Escaping to Safety

Our last trip on Qi for a little while was to get her to safe waters out of the hurricane zone. Not wanting to spend my birthday in the middle of the Caribbean, we waited until the following day for a three and a half day sail to Curacao. The wait was really worth it as I was spoilt with a holiday in a luxurious marina with a swimming pool and real showers. Getting to wash my hair in fresh water was a real birthday treat. The restaurant that I had chosen was just across the road at the gate where we enjoyed the local fare in an array of tapas. Thomas got to eat all the meat and fish dishes, including a local octopus concoction. There was plenty of vegetable dishes for me to try. It was a lovely day and I felt as though I had my darling captain’s attention all day. He was very sweet.

A lovely night out for my birthday

A lovely night out for my birthday

Late at night as squalls from a passing tropical wave kissed us briefly, I noticed some flashing lights in the near distance. There was a line of about five of them and then a fixed light at the end. Thomas thought they must have been some sort of fishing device but I considered the most likely explanation was that they were alien visitors from space. We were a long way out for fishermen. Still, we had to take care not to be abducted so I turned off all our lights so we wouldn’t be detected. We had listened to the advice of other people who had travelled this route and others whose fear had prevented them from doing so due to the Venezuelan fishermen transforming into pirates if an opportunity rose and running stealth was almost unanimously agreed upon as the best way to avoid their attention. After a short while a commercial ship crossed our wake the captain thought it was time to be seen again. Safer in the long run. Not long after that we were hailed by our coordinates to identify ourselves to the Venezuelan navy. “Now answer this question carefully,” the authoritative voice said, “What is your cargo?” A quick response on my behalf was that we were a pleasure craft and had no cargo. After a short pause they told us it was okay and we could continue on our way. I guess they were looking for honest drug runners.

Arriving in the main harbour in Curacao. Yellow building is one of the oldest in town. 1600s

Arriving in the main harbour in Curacao. Yellow building is one of the oldest in town. 1600s

 

We had a nice quick sail with the wind on our back quarter. Memories of the Atlantic roll were fresh in our minds but we were travelling quicker this time. Lots of noises as unsecured items in cupboards banged from side to side also. Out came the bubble wrapped thus stored for such an occasion. We arrived on a Sunday so we rested up in Spanish Waters on anchor. Within half an hour the coast guard boarded us to check on our paperwork etc. It seems like the Dutch and the French are the only really active guardians in the Caribbean. We booked in the next day. Over thirty knots of wind was recorded in the anchorage so Thomas went off to check in leaving me on the boat to keep an eye on things. He had to catch a bus into the city and this took quite sometime. Once he reached immigration they informed him that I had to be in attendance as well. So he returned to collect me as we had no cell phones at this stage. By the time we checked in it was quite late in the afternoon and the immigration officer said, “What? You arrived when? And you’re only checking in now?” She looked mean but calmed when we explained that Thomas had been there earlier. It really took the whole day up. We quickly enjoyed some sightseeing around the beautiful city with lots of Dutch influence in the architecture and lots of Venezuelan influence in the people and music. A magical combination.

A bride and groom on the bowsprit of an old boat about to take the leap

A bride and groom on the bowsprit of an old boat about to take the leap

The following day we went through the pontoon bridge to enter the city – quite an entrance. Pastel coloured historic buildings lined the way. Weddings, restaurants and tourists went about their business as we moved to the Curacao Marina. After a swift docking we scanned the area to come to the conclusion that we in the middle of bloody nowhere. A courtesy supermarket bus went daily on the week days so we wouldn’t starve anyway. We were lucky enough to meet some of the other cruisers. One, a German, was flying out that night so had some warm beer to share. He was a roadie who had travelled with the Rolling Stones for nearly twenty years and did the Michael Jackson tour downunder. Interesting chap. Then we met Saskia and Richard off ‘Velvet’ Richard is an Aussie who’s just bought a boat in Portugal. He’s sailing home and met the beautiful and fun loving Saskia on the way. They were good value and helped us by running us around with their rental car and taking us out for a night out and then a sightseeing tour of the island. They were fun company and we enjoyed ourselves immensely.

Our day out on Curacao with Saskia and Richard

Our day out on Curacao with Saskia and Richard

 

We visited some caves that were used by runaway slaves. As this island is old reef raised from the bottom of the sea, there were plenty of fossils and unusual formations in the rocks. On our journey to the north of the island we visited a national park that resembled a moon scape. The ancient corals formed a rugged coast line where blow holes shot water high into the air. There was a natural bridge and small coves to visit. The island itself is very dry and barren looking although small groves of trees did exist in places. We had our picnic lunch on a beautiful beach where the turquoise water teased the fact that my camera’s battery was dead. We swam out and snorkelled at a drop off point. An abundance of corals and fish created a beautiful scene. We will return here when we’re back from Germany. It’s a beautiful spot.

 

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