan and Richard have headed back to the golf course. Dan is in a competition this morning and Richard is going to drive his golf cart and plans to drink bloody marys!!! Ruth and I have been watching TV drinking coffee…. Now I’m blogging while Ruth tidies…… and later we are going to have another BBQ evening. I think Guitar Hero might feature again too….

Tomorrow Ruth and I are planning to go to the casino in the morning and then we are heading into Minneapolis to have dinner with Kirstin and Andy – and then Richard and I are staying in a hotel with a shuttle service to the airport as we have a 6am flight to Chicago on Tuesday morning…. Can’t believe our time here has almost come to a close – but looking forward to seeing our friends and family again….

Bye for now



Final days in Curacao

Tuesday morning and we were up and out early…. Climbing back on board and we were amazed by how glossy the floors were….

Varnish on

We had researched the different types of varnish we should use – and clear varnish is allegedly much harder wearing than the satin finish version. To achieve the satin finish we want it is recommended that you build up the layers of varnish with the clear stuff and only use the satin stuff for the final coat. So that’s what we are planning to do – just hope it works out that way!!!! Anyway…. we settled back into the hot and hard work of rubbing it all down again….

Varnish off

before cleaning up and then applying another coat…..  and we left Morphie promising ourselves some restorative pool time to cool down.

Richard enjoying the pool

Another pool!Enjoyed a few hours and then retired to a quiet night in front of the TV. Our duplex apartment is quite spacious and we are enjoying staying here….

Kitchen area of our apartment Sitting area of our apartment

Wednesday morning and back to Morphie. The floor looked fantastic but unfortunately was a bit tacky and we didn’t want to ruin what we had done already and decided to leave it another day to dry. So we got busy doing other boat jobs. Some examples of the types of things we did: cleaning bilges; fridge and freezer cleaning; vacuum packing clothes and bedding; disconnecting gas bottles; storage maintenance on our diesel engine; taking off all the canvas; servicing the generator; replacing the zincs etc etc etc…. Makes me feel tired just typing the list!  It was a long day, and we retired for another early night leaving Morphie looking incredibly naked!

Looking naked 1 Looking naked 2

Thursday morning and the varnish had fully dried over night. So it was time for the final rubbing down session, followed by the clean up, and then we carefully applied the final coat of the satin finish varnish. Phew – that’s the job done. Fingers crossed for the end result!

We went back to the apartment for a rest and then on a little pub crawl around the Pietermaai area, visiting Rock Beach first. It wasn’t very busy so we didn’t stay long, although enjoyed the sunset out to sea. Then we headed to the Bluebird Cafe – which was lovely – but the bar was empty and the music was way too loud LOL. Feeling old….. Finally we ended up at Miles which is a quirky jazz place. Had an enjoyable few hours back for dinner and another early night.

Rock beach Bluebird cafe Inside bluebird cafe Sundowners at Miles

Sunset out to sea

Friday morning – and yay, the floor does have a satin finish and it looks fab!   Very happy…

Job done !!!!

So we started the final push to getting straight. Mostly cleaning the wood and fibreglass and flushing fresh water through the systems…. Our owner’s cabin looks a little full now!!!

Packing up

It was a long day followed by another quiet nigh and spectacular sunset over the city.

Beautiful night sky

Saturday morning and Richard went off to Morphie on his own while I stayed behind to get my hair cut. Feel almost human again now!!! Richard came back for me and we both returned to Morphie. Come 2pm we were finished – so the final jobs in putting out damp rid (in an attempt to avoid the build up of mould while we are away) and we ‘bombed’ the boat with a strong insecticide aerosol.

Damp rid & bomb the boat

We said goodnight to Morphie and promised to return on Monday… Leaving the working yard behind we had a look at the Customs area in the top yard where Morphie will spend her time on the hard. Glad to see that it is protected by the best security system – huge vicious Dobermans!!!  A large yard – and all very clean and tidy – with hard standing and no mud to wade through, unlike last year in Grenada….

Customs yard Customs yard 2

Back to our apartment and we tried out another pool…. Nice place this!

Our apartment

Jan in the pool

In the evening we headed back to Ginger for dinner and had some fantastic Asian fusion food – with a very enjoyable white chocolate cream brulee for desert. Yum….

Ginger food Ginger food 2 Ginger food 3

After dinner we went to Mundos again to listen to the Cuban band. Enjoyed ourselves but I peaked too early struggling to stay awake past 9pm!!! So we headed back to bed…..

Cuban band at Mundos

Sunday and we are having a day off…. so are going exploring. We wandered around the Pietermaai area again enjoying the sights of the street art; the renovated buildings; the ruins awaiting investment; the stunning church and an old derelict cinema which looked like a decrepit Odeon!

Pietermaai area Pietermaai area 2 Richard's new girl friend Pietermaai area 3 Pietermaai area 4 Wall art Waiting for renovation

Looks like an old Odeon Cinema

The first place we wanted to visit was the synagogue – Curacao has the oldest synagogue continuously in use in the western world. It apparently has an amazing interior but, to our disappointment, was closed. Hmmmm….. never mind.


We ended up walking to the edge of the river in Willemstad and enjoyed a nice late breakfast on the river’s edge. The place is teeming with Japanese tourists today – and we spotted their ship anchored outside the city.

View across the river whilst having breakfast Willemstad selfie

Walking across the pontoon bridge and the alarms went off so we “rode” the bridge and enjoyed the view of the pilot boat coming through before crossing over to the Otrobanda side.

Bridge opening Open just enough to get through Made it!

Selfie on the pontoon bridge

We were looking for Kura Holanda. Having admired the huge university building we wandered into the streets behind the river and were stopped by this huge guy who told us he was doing a security role and that we should return to the main street. We think he was giving us the heads up that this was not a safe area – we were very grateful for his intervention!


Kura Holanda is a world heritage site and has been painstakingly restored to its earlier beauty and now houses a hotel, spectacular pool area, combined with restaurants and some great sculptures / artifacts. It also incorporates a slave museum. The owner is a Jewish man who was parented by a holocaust survivor and has been inspired to tell the un-sanitised truth about the lives of the slaves who were transported through this part of the world…. Unfortunately – despite the website saying that it was open 7 days a week – the museum was closed too!!!! Grrrrrr…… Never mind – we enjoyed wandering around the area anyway.

World Heritage site Kura Holanda Kura Holanda 2 Kura Holanda 3 Kura Holanda 4 Kura Holanda 6 Kura Holanda 7 Kura Holanda 8

On the way back across Willemstad we spotted a 3D art installation on one of the walls….   Very nice!

3D wall art in Willemsted

Did a bit of shopping and then headed to Rock Beach – which is a strange place with an old VW camper van taking centre stage!  We ended up sitting on the edge of the rocks with our feet in our own personal bubbling pool as the waves pounded in.

Rock beach 1 Rock beach 2 Rock beach 3 Rock beach 4 Rock beach 5

We enjoyed getting a few rays and watched one of the day trip boats return to Willemstad and then saw the Japanese ship – the Peace Boat – depart. Not the traditional cruise ship and the ship’s website is a bit weird too “promoting peace around the world”. How does coming ashore, eating, drinking and buying souvenirs promotes peace I’m not sure?!? Seems like the ABCs definitely attracts some ‘unusual’ groups on ships!   After Rock Beach we went to Miles for happy hour – had a nice time chatting to an American medical student – and then had another early night.

Getting the sails down

Goodbye to the Japanese tourists

This morning we got up early and returned to Morphie. The boat yard was supposed to prepare the hull and topsides with an Awlgrip product on Friday but didn’t make it – every boat yard is the same, it would seem!   Anyway – they were working hard on her this morning when we arrived before 9 am. So that was good…. This is to give Morphie protection from the sun while we are away. We then went into the office to return keys and get our customs letter – stating that Morphie is going to be in the Custom designated area while we are off island.  All sorted and we caught up with Rocky the guy who drives the huge boat lift.  Unfortunately they are not going to move Morphie until tomorrow as they plan to prepare her hull for antifouling on our return in November – so we’re not going to see her move to her final home today.

So sadly it is time to leave her in the working yard.  And, of course, I’m an emotional wreck again. Never seems to get any easier this!!!!  Morphie has had a good season – she has safely carried us over 1600 miles, done some long voyages and tackled some horrible conditions.  A good job done and time she had a rest…. We’ll see you in November Morphie – be good, love you!!!!

Working yard Bye Morphie! Our rent a wreck is still going strong

Back to the apartment – I’m blogging, Richard is surfing, and we need to return the hire car soon. I’m also heading back to reception to reconfirm our taxi for the morning and then we need to pack. We are being picked up at 3.45 am for the airport so an early night beckons – after a planned steak dinner as we succumbed to the lure of the big supermarket one last time!

Tomorrow we are off to Wisconsin – via Miami, Chicago and Minneapolis. Very sad at leaving Morphie behind but we are also excited about our forthcoming US holiday and our reunion with Dan and Ruth before we return home to our UK family and friends.

Bye for now



Working hard in Curacao

Thursday morning and we were up early. Have to say the views here in the marina are not exactly what we have become used to over the last months….

