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Saturday, June 29, 2013

June 29, 2013-Santa Kruz Baai, Curacao

We went to Santa Kruz Baai on our way out of Curacao. It was beautiful. We met Henry; he was charming.

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We left soon.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Curacao

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

June 27, 2013-Turning a Corner

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Curacao: a hot, dry and windswept island of sun, sand and cactus. To get here you run downwind from the eastern Caribbean Islands for days and in the strong trade winds, like we’ve been having, there is no going back (some rugged sailors have done so; my hat is off to them).

It is a place which seems far away from anywhere. Its sister islands, Aruba, and Bonaire, seem similarly remote from the rest of the Caribbean, out here in the sea by themselves. Maybe Far Tortuga is out here somewhere.

In reality though, the ABC’s aren’t remote and alone. There are other islands nearby, though you can’t see them, and the South America coast, Venezuela, is only 35 miles away. So even though it seems remote and desolate, it isn’t really. And there are people, lots of them, and cars and boats, and houses. Still, maybe it’s just the endless howling of the wind and the often empty streets that make it seem so, but we half expect to see tumbleweeds to come flying across the road.

Other than this feeling of remoteness, I find Curacao interesting for some other reasons. It is heavily populated and there is evidence of money. The houses are big and nice looking, on lots with high walls, and they have double car garages, but the residents themselves remain hidden from view, giving the place the air of a rich ghost town. Where does the money come from I wonder? These homes are retirement homes for people from Holland, I was told, so maybe that’s it.

And the geography is interesting. While so many islands in the Caribbean have no protected ports, Curacao has many. We are anchored in one, Spanish Waters; an inland bay completely protected from the sea, surrounded by nice homes and moored boats. And St. Anna Bay, around which Willemstad, the capital, is built, leads inland like a canal to the Schottegat, the vast natural harbor filled with container terminals, docks, and shipyards. There are other harbors, Fuki Baai, Piscadera Baai, and Santa Martha Lagoon; all accessible from the sea but fully enclosed with deep water inside. What geological conditions produced this place?

The value of these harbors was recognized early on by the Spanish, Dutch, and English, who all fought to own this island. The Dutch won in the end and Willemstad was built by the Dutch 400 years ago and quickly became an important shipping port and the center of the African slave trade as well as a hub for piracy. These activities brought wealth to Curacao. Though the slave trade and the pirates are long gone, Willemstad has remained one of the Caribbean’s important cities. Today it is a world heritage site, richly cosmopolitan and valued for its Dutch colonial architecture and its history as well as the busy port. We have enjoyed walking Willemstad’s narrow streets, having meals in its quaint café’s and relaxing by the waterfront drinking cold Heineken beers.

But for us, Curacao is the end of the Caribbean. When we leave here, or when we leave Aruba, our last Caribbean island stop, we’ll go into to a new world: Latin America.

Chart of the Caribbean.

Click here for an explanation of the chart.

We’ve come westward 500 miles across the Caribbean Sea towards these islands where we are now, well away from the beaten cruiser paths of the eastern Caribbean, and each mile we’ve come has been windier, rougher, and seemingly more remote from one before it, but we are about at the limit. Soon we’ll sail over the top of South America, past one of the windier places in the world, the Peninsula de la Gaujira, and we’ll turn a corner, out of the Caribbean where we’ve spent the last 15 months, and into the Columbia Basin, where the winds will go lighter, the seas calmer, and the culture will be Latin American salsa instead of Caribbean reggae.

We will have turned a corner and turned a page.

We are ready for it.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Curacao

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

June 23, 2013-Curaçao

wingssail images-fredrick roswold

There are a few sunburned and wizened old single handers here, mostly Dutch.

"The bus driver doesn't like us." Dick said.

"Why?" I asked. We were hanging out on his boat, a catamaran with barnacles creeping up the side. He's been here for nine years.

"Because we're Dutch." His buddy Haus nodded.

"I don't get it, doesn't Holland put heaps of money into this country?"

"Yeah, but we were the slave owners 200 years ago." he answered.

So that's the story of Curaçao:

The Dutch built this place, brought in slaves, and now, 200 years later, there is still resentment over that fact.

Understandable, I guess.

The truth is that the Dutch own this island, support it, and in the background, hold it standing upright, but the coloreds simmer.

They always will.

We've been here only a few days, but the underlying tensions are evident. Never mind that, what about from our perspective?

Well, Curaçao is old, and beautiful. And we love it.

Discovered by the Spanish in 1502, Curaçao had a great harbor, one of the best in the world, still does, and it was a natural hub for shipping trade in the southern Caribbean. The island was occupied by the Dutch in 1634 and the Dutch West India Company made Curaçao a centre for the Atlantic slave trade in 1662. That and piracy flourished here for a few hundred years bringing wealth to Curaçao and Holland. The capitol city of Willemstad, with its attractive Dutch and Latin American architecture, still stands, as does the legacy of Dutch rule over the larger black population.

And that is what Dick was alluding to when we told me that the blacks resent the Dutch.

