Monthly Archives: November 2017

Lazy Days and Happy Plays: Good Friends

We are all psyched up about the arrival of our good friends, Shawn and Sharon.  We anchored in Paardenbaai Key which is right by the airport.  It is a fairly nice anchorage but is blowing like stink!  We are seeing white caps all around us and the closest dinghy dock is the Renaissance Marina in Oranjestad Key which is a long and very wet ride.  We scoped out some meeting places, found the trash, got some gasoline, and completed some last minute cleaning chores.

One of the proposed meeting spots was this cool canal that led to a tunnel into the Renaissance Mall which probably was not meant for our dinghy and 25hp (2-stroke) outboard.  We were turning around when another boat came in hot and directed us out of there stat.  Well, that meeting place is out, but it would have been so cool to meet them here!

Renaissance Mall Boat Canal

Shawn and Sharon, loaded down with bags (the biggest belonging to us containing boat parts) and brought them back to the boat to get settled.  Not sure what got into us, but we decided to take a dinghy ride to explore a different anchorage.  It is still blowing 30-35 kn of wind and the anchorage was on the other side of the airport by the mangroves.  Unfortunately for us, it was upwind and we got drenched by the time we arrived.  At this point we all wanted was a cold drink.  We ended up at Amuse Sunset Restaurant which was not ready to open for dinner (at 4:30p) but they were willing to serve us drinks!  We ended up staying for awhile and enjoyed a really tasty, but filling dinner as we watched the beautiful sun set on the ocean.

Aruba Amuse

Sunset at Amuse Restaurant.

The wind would not let up so we could not do my noodling workout or play on the SUP.  However, we were able to enjoy a nice walk each morning. On their second day, we decided to try to find a giant wholesale grocery place called Price Smart.  On the way to the store, there were a dozen pieces of different work out equipment on the path – just keeping the tourists and Arubans in shape.

Price Smart is a membership box store so we joined for a year as it was a better deal than buying a one day pass (and they have locations in Columbia and Panama).  They did have a lot of bulk items but were lacking in fruits, veggies, breads, and sodas which is what we were looking for on this trip.  Somehow we still managed to buy enough to fill several bags so we called a taxi to take us back to the dinghy.

It was still blowing 25-35 knots so we decided to stay in for dinner.  Our friend Barry on “White Shadow” (also known as Adventures of an Old Sea Dog on YouTube) is on a smaller boat which was rocking and rolling, so we invited him over for pork chops on our more stable catamaran.  He is a fine story teller and made a nice addition to our dinner party.

Good friends.

Matt, Barry, me, and Sharon

The next day we moved to Malmok Beach which is at the Northwest end of Aruba.  It is in between two wreck sites and a nice stretch of beach.  It is also a lot more protected than where we were by the airport.  With a little less wind, 15-20 we were able try out a few water activities.

This is a very popular site for all the local charter boats, so we got up early and hit the first wreck dive called SS Antilla which is 400′ in length.  Stay tuned for more on this wreck as Matt and I will dive it later.  As we hopped in the water we were surprised to see the stern of the boat as it was only 7 meters away, clear as day!  We barely made it to the bow of the boat when a huge “pirate ship” full of tourists descended upon us.  We quickly escaped and headed back to Sugar Shack.

Aruba wreck dive

SS. Antilla Wreck Dive

Many a lazy days were spent at this anchorage as it was so beautiful and peaceful.  Plus there was an array of entertainment watching all the charter boats, tourists, swimmers, and divers.

A look at the beach without the charter boats:

Malmok anchorage

Enjoying Malmok anchorage without the charter boats.

The charter boats stop for 45 minutes at the Antilla wreck site for a snorkel first which is behind our boat…

Antilla dive site

Antilla dive site behind our anchorage.

…then make their way to the swim area which is in front of our boat.

Charter boats in Aruba

Charter boats descend on the small swim area for 45 minutes at a time.

The SUP came out, but neither Sharon nor I were as successful as Matt.  The inflatable boards are made for smaller people and they are only 8’9″ in length.  The longer the board, the easier it is to balance and most people use 10’9″ boards.  We did not get these particular boards because we are rock star SUPers, but rather because they were a good deal and we wanted to try them out.

