Friday, April 27, 2007


The sail to Curacao was downwind and pretty straightforward. Finding the entrance to the anchorage (Spanish Waters) was another matter. The charts were telling us it was right in front of us as we stood off by 1/8 of a mile. It looked right, hills on both sides, a small opening etc. However, negotiating the pass didn’t look easy at all. Rocks to port, a beach to starboard and a slight dogleg as you enter. We decided to stay in deep water, close to the beach, avoid the rocky outcrops and, at worst, hit the sand should we miscalculate. The sun was high and we managed just fine. Once inside the pass it was deep and easy to navigate. After the formalities were finished we heard that ‘Sarifundy’s’ bar/restaurant was having a happy hour so of course we went. We got to reacquaint ourselves with boaters we’d met previously.

Upon arrival our old autopilot, refrigeration and several other parts decided to quit. I won’t bore you with details but it took some time and plenty of money to get it ship shape again. At this point we were going to sail back to Florida and sell the boat, try to settle permanently in Sarasota and pick up where we had left off. The hurricanes of 2004-2005 changed many things in Florida, insurance rates had skyrocketed and there was hardly any place left to leave our boat for a reasonable price. We didn’t know what to do, should we try to live on our boat in Marina outside of Sarasota, leave the boat with an agent and pay a fortune for a slip and commission and then rent an apartment. Should we try to sell it in Curacao? We couldn’t work out a solution.

In the meantime our repairs were progressing slowly and we were meeting some very nice people. A lot of them were going across the pacific to Australia and asked us why we didn’t do the same. The idea started to take hold, Adagio would be worth more in Australia and when we get there we would have a place to live while deciding where to live on land. Adelaide was no longer an option, not boater friendly with any safe anchorages. We still wanted to sail around, not with Adagio, but a smaller boat and Queensland seemed ideal.

After flying back to Australia for six months we realized that we missed our country and were tired of traveling. It had been 12 years already, that’s enough. We returned to Curacao with more enthusiasm and a decision had been made, at last. Meri asked me what we needed for the boat in order to do the Pacific. Other than a few repairs we mainly needed a new roller furler, a life raft and an epirb. I made a trip to the US, met up with our great friends and bought what we needed. Greg and Liz gave us the wonderful gift of a new roller furler. We were so touched by their generosity.

Apart from our repairs, it was our new Dutch friends and one lovely Scottish friend that encouraged us to stay a little longer. We had a wonderful time going out to restaurants, barbeques on the beach and one small concert with them that the time flew by. In the mornings we went walking with Bryan on SV Nightwinds and others on a nearby island. This island about 5 minutes by dinghy used to be a fuel storage area and has an abandoned building that used to hold slaves that were sick and needed to be quarantined. The roads are intact and the views of the ocean were awesome. Mike and Bryan are sailing a 65 foot Choy Lee sloop with plenty of deck space. They had a party there one night and 50 people could fit on the deck no problem. Those boys sure know how to party.

Sarifundy’s is the hub of the cruising fleet in Spanish Waters. Once a drive-in boat house it had been converted and extended out into the harbour on pontoons. Would make a very cool house in nice weather. Willem and Lizzie have decorated it in bright Caribbean colors and it’s such a cool place to sit and read, have a coffee or a beer and enjoy delicious food. Willem, Lizzie and Johnny were the owners and were so much fun. It took a while to get to know them on a personal level since they see so many boaters come through every year. Our friendship became closer after mainly Dimitri gave them a hand to repair the place (I helped a little). As cute as the place was it was in need of some major repairs as would happen to any place that’s on the water, salt water will do it every time. They closed the restaurant for 2 weeks and some their friends were there to start on the reconstruction. Marcello and Jack had experience with carpentry work but both Willem and Johnny knew they didn’t. Their strength was in business. They were very enthusiastic though. Dimitri went in and asked if they needed a hand and after letting them know that he had worked in construction most of his life accepted his help gratefully. They said they didn’t have enough money to pay him and he said he didn’t have anything else to do and would be glad to get off the boat for a while. He was given food and as much beer as he could drink so it cost them a small fortune after all. Ha. He started tearing down the walls to make a new opening into the kitchen. The more he tore down the more rot he found until one side of the bar was missing walls, roof and floor. The look on Lizzie’s face was priceless, kind of a mild shock. It said ‘oh no I’m going to have to sleep in the bar to stop the looting’ The side was wide open to the mangroves. He said ‘don’t worry, be happy, it will all be done by the end of the day’ but she didn’t look quite convinced. A production line got started with a very concerned Willem, Marcello and Phillip. They began to reinforce the floor, put new boards down, repaired the wall and seal it with plywood in time for a sundown beer. Great job guys.

Lizzie, Willem and Johnny were so grateful that Dimitri was getting very embarrassed. We fell in love with them. The whole job was completed in two weeks right on schedule, except for the elecrical work, but that's another story better told by Willem and Lizzy, and they were able to open again. From then on the friendship grew closer. Later on Willem and Lizzie took a well earned vacation, never seen people work so hard, and we house sat and took care of their dogs. So nice to have a house to live in for a while so it was a vacation for us also. Hope one day to return the favour in Australia.

For the cruisers Sarifundy’s was a gem. Happy hour twice a week, information sheet, free bus to the supermarket, free dinghy dock, free rubbish disposal, mail and package holding. That’s a lot of free services from people in a position to charge if they wanted to. Many places we’ve been to there is a charge. Panama for one, $5 a day to leave your dinghy. It should have been appreciated more but there are some cruisers who want everything for nothing and then demand more, like it’s their right instead of a privilege. It was embarrassing to listen to them. The irony was that the boaters needed them not the other way around. All their money came from the local people eating and drinking at the restaurant and almost nothing from the cheap cruisers. We’re so grateful to all the special people we met (too many to mention and difficult to spell). We especially would like to thank Ari for the mooning on our way out. It would have been better if Riad had flashed instead, she has a very impressive set and Dimitri would have enjoyed it more. What a Kodak moment.


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