View from Morphie 1 View from Morphie 2

Inspecting the rusty, disgusting and smelly anchor chain we really couldn’t face putting it back into the clean anchor locker…. so Richard headed off in the car to Island Water World to purchase our new anchor chain and got a really good deal! We chose to have galvanised chain again rather than stainless steel as the breaking strain wasn’t so good with the stainless and Morphie is a heavy girl at 15 tonnes!

Old chain

Before he left for the store, Richard had taken the outboard off of dink ready to start the winterisation process…..

Outboard waiting for attention

I used dink – sans outboard – to complete the stainless cleaning and to do some quick varnish ‘keepers’ under the rail. We then manhandled dink onto the dock so that I could clean him. His bottom was pretty filthy after our time in Spanish Water and the tubes could do with some loving care too….. I realised that I didn’t have enough of the outboard marine cleaner to hand but that our toilet cleaner had almost the same products in it – so decided to give it a try. Wow – dink has never had such a clean bottom….. The Swedish guy opposite us came over and laughed when he realised what I was using – he does the same! And I thought I was being innovative LOL….

Dink getting a clean up

Anyway….by the time Richard got back, I was ready to clean Dink’s topsides so we flipped him over and I carried on. Richard finished servicing the outboard and we stored him away in the lazarette. When dink was clean and dry we hoisted him up onto the foredeck using the genoa halyard and secured him under a tarpaulin. After all that….we had an early night after watching the (beautiful!) sunset – although a bit sad to realise that this was our last night sleeping on Morphie this year….


We are not flying directly home to the UK this year as we are having a week’s stopover in Wisconsin to stay with Dan and Ruth from Evensong who have kindly invited us to stay with them.  Very excited about seeing them again.   So we had to think of our US holiday when packing too…..

After bags were stowed in the car, we filled up the water tanks and turned off the fridge and freezer – having disconnected ourselves from the dock facilities.   We then emptied our food stores for use in our apartment later.  Stripped beds and stowed that too….. By now it was 10.30 am and the new anchor chain was delivered with the old one taken away to be donated to the fishermen in Spanish Water. We attached the anchor and stowed it into the locker – and were now ready to go to the final dock of this season’s trip. We reversed off the dock, did a quick turn, and went alongside the berth near the slipway. With Morphie tied up it was time for us to get off….

Waiting to be hauled

The boat lift came into the water and Morphie was put into its grip…. the lines were released… and she was slowly lifted out of the water. We were, of course, a bit nervous watching this process – but actually preferred it to the huge travel lift of last year, as it seemed a slower more stable process.

Be careful Morphie

Out of the water now On dry land....

Morphie was jet washed and then moved to the bottom yard in the marina – which is officially the ‘working’ yard. She was chocked up and secured. Phew….stress over for now! We quickly climbed on board, checked all OK, and then left as it was almost 5 pm and we needed to check into our apartment.

Meeting the new neighbours

We arrived at our apartment and settled in enjoying the air conditioning; unlimited fresh water showers which are open plan behind the wall in the upstairs bedroom; and we unpacked.  I rustled up dinner and we enjoyed a bottle of wine….followed by an early night.

Apartment 2 Apartment

Up early Saturday morning and back to the boat yard. Time to start working on the cabin floors… Here are some ‘before’ pictures….

Cabin floor Cabin floor 2

Cabin floor 3

We cleared all work surfaces and covered what we could from the inevitable dust cloud we were about to create!  Then we spent the whole day rubbing down and sanding …. After a lot of hours of hard work, we cleaned up and applied our first coat of wood sealer. Phew – absolutely shattered!  Richard then took me out to dinner at the restaurant Ginger which is opposite our apartment – lovely asian food – and we had a twist on a tandoori chicken with naan dinner washed down with a great bottle of wine. We also met a nice couple from Tennessee who were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary….. And the band were playing plantation type music – really good fun!

Out for dinner

Ginger restaurant Ginger restaurant 2 Band at Ginger

Afterwards we walked around the corner to Mundo – an amazing bar with a Cuban flavour – and listened to the band who were doing Latin American type stuff although the guy on the organ was filling in playing some classical stuff.

Mundo Mundo 2 Mundo 3 Mundo 4

Mundo 5

Very enjoyable time…. and home to a chilled bedroom… Bliss!

Sunday morning up early again…..and time to rub down the floors again….. Unbelievable how mucky this job is!!!!  Take a look…..

Dusty work

Anyway, by the end of the day, we had rubbed it all down, cleaned it all up, and applied the second coat of wood sealant. Back at the apartment by 3pm so we took advantage of the plunge pool to cool down….. followed by a home cooked dinner and an early night.

Enjoying the plunge pool

Monday – today – up early again. This time we went via the “Wash, Dry, Fold” to drop off most of our laundry…. there will be more to come once we have finished the varnishing…. Back to Morphie and another rub down job….. After cleaning it all up we used a tack cloth to wipe over the floors and applied our first coat of varnish. Phew – this is hard work! And so hot down below in the boatyard desperately trying not to drip over the floor when we are working on it – and I’m wearing a scarf to avoid getting any hair mixed up with the varnish. Yes, I’m well overdue for a hair cut again!!!!

Back to the apartment via the supermarket to top up on supplies – and we’re now in front of the television having a cold beer…… which will be followed by dinner and another early night….

That’s it for now folks! Bye.



Out and about in Curacao

Wednesday afternoon we headed off to Mambo Beach again as planned – the weather had improved significantly even though it was still very windy. We took a different route from the car park and walked through the trendy new boulevard and were surprised not to get charged an entrance fee to the beach… We took up residence on a couple of sunbeds and no-one came to collect money from us for them either! Bit surprised but hey not complaining….. We had a good time before heading back for a quiet night onboard.

Mambo Beach Mambo Beach 2 Pirate bobbing

Thursday we decided to have a day out to explore the island a bit more. We had read about this snorkelling site called the Blue Room and wanted to see if we could find it.   So we headed up the coast towards Westpunt…. The first stop of the day was at Shete Boka National Park. This is a wild area with mountains in the background, massive waves pounding the limestone cliffs with loads of blowholes and a cave. We had a lot of fun – with Richard being a bit of a daredevil because he entered a cave which said “Danger – DO NOT ENTER – the waves are too strong today and you WILL get swept out to sea”.  I waited slightly nervously at the entrance as he wandered down inside to have a look – sadly the light wasn’t good enough for the photos to come out – but it looked pretty scary. Another couple also had a look in and asked me whether I had Richard well insured!!!  Thankfully he came back to me unharmed and we continued to enjoy exploring this natural wilderness…..

National park 1 National park 2 National park 3 National park 4

National park 5 National park 6 National park 7

Oh yes – and remember I told you about the security bars at the roadside snack bars – well they even had them here in the national park!  Although it didn’t look quite so bad because of the lovely wall art beneath.

Service through bars Wall art

Leaving the national park we carried on driving until we reached the end of the island and returned down the other side. The roads are pretty good and we were surprised by how green and lush it was in places.   Lots of dead palm trees around – too windy????

Good roads Heading north Surprisingly green

We stopped off to admire the views quite a few times – lovely beaches and coves everywhere on this coast.

Coves and beaches everywhere

We finally made it to Santa Cruz which, according to the rough map we had, was near to the underwater cave. Richard spotted this guy who was sitting there with huge coolers – so we decided to buy some water and ask him whether we could access it from the road. He laughed – all the stuff in the coolers was for his family who were all playing in the surf!   Oops.   But he graciously pointed out a little restaurant / water taxi operation on the east side of the bay which could help us.

Santa Cruz Water Taxi Local restaurant

We walked there and asked about snorkelling trips to the Blue Room – and yes, they did do it and we could go shortly if we wanted.   Fantastic – although feels a bit odd to be paying to go out on a boat!!!   So we went into the restaurant and had lunch. Fantastic food – and great service from the Colombian guy who served us. So after we were fed and watered we headed out with a few other tourists. The coastline is dramatic and the water is beautiful…..

Stunning coastline

We stop at the Blue Room and head into the cave – wow – the colours are just unbelievable!!! This has to be experienced to be believed. Some great fish in there too…. Glad we made the effort.

Into the Blue Room Inside the Blue Room Richard enjoying the water Inside the Blue Room 2

After the Blue Room we were taken to a black sand beach. The Venezuelan captain told us how he had scuttled his father’s boat here to start a new coral reef. He then told us about the tragic loss of his daughter to leukaemia – he had brought her ashes here, encased them in an engraved concrete pyramid, and then dropped it at the stern of the wreck. So as the coral grows on the pyramid it means he has an everlasting living memorial to his daughter. Since then 27 other people have decided to be laid to rest in the same way and he has plans for 5,000 pyramids to be laid in the bay in the future. What an inspirational man!

Black sand beach Living grave

We snorkelled the wreck and did visit the pyramid but unfortunately our camera’s battery decided to die at that point….. so we only have a picture of that. But there were good fish, lots of sand eels swaying in the current, and a baby southern stingray eyeing up the eels for his tea!!!

What a fantastic trip…. it was nice to see more of the island, and we really enjoyed our day out. On the way back we went over the huge bridge again – and I managed to get the camera to give me a couple of last shots!   So this time it was the industrial end of Willemstad.