Matt and I were both able to stand on the boards in Bonaire (Matt a lot easier than me), but in Aruba, with the winds and waves it was beyond ridiculous.  Matt fell over twice, which he had never done before.  Sharon and I fell in trying to get on and then only managed to get on our knees.

I had been “patiently” waiting for Sharon to arrive to break out a new boat toy.  This sweet thang came back with me from the States in July and she has been stoically waiting to make her debut ever since.  Sharon and I were enjoying the water, sitting on noodles and holding on to a line trying not to float away to Venezuela. Matt surprised us by inflating our new toy, drum roll….meet Peggy Sue.

Big float

Peggy Sue comes out of hiding.

It was a bit of a $hit $how watching us try to mount her as she was very slippery, the wind was howling, and the waves were not cooperating.  Shawn and Matt had a great laugh watching us try to get on several times, but we eventually tamed the wild beast.

Big float

Peggy Sue 1, Sharon 1, Christine 0

Big float

Peggy Sue 4, Sharon 1, Christine 0,

Big Float

Yeah, we win!

Good friends.

Yep, we are feeling pretty good about ourselves.!

We moved over to Palm Beach or hotel row for our last two nights to experience more of the island life.  This anchorage is right in front of all the big Aruba hotels and has a lot of actives going on all the time.

Aruba Anchorage

Aruba anchorage in front of hotel row at day break

The charter boats leave and return from here, the para-sailors, kite surfers, tubers, and fishing boats are all here too – and then there is one pleasure boat – Sugar Shack.  We found a good anchorage, explored a few dinghy dock options, and set out to find the best happy hour.

Parting is such sweet sorrow.  It was so hard to say goodbye to our friends.  They are always such a joy to have on board, so full of love, laughter, and kindness.  Of course, the girl’s rule and kicked butt in dominoes the first night and then Sharon won Cards Against Humanity the next night.  The boys did make a come back to tie the dominoes score but we just don’t talk about that night 🙂

Shawn, me, Sharon – ahhhh


Good friends

Shawn and Sharon

Matt and I – happy day!

All sorts of trouble

Yes, Matt’s hair is that long and bleached out.  He was a toe head when he was younger and those days seem to have returned.

It’s nice to have good friends!  Thank you Shawn and Sharon for such a fun visit.

Aruba Bound

The time had come to leave Bonaire (“again”) and it was much harder the second time around.  Matt and I had been here close to 70 days, met a lot of good friends, got into a comfortable routine, accomplished a lot of projects, and dove a lot of beautiful sites.  But we needed to head to Aruba.

On Friday, Jane, Cindy, and I went on our normal early morning walk and had planned to end it at Gio’s Gelataria and Cafe.  As we finished our 5 mile walk, we padded into Gio’s all nice and sweaty. To my surprise, all of our spouses were there awaiting our arrival for an impromptu going away party.  Jane and Cindy brought brownies, provided a super cool Bonaire hat, and stunning photo cards.  It was so sweet and touching and made me feel so incredibly blessed to have met such caring and generous friends.

Bonaire at Gio's

Going Away Celebration with Gelato

Gio's in Bonaire

Walking group with Priscilla at Gio’s

After a full day of cleaning and preparing to leave, we headed to dinner with our friend’s on Ad Astra: Eric, Max, and Kyle.  We went to Blue Garden, the Brazilian place which was a fabulous night of tasty food, great company, and lively conversation!  Unfortunately, I did not manage to get a group shot – slacker that I am!

It was time to go as our good friends from Texas (Shawn and Sharon) are due to arrive in Aruba soon.  We decided that it would be best to leave Saturday around 1500 for the best weather and the best shot at arriving in the morning.  The weather apps and charts indicated a 12-14 hour downwind sail.  After a little mooring shuffle, we set off toward Curacao. Our plan was to sail over the western tip of Curacao to Aruba’s lower tip.

Matt expertly set our big spinnaker and we were on our way.  At a comfortable 8-9 knots we were going to be really early and would arrive at dark, but we held our course and sail plan.  Matt set the fishing rods and teasers with the hope of catching some fresh fish, we ate dinner, and got ready for the night sail.

Spinnaker Sail

Spinnaker Sail on our way to Aruba

After several hours, we decided that we could not hold the course as we were heading directly for Curacao.  So, we took the kite down and put up the main canvas with one reef in the main.  At least now we should be able to point better and go around Curacao rather than through it.

