Tag Archives: abc islands

Light It Up Sparky – Alternator Issue

Sugar Shack has four alternators on board, two for each engine.  The small alternator charges the starter battery and the large one charges the house batteries. One of our large, 130 amp Mastervolt alternators has “issues” and it was time to fix it.  Matt had already taken it a part, cleaned the brushes, and tweaked things, but it still wasn’t working.  He suspected it needed new diodes which we did not have on board.  He found a place called “Marlon’s Garage” in Aruba that had good reviews for rebuilding alternators.


Matt pulled the big boy out of the engine, placed it in a plastic bag and we hefted it to Marlon’s Garage.  When I say “we” I mean “he” by the way.  We scouted the location earlier so we didn’t have to walk around carrying a 40 lb bag.  The garage was nice, clean, and stocked with a variety of vehicles in 15-20 bays.  All of the employees had really nice embroidered shirts with “Marlon’s Garage” on the back and their names on the front.  Surprising since these are mechanics working around dirty cars and parts wearing these expensive shirts – but good branding!

The garage was filled with lots of treasures.  The owner, a lifelong car enthusiast, had a few Ferrari’s, a porche, couple of corvettes, classic mustang, and old caddy.  We later discovered that he has over 50 cars in total and he is still collecting.

We walked in and they immediately took the alternator in to be tested.  They determined that we needed new diodes and possibly a new rectifier but they could easily do the repair.  They asked us to check back just before 12 to see when we could pick it up.  We left an $80 deposit and went on our way.

We met our friends Dave and Tanya on “Dea Latis” and headed to Price Smart to load up with some groceries.  Half way through our shopping, I realized it was almost 12 so I went outside to try to call. After several failed attempts I went back inside and finished shopping.  Matt kept trying but it was a bad connection.  However, Matt was able to determine that our alternator would be ready before closing.  We returned our fresh groceries to the boat and decided to explore the town while we waited for the repair to be completed.

Around 5p we headed back to Marlon’s Garage to pick up our alternator.  All three diodes were replaced. The shop did not have a rectifier so they actually fabricated a new one for us.  All for the low price of $130.

We loaded her back up into her plastic and headed back toward the dinghy dock.  It was hot, with little to no breeze and we were both exhausted.  A cold beverage would perk us up!  We stopped in on a local bar to regroup.  After we addressed our more pressing needs by cooling down and resting, we realized we were famished.  We left after two rounds and stopped at a Cuban place by the marina.  It was really lovely, with a band, nice ambiance, and super tasty food.  28k steps later, we crashed hard!

Matt installed the rebuilt alternator the next day and was pleasantly surprised to find that it charged at 30-40 amps while the engines were in idle.  The other alternator charges at 10-15 amps at idle.  Then he pushed the engine to 1500 RPM it charged at 100 amps.   Whereas the other one charges at 30-40 amps at 1500 RPM.  Wow, this is amazing!

He was so excited that he took the other 130 amp alternator off and said let’s go have this one checked too.  We huffed back to Marlon’s, had them check it and they said it was fine. They suggested that the regulator might need to be tweaked.  Humf…Matt had checked that it was still not putting out the same amps as the rebuilt one, but it was still charging the house batteries.

The good news is that both large alternators are charging the house batteries.  Yeah.

Aruba Ariba: Island Life

The most popular drink on Aruba is called the Aruba Ariba which has  a lot of alcohol (see ingredients at the end of this blog) and tends to make any day a good day.

I Love Aruba signs all over the island.

I Love Aruba signs all over the island.

Bonaire and Curacao are vastly different from their sister island, Aruba, in that Aruba is very commercialized.  All three of the islands are relatively small, flat, and dry.  But the significant difference between them is that Aruba has its independence from the Netherlands where Bonaire and Curacao do not. you can read the official history of their independence on wikipedia, but a friend of mine provided a more colorful one from a local.

Aruba made its first bid for independence in the mid 80’s and Holland allowed them independent governance but not independent status. They put them on a trial run, and supposedly, their full independence as a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands was largely dependent on their ability to prove economic self-sufficiency.   So…..they started leasing land to big American resort chains,  tore down their cultural landmarks,  and proved themselves a thriving economy such that 6 years later they were afforded “country” status independence.   But most Antilleans feel they sold their soul.    Which it kind of feels that way to me.

As a tourist destination, it was no surprise to see 5 cruise ships in on the same day which means close to 15k people descend on this island at once.  The cruise ship port and the hotel row are littered with name brand stores, many of which I have not seen since I lived in California. Most visitors are from the U.S. where other islands we visited had a nice mix of cruisers from all over the world.  It certainly is a different vibe, not bad, just different.

Life size blue horses are located throughout Paardenbaai, the cruise ship area, to show the importance of the Caribbean Sea and horses.  Horse trading dates back to the early days of Spanish Colonization and continued for centuries afterward.  Historic accounts relate that at times the herds would count up to thousands of horses, roaming the island.

Paardenbaai Bay Blue Horses

Paardenbaai Bay Blue Horses

A local steak house has a great marketing tool – a big black bull advertising the local steak house on a bench.  It also makes for a great photo op.

