Zeezwaluw Post number 4
Well, well, where is Zeezwaluw at the moment? The columnist’s latest information is, that they left the marina of Curaçao Marine in Willemstad, Curaçao Sunday April 30 at 10 A.M. Thereafter it became silent. For the smart ones who looked at Marine Traffic’ site, Zeezwaluw’s position was at the west side of Klein Curacao for at least 8 days. Why???
The day they left the marina, it went all smooth until they passed the Koningin Emma bridge and came out of the shelter of the St Anna Baai, Willemstad The sea state just outside the entrance was rougher as the crew expected, according the weather forecast. The steep waves and the 20+ KN easterly wind, were not comfortable to sail on/in. They sailed with 3 reefs in the main sail and the high aspect head sail a little furled. It was like riding a wild horse during a rodeo show!
To gain eastern head way, the crew had to tack. The first tack of approximately 8 Nm was 180°, the second about 40°-50°. Due to the tacking the distance to sail became double the distance as the straight course on the map (as the crow flies). This tacking was continued during the whole morning and far into the afternoon. At about 3 P.M they were near the entrance of Spaanse Water, so only 10Nm in the right direction. In the afternoon the wind shifted a little to SE and the tacks NE were a little more in the desired direction.
As it was a real battle to conquer the waves and wind to gain headway, the crew decided to aim for Klein Curaçao and spent at least the night there. They knew there were mooring balls for visiting yachts to use. So, after many more tacks, the little island came closer little by little in the fading daylight. At about 8 P.M. they found the mooring balls at the west side of the island, due west of the lighthouse. A sailing boat with an anchor light at the mooring, showed the way where to search for the free ones. Half an hour later, the crew was safely tied to a mooring ball and the engine shut down. The 6m deep water in the lee of the island was almost flat although the Easterly wind was still screeching through the rigging at a speed of 24Kn. The comfort level is such a difference with only one Nm out at sea. Zeezwaluw and her crew sailed 42,4Nm (in almost 11 hours), instead of 20!
They were exhausted for they had steered themselves the whole way. The reason is to take the nasty waves in a better technique (they think) as the autopilot does. For it was pitch dark (the moon was still in bed) they were not able to see how the island looked like. After a beer and a hot meal they collapsed into their bunk. Tomorrow is another day!
The next morning they awaited the tripper boats coming in. The crew was not sure yet if the mooring balls were for visiting boats or not. You never know isn’t it?
Their view to the island was stunning, like a holiday picture postcard. A few old buildings and wooden structures thatched with roofs of palm leaves lined the shore. A bit further land inward was a derelict lighthouse but still in use as they knew from their approach last night. In the distance on the east side of the island they spotted a rusted accommodation of a stranded freighter. She must have been there already for a long time at the looks of it.
In the meantime the first motorboat “Mermaid” came-in and went to her own mooring. The next two small motorboats had their own mooring nearer to shore and tied up to. The next boats coming in were two large catamarans jam-packed with day tourists, also tied-up to their own mooring. All the tourists were ferried ashore by dinghy and the fit ones swam ashore. Every company has built his own “thatched palm-leave hut village” ashore and the tourists for the day spent their day in the water or near “their village”.
Nobody came to claim Zeezwaluw’s mooring. Fine the crew thought it’s really true, the mooring balls are for visiting boats and they relax.
The whole day they observed the crowd having fun on the island. Around 11 a delicious smell reached them, BBQ with roasted meat. Not long after a ships horn and a bell called the crowd for lunch to the BBQ area. Some more swimming after lunch and around 3 P.M. the crew from the tripper boats rounded up their own guests to ferry them back to the mothership. At 4 P.M. the beach was empty again; all the tripper boats and their guests had left. Till the next morning 9.30 it was peaceful again. The coming and going of tripper boats turned out to be the same every day.On Tuesday morning at 9.30 a tripper boat “MV Serendipity” came to Zeezwaluw’s mooring to claim “their mooring”. They had to run a hose to shore for water supply they told the crew of Zeezwaluw. OK, not them but Zeezwaluw moved to the next free white mooring ball.
Athis mooring ball Zeezwaluw stayed un-interrupted for the rest of their time (8 days) in Klein Curaçao. Due to the fact there was no mobile phone signal so no internet for weather forecast or other distracting social media they had an old fashioned (a before wireless internet time) leisure time. After 2 months of hard work on the hard & marina they finally could do what they love to do; reading good books! During those waiting days the crew was able to use the Iridium sat phone for receiving new Gribfiles every day.
Every day the wind stayed E at 20-25 kn or more. Not favourable the crew thought. Its 480 Nm to Sint Maarten, on a 30°-40° course approximately. Up-wind and against a current it would be a hard battle so they waited for a more favourable wind. Read; less wind for the trade winds would persist from the east of course. But sometimes it has a south component and the crew crossed their fingers for that one.
Finally there came light at the end of their waiting tunnel. At Monday (May 7) or Tuesday (May 8) there might be an opportunity to leave. Who knows for sure ….
The second try started Tuesday at 2 P.M. for the forecast was 15-20 kn and the next days also or less. But again the wind not die and the battle against wind, waves and current was even worse at the first try. At a 40° course it was not like sailing comfortably but diving in and down the steep waves spraying the crew and Zeezwaluw from bow to stern. Plan B was set into motion, head for Bonaire. Tacking again all the way they arrived Wednesday 1 A.M. (of course in the dark hours) at the mooring field at Kralendijk. Luckily there were many empty mooring buoys to choose from.
So they are in Bonaire now as they informed the columnist. According the weather forecast of Thursday May 10, the weather will not change till the 17th. Waiting time starts again and maybe made plans will change also.
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