Tag Archives: boat life


Cruisers Helping Cruisers

I find it hard to explain my relationships with other cruisers to my land lubber friends – do other cruisers have this problem too?  One type of relationship does not demean the other in any way, but they are uniquely different.

With other cruisers you have a shared way of life, comparable highs and lows, and similar problems and solutions to those problems (be it mechanical, electrical, plumbing, etc…).  You are thrust together into a situation where you know the other is transient and will move on and you may or may not see them again for months or years. Yet, you instinctively find yourself bonding and relying on other cruisers rather quickly.

In the small sailing community of Bonaire (there are 42 moorings), Matt and I have had to good fortune to meet, assist, benefit from, and enjoy many new cruiser friendships.  It is a community, where like so many other cruising communities, where you rely on others to help you.  And I just wanted to share a few examples of cruisers helping cruisers:

  1. Cindy, Jane, and Rose walk me daily (yes, I need to be walked to keep my joints from barking and having a regular walking group motivates us all).
  2. On one of our walks I mentioned our Splendide washer/dryer issue and Cindy on Tranquility mentioned she has had the same problem with her machine and might have spare parts.  Their machine has given up and they generously gifted us with multiple spare parts enabling us to repair our machine without having to ship parts from the U.S.
  3. About a week later, the fridge/freezer compressor decided to take a hiatus on Cindy’s boat, so we stored frozen tuna, salmon, steak and shrimp in our freezer until their compressor arrived – it was a challenge not to cook up some of that amazing fish!
  4. Jane has had some engine issues right when she needed to move into the marina to do rigging work.  Cindy, Lee, Matt, and I used our dinghies as propulsion (a whopping 3 km/hour) to get them to the marina and Dan and Rose assisted with docking – everything went smoothly!
  5. Moorings are far and few between this year with so many boats here from the hurricane ravaged islands and Bonaire’s 50th regatta anniversary, so when one boat moves another is on it immediately. Some moorings are temporary and you cannot be on them during the regatta, other moorings are better for smaller or shorter boats, and yet other spots have better moorings (concrete blocks vs. sand screws).  So, we pre-arranged a mooring swap:  when Cheetah II went into the marina, Sugar Shack took their mooring and Badger’s Set took our mooring.
  6. Wifi is a hot commodity on a boat and we are constantly shuffling to see where we can get the best signal.  Matt helped Ad Astra with some cables and connectors until they were set up and then worked with them to diagnosis and repair their wash down pump, engine, and compressor.
  7. Ad Astra has generously taken Matt and I out on several dive excursions, filled our tanks, taught us tricks and tips for better diving, loaned us equipment and oh so much more!
  8. Matt lent his muscles to Mara who is replacing their main sail and needed assistance removing their old sail since it is big and bulky.
  9. Pay it Forward:  Matt is always one of the first people in the water when a dinghy is in trouble offering a tow.  You never know when you will need one yourself.
  10. Earlier this year, Matt and I had taken our dinghy to shore (St. Barth’s) to go on a big hike and the tide came up sweeping Sweet N Low into the sea.  Many other boaters rushed to our aid (unbeknownst to us) to retrieve her and place her safely back on shore. Pay it forward.
  11. Bonaire did not have a forum where other cruisers could communicate (no morning net or Facebook page), so I created a Bonaire Cruisers Facebook group for information sharing.
  12. Matt and I met our friends Exit Strategy (Rose and Dan) and Jane at a dive site called “Cliff” but someone was already on that mooring, so we took another mooring that was fairly close.  Typically you are not supposed to tie two boats up to one mooring, but our dinghies are small so we thought why not.  We assembled our gear, jumped in and began our dive.  When Jane came up, she noticed that the dinghies were missing, WTF?  Some locals shouted that they were drifting away so she flagged a dive boat that picked Matt up so that they could retrieve the dinghies.  Luckily they had two huge engines and were able to get them before they made it to Venezuela – they had drifted several miles before Matt retrieved them.


Dive boat retrieving our dinghies that floated away.

Dive boat retrieving our dinghies that floated away.

This is all in addition to the shared recipe’s (thank you Exit Strategy and Noel’s Delight), tips for cleaning, cooking, baking, and sewing.  Life on a boat is so much easier with the feedback and guidance of others.

If it is not one thing it’s another as things break on a boat and parts are not always easy to come by on a remote island.  Having other cruisers to rely on makes it so much easier.

Good friends!

Me, Cindy and Jane.

Aruba or Bust

Even though Harvey and Irma both threatened to change our friend’s travel plans, Matt and I were determined to head toward Aruba.  After our massive provisioning run we were ready to head to Santa Cruz Bay which is the closest bay to Aruba.  This will shave 25 miles off our trip to Aruba.  Our thoughts were to sail to Santa Cruz Bay and then get up early the next day and sail to Aruba (which is about 50 miles).  We said “good-bye” to our Curacao friends, pulled up anchor and headed out.  It was a beautiful day providing a nice trade wind – perfect for a spinnaker sail.  Matt pulled out Betty, our smaller spinnaker sail and off we went.  We enjoyed an absolutely spectacular sail day – which we had not had since we arrived to Curacao almost 3 months ago!

We arrived at Santa Cruz Bay a little over 3 hours later and there were no other boats around nice.  This is where Captain Good Life has his shop and rents out canoes and kayaks to those who want to visit the Blue Room and Mushroom Forrest.  He also provides guided tours on his boat if you are interested.  It took us a few times to hook the anchor as the ground is very hard with patches of coral.  Once we hooked, we jumped in checked the holding, and snorkeled a bit.