Over the bridge again View to the industrial side of Willemstad

Friday we were supposed to be giving the car back – but we had done our sums – and to hire a newer car just for the period we are going to be in the apartment was going to be more expensive than keeping our current one for the duration. So we rang the owner – made the arrangements to meet him on Sunday to pay him the balance – and we were pretty happy with our decision.

So we decided to go to the beach again – but this time to try a new one – Jan Thiel. This is closer to the anchorage and is actually much nicer – as it is a tourist destination and has more of a resort feel to it. We had a lovely chilled day although both of us got a bit too much sun.

Jan Thiel beach Jan Thiel beach 2 Jan Thiel beach 3

We did, however, manage to make cruisers happy hour at the Pirates Rest – which is our ‘local’. We got chatting to the staff and they persuaded us to stay for dinner. I wasn’t hungry so picked the baby Pirates meal of ribs (meant for kids!) and Richard had the pork skewer. Well – this came with unlimited salad and bread – and the food was amazing! They advertise as the best meat restaurant in Curacao and we wouldn’t disagree with that…. Interesting decor too!

Pirates Rest Pirates Rest 1 Pirates Rest 2

Lovely end to a great day – and the sky was incredible when the sun set – and we returned to Morphie around 7.30 pm. Sitting in the cockpit and the heavens opened, the thunder and lightning was rumbling around us but the wind seemed to have subsided a bit. During the night we had a large wind shift which set off our anchor drag alarm a few times… Oh well…..

Dramatic sky

Saturday morning and we were up early as we have decided to start varnishing some areas down below which have suffered water damage whilst Morphie was in charter…. They have been irritating us for a while and the recent high humidity levels have taken its toll….so time to crack on. We were having a cup of tea before we got going and we heard the clank clank clank of someone’s anchor chain being lifted – we looked out the companionway and it was our neighbour behind us. He’s a miserable whatsit so we were quite pleased he was going – well, he wasn’t!!!  He did a 360 and then dropped his anchor in exactly the same place where he had picked up from… What was that all about then? Anyway, he didn’t get set the first time so he did all it again. He was so close to us when he dropped the second time I could have leant over and shook his hand…. He did say good morning as he spotted me in the cockpit from his bow though! Eventually he settled but way too close – in our opinion – to another anchored boat but hey, he’s behind us, so what do we care???

The day was spent rubbing down and preparing the wood…. I also did some stainless cleaning under the rail which meant hanging on for dear life in the dinghy as the waves pounded me…. I only managed to get the starboard side done before I gave up – way too hard!   Port side can wait until we get into the marina on Wednesday. So that was it for the day.

Sunday morning up early…. We rubbed the wood down again and applied a coat of varnish. So then we headed off to meet the owner of the car – and then back to Jan Thiel beach. We enjoyed watching a young kid flyboard and was pretty impressed with his ability to stay upright. But then the experts came out to drum up some custom. They fly through the air, into the water forwards and backwards, and they look like dolphins having fun! Amazing….. Richard quite fancied having a go but at $140 a pop we thought it was a bit rich!

Flyboarding kid Flyboarding display Flyboarding display 2

Monday and we rubbed down the beautiful varnish we had put on the day before and applied another coat. While we were in Bequia we had a master class from Winfield on how to varnish and although it seems crazy to rub down the varnish you have already applied, he assured us that this was the only way to guarantee a good finish! Makes for a lot of work, but hopefully it will be worth it!

We then headed out to Budget Marine and purchased 10 foot of anchor chain – we have an American built-boat, a metric anchor windlass has been installed, but an imperial-sized chain has been fitted. Figure that lot out!!!!  This makes for some confusion so we decided to buy a length to test that it doesn’t jump out of the gypsy and works well before committing to buying the 200 feet that we want. Then we headed into Willemstad as we wanted to top up our Grenada digicel phone …. which, of course, has run out of credit and the website says no! The US Virgin Island one doesn’t work here….and neither do our UK phones…… grrrrrr……

When we arrived in Willemstad we saw the floating pontoon bridge was fully open – the first time we had seen this. So we had to get a free ferry across the river instead. That was a novel experience!

Pontoon bridge completely open Free ferry trip

Anyway…into the only Digicel shop on the whole island….and the queues are out of the door. We wait patiently for our turn and this helpful assistant came down the line asking what people wanted. When she found out it was only a top up for a Grenada phone – she took us off to one side to sort us out. Of course it took her longer than if we had stayed in the queue – so a bit frustrating. Anyway, vouchers purchased, and we struggled to understand the Dutch / Spanish instructions. Guess what?!?  Didn’t work!!!! Queued up again to tell her – and we are then told you can’t top up a Grenada phone in Curacao. Great…. Thanks for that!   So we need a new SIM card – but we have to rejoin the queue – but at least the SIM card queue was short. Then the assistant working that line decided to close down her station and everyone had to go to the back of the other queue…..which was out of the door again. The shop was due to close in an hour – so we just gave up in frustration – there was no way we could have got served before the shutters came down. Grrrrrr…..

Heading back to the anchorage in a bit of a bad mood we spotted Richard and Nancy from Sailing Diver walking…. So we picked them up, gave them a lift, and ended up back in the Pirates Rest for a couple of cold beers. We had a fun time socialising with them and were back on board before dark for a curry and an early night.

Tuesday we rubbed the varnish down again – and applied another coat. This is going to be the final coat at this stage – we can do more when we return later in the year. You can see the before and after pictures now – we are pretty pleased with our first attempts at doing this!

Grate damage - before Water damage near companionway - before Grate damage - after Water damage near companionway - after jpg

Well – we still need that phone – so we headed back into Willemstad. We had some lunch and picked up a really good internet signal – so thought we’d try again with the Digicel Grenada website which, to date, has rejected us at every attempt. In fact, last time, it told us that our phone number didn’t even exist!!!  Well – wonders will never cease – it only worked!  Hurrah!!!  In a good mood that we had avoided a repeat visit to the store we drove over to Curacao marine as we needed to get the car there for when we arrive on Wednesday. We arrived – got permission to leave the car in the yard – and bumped into some people we had met in Bonaire. That was fortuitous as they told us a “quick” walking route into Willemstad. We struggled up a hill in the heat – and were rewarded by some views of the marina – before walking beneath the motorway and then down a long flight of steps into Punda. Then we wandered to the bus station and waited. It was probably only a couple of miles but felt a long long way in the heat…. Eventually we found a little bus for Montana who agreed to take us – so we got back to Morphie around 4pm. Phew – we really are turning into cruisers eh???? Walking for miles to save $20 on a taxi???? Not like us at all – but think of all those drinking vouchers we have banked as a result!!!!

Curacao marine

Back on board we tested the chain in the windless – yippee it works – so we’ll order that soon. We also pickled the water maker ready for storage. Getting busy now….. and the real hard work starts Wednesday once we arrive into the marina and then move onto the hard on Friday. We had a final quiet night on board in Spanish Water.

This morning – Wednesday – we got ready to leave early to head the few miles down the coast to Willemstad having awakened to a squally day. We had a brisk downwind sail with a following sea – and radioed the Port Authority as we got close. They eventually answered us – and we requested that the floating bridge be opened. They said they would open it in about 10 minutes so we stooged around close by waiting…… While we were waiting and going around in circles we were being watched by lots of cruise ship passengers and we were videoed quite a few times as well!

Waiting for the bridge to open Smile - you are on video!

Eventually the sirens went off and the bridge opened. We waited for a barge to come out before we headed in…. What an experience!

Our turn to go through

Going through..... Going through 3

And that wasn’t it…. moving closely along the side of the cruise ship …. and then under the huge road bridge we had travelled quite a few times now. Amazing…. Into the industrial area, admiring the huge ships, called the marina, and got our slip info. Phew – we’ve arrived and are safely alongside.

Goodbye cruise ship Made it under! Approaching the huge road bridge Into the industrial zone

We are all systems go now…. So far today we have washed Morphie; finished cleaning the stainless; taken off the sails, washed them and flaked them into their bags; taken down the sun screens, washed and bagged them; dismantled the wind generator; and cleaned out the anchor locker – phew been a busy day.    We are now sitting outside the marina office in the yard getting our wifi fix.

More hard work tomorrow before Morphie comes out of the water on Friday into the working yard.    Bye for now – definitely time for bed!


Busy in Curacao

Late Thursday afternoon we went ashore to Pirates to get internet access – and I published the blog. Then we walked down the road to The Pier where it was cruisers night and they were doing a special chicken skewer meal. We weren’t there for the start of the event – and so people had already broken into little groups by the time we got there – but we were pointed in the direction of the guy who did the VHF cruisers net and had a chat with him. Then we all sat down to eat on one long table – the woman opposite Richard and the guy next to him were chatty – but my end of the table continued to speak Dutch and/or German and really didn’t want to engage with me in English despite all my efforts. So we didn’t hang around for long once we had eaten our meal. And they did all speak good English because they – surprisingly – started to chat to us as we said our goodbyes. Oh well, guess we tried!!!!   Didn’t really feel that welcome though.

