Klein Curacao, part 1

Klein CuraƧao

It was time for our first duo trip. Linda was a bit nervous as it would be the first time out for her alone with me on the boat. We planned to head out to the nearby island of Klein Curacao, a small uninhabited island/sand bar, a popular destination for tourist day trips. There are a couple of moorings on the lee side where we planned to spend the night.

The route would take us upwind for the entire trip, tacking our way up to the island against the prevailing winds and currents. A good opportunity to see how she fares on a close haul.

The neighbours at the Marina were a great help casting the lines and soon we were locked to shore by only one line at the stern, with the engine holding her nicely in position. After casting that last line we slowly glided out of our berth and turned towards our first waypoint for navigation out of the Marina.

Ah Ma, getting ready for departure.

We calmly made our turn at the Curacao yacht club, keeping ample space on our port side to steer clear of the shallows. As we headed towards the Boca 19 pier we suddenly came to a stop, we were grounded. Not a first for me, this happened many times when I went out with my dad on the Waddensea, no big deal if you go slow. I put the engine in reverse and pulled her out with ease. We were a bit puzzled, this should be the correct route as far as we both were concerned. Carefully we inched forward again, this time a few meters more to starboard, keeping an Hawkeye on the depth and chartplotter.

The location of the chart-plotter, midship, between the rudders, is not too good. It’s very difficult to see and adjust views whilst manoeuvring the boat in tight quarters, something we need to address in the future, another thing to put on the ever growing to-do list.

We made it out of the bay without further incident and got some distance from the reefs before unfurling the main and genoa. We underestimated the wind a bit and were somewhat overpowered. Not that there was water coming through the gangboard, but it wasn’t a comfortable angle, and the rudder was showing quite a bit of weather helm. The genoa was easy to take back, but it took some experimenting to reef the main. Eventually we got it done and with reduced sails she was sharply pointing into the waves again, still pushing up to 7 knots against the 2 knot currents.

As we tacked upwind towards the eastern tip of the Island the waves became more irregular and uncomfortable. The currents of the narrow between Curacao and Venezuela clashes with the current flowing around the corner of the Island, causing an uncomfortable sea. The waves frequently splashed over the bow onto the deck, but we remained dry and comfortable in the cockpit, unfortunately I can not say the same for our mattresses..

The seas calmed as we tacked away from the island and in the distance we could see the distinctive lighthouse of Klein Curacao. As I went below for some sanitary relief I found that we forgot to seal the hatches of the front cabin. They were closed, but not locked. The mattress and floor were wet from the waves that came over the bow, something we would have to deal with once we lowered the sails and are in calmer waters.

We saw the island was busy with tourist as we came within reach. There are several day tours that bring flocks of tourist to the sand bar for a relaxing day on the beach. We saw one other sailing boat and some small fishing boats occupying the public moorings. It was unclear to us how many public moorings there were, Navionics says six, but others report eight or ten. But some are ‘seized’ by the tourist shuttles. As we scoured the horizon we found an available mooring ball almost centre island. Well protected from waves and currents, this would be an easy place to moor for the night, or so we thought…

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