And out she goes.

The first sea trial was a success, so after a couple of days of deliberation we asked our broker, to arrange for an outhaul and survey. This was quickly arranged at the Curacao Marine wharf at Schottegat. I contacted Ed Versteeg, a local surveyor and yacht designer to do the honours of the survey. I also arranged for Gijs Sijbranda of Curacao Rigging to climb the towering mast to do a close up inspection of the rigging.

Gijs in the top of the mast

So in the afternoon of the sixth of March I met Serge and Gijs at Seru Boca. We hooked him up to one of the electric winches and hoisted him to the top of the mast. While he scrutinized the rig, Serge and I made some adjustments to the Bimini, making it just a couple of inches higher so I could stand and walk under it without hitting my head. This small adjustment made such a difference, she already felt mine a little.

Aside from the one slightly rusty 7×19 running back-stay, the 10 year old rigging got a clean bill of health. I’m not looking forward to the inevitable moment we need to replace it, better start saving up already.

Queen Emma pontoon bridge, gateway to Schottegat

Two days later, on the 8th of March we meet again early in the morning for the trip to Curacao Marine. Serge, Gert and Rosie were all there. We would need to make a short trip outside from the Spanish Waters down to the Schottegat waters, the commercial deep water Harbor of Curacao and the home of the filthy Venezuelan owned Isla refinery. To get there we would need to make our way through the Queen Emma pontoon bridge that blocks the entrance to Schottegat. As Venezuela was in trouble, there where no oil tankers or service ships coming in or out of the deep water harbour, we were the only boat coming in. Just a quick call on the radio to the Fort Nassau control centre made the diesel engine of the pontoon bridge come to life. It opened just enough to let us through.

It was quite an experience entering the channel and passing under the towering Juliana bridge, as I have seen many cargo ships do before from my lazy spot at the Gouverneur restaurant. This time all eyes from the filled terraces were on us. We behaved like tourists of course, pointing the GoPro and making the necessary selfies.

Getting in to the Curacao Marine lifting slip was easy. The boys were quick in lifting the 17 ton behemoth out of the water. The marina is equipped with a state of the art Roodberg hydrolic lifting trailer. A big tractor drives the ‘trailer ‘ under the boat, and the magic of pressurized oil, Dutch engineering and clever computers do the rest. Within 15 minutes Alanui (Ah Ma) was standing on the hard. My god that thing is big when you see it in its full glory.

Ah Ma on the hard

Edwin was waiting for us at the slip to get to work. After a quick rinse with the pressure washer he could start scrutinizing every inch of the hull. A few minor issues were found, some play in the propeller shaft and maybe some necessary treatment of the keel part. Me and Edwin quickly took the opportunity to replace the anodes while she was on the hard.

As fast as she was out, as fast she was back in. And before we knew it we were on our way back to the Seru Boca Marina. There wasn’t a puff of wind, so Gert and Rosie had to make the last miles on engine. On return we tested some of the electricals while under way, the AC, generator and such. All operated as advertised, aside from the air conditioner. It might just be an air bubble in the water intake, something we have to look at later.

But for now all the final tests have been done, it is time to deliberate for one last time to see if this is really what we want. We didn’t plan on finding a boat all the way in the Caribbean, and the biggest puzzle for us now is how to get her home within reasonable time and costs.

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