Friday morning and we were up before the sun – we had arrangements to pick up our hire car at 6.30 am!!!  Our rent a wreck was just that – a little Ford Focus – which is pretty tatty with no working air conditioning but totally legal and not very likely to get stolen!    At only £13 ($22) a day who are we to complain?!?!

Richard and our rent-a-wreck

The Dutch car owner has lived on Curacao for four years now and loves it – apart from the criminality – and proceeded to tell us about the drug problems and the fatal shooting incident at the airport the day before…. We had already heard this from people in Bonaire – so we’ll definitely be vigilant while we are here!!!

After breakfast back on board we headed out – we have a couple of things high on the list today.   To find the boatyard where Morphie is hauling;  to have a look at the attached marina;  and to find an apartment to stay in after she is lifted out.    The roads here are busy – two or three lanes wide in places – and there is a big ring road that circles Willemstad.  Sounds fine – except the maps are rubbish – and the road signs are often on the junction rather than giving advance warning.  So yes we got lost!!!  Eventually we ended up at a naval base asking directions of big guys with guns – thankfully they were very helpful and gave us very good instructions.   Phew – finally we made it – and pulled up outside the boatyard (cars are not allowed in during working hours). We walked to the office and it was closed for lunch. Oh well… we wandered the tiny marina and had a look….and then sat down on the benches outside the office to wait.

Curacao marine yard

Curacao marine

While we were waiting we discussed our dates. This small marina is in the middle of nowhere and there are no facilities here whatsoever…. so without a car you really can’t get anything other than cold drinks / chocolate out of a vending machine or a few bits and bobs at the tiny Budget Marine on site. So the original plan of being in this marina for five days or so to get the boat ready for the lift didn’t really appeal – no pool, no bar, no snack bar, no beach, no mini-mart…. nothing at all, just the surrounding industrial / port areas.

An additional factor we had not catered for was that our cabin sole is in need of some tender loving care after all the footfall it has had over the last six years – so we have decided to bring that work forward and do it ourselves before we leave this year…. Hmmmm…. time to reconsider our plans…..  When the office finally re-opened we introduced ourselves and said that we might like to move things forward, would that be OK?  They said yes, whatever we wanted would suit them,  Have to say they are pretty accommodating here!    We felt happier having come to this decision and went off to try and find somewhere to stay until we fly early on 12 August.  Revised plan is to be in the marina for a couple of nights only – to get sails off and dink cleaned and positioned on the foredeck – and then haul into the working yard on 1 August, with Morphie’s final movement into the customs No Man’s Land storage yard early on 11 August.

We had already tried to search for an apartment on line but had failed miserably….. They don’t really have travel agents here either.   So we drove back into Willemstad and started looking around – a few places were really helpful although didn’t have any availability and a couple of others looked us up and down and decided we couldn’t afford even their basic rooms (which started at $200) although we were offered one swanky villa for $4,000 a night!!!!  Eventually we found two options – one hotel room which was in a great location and one apartment which had more facilities but not such a good location. But the receptionist at one of the boutique hotels was particularly helpful and gave us a website to look at.  So that’s for another day!   By this time we had had enough…. so headed to Spanish Water, picked up dink and back to Morphie…. The wind is still howling through here but she is a good girl and stays where we put her!!!!   We had a quiet night on board.


Saturday and we were up reasonably early – sorted out our laundry and got our gas bottle out to try and get it filled – again!  Before that we were going to visit a guy onboard the catamaran Isis to get internet access on the boat sorted out…. for a fee of $10 a week… not bad!   Well – the guy was expecting us – but wasn’t there…. so we headed off to find Budget Marine and Island Water World instead. We had a list of things we needed to purchase for the wood project as well as the basic decommissioning stuff. Island Water World was shut for stocktaking… and Budget Marine had very little in store. But we managed to find a laundry – there are a few self-service launderettes on the island but the cost is pretty much the same as the service washes…. so we left it at “Wash, Dry, Fold” for a Monday collection.

We then headed back to Pirates for a soft drink and another go at finding somewhere to stay….this time online.  And we struck lucky!  Hurrah!  Got a one-bedroom duplex apartment in Willemstad for a very reasonable $100 a night including tax from 1-12 August.  We got the confirmation e-mail immediately from the booking site and were very happy – and relieved!  After that we headed off to get our propane gas bottle filled – everyone was confident that this was possible here in Curacao. Oh dear…another failure….didn’t have the right adapter. This is so frustrating – we really hope that the new adapter we have purchased will work for the future – in the meantime our back-up solution is to live on BBQ meat with salad as we do still have an almost full 6lb gas tank for that!!!

On the way back to Morphie we sorted out the internet and then went back onboard and tried to log on. Of course it didn’t work – so we radioed the guy – and he tweaked it but it still didn’t work…. So Richard went back in the dinghy to revisit him and finally got it sorted. So – hurrah – internet access onboard albeit very sloooooooowwwwwwww….. We logged into our e-mails and found we had received a confirmation e-mail from the apartments – to find they were quoting an additional $500 for the 11 night stay. Sent them an immediate e-mail attaching our booking reference and the guaranteed ‘value’ price bit and, of course, by now no-one is answering… Nothing we can do….but just hope we can get all this sorted out. Feeling a bit stressed!  Another quiet night on board….

Sunday and everything is shut – so we decide to go to the beach for the day. Drove down to Mambo Beach and paid our entrance fee – the equivalent of £1.50 each – and then found a couple of beds and paid the same again for them. It was a very busy Sunday so good for people watching….  We settled in and enjoyed a chilled day, with a bit of bobbing, and then a splendid Mexican lunch – sharing some with a cute little yellow bird – at one of the concessions in the large boardwalk area running behind the beach. Oh yes, and when bobbing, we came across a little eel swimming freely across the sand. We spent hours hunting these little guys while diving and here is one playing by our feet!  Amazing…

Mambo beach 1 Mambo beach 2 Mambo beach 3 Mexican eating bird Mexican restaurant

Mambo beach 4

People watching here makes you realise what a diverse population there is in Curacao.  The island’s history starts with the Spanish discovery in 1499 when they enslaved the indigenous Indian population.  Then the Dutch defeated the Spanish occupiers in 1634 – attracted to the Caribbean by their need for salt for their herring industry – and by the 1700s the slave trade was the pillar of the economy. This became one of the most important centres for the slave trade in the Caribbean with native Africans being shipped here by the West Indian Company and then sold on and shipped to other destinations, including South America.  Holland finally abolished the slave trade in 1863.  The spoken language here is Papiamentu which originates from different African languages, complemented with words from Dutch, Spanish, English and Portuguese.  It is very different from any other language that we have heard on our travels… but everyone we’ve met has, thankfully, spoken English!  Oh yes, and the Chinese seem to have a strong population here with most of the mini-markets, food takeaway stands and laundries being operated by them….

Chinese corner shop

Had a lovely time at the beach and returned back to Morphie…. to find another e-mail from the apartments which confirmed that the previous e-mail price had been an error with their apologies!  Phew…. very relieved about that.  We had another quiet night on board.

Monday and we went off to look at the area where the apartment is located. This is a rapidly developing trendy neighbourhood. This part of Curacao used to belong to the upper class but became a ghetto during the last decades of the 20th century after the 200 year-old storm-damaged mansions and workers cottages were abandoned…. Since 2000 they are slowly being renovated and restored to their original state and transformed into apartments and suites – with many shops and bars having now opened too – creating a lively and safe part of Curacao which is within walking distance of the heart of Willemstad.  As we were there we popped into reception to say hi – and our apartment is currently unoccupied so we were given a guided tour. It is in one of the workers cottages and we have a little outside area as well as a couple of plunge pools within yards of the back door – along with all modern stuff like air con, wifi, fridge, cooker, coffee machine, safe etc etc etc. That will do nicely thank you very much!!!!  Lovely area and reminded us a bit of Cuba in places….

Pietermaai area 5

Pietermaai area 2Pietermaai area

Pietermaai area 7

Pietermaai area 6

So now we have confirmed the apartment we headed back to Curacao Marine to sort out revised arrangements. All done – and relax!!!!   Popped into Kooyman along the way – a large Homebase type store – and got quite a few things off our list. Things like sandpaper, brushes, electrical extension leads etc are all much cheaper when it doesn’t have ‘marine’ in front them. Back to the laundry to collect our stuff – and then headed back towards the anchorage. Oh yes – and you know we mentioned security here. Well, the local takeaways all serve through metal grills – enough said???

Popular local food concession

Back on board by the middle of the afternoon we put everything away, revisited shopping lists, and chilled for a little while. We are both getting a bit fed up with the constant howling wind and grey skies…. which makes this anchorage particularly unwelcoming and for a very wet ride on the way back from the dinghy dock!  Oh well…what can you do???? We decided not to go out again so had a movie night on board.

Tuesday morning and we headed off to the Hato Caves. These limestone caves are pretty spectacular as they have an active colony of small bats and are full of pillars / caves / stalactites and stalagmites and interesting formations along with embedded fossils as these islands were formed by movement in the tectonic plates pushing them up from below the sea…. Fascinating tour by a very engaging and amusing guide…. Oh yes, and some unusual looking tortoises here too….