As we were making dinner, I started texting with Sharon, our friend who was to meet us in a few days in Aruba.  Their original flight was out of Houston which was rerouted a week ago to Orlando due to Hurricane Harvey.  Then on Friday (4 days prior to their trip), the airline cancelled their flight.   They were able to reschedule their trip to Aruba for October.  So, we had a decision to make.  Do we stay in Curacao (where we have already spent 2 months), head to Aruba (where it tends to be pricey), or go back to Bonaire?  It did not take long to decide as we both wanted to go back to Bonaire.  The beautiful water, upcoming regatta, and idea of more dive adventures was too alluring for us.  So, instead of getting up early to head to Aruba, we got up early to head to Bonaire which is a beat into the wind and waves.

The alarm went off at 445am, anchor was up by 5am, and we were out of the bay by 515am.  Good start!  We were actually able to raise the sails to one reef with the thought we could shake it out if the winds behaved.  We managed to hold our course, with the sails for about the first 4 hours.  However, several rain storms had a different idea – they kept pushing us off course, further and further North.  When we were -7 VMG and wet from the rain, we decided to drop the sails and motor to course – directly into the wind and waves.  It was not our best day, but also not the worst.  We encountered several more storms that kept the boat wet, rocky and rolly.

Pretty purple sky as we left in the wee hours of the morning

Since we just provisioned, our fridge and freezer are full, and I mean FULL!  But Matt could not resist putting the fishing lines out.  He justified it by not putting out the teasers – (don’t worry that logic did not make sense to me either).  After about 8 hours (2 hours to go), of nothing, we noticed a huge flock of birds circling around movement in the water.  Fish!  We headed in that direction and low and behold, one line went “zing” and then nothing – no pulling or bending of the pole.  Hmmm, As Matt reeled it in, we realized we did have fish on, but it was a little fish.  Even though it was a Mahi, Matt’s favorite, we set her free to grow up big and strong.

Too tiny to keep so we let her go

We got one more bit on the hook, but it was not meant to be.  As we were pulling up to the mooring field, where we were hopeful to find a mooring, we were greeted with a fabulous welcome party.  Manuel, Nadja (and a new friend Sean) from Manado were in their dinghy to help us secure to a mooring, then Thea (from Kattimi) came over in her kayak, Cindy (from tranquility) came by in her SUP, and Susan (from Nomad) swam by while doing her laps.  Of course some of these peeps were just out enjoying a nice calm afternoon – but they ended up swinging by to welcome us back – good to be Sugar Shack!

We tried to clear in to customs and immigration, but they closed early (it was Saturday after all), so we stopped by Illy Coffee for a treat and wifi.  I have to admit that it was really tasty ice cream, but I am partial to Gio’s.  Afterward, we stopped by Karel’s for happy hour (and more wifi) and then headed back.  Before the sun set, we had been invited to a birthday party the next day, another day out on Ad Astra and drinks with friends.

It’s hard to call “Bonaire” a “Bust” especially since we are so happy to be able to return to this beautiful island.

Te Aworo Bonaire

“Goodbye Bonaire”  Our friends, Shawn and Sharon are meeting us in Aruba, so we needed to leave our beloved island of Bonaire to head south west.  Unfortunately, there was no wind (less than 8 knots) so we ended up motoring the entire way from Bonaire toward Klein Curacao.

Sugar Shack leaving Bonaire

On the way over, we ran the little generator, water maker, and washer machine (did you know we have a washer/dryer on board – oh ya!).  Of course, I was just doing my delicates and things that needed to be lined dried so the laundry service could focus on towels, sheets, and other bulky items.  We also had to dry out our dive gear so we could stow it for a few weeks on board.

BC and workout clothes drying

BC and Tanks drying

Some say I have a bikini problem

We happened to leave at the same time as Always Sunday so it was not a surprise to hear them hail us on the VHF.  They talked us into heading to Klein Curacao for the night – they did not have to try very hard as we loved this little island stop and just needed a reason to stop short of Curacao.

When we arrived, we met Ricky and Robin (Always Sunday) for a snorkel where we saw lots of turtles, a few scorpion fish, an eel and lots of other little sea creatures.  They invited us to their boat for tuna and a card game.  They have a beautiful 40’ Lagoon 2013 that is immaculately kept. Robin prepared a lovely tuna dish and taught us a new card game that Matt dutifully won.  Despite the fact that they let me cheat my times,  I still came in last.

Matt & I with Robin and Ricky

Once we arrived in Curacao, we rented a car and ran a bazillion errands: dropped laundry, Budget Marine (pick up Life Seal that we ordered), Scuba and More (fix our regulators), Digicel (update our data plan), customs & immigration, Cost U Less, Best Buy, Vruegedenhill, Van Den Twill, Kooyman, Mangusa Grocery and Centrum Market.  We managed to get back in time for happy hour where we met our friends Steve (Kialoa III), James (Moonrise), Matias and Ulreke (Bella) for a final toddy before we head West.

James, Matt, me, Matias, Ulreke, Steve

The next day, we picked up our clean laundry, repaired regulators, and a swung by few more stores to find some elusive items (diet coke, diet ginger ale, mozzarella, and ribs).  We returned to the boat to unpack and stow all our goodies and headed to The Pier for the weekly captain’s dinner where they were serving dorado which was delicious.  We enjoyed hanging out with our friends and 25 other boater pals of Spanish Waters.