Photo Op with Large Bull

Photo Op with Large Bull

While we were anchored over by Malmok Beach we had a fun tour group visit us daily.  The Seabob Tours of Aruba would take their tour group by the SS Antilla, then under our boat, and over to a swim area and back.  The tour guides, Englebert (not sure of spelling) and Aramis were so happy and entertaining that it was actually as fun for us as it was for his tours!

On the 2nd day, they were kind enough to bring us homemade Venezuelan food which consisted of a tasty soup, beef and veggies over rice.  Not sure how they managed it, but they brought the lunch over on a Seabob without spilling a drip!  It was so tasty that Matt and I decided to visit them for lunch the next day.  We were served Chicken Cordan bleu served with rice, plantains and vegges.  Maria is the chef in training who brings the lunches over daily – she has a very promising future!

As with every island, we are always on the hunt for a good grocery store and bulk store.  It took us awhile, and a lot of false starts, but we were finally able to locate a few good stores in Aruba.  The first place we found was Price Smart and some how we managed to get our friends Shawn and Sharon to walk to it (a mere couple of miles).  Price Smart is a bulk item store (like Costco or Sam’s Club) and has several good deals, but was lacking on fruits, veggies, and breads.  Next we found Super Food which is “more than just food” (that is their tagline).  This was an enormous store, but a little on the pricey side (even for Aruba). A case of beer was about $55 U.S. where we had been paying $30 elsewhere.

Super Food's Building Didn't Fit in My Photo - HUGE!

Super Food’s Building Didn’t Fit in My Photo – HUGE!

Our last store  was Ling and Sons which is part of the Van den Twill family.  Sharon and I had tried to find this store on our walk and missed it by 2 blocks.  Armed with better intel, Matt and I found it a week later.  This is a great store, full of a variety of Dutch and American food.  Priced as you’d expect in Aruba.

All in all, the people on Aruba are very friendly and easy going.  There is something for everyone, if you don’t mind the mass amounts of tourists everywhere.

The ingredients for the Aruba Ariba:
  • 1/2 oz. vodka.
  • 1/2 oz. 151 rum (better if using Ron Rico from Aruba, higher proof)
  • 1/8 oz. Coecoei.
  • 1/8 oz. Creme de Banana.
  • 1/2 cup orange juice.
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice.
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice OR you’re favorite “punch drink”
Happy Hour Aruba

Aruba Ariba and Amstel Bright.

Dive site

Wreck Dives of Aruba: Arashi Plane wreck

We were determined to find a sunken plane in Aruba.  The Renaissance airplane search was a complete bust, so we decided to find the Arashi airplane wreck near the NW point of the island.

The world wide web provided limited information on the Arashi plane wreck.  The internet “said” that there used to be two airplanes at this dive site.  A small Lockheed LoneStar and a twin engine Beechcraft.  Evidently the LoneStar has disintegrated and is no longer visible, but the Beechcraft is supposed to be sitting in 10 meters of water.  The web also stated that the “basic Beechcraft airplane” is supposed to be in tact, but its propellers had fallen off.  And you know the that “everything on the web is the truth.”

Loaded with excitement we headed to the dive site.  At this point we were going to burn the rest of air no matter what, airplane siteing or not.  Surely there is something to see.

I jumped in with my mask and to my utter surprise I saw an airplane propeller so I declared, “this is it, we found the Arashi plane!”  We quickly suited up and headed toward the two propellers that were strewn across the ocean floor.  They were fairly close to each other, covered in sea life with a few fish swimming around.

Dive site

Airplane Propeller

Arashi Dive Site

Another airplane propeller

Arashi dive site

Airplane wheel and tire

A little further away was a third propeller still attached to the engine.  Not sure whose prop this was as a twin engine Beechcraft would only have two, not three.  Perhaps it belonged to the other airplane that disintegrated, but then why would the propeller still be here?  Strange.

We swam around the area in search of the rest of the plane wreck and to our disappointment there was nothing else there except the 3 propellers.  Shooooot!  How do you count 3 propellers as a plane wreck dive?  Maybe it should be called the Arashi propeller dive?

Something else to see?

We took some fun photos of the sea life, which was not abundant, but pretty none the less.

Arashi dive site

This reminded me of Charlie Brown

Arashi dive site

Sorry about the coloring, but this was pretty in real life

Arashi dive site

A few fish hanging out by the propeller

Arashi dive site

Same two played to the camera.

Arashi dive site

This beautiful bubbly purple stuff grew all over the coral in Aruba. We did not see it in Bonaire.

Starting this dive with less than a half of tank of air (Matt had 1800 and I had 1500), we knew it needed to be short.  After 35 minutes, at 800 PSI, we decided to head back to the dinghy.  On the ascention, I was looking around and what did I see – an 8′ green moray eel swimming around!

During the day, moray eels are utually hidden in a rock with just their head sticking out giving menacing looks. I had never seen one swimming around and certainly not one this big.   Matt went after him to get some photos and he quickly hid under a rock.  We hung out for awhile and decided to go up.  As Matt was stowing his gear in the dinghy I took one last look below and saw him swimming away on the hunt for some lunch.