Hato caves 1

Hato caves 2

Hato caves 4

Hato caves 5

Hato caves 6

Back to the car – and we headed back to Island Water World and registered as a boat in transit to get goods duty-free. Got that sorted – purchased everything we needed – and received a 10% loyalty discount too with our card…. Excellent!   Oh yes and we ended up having some lunch at KFC along the way…. KFC, McDonalds and Burger King are hugely popular here and have massive restaurants all over the place…. The smaller local places – which we would prefer – tend to sit on the side of minor roads in the middle of nowhere and we are unsure of whether it is safe for us to be there – so sadly we are avoiding these places and are stuck with fast food if we want to eat while we are out and about….


We drove back to the anchorage via the ring road – going the other way – so that we could cross over the huge bridge and enjoyed the spectacular views below of Willemstad.

View down from the bridge

View down from the bridge 2

These major roads all have a reasonable speed limit – which no-one adheres to – and so they are pretty fast and furious with Richard enjoying driving around at speed again. Me – not so much!!!!   Back on board and we had another movie night – watched The Wrestler – really good film.

Today – Wednesday – and we’ve decided to head to the beach this afternoon after doing boat jobs as the sky is definitely a little clearer.   Hopefully this tropical wave is finally going through – but the wind continues to howl with future forecasts for 30+ knots – we even heel over whilst at anchor!!!  Please – enough – stop…..!!!

Bye for now



Bonaire to Curacao

Saturday morning we were up early and took dink along to the dock at the Dive Shop…. This pier is really high and you have to be a mountain goat to get onto it from a dinghy – but no choice as we are taking our gear back to Morphie today as this is our final dive in Bonaire.

Dive Friends

We were doing the dive shop’s house reef again for the third time…. This is a really relaxing spot and we particularly enjoy it because we can get up close and personal with some pretty big – 4ft – tarpons. They are diver friendly and do not get spooked as you approach them…. We went a bit deeper this dive – down to 25 metres – and hugged the sandy bottom to the reef for a little while hoping for a sighting of an eagle ray. However it was not to be. We ended up doing a multi-level dive for almost 60 minutes – fantastic!

Friendly tarpon

Back in the dive shop and we got all our gear cleaned and then it was the moment of truth. We had to pay! We had 15 tank fills each which included our two boat dives. The tank tracker card worked out the cheapest for us each at US $175 for all the fills… We just had to pay a little on top for the boat trip. But, of course, although most of the diving here was from the shore, you need a truck to get around. So if we add up everything we spent – truck hire, petrol, tank fills, boat costs – we spent around $30 a dive. Amazing value compared to guided diving we have done elsewhere….. and of course we used the truck for other stuff too…..

Back on board for a short time and then we went to the bar to watch the Holland –v- Brazil match for third place. We were very surprised that there really weren’t many people around – and the Brazilian fans left in despair at half time! But nevertheless it was a great atmosphere and we enjoyed it a lot. Well done Holland.

Sunday morning and we had a lazy start and spent most of the day doing boat jobs. We went ashore at 4pm to watch the final match between Germany and Argentina – not realising that it had started at 3pm – doh!!!! But never mind – it wasn’t too busy so we got a seat – and we had missed the first half which had ended up 0:0 anyway…. We enjoyed the second half and thought that Germany did deserve the win. There really wasn’t much of a celebration afterwards and the crowds dispersed quickly. We ended up staying to chat with Don and other friends that we had made….and ended up having a late night! Oh well…..

Monday and we were up early noticing that Freewinds the little cruise ship had returned again.

Cruise ship

We had been watching this ship come and go throughout our time in Bonaire and were surprised that none of the passengers appeared to come ashore – although they did come off en masse for a group swim in the harbour once and a rowing lesson with uniformed callers for the oar movements!  All a bit bizarre we thought. Well – it is even stranger than you would think – as this ship belongs to the Scientologists and is a place for people to secure the highest grade within their order. It markets itself as a religious retreat to immerse oneself…  Worth checking out their website if you are curious to know more!!!!

The weather is looking good to sail to Curacao on Tuesday so we have a few jobs to do. First of all it was to the marina to buy some diesel and pay for our mooring balls as we had stayed a couple of days longer than we had originally planned. Then we walked to customs / immigration to check out and get our clearance papers for Tuesday’s departure. On the way we watched a egret who was keenly watching some fish swim in the shallows.  It is amazing that you can see parrot fish this close to the shore through the spectacularly clear water.

Fishing! Can't catch me!

Then we walked to the supermarket for passage provisions – and then to Budget Marine to collect our propane gas bottle. Guess what?!? They couldn’t fill it… What a surprise….. Just have to hope that it’s possible in Curacao….

Finally we were ready to go to sea – and so was Morphie. Getting ready to head back ashore for our final sundowners in Bonaire and the sea started boiling with small bait fish jumping out of the water all around us – and then we saw why! A tuna – would you believe – was chasing them and even he jumped out a few times during the pursuit. He was easily four foot long. What a spectacle! We had a nice chilled couple of hours ashore before heading back on board for an early night, having watched our last sunset…. and so to bed.

Sunset 1

Tuesday morning and we got up early – made up some rolls – and were off the mooring by 7.30 am for the 35 mile run. We enjoyed the views of Klein Bonaire as we went alongside and then we headed off downwind towards Curacao.

Goodbye Bonaire Klein Bonaire

We followed our rhumb line to go between Klein Curacao and Curacao itself and then headed up the coast. The wind was lighter than planned but it was stormy with squalls and stronger currents / larger waves than we expected. Never mind – we had a great sail – averaging over 6.5 knots all the way. And we got buzzed by the coastguard helicopter on this passage – we are clearly a helicopter magnet as this has happened a few times now!!!!

Helicopter buzzing

I had set a waypoint at the narrow entrance to Spanish Water – our chosen anchorage – and it wasn’t obvious to the naked eye where the channel started. Because we were going with the strong currents as we came up the coast we had to take the wind and the waves on our side as we turned towards it. It was pretty rough and not nice!  As we were getting closer we realised that there were rocks in the middle of the channel and the shoals from the other side came further in than we expected from our charts – electronic or physical versions. And of course no channel markers whatsoever! This is a notoriously tricky place so nervously we just went very slowly and eyeballed our way in. Once into the sheltered water of the channel we turned around to look at it and it looked pretty wide when you are looking at the calm side – but definitely not the same experience when approaching from the sea! Phew – made it!

Spanish Water anchorage Looking back at the entrance to Spanish Water

The channel then opened up and we enjoyed the sight of the fancy resort and the splendid houses that hugged the shoreline. There are shallows throughout the area – and none of them are marked apart from the occasional post here and there – so we carried on being very cautious.

Swanky houses line the shore Fancy resort at entrance to Spanish Water

Within Spanish Water there are designated anchorages and you have to anchor within these zones or the coastguard will move you on. We were hoping to get into Zone A as this was nearest to the Fisherman’s Harbour where there is a dinghy dock and a short walk to the bus stop to go into town, although it is more industrial this end. We felt our way in and anchored just behind the yellow buoy, right on the edge of the zone. We got a good set into mud straight away – and then set up waypoints on our charts to make sure we were within the designated area – wouldn’t fancy being moved on after dark here! Check out our huge neighbour in the next bay!!!

Anchorage zones in Spanish Water Monster neighbour!

All set and we know that to get legal here in Curacao takes a while – so decided to put ourselves in quarantine, raise the yellow flag, and not go ashore. Sadly we were unable to connect to any internet services onboard. So a relaxing afternoon and an early night followed.

Wednesday morning and we were up early and on the 7.55 am bus into Willemstad, the capital of Curacao. We had vague instructions of where to find the customs building – but, of course, we couldn’t find it. We asked a few times and eventually we found it – no signage whatsoever on the outside at pavement level. Entering the building and we were told to go through another unmarked door – and a cleaner tutted at us and we were told to wait until she had finished washing the floor. OK – so we waited until it had dried! The welcome was fine – but was a long and drawn out process. Not sure why he had to have four copies – all individually signed – of the clearance plus then an electronic scan of them all, including our passports. Oh well – part one achieved!

We then found the floating bridge that connects both sides of Willemstad and enjoyed the views as we crossed over. When we looked back to admire the waterfront view we realised that the customs building has a huge sign at the top, but of course you can’t see that from the side we approached!

Floating bridge Customs building

Oh well…. As we got to the other side of the bridge sirens went off and we watched it open to let a little boat come through – we will have to do this when we go into Curacao marine for our haul out – so was good to get an idea of how it all worked!

Bridge opens to let boat in

The instructions were to turn right as you cross the bridge and the immigration / port authority buildings are under the huge 160 foot high road bridge. OK – so we followed the road – admiring the old Dutch buildings as we went – and ended up under the bridge but in a motorway viaduct!  Definitely not right!

Huge bridge with 160 feet clearance

Old Dutch buildings Old Dutch buildings 2

So we retraced our steps and asked at the cruise ship checkpoint – and we were pointed in the right direction between some broken down warehouses, and graffiti strewn rocks, inside the secure area. Would never have guessed this!  Eventually we made it and the process at Immigration was easy and then to the harbour authorities. Yep – more forms – and the best bit of all was that we had to hand draw a picture of Morphie for identification purposes. Richard made a very good effort although I’m not 100% sure we would be recognisable from it LOL.

