Posts Tagged ‘Aruba’

20-20

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Yeah. Not anymore. When we’re at the most important stage of our life we want to be older. We want freedom. We want to go where we want and do what we want. When we get older we want to to retire. We want freedom. We want to go where we want and do what we want. We forget that our body may want to also but it too has aged. My eyes betray me. I don’t really feel any different than when I was 20. I think I can run as far, jump as high, sing as badly as I did then. But my eyes, they tell me a different story.

They were at one time 20-13 and 20- 15.  Yep, in general I could see 25% better then my those with “normal” eyes. I could walk by a student’s desk and just standing nearby read what they had written. It kept me in the loop.  My eyes could witness bad calls in tennis from across the court. I could read a bo0k of any size print from a few centimeters in front of me to arms length. My eyes adjusted. Not anymore. They’re winning the race by various parts of my anatomy  to be the  first to show real signs of  age. Some might argue my hair was a give away 30 years ago. But I don’t see my hair. I don’t feel my hair. And my hair has so little effect on what or how I do anything so I don’t count it.

We went to the Optometrist last week. She is the sweetest, nicest, cutest Dr. I’ve ever been to. Her name she said is  “Linda”  and in Spanish that means beautiful!  Aptly named. She asked me to read the eye chart putting different lenses in front of me till we came up with the right combination. Now I know my eyes are  20-30 and 20-60. She helped me pick out some glasses. They say you can look into ones soul by looking in the eyes. That gave her an advantage. She picked out some frames that the bows could be bent back 90 degrees from their correct  position. She knew how hard I was on glasses. 🙂 Hopefully, even I won’t be able to break them!  I bought two pair with the progressive lenses.  Total cost $20 USD for the exam, and about  $420 for two pair of unbreakable glasses with progressive lens. I hear tell glasses may be a better price in Panama, but I’m feeling like I need them now.

While there we picked up a referral to another Dr. that could maybe correct a droopy eyelid.  Yeah, I hear tell I have one to0 that is finding gravity difficult to fight. Gravity seems to be winning. So I’ll look into what it takes to fight back. We’ll see.

Having good vision  is more then just knowing what you did right or wrong. More then seeing clearly. Those with vision have an obligation to provide others an opportunity to see the future. When the road ahead is full of obstacles one must warn others. When bicycling in groups we would yell “Car Up” or “Car Back” whereever one was closer to the action. In cruising we do much of that simply by chatting on the VHF, sharing stories during the evening happy hour and on the net.

Aruba was an interesting cruising place. It was a great stop over, not a great place to hang out. We spent too long there, almost a month. Getting parts in was a snap if one used Fed Ex.  Seems that in most all the islands Fed Ex is the way to go. Talking to islanders they say they don’t have any losses and Fed Ex sees to have all the paper work figured out for getting supplies through Customs.

We anchored first N of the Airport off the capital Oranjastad. It was a long dinghy ride to the Marina where there was a dinghy dock and shopping. We were partially protected by the reefs and the holding wasn’t the best. We stayed there till a N swell came around the top of the island. Then it curved all the way in to the harbor and we ended up with some breaking waves less then 100 feet in front of us ! YUCK! Time to move.

I had been watching boats move between the capital and the customs dock the last couple of days and even though there was no bouyage and the charts said “Unsurveyed” I figured there was good water there. The locals had a Yacht Club down in the area, there was a boat yard down there, and the sub that took tourists out was

A Jumbo Jet in Aruba

A Jumbo Jet in Aruba

always towed that way. So we pulled up anchor and moved to a calmer spot. After moving another 1/2 dozen boats followed us. There we were now S of the Airport (about 300 m).  The jets all day would rattle our bones and there was even one jumbo that would come once or twice a week. They never seemed to worry about yachts crossing so close to the end of the runway but with our stick flying 60′ up in the air we did. Just as we were crossing the  runway end a jet appeared overhead. We don’t move all that fast. While we looked at the path of the jets as we began our approach we didn’t see a one. But still coming in at 300 kts they cover a lotta distance while we cover very little. Fortunately for all concerned they crossed overhead without issue. We ended up anchored without issue. And we were quite relieved.

