The crisp and clean morning air was invigorating. And just bobbing around there on the calm waters in front of your private island was simply amazing. I took my morning shower by jumping off the transom into the crystal clear waters, lapping the boat to inspect the mooring and rinsing off with the deck shower.
Our towels show that we are absolute beginners in this cruising lifestyle, they are full size beach towels that can just as easily function as a sarong. What we learned from reading the blogs of seasoned cruisers is to cut the towels up to be just large enough to dry off, to save space and resources when washing and drying. I don’t know, I just like a huge towel, it might be one of the few shoreside luxuries I’ll hang on to.
It was time to take the dinghy to shore for a beach side exploration. It would be the first time we take the Caribe dinghy out of its snug housing by ourselves. We saw the previous owner doing this with great ease on several occasions, so it shouldn’t be too hard. The dinghy is just a bit too fat for its housing, a bit like its current owner. To properly fit it in the garage we need to deflate some of the air, and when taking it out we need to put some air back in. Luckily there’s an air pump installed near the aft shower to facilitate this process with the great comfort of just pushing a button. We lowered the dinghy in the water and yanked the outboard cord two or three times. The oversized 25hp Honda purred like a little kitten without protest.
After doing a couple of laps around the boat we beached the dinghy on the white sands and secured the anchor line to some land-vast. We were no longer alone on Klein Curacao, another tourist boat had unloaded it’s freight of sun worshippers on her beaches so we were a bit worried about her safety. We strolled a bit over the shores towards the lighthouse for a bit. Every time we looked back on the bay where Ah Ma lied peacefully at anchor we saw tourist using her as backdrop as they took their beachside selfies. We took some photos of Ah Ma ourselves sitting in this beautiful clear blue waters, photos I’ll be looking at daily once I get back to the mind numbing gray and brown corners of Hong Kong and Macau.
It will take some practice to gracefully park the dinghy back at the transom and hoist her up with the ease Í saw the previous owners do it. But after some very ungracious manoeuvrers we managed to hook the dinghy to the winch. After some deflating, planning, experimenting and deflating some more we finally managed to hoist her back into her garage. Time to close the transom door and slip the mooring line and commence the journey back to Seru Boca Marina.
With the wind at 160 degrees of the stern and currents pushing at 2 or 3 knots it was a beautiful but far too short sail back to the Spanish Waters entrance. As the going was so good we decided to overshoot it a bit and head into the Caracas Bay before furling up the sails.
I thought to be clever running the genoa furler through one of the electric winches. Stupid! one mistake I’ll never make again. The sail stopped furling half way and was stuck. As I tried to release the furling line from the block to unfurl and try again, the handle of the block snapped off clean. Just too britle and weathered from the years of Caribbean sun. We were in a pickle now, half a genoa out, and no way to roll it in.
In retrospect, when telling the story to a friend, the first thing he said was, why not untie your sheetlines and go around in circles for six or eight times, you’ll end up with a ‘furled’ sail. If only I was this clear thinking at the moment..
On engine we put the nose in the wind and I went up front trying to tie down the genoa as much as I could. My aim was for the genoa to catch as little wind as possible so that it wouldn’t throw the nose off course during the navigation of the narrows and shallows of the Spanish Waters entrance. It was a struggle, but it had to do for now.
The manoeuvring back to the Marina went as expected, we wouldn’t get any beauty price for it. With every fart of wind coming around the corner or from behind a mountain, the front was jerked off course forcing me to make heavy engine corrections. It didn’t help that it was overly crowded, a junior regatta was going on in the middle of the bay and many yachts and gin palaces manoeuvred in and out. But we finally reached our mooring where we found all our neighbours standing by to help us tie up the boat. With the crippled Genoa and the bow thruster acting up again, it was a good lesson in close quarters manoeuvrability. It took several attempts to back into our spot, but in the end we managed to tie down.
But there was no time to relax and open up the Gin. There was still half a Genoa flying and a furling line stuck in the broken block with the tension of a piano string. Whilst driving, our neighbours Rien and Ineke from ‘Zeezwaluw’ saw us struggling in the bay. They immediately turned around and came to help. Me and Rien started the ‘operation’ on the genoa. It turned out that a loose flag line got stuck in the genoa up top preventing the sail to fully roll in. Luckily there was nothing wrong with the drum. The block was still broken and the line strung like a piano string, so Rien started disassembling the block bit by bit whilst I watched in wonder until the line was finally released. The block was ‘wrecked’ but at least the line was free.
Tired but satisfied, we finally opened up the Hendricks, and toasted with our new friends to an eventful journey, the first of many I hope, and as we slowly get more experienced, I hope to pay forward this warm neighbourly mentality of helping out a fellow sailor in need.