Not the most obvious route!

Phew…. exhausted with walking in the very hot and humid atmosphere…. and we headed back into town, amazed at the huge cruise ship looming over the town, crossed back over the pontoon bridge and marvelled at the floating fish market and the floating fruit and vegetable markets. These boats come across from Venezuela to sell their wares….

Cruise ship towering over the city

Floating market

Wandering around town we enjoyed the sights and sounds and knew we were in the right place when we came across the huge sign saying Curacao!

Willemstad 1 Willemstad 2 Willemstad 3 Willemstad 4 Willemstad 5 Willemstad 6

Back to the bus terminal we waited patiently for a number 6A and got back on the bus to Spanish Water. Walking from the bus stop we came across a bar called Pirates where we could get internet so had one cold one while we caught up with everything on linel. This was a bit of luck actually as we managed to organise a very cheap rental car for Friday morning while we were there…. We had another quiet night on board – well, I say quiet, what I mean is quiet as in no traffic, no people and no sounds. But the wind howls through here at 25+ knots all of the time so it is not actually that peaceful…. although the wind generator is keeping our batteries topped up very nicely!   And the sunset was spectacular.

Curacao sunset

Thursday morning – today – and we were up early to listen to the cruisers net. Not much going on although we did found out about a cruisers’ happy hour later so might go along to that…. Oh yes – and the stormy weather continues with some torrential rain this morning. Pretty unusual for this area but hey, nothing surprises us any more!

Stormy in the anchorage

We dinked to the Fisherman’s Harbour and waited for the shopping bus. It turned up at 10.00 am and this complimentary bus took us right to the supermarket. Great as it had an ATM inside as well…. We had got US $ drinking vouchers out in Bonaire but didn’t realise that Curacao used the Dutch Guilder. This was the same situation in Sint Maarten but there everyone used US dollars most of the time. Well here – they take the US dollar – but give all change in guilders. And this means that we are never quite sure of whether we are getting the right change or not – so we now have Guilder drinking vouchers to hand LOL!  Good supermarket – got everything we wanted – and back on the bus to the Harbour. In our two seasons onboard this was actually the first complimentary shopping bus we had ever used – so another first this season!  Back on board and Richard is running the generator to make water while I’m blogging……

Tomorrow we pick up the car so are looking forward to exploring the island before we start the hard work of decommissioning Morphie for her lift out of the water on 5 August….. We also need to find somewhere to stay after she is hauled and before we fly….

Bye for now



Chilling in Bonaire

Sunday afternoon and we head off to the beach at Luc Bay. This is a windsurfer’s paradise with shallow blue water and lots of wind….. The dark patches in the photos is sea grass which is being cultivated for the turtles as this is a nesting place for them.  We enjoyed a lovely lunch in the beach bar and then took to the water – amazed by some of the gravity defying leaps around us and the skills of some of the youngsters.

Luc Bay 1 Luc Bay 2 Luc Bay 3 Luc Bay 4 Luc Bay 5

We had a really chilled afternoon people watching and then headed back up the coast to Morphie for a quiet night in after another spectacular sunset.

Sunset 1

Monday morning and we headed off early to return the truck. We were sad to see it go as we had had such good fun exploring the island. But we had pretty much done it all – so it was time….. After dropping off the truck we wandered back to the dive shop and did a single dive on the house reef. And we saw four huge tarpon just hanging around…. We also saw a huge shoal of blue tangs but sadly couldn’t find the seahorse that is supposed to reside on this reef…. Was a good long multi-level dive and we were underwater for almost an hour.

Dive 1 Dive 2

After cleaning and stowing all our gear we headed back to Morphie – with an initial panic because we couldn’t see dink on the pier!   He was still there… but had been pushed underneath… so the top of our outboard got a bit scratched up. Grrrrrr…. this is because people here tie up their dinghies so tight that they bounce others underneath the pilings. Oh well – what can you do???  Anyway… that was us for the day…. we just spent the rest of the day and evening on board.

Tuesday morning we were up really early, had a quick breakfast, made rolls for our surface interval, before heading into town.  We have booked to go boat diving so had to be at the shop ready to go by 8.30 am….. All sorted and there were four of us – which we were pleased about when we saw the size of the little boat that came in. But hang on, loads and loads of tanks on board. Then we find out that there are another 10 people coming from the other dive shop. Going to be a bit tight!

Dive boat

Went and picked them all up – got our gear ready to go – and we headed across the channel to the coast of Klein Bonaire. The first dive of the day was at Leonora’s Reef. A lot of the dive sites have girls’ names – apparently because they were all named after girlfriends of Captain Don!   Not sure whether that is urban myth, but makes for a good story….

This site was a typical sloping reef with huge coral formations with hollow centres – these are the ancient ones because corals age from the inside out and begin to die where the coral polyps are the oldest. Estimates of age for some of the formations here have been placed at over 75 years old.  Unfortunately the visibility wasn’t so great as the weather was overcast so a bit gloomy and a bit busier than we have got used to with so many divers in the water. But they all kept a reasonable distance so we had a good time – with loads and loads and loads of beautiful fish, including a few free swimming eels.

Dive 3 Dive 5

Dive 4

The second dive was Carl’s Hill – and the main feature of this dive is the sheer wall that begins 20 yards offshore and drops to a sandy bottom at 70 feet. The face of the wall is covered with sponges and gorgonians and a seldom seen species called featherbush hydroid which sits on the upper face feeding on the plankton. Again large schools of blue tangs and a few bar jacks were around. We also saw some great little stuff in the shallows as we finished our dive on top of the reef for our safety stop. Really enjoyed boat diving and was glad we had signed up for this.

Dive 6A

Dive 7

Back on board in the middle of the afternoon for a short time then we headed back into the bar…. Time for more football!   This time it was Brazil –v- Germany.   We were anticipating a good match and a great atmosphere as there is a huge Brazilian following here and we had been entertained by them royally during this World Cup. Oh dear….. oh dear….. Terrible upset. The supporters couldn’t bear to watch – and the few German fans celebrating didn’t help matters either. Head in hands and everyone left pretty downcast after such a terrible result for them. Had to feel sorry for them…. After the game we headed back to Morphie for a quiet evening on board – and no cars noisily patrolling the waterfront tonight with flags flying and horns blazing. Not sure that the Road Runner counts LOL

German fan celebrating

Wednesday we were up pretty early and got busy. Boat jobs beckon – Morphie needed some tender loving care down below, particularly the wood. So we changed beds, scrubbed floors, polished walls and generally gave her a spring clean. She looked and smelt lovely afterwards! We then headed back to the bar for the 4pm kick off – tonight is going to be fun – Holland –v- Argentina. Hup Holland Hup!!!  The locals were in festive mood and were clearly expecting to celebrate big time tonight.

Young Dutch fan geting excited

Well the match wasn’t great….and they just couldn’t score. As the time went on it got more and more tense – felt just like watching an England match!!!! Then extra time…. still 0-0. Oh dear.. penalties looming.. and this time they didn’t swap the keeper.

Tension mounts

Not sure what is going on…. Oh dear…. all over…. Holland are out!  Absolutely shock and horror all round…. We had intended to go to the cruisers “burger night” in the marina after the match – but ended up chatting with other people we had met so didn’t move…. and had a pretty late night in the end!

Sunset out to the anchorage

Thursday morning and we were going to go diving…..but didn’t feel like it after the excesses of the night before. And to be honest we were both pretty tired – we have been quite busy since we got here and think it just caught up with us – so ended up doing nothing all day! Just reading, snoozing and chilling. Was lovely!!!!

Sunset 2

Friday morning – today – and we were up early to another stormy, windy and slightly miserable day. We have been surprised by the amount of Sahara dust that is getting dumped on Morphie – but mustn’t complain as the presence of this in the atmosphere suppresses tropical storm activity! But it doesn’t rain here that often to wash it off….

Our first task today was to head off to the smart modern laundry – on foot this time – to get the sheets and towels done.

Large modern laundry

Then to the bank for more drinking vouchers and finally to the local Chinese supermarket as we had managed to run out of soft drinks again – and then back to Morphie. Richard then ran ashore to Budget Marine to drop off our cooking gas bottle as they think they know someone who might be able to fill it. This has been a constant problem up and down the island chain with the US fittings on our bottles – so today Richard ordered an adapter which we hope will help us resolve this once and for all!!!! So fingers crossed for Monday when we go to pick it up. And that’s it for the day folks! Another early night beckons.

Tomorrow we’re planning to do our final shore dive – and then bring the gear back to Morphie to dry off and get it packed up for the season. And I think there might be another football match to go and watch in the afternoon????

Bye for now.




Exploring Bonaire – part three

Wednesday morning and we were up reasonably early to go to the dive shop to pick up our gear and four filled tanks. There is a lot of choice here with 63 dive sites dotted along the coast and they are all for independent exploration. The small dive guide is our bible as it gives information about each site such as strength of currents, whether it is a beginner, intermediate or advanced dive, maximum depths etc etc….  In making our decisions we’re looking for clues into the entry points as we are shore diving and we need to park, kit up, and then walk into the sea. Well – a lot of them don’t have specifics about the entry site but there are a few clues in the names like Rappel, 1000 Steps and Bloodlet…..