Although we now had the noise from jets daily we had given up the club noise nightly we figured that was a win. And luckily a couple of days the wind or shall I say breeze changed to out of the S and the jets switched directions and we had a quiet anchorage. But a far dinghy ride.

A dive shop just N of the airport was quite friendly (Fly and Dive) and they allowed cruisers to use their dock (on the inside) to tie up. The walk to town was boring but the savings in our dinghy fuel and time was considerable. They we so courteous that when we asked about tying up there (never assume anything – always ask) they said if we had any problems without dinghy or engine they would loan us theirs!  And since we like walking we accepted their gift many days.

The Renaissance on the other hand was not so nice. I would say; they were full of themselves. Well I need to say, the hotel / management part wasn’t. The marina staff was exceptional.  They were the drop off for our Fed Ex packages and always on the ball. They helped docking for fuel, they helped with directions, they looked for products that we needed.  When friends Passport went to stay while their family was in, the Marina put a dinghy in water to move a bow mooring ball and then assisted them getting their boat docked.  The marina staff were great. But the Renaissance proper IMHO was not.  Most marinas have showers. Here,  the showers were  the employee’s showers in the Hotel. The showers were like those found in a  primitive campground. Most marinas have a laundry. Not here. Other cruisers said you could do laundry at the Renaissance on the Time Share floors but that wasn’t really being above board. Not that we’re always above board. With Passport staying we had guest passes to the hotel and facilities so W/,  IB,  and Becca went to the Renaissance’s  Private Island.  On the island W/ had asked 2 of the personnel if I could bring our dinghy over and come to the island. They said “Yeah- as long as I had a guest pass”.  45 minutes later a security guard came by and said / asked me to leave. How did they know?  Everywhere in the Renaissance there are cameras. You don’t go anywhere without someone watching (I hope their not so invasive as to be in the restrooms!) .  So they found me; not like I was hiding; as far as I knew I was following the rules. Even with a guest pass I had to leave. The security personnel said that the only way they allowed guests to go to the island was by “their boat”. Ok,  I left. Then the security had

An Aruba Local

An Aruba Local

watched where we went, complained to the marina staff and at the marina they too said something. Hell, W/  had asked! If they had said no and I had gone then I would say shame on me, instead SHAME ON THE RENAISSANCE. The marina too (after the fact)  said “only by their boat”. OK I get it. I wish they would have let their staff know. I wouldn’t have gone then. And BTW the “private island”  isn’t anything “special”.  On the N end of Aruba there is mostly

Aruba Resort Beach

Aruba Resort Beach

beach. I think all the beaches in Aruba are splendid. But then, most all the beaches in the Caribbean have been “splendid”.

So while Aruba was a good place to get supplies, and we had a fair anchorage, it was generally an expensive touristy place that I would be wiling to visit but I just wouldn’t want to live there. Even though Aruba’s groceries were the only place since Dominica that had Diet Caffiene Free Coke !

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Preparation

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

We were ready. That’s what we had thought. This passage is to be one of the most difficult in the world. One circumnavigator said it was the worst passage they had had in their two entire cruises around the world.  Others report broken booms, torn sails, busted engine mounts, etc.  You can listen to all

Aruba in Protected Airport Anchorage

Aruba's Protected Airport Anchorage

the bad stories and eventually you’ll end up paralyzed with fear.  But we have a good boat for any weather and a crew that has time offshore. The boat by all accounts is ready. We received our Sailomat part in Aruba and installed it. We’ve been looking at the weather, downloading GRIB files 2 x’s / day,  downloading rain files, and looking at the satellite files of the area.  We thought we had one opportunity a few days ago but something made W/ and I not take that one.