I don’t do well at night when I cannot see the horizon, so I decided to take the first down shift to catch a few zzz’s.  The hope was to have the moon come out to light our way.  However, after a few hours, Matt was still going strong and told me to sleep some more. This routine happened several times.

During this time, Matt had turned on the engines when the wind died, then turned them off again when the wind returned.  Lots of sail tweaks, but maintained course.

It was not until 0400 that the moon finally came out, as a sliver, barely illuminating our path.  I finally took the helm and gave him a small reprieve. Normally I am not this useless on a night passage so it felt good to be at the helm for a small bit.

We arrived at 0830 just in time to clear in.


Arriving Aruba – Paardenbaai Key

We had received some good intel about the check in process and even received a photo of the dock where we had to meet customs and immigration.

On the way to the dock you pass by the cruise ship terminal between the cruise ships and the reefs. Makes for an interesting passage.

Passage between cruise ship and reef

Passage between cruise ship and reef

We had heard the dock is hard on your boat as they have large, black tires which often mark up your hulls.  But evidently, enough sailors complained so they put out a 40′ section of plywood between the tug boat landings.

Aruba customs and immigration dock

Customs & Immigration Aruba

Aruba customs and immigration dock

Sugar Shack is too long for the plywood area, but we managed to avoid the tire marks.

Aruba customs and immigration dock

Local official helped tie us off at the dock

Matt had a good plan, we approached the concrete wall, on the port side, in between two tug boats slowly to get a look at it.  We then passed it and circled back to have a starboard approach.  Just as we were approaching, and I was preparing to jump off, an official hopped out of his car to catch our lines – yeah!

The officials were super nice, very friendly, and extremely professional.  They come aboard, hand you the paperwork, leave and wait for you to finish completing it.  Then they take all of your paperwork and passports back to their office to copy it.  Kind of weird arriving into a new country and handing your passports off to someone you don’t know and they drive off.  But they came back.  They did a quick check of the boat, processed our paperwork, and gave us some advice on anchorages.

After we were legal, we decided to head to the anchorage in front of the hotel row to check it out.  We did a drive by and then turned around to park Sugar Shack in the airport anchorage, Paardenbaai Key.  As we were getting ready to drop the hook, we received a call on the VHF radio and a friend of ours, Barry on “White Shadow” from Curacao was here – giving us a welcome.

More from Barry, Adventures of an old Sea Dog later.


Keeping Fit in Bonaire

Matt and I have wanted SUP boards for awhile now, but just could not invest $1k for the set and shipping.  We wanted something that could easily be stowed, easily inflated, fairly stable, and reasonably priced – we don’t ask for much, right?  The waters are pretty calm in Bonaire which makes this a perfect spot to try them out.

New, local friends, who recently bought a catamaran, were selling their two inflatable boards (paddles, bags, fins).  They thought they were too old for them as they had a hard time balancing.  As it turns out, they bought small boards (8’9″ with a maximum weight of 60 kilos or 130lbs) and for their size they should have bought the 10’9″ standard inflatable boards.  They loaned them to us to see if we liked them and let me tell you it was HARD!  I had SUP’d before, but it was on Lake Austin on a 10’9″ standard board (non-inflatable), in no wind.  Didn’t have much of a problem then, but this was a very different story!

Matt seemed to tame the board almost immediately.  Not only was he able to stand up on the board, but he stayed up and paddled around mooring area.  I managed to get up (after falling in a few times) and managed to paddle around the boat, on my knees not standing upright, but it still felt like a accomplishment!

Several days later, after a few attempts and a few falls I was finally able to stand for a short up. Of course that all changed when a wave came, or a boat drove by, or a gust kicked up.


SUPing around the boat. Concentrating very hard on staying upright.


Oh dear, this is not good – so close to the boat too!


Yep, knew that was coming! Of course Matt captured the moment.

In addition to our SUP adventures and daily walking in Bonaire, we also have a great group of people who enjoy water aerobics or Noodling on the Sea.  Our friend leads the hour long class every Tuesday and Thursday where all are welcome.

Noodling on the sea in Bonaire.

Noodling around and getting some exercise.

Noodling on the Sea

Bonaire current carried us too far away so we are swimming back to position