Today we had selected Bachelors Beach and Chez Hines with the backup site The Lake, which came highly recommended. So off we go – errrrrr….. we are not able to park even vaguely close to Chez Hines so we scrub that.  So we drive to The Lake – errrrrr…. might be a lovely dive but I really do not fancy sliding off the top of jagged rocks into the depths below – going in might be OK but could not see how you would get out!!!  So scrub that one too…. Off we go again – this time to Aquarius. Yay there is a small channel through the rocks we can see – so we go for it. Getting in was fine – although I was really cautious because I’m concerned about my dodgy ankle as I step from rock to rock.

Aquarius has a sandy bottom and is home to many schooling species. Nice corals here – more colourful than we had seen so far – and we had a great time. Then we moved on to Bachelor’s Beach which has steps down to the small beach – so great easy entry although getting off the bottom of the steps onto the beach below was a bit of a challenge!   Another lovely site and one of my favourites so far….. The coral formations here were much larger, there were more soft corals and it looked like a forest at one point as they swayed together in the swell, as well as huge purple tubes dotted around. The sheer volume of fish is huge – from tiny fry through to very large parrots and trigger fish – and they are all pretty curious and it is not unusual to get a few of them eyeball to eyeball!!! There are a few small critters of note too if you look hard enough. But still no turtles or eagle rays…. Check out some of our favourites.

Dive Day 1

After diving we headed back to the shop – cleaned our gear and stowed it for another day – and then back to Morphie. We made water and charged the batteries for a while and then decided not to go ashore….. so had a quiet and chilled evening on board.

Thursday morning we were up early and having a cup of tea in the cockpit when we see dolphins playing in the channel between Bonaire and Klein Bonaire… They didn’t come very close – and of course the camera was being charged so no chance of photos – but great to see them. Oh yes, and a turtle popped his head up to say hi too!   What a great start to the day….

Today we are exploring the Washington Slagbaai National Park. This park covers a significant portion of the top end of Bonaire and we get free entrance with our diving tokens. So we packed a picnic lunch and headed off… arriving at the park around 10.  I was quite taken by all the cactus fences surrounding properties on the drive there – bet that keeps intruders out!

Cactus fence

At the welcome centre there is a little museum which was interesting about the history of Bonaire – and we spotted a hawk!  We picked up our park map and decided to go the yellow route through the park – which is 34 km long and takes about 2 ½ hours if you don’t stop….. Driving off and it is just dirt roads – but not too bad with concrete reinforcement at dodgy bits – and then you enter into a moonscape!  Mountains; rocks with fossils embedded; the towering terraces caused by the rise and fall of the ocean dating back 1 million years; the crashing dangerous sea onto the lee shore; the wind turbines; the blowholes; the sandy inlets; the fresh water lakes; more salt; more flamingos; dive sites designed for mountain goats; cliffs; and some old ruins and renovated historic buildings. We were blown away by the sheer natural beauty of it all….

Park17 Park 1 Park 2 Park 3 Park 4 Park 5 Park 6 Park 7 Park 8 Park 9 Park10 Park11 Park12 Park13 Park14 Park15 Park16

Park21 Park23 Park22

We eventually ended up at a little beach for our picnic and enjoyed a short time bobbing while watching all the macho posturing of the ‘look at me’ divers as they surfaced with all their knives; their BCDs equipped with every useless object you could find in a dive shop; and their huge camera / light displays. Quite funny!!! Actually this dive site looked great – and we were a little jealous – but realistically there was no way we would have fancied having tanks in the back of our truck while we bumped and shuddered along these tracks…..

Park20 Park18 Park19

After a while it was time to head off again to drive the final 7 kms to exit the park before it closed – and this was the worst bit of the whole day. The tracks got increasingly narrow, windy and steep. Richard enjoyed his attempt at rally driving while I was just glad to escape without serious injury LOL!

Park24 Park25

Phew – finally we arrived back to Kralendijk having had a fantastic day out – pretty tired and a little bruised! – so we had a couple of restorative cold beers watching the sunset whilst sitting on the pier before we retired back to Morphie for the night.

Sunset 1

Friday and we are off diving again…. This time we planned to dive Alice in Wonderland and Tori’s Reef.  Alice in Wonderland has a split reef and you have to watch your depth gauge carefully – but we managed to navigate ourselves around and get back to exactly where we started. We are getting lots of practice at this!!!  This is a very popular site – so we saw other divers underwater. We were a bit shocked to see how bad some of them were particularly with buoyancy issues. They weren’t crashing into the coral thankfully but they were all over the shop… with flailing arms and legs….one woman even managed to kick Richard in the face as we passed by….   We also saw quite a lot of solo divers too which surprised me – but everyone to their own I guess – or maybe their buddy was too far away for us to see ?!?!?   We enjoyed this dive but didn’t really see anything different. The next dive was Tori’s reef which was a bit of a struggle to get into the channel out over the rocks – but we managed it. This is the number two dive in the whole of the Caribbean for fish diversity – and I can see why. Another huge aquarium filled with loads and loads of critters….. Nothing of particular note – just overwhelming numbers, although I have to say that parrot and angel fish do seem to go to the toilet quite a lot and they particularly like to do this on top of our heads LOL!!!! More favourite things below…. Dive Day 2

Back on board – sitting in the cockpit watching the comings and goings and we admired this nice yacht coming into the anchorage….. He went towards a couple of mooring balls – and then carried on going – straight towards the wall….. And then he ran aground. Oh dear….. So Richard is in the dinghy to offer international rescue services – one of the guys took a line to the mooring balls behind and the owner of the yacht started to winch that. Another guy took a line to the dinghy and started to pull – Richard went to the other side and pushed. Eventually they got him free and safely onto a set of mooring balls. There is a reef ledge just along the waterfront but it looks like he grounded before hitting that – which was a bit of luck because I don’t think he would have got off of that without doing some major damage…. Excitement over and we got ourselves ready to go out to dinner.

International rescue

We had dinner at It Rains Fishes – a beautiful waterfront restaurant we are moored almost directly opposite. Richard had a duo fish soup starter whilst I had shrimp croquet – followed by steak for me while Richard was tempted by the steak and lobster combo. The food was fantastic, cooked beautifully, and the ambience was great – although one of the tables behind us was a bit noisy, so not quite the romantic evening it would have been otherwise!  We did succumb to deserts too – I had the chocolate duo while Richard tried out the home-made tiramisu ice cream – but I forgot to take photos.   Doh!!!

It Rains Fishes 1 It Rains Fishes 2 It Rains Fishes 3 It Rains Fishes 4 It Rains Fishes 5 It Raines Fishes 6

Oh yes we watched the firework display further down the coast which presumably was for US Independence Day. Hope all our American friends had a good one…..

Saturday we were up early – more diving – this time to Andrea I and Bari’s Reef. The entry at Andrea I was difficult – climbing carefully over jagged rocks and then pulling ourselves over flat boulders to get into deep enough water to get the fins on…. But it was worth it – this was a very interesting dive site in terms of different topography, more twists and turns, more colours, and the biggest parrot fish we had ever seen in our lives!!! They were absolutely humongous…..and when they crunched down on the coral the noise was very loud….. We also saw a few barracudas, a giant pufferfish, some nudibranches, lots of cleaner shrimps, and were blown away by the place. This is the number one dive site for fish diversity in the whole Caribbean and it lives up to its name.

Dive Day 3

Back on land – doing our surface interval eating digestives and sipping water – we were joined by some huge iguanas…. They were easily four foot long – and were very keen to sample our biscuits!  I know you are not supposed to feed wild animals but this was just too tempting – they loved them LOL… Iguana Iguana 2

Back in the truck and we headed off to do Bari’s reef. Entry was easier from a sandy beach – but I didn’t realise there was a step down and got caught by a wave coming in – so managed to fall on my bum in a very unladylike fashion on the way in…. And of course there were people around to see this! Ooops….. No harm done apart from to my pride – and we descended. Bit gloomy here but at least the reef wasn’t a long swim away like some of the other sites. This place had been recommended to us – but to be honest it wasn’t a patch on our earlier dive… The topography was boring, the corals looked a little beaten up without much colour and although lots of fish around, just the usual suspects. Oh well – never mind.

Back to the dive shop to clean and stow the kit – then back to Morphie for a couple of hours relaxing. We chilled out reading and snoozing – then got ready to go out again. Time for more World Cup football – Holland are playing – so we want to be part of the orange world!   Back to Karels – and we managed to get a spot near the bar – and we watched the match. Well….. the Dutch were going mad!!!!  They had so many chances and so much of the possession – but just couldn’t get that ball to go in the goal. Then it’s extra time….and groans get louder as the tension rises. Then they fail to score again and it’s coming down to penalties. Quickly they swapped their goalie out – and the locals explained that their normal goalie isn’t so good at penalties as the other one – and the whole bar held it’s collective breath!!!

