A week on Curacao

You don’t need an engine to get from Bonaire to Curacao. You could float there in your bath-tub if you so desired, because you have wind, waves and current helping you along. We checked out from Bonaire on Friday evening and let go of the mooring Saturday morning after breakfast. We set sail within 5 minutes and sailed until we rounded the north tip of Klein Curacao 3,5 hours later. The sail was easy, comfortable and fast, with us averaging 7,1 knots on a downwind sail, using just our genoa.

Klein Curacao is a tiny uninhabited island with a beautiful beach, a spectacular shipwreck, great visibility and lots of fish. There are a couple of paths you can walk on the island, all of them leading past the one conspicuous landmark on the island: the lighthouse. The last time I was there you couldn’t climb to the top, but this time it was open, so we headed to the top for a good view of the island. Klein Curacao belongs to Curacao and we should have checked in before we went there, but it’s a real slog to get back there, once you’ve sailed past it, so most people opt to stop at Klein before going to Curacao. We spent one night and two lovely days, lounging on the boat, swimming in the water, exploring the island and relaxing, completely off the grid.

We sailed to Curacao and planned to sail all the way to Spanish Water, but on our way there, we spotted Lizzie, a boat that had been our “neighbor” on Bonaire. They headed into Fuik Baai and we decided to do the same, because it was approaching sun down and it’s a lot better to arrive in a place like Spanish Water when you have lots of daylight left, just in case it’s tough to find an anchoring spot. In Fuik Baai we anchored a bit away from the weekend party crowd and had a quiet night there. Most people we’ve spoken to afterwards were surprised that the Coast Guard didn’t come and give us a hard time for being there without having checked in, but while we saw them checking out the party crowd in the evening, they never bothered us.

Bright and early the next morning we motored into Spanish Water, found a good anchoring spot and dropped the hook. We headed straight ashore and tied up the dinghy at the protected and guarded dinghy dock, and took a minibus into Willemstad. We first went to Customs, where a new guy was working behind the desk, doing his first check-in, so it took a solid hour and a half, before we went over to Immigration and as luck would have it, they were doing training, so it took another hour. Before we had to wait thirty minutes at the port office, to pay our $10 anchoring fee. In total 3 hours to check in, but since it only costs $10, it’s OK and there was no hassle over the fact that we had spent the night in both Klein Curacao and Fuik Baai before checking in.

We sent the customs and immigration papers straight to Caribbean Cargo Services, so that they could start clearing our pallet through Customs. We were told that if we were lucky, we would be able to receive it by Friday (this was on the Monday). We crossed our fingers, because we wanted to be on our way to Colombia. While we waited, we decided to have a good look around Willemstad. It is a nice and colorful town, with a great floating fruit market (the boats come from Venezuela to sell fruit and vegetables). It’s also quite touristy, but it didn’t matter to us. We enjoyed a nice lunch in town before heading back to Stella Polaris.

The next days, I ended up walking the 4 km back and forth to Caribbean Cargo Services a few times, to ensure that everything was on schedule, while Margrethe went to Vreugendhil to provision.

Everything worked out well. Caribbean Cargo Services did an excellent job and we got the pallet delivered to the dinghy dock on the Friday. We cracked it open and were happy to see that nothing was broken or missing. It took two runs with an overfilled dinghy to get everything out to the boat. We had a little cockroach scare, because when I looked at the sailcover, I saw a big bug that looked like a roach. I managed to grab him and throw him into the water, but he’d left some brown stuff on one of the sails and the sail cover, so I went to work with a detergent, to clean it all away. Hopefully I got all the eggs or whatever they were, so that we won’t have any problems with roaches.

With everything onboard we jumped on a bus into Willemstad and checked out. We wanted to go to the movies to see Finding Dory (Finding Nemo 2), but were a bit pressed for time, so I ended up speedwalking to Immigration, so that we were finished checked out, before we saw the film. Afterwards we hitched a ride back to Spanish Water and went to bed early, so that we could have an early start on Saturday, and get on our way to Colombia as soon as it got light.

In total we spent a week on Curacao and enjoyed European efficiency, stores and friendliness. Our only regret: not spending longer!