I’ve put our track on the chart and walked through the wx each time we download a new GRIB.  Even when it’s blowing 30 kts a 100 miles out it may very well be blowing 20 kts where we’re at. For downwind sailing our boat loves 15 – 20 kts of wind. 25 isn’t all too bad and 30 isn’t much to our liking. Obviously with the more wind we have greater seas and that’s been often what other cruisers on this route talk about “Green Monsters”.

The water from the Rio Magdalena  exits on the N shore of Colombia  and turns the water green. Then with the wind and all the water piling up  against Central America you can end up with some big seas with short wave periods.  Popular literature calls these the “Green Monsters”.  Finally with the GRIBS showing us as having a good trip we planned on pulling the anchor and leaving today. I was getting concerned that we could actually get stuck in Aruba!

We missed our great opportunity of a weather window because we had to wait for our Wind Vane part that had been stuck in US Customs for 20 days!  November – early December the trades are to lighten up a bit. After that the Trade Winds are there and they’re called the “Christmas Winds”.  Trades of 30-35 kts. The Bermuda High slips S in the Winter time and squishes the normal trades between the High and the Coast of S. America narrowing the gap the trades go through. Like putting your finger on the end of a hose to increase the speed of water past your thumb, the Trade Winds now squirt through the smaller opening at a faster speed.

But the GRIB’s show the wind we want for the duration of the trip. However;  Ma Nature doesn’t read the GRIBs and with all of the meteorologists  knowledge we know that forecasting is relatively accurate for 24 hours, a little accurate for 48 and pretty hazy at 72 hours and beyond. Lets hope that the 3 days goes in our favor.

I hitched a ride to Customs and Immigration with Gary on KaijasSong. A little wet but we made it and the clearance for Cartagena, Colombia was painless. Thankfully.  While I was at the office’s  doing paper work W/ was in the boat making sure things were stowed, and the boat is ready for the sea.  When I return we’ll put the Dyer Dinghy up wait till our time and then haul up the anchor. We were looking to get under way about 1500. This would give us plenty of time to clear the island and be well at sea before the dark of day. There was no moon out on this trip.

War in Aruba !

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

We awoke this am to sounds of gunfire. Machine gun fire to be exact. It was all up and down the capital, we never saw the source nor any of the players. We really couldn’t believe any of it. Surely on this serene island nation aptly described as “One Happy Island” there couldn’t be any fighting. As the morn wore on we witnessed explosions in the air. We’d hear the whoosh of a large gun and see the flash high in the sky of  a burning ordinance.

W/ and Kiaja of Kiaja’s Song decided to head in to town anyway; guns or not. Such guts! So much courage!  W/ needed eggs and bread. I stayed at the boat to protect it.  Off they went.

Surely the battle between the New Year the old must be won with bombs and explosives?  How else could one  year win and the other loose?

In Aruba, I’ve never heard so many explosives.  For the entire day the air is filled with the smell of burnt powder. The cloud hanging over this island nation was so thick we couldn’t see more than a kilometer or two. The harbor where the marina is located is totally obscured. The display from the shells exploding above the hotel are dimmed because of the smoke.

For the most part this war is  a short one. Total time a week or less.  (President Bush – the second one – would have been proud; truely a short War!).   The  fighting came to a head on the 30th of December. We retired at cruisers midnight (about an hour after Sunset). We had already toasted the New Year to each other at midnight Greenwich Mean Time.  However; in Aruba the New Year hadn’t yet won. We were awakened at 11:30 pm local time  to constant explosions. There wasn’t a second that went by when something wasn’t blown up. Constant machine gun fire from the strings of firecrackers sounded in the distance. We heard the whoosh of rockets being launched and the blood red light exploding out in a myriad  of patterns. Alternating colors up and down the coast from reds to burnt oranges to the white of surrender. We saw the war from the cockpit of our boat anchored 100 m offshore. There we watched the New Year Win and were finally thankful. We could again retire to the blessed state of counting sheep.

Sail Far
Go Slow
Stay Long