Holland game 1

Thankfully they made it – hurrah – orange drinks all round…. Lots of shouting, screaming, car horns, dancing, firecrackers, laughing…. just complete excitement. Well done! Really good time had by all.

Holland game 2 Holland game 3 Holland game 4 Holland game 5

And after the game…..while the whole of the island was celebrating….there was the most beautiful sunset ever.

Sunset 2Today – Sunday – and we have to give our truck back tomorrow   As we had quite a bit to drink last night celebrating along with the rest of the bar – we decided not to go diving. So I’m blogging while Richard is doing boat jobs.  Later on this afternoon we plan to go to the beach for a bobbing session…..

Bye for now



Exploring Bonaire – part two

Friday morning and we got cracking.  I cleaned more stainless and even climbed up to wash the huge amounts of Sahara dust from the solar panels.  Richard did more maintenance and other cleaning jobs down below…… Phew…… Really hot and humid here now – so everything seems to take so much more effort than before.

After an early dinner on board we headed into the town square where there was a commemoration evening for Captain Don – the Dutch guy who introduced diving to Bonaire having shipwrecked his yacht on arrival – having somehow managed to rescue his scuba tanks.  He was something of a character, ran his own dive operation, and lived to a ripe old age. It appeared that he was universally loved and there was a constant scroll of photos of him on the big screen throughout the evening.

The evening included the kids with the local dance troupe doing a modern dance after  a rendition of Mary Poppins!  Couldn’t believe that here we were in Bonaire singing along to Supercalifragilisticexpialidocous!  Completely bonkers….. Oh yes, and that wasn’t the only thing that surprised us – there was a full-on kebab van doing proper doners…. and was the busiest food outlet of the night! We can only eat them after a drink, not before or during LOL!!!!

Mary Poppins Modern dance

Then it was the turn of the fire dancer / eater to entertain us – and his friend on the mike got some local kids to dance and then their parents. All good family fun…..

Fire eater

Fire dancing

Oh yes, and we bought a single raffle ticket, and guess what!  We won!!!  Seriously – the first ticket of the night was ours and we won two t-shirts from one of the local dive operators. We never usually win anything….!!!!

Raffle prize

Overall we had a great evening and thought that Captain Don would have been proud. We listened and watched some local teenagers that had won the equivalent of Britain’s Got Talent and were now appearing in Curacao. Eventually we called it a night and left.

Saturday dawned and it was miserable – raining intermittently and grey. The wind had dropped as well so our battery bank was feeling the pain!   Oh yes….and the fridge and freezer are working….but they are drawing way too much power.   Need to get this sorted next season pronto!    We were on board doing boat jobs most of the day and headed in for sundowners….. We caught the end of the Columbian game and enjoyed the spectacle of the VERY noisy and excited fans celebrating their success…..

Columbian celebrations

We then headed back onboard for a quiet night and a spectacular moody sunset.

Sunset 2

Sunday morning and we were up early. The Dutch were playing again in the World Cup so we wanted to be part of the orange world.  So we went into the bar for the 12 noon kick-off – Hup Holland Hup!   Well…. it got quieter and quieter as the game went on – oops looks like they might not make it – so you can only imagine the noise and cheering and general excitement when Holland scored and eventually made it through! Phew….. Having enjoyed a few Coronitas (baby Coronas) we decided not to watch the next game and went back on board for a quiet afternoon / evening.

Beautiful sunset

Monday morning and we headed into town to hire a car. Well, actually, it’s a pick-up truck. They don’t allow you to have dive gear in the cars so this is what we ended up with instead. All very new and shiny and probably the best – and definitely the most expensive – rental we’ve had this season.

Our pick-up truck

The rules were carefully explained to us – no locking doors; no leaving anything in the truck; leave windows open and any contents on full view. All very alien – but apparently, if you leave it open the local vagabonds can check it out and will leave it alone. Leave a bag inside and they will steal it. Lock it up and there is clearly something worth stealing inside – so they smash windows!  Not what we were expecting but hey, if the locals say this is how to do it, then who are we to argue????

Now that we had transport we decided to explore a bit of the island. Bonaire is largely desert and volcanic rock and is very desolate in places – and completely different from the lush green islands that we have visited. But it has its own beauty – a bit like Anegada – with coral strewn beaches and empty roads and the sea has the most visibility than we have ever encountered. Watching parrot fish from the jetty or the pier when you know the water is 20 feet deep is something very special.

Desolute! Colour of the sea Coast road Cactus everywhere

We went down the west coast of the island and noticed all the yellow boulders on the shore line which link to yellow markers in the ocean – all marked dive sites ready to be explored. Looking forward to doing this soon!

We then visited the slave huts – the slaves imported here were largely involved in the production of salt – and marvelled at the huge mounds of salt being harvested…. There were flamingos in the salt lakes too… Amazing.

Slave huts 1 Slave huts 2 Slave huts 3 Salt production Salt production 2 Flamingos

Further down the coast and we came across a number of obelisks – these used to be coloured red, white and blue to match the Dutch flag – and were identifiers for ships coming to collect salt with the different coloured obelisks identifying the grade of salt available at each location. The slave huts were incredibly small with just a tiny doorway and a window to the rear – quite sobering to realise that people lived in this barren land in such harsh conditions.


We then headed off to Luc Bay – a windsurfers paradise…..   Had a sandwich and a soda before moving on…..

Luc Bay

We then visited the donkey sanctuary. Originally the donkeys were involved in the movement of salt – and were left to run wild on the island when machines took their place. A Dutch woman decided to rescue them from a life of scrounging and being injured / mistreated – so she managed to obtain an area equal to six football pitches and now rescues them.  Males are castrated immediately and the females – who are usually pregnant when they arrive – are sterilised after they have given birth. The new arrivals, mothers and babies are kept separately until they have settled – being fed three times a day, and some of the newborns with additional milk – and then they are left to roam around the area and are fed twice a day. We visited the babies first – and Richard decided that a selfie with one of the little ones would be a good idea, hilarious result! – and then we drove into the compound.

Ahhhhhh..... Feeding time 1 Your face my ass!! Feeding time 2

As we drove along we met a few donkeys here and there and we gave them carrots…. Oh yes, and then they all materialised out of nowhere and started chasing us. It was funny to start with – then they stood in front of us, wouldn’t move, would run alongside and we would worry about hitting them…. All for carrots!   Well, in the end, it wasn’t funny as they were getting a bit naughty so we just chucked carrots out along the side of the road and only fed a few by hand when we were sure there were none hiding around the corner!  Check out the photo of one running alongside……

Hand over your carrots!

Later on we ended up back in the bar for a couple of cold ones before retiring back to Morphie to watch another sunset and have a quiet evening on board.

Sunset 3

Tuesday morning and we were out and about early. We picked up four dive tanks – two smaller ones for me and two normal sized for Richard. Decided to go down this route – and I wore my really old 1mm suit rather than my normal 3mm one – just to reduce the amount of weight that I have to carry. Shore diving is much more strenuous than boat diving…..

Our first site was called 18 Palms – after the palm trees that line the road. This dive was very similar to the ones that we had done off the back of Morphie – and nothing in particular to note other than the huge shoals of fish that were around. They weren’t particular big fish but wow – definitely another aquarium job!   Then we moved along the coast to Windsock (named because it is close to the airport) – which had a pier to the right and a split reef to the left. The coral here was different – with large bombies along with quite a bit of fire and stag coral. Loads of soft stuff in between too…. We stayed around 20 metres / 60 feet on the way out and 10 metres / 30 feet on the way back. The navigation was tougher than the others but we managed to get back to where we had started from and had a great dive. The fish here were larger than we had seen – of particular note are the parrots, trigger fish and porcupine fish who are up to two feet long!  And then the huge shoals of blue tangs come along….following the goat fish who churn up the bottom….and another very large wrasse. He was probably three feet long. The coral here had more colour to it – and there were loads of purple sponges lying around. This was also a nursery for sergeant majors and others. Fantastic!  Here are some of our favourite dive buddies…..

Dive buddies

Oh well…. back to the truck – back to the dive shop, cleaned and stowed all our gear – then back to Morphie who really likes her mooring balls……

Morphie likes it here too.....

And then we picked up the laundry.    Yes, I know…. more laundry….. but sheets and towels are really hard to hand wash and get dried – so we end up collecting them until we find somewhere to get them done. The laundry here was great – very very clean, loads of machines etc, free wifi and ability to buy soft drinks. We were about to start watching the USA game on the TV too but the woman who worked there switched it over to some cheesy Spanish soap opera!  Oh well… never mind. Laundry done – and we ended up back in Karels for a couple of beers just to catch the end of the match. Huge crowd in – and split loyalties – so was a pretty good atmosphere. Was a tough game…. Well done Belgium – bad luck USA, you played well. My loyalty was with the USA of course – not because we have loads of friends there actually – but really because their manager Jurgen Klinsman used to play for Spurs (Tottenham Hotspur) many years ago and I loved watching him in action!!!!

After the game we had a quiet night on board and enjoyed the unusual sight of a small cruise ship in the harbour…..

Visitor for a couple of days....

This morning – Wednesday – and we went diving again. More details to follow in the next blog. Bye for now