What we noticed while travelling around Curaçao is that while the Dutch own the place, the blacks and, equally, the Venezuelans, run the place. They give it the feel on the streets and in the shops, and it is they whom you will be dealing with as you travel around the island.

And that part we are OK with. In fact we love the Latin American feel of Curaçao.

We just don't like the sullenness we experience sometimes.

But I guess we can't blame them.

Click here for more photos of Curaçao.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Curaçao

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June 19, 2013-Bonaire


Hot, dry, windy.

Sand and cactus and a couple of little towns; sleepy maybe, but nice enough.

We arrived on Sunday and picked up a mooring off the capital, Kralendijk, and checked in. Had to go back to the office on Monday for immigration. They gave us 90 days but we'll be gone before that.

Nice as Bonaire is, we're on the move now.

Then we shifted to the marina. Got power and water and WiFi and rented a motor scooter for a week.

We had wheels.

Kralendijk, Bonaire

Drove south along the shore and found Kite Beach where the kite boarders were holding a championship for closed course racing, the middle and South American Championships.

Got some photos.

Hooked up with Jan Eckmann and Dave on the yacht Baraka. Friends of Taipan and Jan used to work at Bank of America. We knew a lot of people in common. They rented a truck and we drove to the other end of the island, through the national park. Saw lots of Flamingoes in the salt ponds.

Diving is nice here; Bonaire is known for it. We snorkeled a few places and agreed that it was pretty good.

Found a great Dutch supermarket, Van Der Tween, and a Karel's, a good bar for happy hour drinks.

That about does it for Bonaire.

Click here for Bonaire scenes.

Click here for images from Slagbaai Washington Park, including Flamingoes

Click here for images of Kite Board Racing

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, on Passage to Curacao

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

June 9, 2013-Arrival In Bonaire

Kralendijk, Bonaire.

It took us three days to sail to Bonaire.

Three nice, downwind, easy sailing, days.

Almost boring.


Don't get us wrong, we loved it.

And on Sunday, June 9, 2013, we arrived in Bonaire and took a mooring ball in front of the town, Kralendijk. (it's Dutch).

This is a nice place. Very civilized. Quite the change to be in a peaceful little Dutch village after hearing the jungle drums of Dominica for a couple of weeks.

We have some adventuring to do here; we'll report back soon.

Meanwhile, click here for more Dominica images.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Bonaire

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Thursday, June 06, 2013

June 6, 2013-Leaving Dominca and the Antilles Islands

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Prince Rupert Bay (Portsmouth) Dominca.

We will weigh anchor at 12:00 today and set our course for Bonaire, in the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao), which will put Dominica the entire Antilles Islands behind us once and for all. It is not likely we will come this way again.

We have enjoyed our time in these lovely islands, and we recognize that there is much here in the eastern Caribbean that we did not see or do. Much more than we actually saw or did in fact. We hardly touched the place.

But we can't go everywhere.

This trip to the SW will take about three days, and for the first time since we arrived in Trinidad over a year ago we will be sailing downwind (if you trust the weatherman).

We'll check in after we arrive in Bonaire.


Here are more photos of Dominica

and Portsmouth

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Dominca

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Sunday, June 02, 2013

June 1, 2013-Indian River Trip on Dominica

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Martin Carriere, River Guide

The island of Dominica is known for it's natural beauty. Forests, mountains, and rivers invite cruisers ashore to hike and explore. One trip we took was up the Indian River in one of the nature preserves with our guide, Martin Carriere. You cannot take your own dingy and no motors are allowed, but the guided trip didn't cost much and was really worth it.

Click here for photos of the Indian River trip.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Dominica

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Saturday, June 01, 2013

May 29, 2013-Sailing to Dominica

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Hurrying Towards Shelter.

On this day Wings departed Antigua bound for Dominica. After a stay in Dominica we'll go to Bonaire, then Columbia and eventually Panama and into the Pacific once again. Southward and westward...ever westward.

It has been an eventful four months in Antigua and we almost began to feel at home there, but it was time to move on. The Pacific has been calling to us.

We set sail from Jolly on a course of due south, intending to overnight to Dominica. With two reefs in the main and the small jib we were looking for an easy sail but instead of easy we got fast. The wind was in the twenties and we flew souther’d hitting mid eights by the B&G but those instruments have been optimistic lately; probably only the high sevens, but fast enough.

At dusk Montserrat was abeam to leeward, just a jagged outline against the setting sun.

By nightfall the wind was higher, the mid twenties, and the waves were big giving us a rolly and wet sail. Time after time throughout the night the bow sliced the tops off of waves and the resulting buckets of salt water blew back onto the dodger at 30 knots, then cascaded down the side decks and filled the cockpit where the lines and sheets sluiced around for a minute or two until the drains finally did their jobs. It was not the easy sail we’d wished for.

After Guadeloupe Island we turned upwind and, if anything, the ride got worse: more heel, more water. Something to be endured not enjoyed. Yet still we hit the high eights and low nines so at least we were getting there.

Dawn found us running through squalls and rain for the shelter of Dominica’s lee and we anchored at 08:00.

In sunshine.

The calm harbor was welcoming.

Click here for a few more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Dominica

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